Mickey Blue Eyes
The title is taken from a 1957 American film starring Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak. It contains some of the best pop music songs ever written and is still well worth seeing. It also demonstrates there is no such thing as pure symmetry in nature. Sinatra had the one-in-a-million singing voice of an angel, but was a mobbed-up, morally-insipid man stuck in the corrupt neon lit rat-hole of the citadel of suckers of hood-owned Las Vegas. In the film he plays the one-in-a-million singing voice of.............well, you get the picture. Not only is it not symmetrical it also confirms Newton's Third Law of Motion, colloquially "To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction." You end up asking how such a gorgeous natural talent could end up like that, so compromised.
All of which brings me conveniently if distantly and wistfully to Joseph Yobo (happily no relation to Frank Sinatra or his "friends") now out on loan for a year to Turkish club Fenerbahce. But how could this happen? How could such outstanding ability transfer to the hysterical ugly arsehole of European football, Turkey? After all, he was David Moyes' first major signing way back in the summer of 2002. He was a fresh-faced 21 and became an instant hit with the fans. His combination of pace and ability on the ball was in distinct contrast to centre backs David Weir and Alan Stubbs, both of whom were, to put it nicely, in the final stage of their playing careers and looking a bit pedestrian. Occasionally either they or midfield players would get skinned by wing-footed opposition only for Joey to appear like a wraith of the great Kevin Ratcliffe to rescue them and us from ignominy. If anything was a clear sign of the forthcoming Moyes revolution it was Joey. Sensible fans don't forget that kind of thing. He was the proverbial ray of sunshine at the exact time we all needed it. Now he's gone and, I'm guessing, unlikely to return. This is footy at its saddest.
Not that he was a perfect player. Nobody is or ever was. He had his faults, principally with the kind of unforced errors that left you with your jaw separating your knees. Who can forget that unerring pass to Wayne Rooney to concede a goal to the Mancs at precisely the moment we had gained unlikely control of a game for which we had low to zero expectations? But mercifully his mistakes were never on a par with predecessor Dunney's Weekly Howler. In fact it was the rarity of them that made him stand out. It was as though your life long best friend had suddenly turned into Ernst Kaltenbrunner or Lavrenti Beria or George W. Bush. However, most of us forgave him right readily. How could it be otherwise when he saved us so often and with the kind of ease made famous by other great central defenders such as Des Walker? There was and is something lovable about the lad. Maybe it was in his occasional kicking action, which I once heard an adoring female fan describe as, "Like a young giraffe's."
So Joey was with us eight years. That's a long time in professional football. Therefore nobody can doubt his loyalty, talent or effort. We saw his game develop and then settle into maturity, which is not something you get to see much of these days. I expected him to score more goals but it didn't turn out that way largely because he usually had his work cut out at the other end of the pitch. After David Weir and Alan Stubbs left the scene Phil Jagielka quickly established himself at the centre of the defence and potentially it looked like a Joey-Jags partnership was made in heaven. And if that didn't work, maybe a tandem with Joleon Lescott. Alas. Strange are the ways of footy chemistry. Then older Sylvain Distin arrived and ever so gradually Joey slipped off the stage. I don't suppose we will ever really know why.
I'm going to miss Joseph Yobo very badly. To me he epitomises everything good in the game, even his defaults. I hope he is hugely successful in what is likely to be his last three seasons of first class footy. If I had my way he would be with us until he retired. But professional football has always tended to be quite ruthless when a player reaches the end of his usefulness. You don't often get the proverbial graceful exit. You need only consult the times fans turn on a player who has finally run out of steam after years of committed performances. In this case I hope - though it rarely works - Joey rejoins us and re-establishes himself. More likely he will finish playing elsewhere and less loved than he is by all true Evertonians. We know what he brought to our club when we most needed it.
But that's life. As I said, there's no such thing as pure symmetry. Don't ever expect that to change.