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EXCLUSIVE: 'There was always something about Everton' - David Moyes reveals 'People's Club' inspiration and what kept him up night before first game

Liverpool Echo logo Liverpool Echo 16/03/2022 Chris Beesley

Twenty years on from his appointment as Everton manager, David Moyes has lifted the lid on the true inspiration behind his now iconic ‘People’s Club’ declaration and revealed what kept him awake the night before his first game as Blues boss.

On March 16, 2002, Everton, without a victory in their previous seven Premier League matches, defeated Fulham 2-1 at Goodison Park in Moyes’ first match in charge. The fixture came less than 48 hours after the then 38-year-old had been unveiled as fellow Scot Walter Smith’s successor.

Recalling his whirlwind start on Merseyside, Moyes, now manager of West Ham United, told the ECHO: “It doesn’t seem like 20 years, I can still remember it all, the build-up, the day itself going to Goodison Park but in the same breath I’ve had a lot of football under my belt since then as well.

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“I did have other opportunities and there were other clubs I could have gone to and people had made enquiries. At the time I’d never really wanted to leave Preston. We’d built up a really good team there and were close to getting into the Premier League ourselves.

“I always remember there was a director at Blackpool and he used to say to me: ‘Everton is the club for you’. I remember when Everton made an approach, the fact that Walter Smith, who was a great friend of mine, had lost his job, that was the worst thing.

“There was always something about Everton for me. They were one of the big six clubs and had always been a big club. I lived in Preston at the time and it suited me with my family and it was easy to travel to but the hardest part was that Walter was a friend of mine and I wasn’t looking forward to taking over from Walter.”

So what about that famous ‘People’s Club’ declaration? Moyes reveals it was an off-the-cuff remark based upon what he saw during his journey to Everton’s ground with scenes that reminded him of his own home city.

He said: “Bill Kenwright had got the deal done and they brought me in late on the Thursday night to do the press conference at Goodison. I was being driven in, it was a nice spring night and all the kids were in the street as you’d expect in a city like Liverpool or Glasgow.

“They were out kicking a football on any bit of grass there was or on street corners and all I could see was Everton strips. That was my take on it and it was simple.

“When I called it ‘The People’s Club’ I said that the people on the streets of Liverpool support Everton so that is how it actually came around. It was only because of the drive in that night. I thought: ‘My goodness, all the kids in the street have got Everton shirts on’. That’s what was noticeable to me at the time.

“It wasn’t choreographed or something I’d been thinking about for days, far from it. For some people it really took off and for Everton supporters, at a time that it wasn’t so good and they were in relegation trouble, it gave them something to hang on to. It maybe gave me a better chance too with them seeing how I was thinking of the club.”

Moyes was given a rapturous reception before kick-off by the Goodison Park faithful but admits he’d been tossing and turning in his bed the previous evening as he mulled over what kind of pre-match routine to implement.

He said: “I remember a lot of things about that first game as Everton manager. Because I was a young coach at Preston and we didn’t have a lot of staff with just one assistant and one physio, I used to take the warm-ups.

“I’d been doing it for so long but then I thought: ‘I’ve taken this big job and maybe it’s not what you do?’ and I couldn’t sleep the night before, thinking about that. But I decided I’d just do what I’d always done and go out and take the warm-ups.

“In a way when you look back it might have looked a bit old-fashioned but maybe it was good leadership and showed the players a new direction while also showing the supporters that you’re right in amongst it.

“I obviously remember Unsy’s goal after about 30 seconds and it got me off to a great start. Then Duncan made it 2-0 (on 13 minutes) but we were hanging on a bit at the end (Thomas Gravesen was sent off on 28 minutes with Steed Malbranque pulling a goal back on 52 minutes).”

One thing the new Everton manager was sure about though was that he was going to be able to guide his team to safety and that came as a great relief to club chiefs.

Moyes said: “It’s very difficult to change things in a short space of time for any manager. I’ve had it recently at West Ham, a couple of times I had to avoid relegation. Finding ways to win games is the all-important thing.

“I remember at the time at Everton, I told Bill Kenwright: ‘We’ll not get relegated here, you’ll be fine, we’ll be good’, so Bill was really happy with that.

“I didn’t care how we did it, I just cared that we’d go into the next season in the Premier League and I’d give myself a chance to build on it.”

  • TOMORROW: Part Two - How words from legendary manager inspired David Moyes to be a Premier League success and his debt of gratitude to Everton's supporters

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