A different kind of Everton fan

I’ve noted before that Paul McCartney, though not a big soccer fan, is an Everton supporter. So I’ve always been puzzled by the homage McCartney pays to Liverpool great Kenny Dalglish on one of his live albums (Scott may know which album). At the end of a song (I forget which one), the crowd starts chanting McCartney’s name. McCartney responds by chanting back “Ken-ny-Dal-glish.”

The mystery is solved, I think, in this interview with the Observer, which McCartney gave as part of his campaign to help the British Paralympic team. McCartney reveals the following:

1. He was “hopeless” as a footballer, and gave up playing once his peers moved on to the “formalized” game. That’s “how it was with the Beatles; none of us was very sports-minded. . . .We were sports wimps and proud of it.” McCartney likes “watching the football on the telly” and goes to the “occasional match,” but is not a “massive fan.”

2. His family “are officially Evertonians,” and McCartney himself has always been an Everton supporter.

3. However, years ago at a concert at Wembley Stadium, which McCartney desperately wanted to fill, Dalglish led the entire Liverpool team, dressed “in light grey suits, white shirts, red ties and look[ing] really cool,” into the stadium. Dalglish and McCartney became friends.

4. McCartney thus decided “against all the laws of sport and supporters” to back both Everton and Liverpool.

5. However, “if it comes down to a derby match or a crunch or an FA Cup final between the two, I would have to support Everton.”

6. It was John Lennon’s idea to put old-time Liverpool forward Albert Stubbins on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Everton legend Dixie Dean, the Babe Ruth of English soccer, was considered but the Beatles went with Stubbins because his name was funnier. These were just “names we had heard when we were growing up, we really didn’t know very much about them.”

In explaining how he can support both Everton and Liverpool, McCartney says “I don’t have that Catholic-Protestant thing” and jokes that “I did have to get special dispensation from the Pope.” Here, McCartney buys into the notion that the Everton-Liverpool rivalry has a sectarian component. I’ve studied this a little bit, and believe it’s a misconception. As I understand it, very early on Everton had many Irish players and thus drew heavy Catholic support. These days, however, religion doesn’t really factor in.

That’s not to deny the blasphemous nature of backing both teams. But if anyone deserves a dispensation, it’s McCartney.

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