Vinny feeling blue but fellow Evertonians soon see red

Fran’s attempt to stand up to United fans turns out to be our hero’s downfall

The talk over a greasy brekkie in The Old Lantern pub in Kilburn on Sunday morning was of revolution.

The Everton bastille, in the uneasy command of Roberto Martinez, was under siege from fans who'd had enough with the manager.

“Off with his head,” was the unanimous blood-lust verdict of Roberto’s Robespierres.

Vinny Fitzpatrick kept his large head down as he chased a skiddy rasher across a plate daubed with egg yolk and HP sauce.


He was silent, for not only was he unfamiliar with many of those around him in Everton garb, he was also unwilling to raise a case for the defence.

To be humbled 4-0 by Liverpool was bad enough; to then lose 2-1 to Manchester United in the very next game – and that the semi-finals of the FA Cup – was the worst kind of football double.

For all of Martinez’s hand-wringing about giving young players their chance, of transfer market prudence, of progress, the stark facts were as bald as Vinny’s dome.

Under the reign of Roberto, Everton were rooted in the bottom half of the table, seeping energy and self-belief.

The Wem-ber-lee experience on Saturday evening had been sobering in more ways than one.

A more potent team than United, like Leicester, Spurs or City, would have had their guts for garters long before half-time.

Vinny had a nagging a feeling that the longer Martinez stayed in charge the more his beloved Everton would become like Wigan, the Spaniard's former club.

Few teams were scared of Everton these days, and with Romelo Lukaku angling for a summer transfer there was every chance of a relegation dogfight next season.

“We might even be relegated for the first time since 1951,” he thought to himself with a shudder.

He downed his tea, shoved a half slice of buttery toast in his gob and caught Fran’s eye at the bar, where he was cosying up to the landlady, a shapely lass in her late 30s.

“Right-o Fran, let’s be having you. The flight’s at 12.15 and we don’t want to miss the Dubs.”

Vinny reckoned a trip to Croker was the perfect cure for his FA Cup semi-final blues.

The Dubs against Kerry was always special, even if the National Football League was a mere warm-up for the main even of the Championship.

Stansted coach

The Stansted coach had a stop-off point at nearby Finchley Road, and when Vinny and Fran rocked up they found a posse of Everton and United fans, all Irish, waiting for the same bus.

If the United crew were bright-eyed, the Everton bunch were brooding.

It was on the 50-minute spin to the airport when the mood began to turn edgy as United fans couldn’t help themselves.

“Glory, glory Man United; Glory, glory Man United; Glory, glory Man United, and the Reds go marching on,” they chanted.

There were whispers of protest from the Blues brothers and Fran, who had a short fuse, had to be restrained by Vinny.

“Just one punch, Vinny. Just one,” he hissed.

There was an uneasy silence for a bit but approaching the airport the United lads had another pop.

“‘Going down, going down, going down,” they cried mockingly.

At this barb a handful of Evertonians stood up and beckoned on with their fists. Had the bus not jolted to a halt at the departure terminal, Vinny feared what might have happened.

At Stansted the fans dispersed and peace broke out, but a delay of half an hour allowed time for a swift swallow or two before boarding.

As the plane cleared the runaway, the taunts resumed. This time they were more loaded than before.

"We are the pride of all Europe, the cock of the North, We hate the Scousers, and Cockneys of course. We are United, without any doubt. We are the Manchester boys nah, nah, nah…."

United fans

It was too much for Fran and a number of other cheesed off Evertonians.

“Right, let’s be having ye,” said Fran as he left his seat and marched down the aisle towards the ranks of United fans.

Vinny was on his feet in a jiffy, imploring his pal to back off. Maybe Fran didn’t hear him for just then a stewardess at the front of the plane called for “all passengers to return to their seats immediately”.

What happened next was rather unfortunate, if not careless, for the burly bus driver.

He tried to grab Fran’s arm which was drawn back like a blow, when the next he knew a fist came at him apace.

It caught Vinny on his bulbous nose, which crunched loudly, and squirted red.

The force caused him to fall backwards, only for his tumble to be broken by another body, whose scream was the last thing he heard before he conked out.

Out cold

Vinny had no idea how long he was out cold for, but when he came too he was sitting in a seat, strapped in tightly with two stewards either sided of him, and a bag of ice clamped to his swollen nose.

“My node hurts,” he moaned. “What happhead?”

One of the stewards, the one holding the ice, explained.

“When you fell you caused the stewardess to smack her head against the edge of an arm-rest. She’s got a lump the size of a golf ball on her temple and needs to be seen by a doctor. We’ve turned back, and should be landing any minute.”

Vinny groaned. “But what about the boys in blue?” he wailed.

“Don’t worry,” said the steward. “You’ll see them soon enough. The police will be waiting for you when we touch down.”