Nearly twenty years after the VHS production of Everton's Official History was released, a brand spanking new DVD has been brought out in time for Christmas.
First the good bits: John Motson narrating; a wealth of footage, both vintage and contemporary, and a few gems I haven't seen before: the 1966 FA Cup Final in Technicolor, for example; and archive interviews with Harry Catterick. Historian, John Keith, and local journalist, Dave Prentice, give insightful and interesting perspectives.
Indeed, it's a wonder why these two were not asked to produce the film, for they clearly have the knowledge, talent and - above all- passion for the subject to make this a far better film. For I am sad to report that this DVD is a lackluster effort; worth watching once, but not really meriting a second viewing, or the ludicrously inflated cover price.
This really is a wasted effort. Besides the interviews with Keith and Prentice and one or two others, there is a definite sense that this is the original VHS offering (from 1988) with an extra half hour taped onto the end. The makers have not been out and about with their cameras updating old interviews and making new ones. For instance, the interview with a very youthful Dave Hickson from the VHS is included as if it were new materiel. Could not the makers have gone down to Goodison one morning (where Hickson still works) and taken twenty minutes to get some new footage and thoughts? Colin Harvey is interviewed at Bellefield in improbably skimpy shorts, presumably when he was still manager in the late 1980s. Lazy, lazy, lazy.
Even the `new' interviews are slipshod and second rate. Many seem to have been taken at a Gwladys Street Hall of Fame dinner hosted five or six years ago. Who by isn't quite clear. Presumably not originally for the purposes of this work. Graham Stuart is asked about his famous efforts against Wimbledon, in between servings at prematch hospitality at Goodison, with a racket going on behind him. It all gives an impression of cheapness and laziness from the DVD's makers.
Those that have previously purchased Everton's end of season reviews, which are produced by the same company, will probably be well aware of some of ILC Media's shoddy production values (a few years ago, one such DVD even managed to omit an ENTIRE month). Indeed this DVD has the feel of something that was put together by a sixth form media studies student using Window's Movie Maker. There's an amateurish feel to the editing throughout. For example, towards the end of the film it mentions the sad, early death of Alan Ball; then it cuts to interview footage of Ball in his living room, as if he has come back from the dead. There are errors too, minor admittedly, but telling of the general lack of thought that has gone into this piece. For example, Mikel Arteta, did not join Everton on loan from Glasgow Rangers - that was Duncan Ferguson, more than a decade previous. Shabby graphics, of the sort you might see on a souped up home movie also predominate. And by the time you hear the fifteenth playing of Billy Maher's `It's a Grand Old Team to Play For...' strike up, you really do feel like kicking the TV in.
All in all, this film is a profound disappointment. In its way, it's the best there is available on DVD about Everton, in terms of its depth in content; but that isn't to say it's anything special and is more an indictment of the paucity of quality available elsewhere. Judged by its own standards it is a lazy work, sloppily produced, and irritatingly passionless. Certainly it does not live up to the mantra set by the club's famous motto: Nil Satis Nisi Optimum; Nothing But the Best Is Good Enough.