IS Sylvester Stallone really an Everton fan? And if so, does this mean that Rocky Balboa’s repeated attempts to recapture former glories can serve as a metaphor for Howard Kendall’s numerous stints at Goodison Park?
The answer to both questions is: Probably not. Stallone, you might remember, made a rather surreal appearance on the Goodison pitch before a Premier League game against Reading in January 2007, waving an Everton scarf.
Even though Stallone did wear a blue shirt when he played the goalkeeper in Escape To Victory, it might be stretching credibility to claim he is a lifelong Evertonian. He is, however, a good friend of Everton shareholder Robert Earl, who came up with the idea of the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain, which Stallone backed. So it is possible to argue that Stallone takes an interest in Everton’s fortunes.
Stallone is one of a long list of big names to have been cited as celebrity fans of Everton. The list ranges from the undisputed (Claire Sweeney, Derek Hatton, John Parrott, Andy Burnham) to the surprising (Leonard Rossiter) to the highly-debatable (Amanda Holden) to the highly unlikely (Andrea Corr, Mary Whitehouse).
Every professional football club can claim a celebrity fan or two – or several. Well, most of them can. I can’t, in all honesty, think of any celebrities who support Crewe Alexandra. Do Crewe have a famous fan? If not, I’d quite happily step in and fill that void myself, if I were a celebrity, or supported Crewe. I would suggest Timmy Mallett, who was born in Cheshire, but he supports Oxford.
Some clubs have a spectacularly wide range of well-known fans. Tom Hanks, Prince Williams and David Cameron have all claimed to support Aston Villa at some point (I suspect Hanks might have been making an early tilt for the starring role in a film of Martin O’Neill’s life), while Arsenal’s unbelievably long list of celebrity supporters includes Alan Davies, Dido, Piers Morgan and, apparently, Osama bin Laden.
(Bin Laden was, the story goes, in the crowd at Highbury when the Gunners beat Paris Saint Germain in the 1994 European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final.)
Of course, the concept of a fan can be quite elastic when it comes to claiming a celebrity for your team. Some follow the fortunes of their club more closely than others.
But if Stallone is unlikely to make an appearance at Goodison any time soon, Wolves fan Robert Plant is a bit more dedicated.
Last night’s final match: Everton 1 Wolves 1
Commentator: Steve Bower
Plant was in the directors’ box at Goodison yesterday as Wolves narrowly failed to earn a victory over Everton. Many of the journalists at the game spotted him, and consequently there were all manner of references to Led Zeppelin songs in their match reports.
Plant gave an interview about his love for Wolves to the Sunday Mercury the summer before last, in which he claimed that supporting the club was “the nearest thing to actually walking under a bus”. Not much fun, then.
“It played havoc with my marriage for a while,” he said during the interview. “When we won the League Cup in 1974, it took me three days to get home from Wembley to Worcestershire.”
I know what you mean, Robert. The traffic round Wembley can be horrendous.
Plant said that Wolves have put him through a fair amount of agony down the years. They put him through a bit more yesterday. Having gone in front through Kevin Doyle, Mick McCarthy’s side looked on course for a precious away win. Then Diniyar Bilyaletdinov struck a late equaliser for Everton, before ungainly giant Austrian chef-turned-footballer Stefan Maierhofer was sent off. Ouch.
From Everton’s point of view, it was hardly a Rocky-style comeback. (Adrian Heath’s late equaliser in the League Cup at Oxford in 1984, a goal which saved Kendall’s job during his first spell as manager, would be hard to beat on that score.) But it was a late punch which caused pain to Plant, all the same.
Stallone’s reaction has yet to be recorded. Earl, Hatton, Sweeney and Burnham were probably pretty relieved, though.
1. Wigan: 3 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
2. Gubba: 2 (GD: 2. 2L: 1.)
3. West Ham: 2 (GD: 1. 2L: 1.)
4=. Everton: 2 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
4=. Portsmouth: 2 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
6=. Stoke: 2 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
6=. Wolves: 2 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
8. Blackburn: 1 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
9. Hull: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 4.)
10=. Bolton: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 2.)
10=. Birmingham: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 2.)
12. Fulham: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
13. Sunderland: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 3.)
14=. Arsenal: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
14=. Burnley: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
14=. Chelsea: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
17=. Aston Villa: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
17=. Liverpool: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
17=. Manchester City: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
17=. Manchester United: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
17=. Tottenham: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
GD = Gubba difference
2L = On second last (Last night’s penultimate match was: Stoke 2 West Ham 1.)
(NB. Teams will receive one point for every time they appear last on MOTD. Appearances on MOTD2 are not included. Teams level on points will be separated by Gubba difference – the number of times a team is on last with Tony Gubba commentating. Teams still level will then be separated by the number of times they appear second last on MOTD.)