“Nothing cements fandom like pain.”

Brendan Hunt

When you think of Liverpool, the city of Beatles and maritime glory, there’s a certain soccer team that may or may not ring a bell. They’re not the ones in red. No, they’re the ones in royal blue, giving new meaning to the phrase, “It’s the hope that kills you.” Let’s talk about Everton.

Everton is not merely a team—it’s a feeling. A peculiar blend of exuberance, apprehension, and that tugging sensation in your stomach, usually reserved for those family moments when my cousin Javier dives deep into the intricacies of Iron Maiden’s music. This blend, as peculiar as it is, is what brings the Everton community together, more binding than the epic tales from Javier about the poetic symbolism in “Hallowed Be Thy Name”.

Ever wondered about the science behind rubber bands? Stretch them too much, and they snap. However, with every stretch, there’s that incredible tension that keeps it intact. That’s Everton’s fandom—perpetually stretched but never quite breaking.

You might ask, why would anyone willingly be a fan of a team that takes you on a roller-coaster of (mostly downward) emotions? Ah, because the thrill is in the journey, not the destination. It’s like opting for a bumpy, scenic car ride over a dull highway. You get jolted, you spill your coffee, but oh, the stories you have for later!

If you closely observe an Everton fan during a match, there’s a pattern. First, there’s the optimism—each game is THE game. Then there’s that fleeting moment where the ball almost makes it to the net. The air gets thick. Eyes widen. Time slows. And then, a collective exhale as the ball dances past the goalpost—yet again. The Evertonian doesn’t (always) cry. No, he sighs—a sigh so profound it could move mountains.

Ah, but don’t be fooled. This isn’t a tale of eternal grief. It’s a ballad of eternal hope.

See, with every stumble, with every heartache, there’s a weird, inexplicable strength that the Toffees fans gather. It’s the kind of strength you find in romantic comedies where the protagonist runs through airports, fighting security, just to declare undying love. Pain? Yes. But purpose? Absolutely.

For every missed goal, there’s a shared groan. For every loss, there’s a shared pint and the eternal words, “Next time… Next time.” And that’s the beauty. In a world that glorifies winners, here’s a community that celebrates the journey, the struggle, the ‘almost-there-but-not-quite’.

There’s a certain snobbery to victory. A complacency. But the Everton fans? They’re made of sterner stuff. Drama is their daily bread. Pessimism? That’s just breakfast. And yet, the belief never wavers. Like waiting for a British summer, they hope against hope, even if it’s just a few minutes of sunshine.

There’s an old myth that diamonds are formed under extreme pressure. If that’s true, then every Everton fan is a shining, radiant diamond. Their resilience is commendable, their faith unshakeable. They wear their heart on their sleeves and their hope in their chants.

And so, as the world races by, crowning champions and lauding victors, in one corner of Liverpool, there’s a team and its fans—unfazed, undeterred, and united in their shared narrative. It’s not about the destination—it’s the roller-coaster ride that counts.

Remember this: while others build trophies, Everton builds tales. And while history remembers champions, it’s the stories that become legends.

For those who wonder why the undying allegiance to a team that flirts more with despair than with victory, I have just one thing to say: Everton doesn’t build champions, it builds character. And that, dear reader, is the stuff of legends.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Product + Content Marketing at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.