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Playing it for laughs; Mike Chapple meets an Evertonian who is turning the air blue.

Byline: Mike Chapple

'OH I DO like to be beside the seaside, Oh I do like to be beside the sea, Oh I do like to walk along the prom, prom, prom, where the brass bands play, - off West Brom!'

Ah, yes, the surreal wit of our sometimes foul-mouthed football match chants and repartee which are, like or not, part of Merseyside culture.

The above was a personal favourite from the Kop that had no relevance even when conceived many moons ago. However, it is occasionally dusted down and bellowed at Anfield to celebrate its sheer stupidity - whether the Baggies are playing or not.

Evertonians, of course, have their own favourite anecdotes and chants many of which have been preserved for posterity in an entertaining (even for Reds fans) new book called Turning The Air Blue. It's compiled by the lads from bluekipper.com - Kipper, Jogger, Lard, Lavvo, Sausage and Keefer - who dreamt up the idea of a website for Evertonians on a well- lubricated night out five years ago.

Unlike other well-intentioned brainwaves spawned during the hours of drink, this one survived the hangover and today the site gets an average 110,000 hits a day.

'Without wanting to knock other sites, I think we get so many hits because we're locally based - we get all the news first and we hit the ground running if you know what I mean,' says Kipper, aka 49-year-old Arriva worker and Blues fanatic Steve Jones.

He and the other Evertonians - his brothers Paul and Gary, Mike Lafferty, Paul McIver and Keith Davies - only used their nicknames to begin with because it would provide a convenient smokescreen if anyone decided to sue. No one has.

In fact, the blatantly irreverent site has become popular with the fans but more especially many of the Everton players both past and present who, unusually for a football fanzine, give bluekipper their full support.

'The players love the chants and a bit of banter - it's a unifying thing between them and the fans,' Steve maintains.

As proof, their first player of the season presentation was attended by a welter of players including the then Everton captain Richard Gough - a formative kipper backer - Michael Ball, Gordon West and Brian Labone.

The latest, held last month at the Stonebridge Inn in Croxteth, featured Graeme Sharp, Adrian Heath, Kevin Ratcliffe, Gary Stevens and Derek Mountfield on the top table to acclaim the player of the season, Tim Cahill This was a real coup for Steve and the others, who readily admit they are just ordinary fans who meet regularly at their local - the Valentine in Altway, Aintree.

Steve says: 'Dave Watson has also been to a few of our do's which is great because they are our heroes.'

The former Everton skipper even agreed to write the foreword to the book which features around 500 anecdotes about shouts and chants. Some of the best of these are contained in the chapters featuring the remarks of the young and the old. The latter are called 'me arl feller's shouts' and Steve enlisted the support of his own 'arl feller', his Dad 'Sting' Ray Jones, to come up with some of them, Interspersed with these are exclusive interviews with Blues legends including Alex Young, Colin Harvey, Kevin Sheedy, plus the aforementioned Watson, Mountfield, Sharp and Ratcliffe.

Watson says pertinently: 'As a Scouser and an Evertonian, I can appreciate the humour behind most of the shouts and admit that a lot of them helped me to enjoy my career even more.'

In one of his own anecdotes he recalls arriving at Goodison on one match day to be greeted by the usual autograph hunters.

'One of the lads pointed me out to a young kid saying: 'That's Dave Watson, he used to wear the armband for Everton.' The kid replied: 'Why? Can't he swim?'

There are lots of other short tales using more colourful language, hence the tongue-incheek warning on the cover about 'blue' language: 'We do allow swearing on the site and try not to edit anything too radically - but one thing we don't allow is any racist stuff,' says Steve.

One other thing that they are also keen to keep out are references to Heysel and Hillsborough.

The kipper plays it for laughs - and here's the book to prove it.

p TURNING the Air Blue, published by Bluecoat Press at pounds 5.99, and available by mail order from bluekipper.com

Stands and deliver - a selection of anecdotes

Late '60s Goodison. Brian Labone crunches Mike 'Concorde' Summerbee who lies motionless for lengthy treatment. 'Hurry up!' shouts one Evertonian while another responds: 'Can't. It'll take ages to get his nose out the ground.'

Late '60s When police on horseback were allowed inside Goodison. Officer falls off horse injured in front of the crowd and another races to his rescue to be greeted by a verse from the then current chart-topper Rolf Harris's Two Little Boys: 'Do you think I would leave you dying, when there's room on my horse for two . . ." Late '70s Ipswich in their pomp giving Everton a drubbing. Ipswich striker Paul Mariner shouts instructions to team-mates as he prepares to take a corner to be greeted with an indignant shout from the crowd: 'Ay Mariner, There are women and children trying to sleep here.'

Mid-80s Peter Reid advances on the ball with Trevor Steven lurking out on the right. Reid is given instructions by crowd know-all: 'Wing! Wing! Wing!' to which a wag retorts: 'Will someone answer that - phone2000s Francis Jeffers is brought on at Goodison for Arsenal against his former club to the chants of 'One greedy b-. There's only one greedy b-'. One overweight man in the crowd already on his fourth pie responds with 'Two greedy b-, there's only two greedy b-.'

2000s Duncan Ferguson flaps in front of goal to which one frustrated Everton fan shouts: 'You've done nothing this year Ferguson apart from fight crime

CAPTION(S):

Everton fans voice their passion during a game in the 1960s; Goodison may be all-seater now, but fans still get their views heard; Steve Jones and others from bluekipper.com have put their favourite football anecdotes and chants together in a new book called Turning The Air Blue
COPYRIGHT 2005 MGN Ltd.
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 23, 2005
Words:1041
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