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This was such an excellent speech by Everton Chairman Bill Kenwright. 

Justice for the 96

Bill Kenwright on Mikel

You mentioned the Everton family and you’ve done countless deals buying players, selling players. How difficult is it for you Bill when players like Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta who are personal friends of yours move on from the football club?

“Very difficult it’s very difficult but you know the main thing you have to be in any kind of dealing is fair I believe. And Mikel of all the players, all the footballers I’ve got to know over a life that has been blessed in getting to know footballers is right up there. Right up there with the very very best, on the pitch where I worshipped him and off the pitch where I worshipped him just as much. An extraordinary man and an extraordinary footballer; gifted in every way. But he let it known that he really wanted that opportunity and he spoke to me and he was very very emotional; incredibly emotional. He said ‘I know I’m not going to get what I have here, I just know that, but I do want the opportunity.’ He said ‘I think my time has come, I just want that opportunity for Champions League and to play at another club because maybe now is the time.’ But Mikel Arteta again he and I spoke I think it was well after 1 o’clock in the morning when he just left Goodison he was really emotional but he left with his head held high. As you can see from the adoration he gets from Evertonians still and all Evertonians should know he’ll always text before a big game or text a celebration ‘Come On You Blues’. I think he’s doing a great job at Arsenal and I hope he’s really really happy at Arsenal. But I know there’s a big part of his heart that’s a Blue. Funny enough Tim and Mikel where a pair and they were like brothers those two so consequently saying goodbye to both of them was extraordinary. 

Starlight Express 2012 - a review

I should put my cards on the table. My youth was largely misspent in the standing section at the back of the Stalls of the Apollo Victoria, where for £7.50 and a return ticket to London Victoria, you could see an exciting, literally fast paced spectacle with a different permutation of cast every time. Though by the year 2000 the running order, and its contents, bore only a faint resemblance to the show that opened in 1984(with well over a dozen songs added or removed), the magic of the original production remained. This new production carries on the show’s tradition of evolution, and is almost entirely successful.

The core story is a simple one. A child dreams that Greaseball, the winner of the World Championship Railroad Race, is challenged by newcomer Electra for the title. When underdog Rusty announces his intention to compete in the same race, he is mocked by the other engines – how can a freight shunter from the sidings hope to beat the reigning champion and powerful challenger? I hope it doesn’t spoil the ending for anyone when I say that of course he does, and finds love on the way.

The updated score features new arrangements, new to the 2003 US tour “Whole Lotta Locomotion”(which the eagle eyed – or perhaps I should say, beagle-eared – will recognise as “The Beauty Underneath” from Love Never Dies), and the entirely new “I Do”, a replacement love song for Rusty and Pearl. I wish I could say that I enjoyed Alastair Lloyd Webber’s contribution to the ever-changing score, but sadly I found it dull, repetitive and about 3 times too long. The We Will Rock You style clap-clap-punch(yes, in a love ballad) provides some surreal comic relief in the middle, but I hope the song will be overhauled before too long.

The cast are magnificent, and make skating look as natural as walking at the same time as belting out the rocky score and acting their anti-blister padded socks off. As well as trick skaters Matt King and Tristan Adams, Mykal Rand and Amanda Coutts get a special mention for making it look like anyone could chaine casually across the stage on two wheels from each foot and sweep into triple sur le coup de pied pirouettes on two wheels if they felt like it. All bar one of this company have performed in the show before, and their experience shows.

Some of the costumes date from 1993, and you can tell. The Red Caboose is distinctly pink, and the Coaches’ Vegas showgirl style outfits chime uncomfortably in a show that is, after all, largely aimed at children. There’s not much they can do though, as the races are pre-recorded 3D sequences with the same costumes shown in HD detail.

New lighting design and background animation come courtesy of Nick Richings and Mark Howett. Richings has clearly studied the larger productions, as within his imaginative design two LX bars are flown to simulate the Bridge(which, being 6 and a half tonnes of Meccano, cannot tour), adding texture and atmosphere to the otherwise mostly black box set. During the Starlight Sequence the onstage lights rotate beams of white light with which to stab the audience in the eye, an authentic part of the experience usually achieved with lasers and disco balls. The background animation is part backdrop, part Rorschach ink blot test. It plays more or less constantly, and does on occasion distract from the action. I particularly liked the sepia toned image of the freight yard.

This is a great little new production, and it looks like the start of something big. Who knows – after the Olympics, there might be a velodrome going spare that it could move into.

David Moyes has admitted that the £10 million raised from the sale of Mikel Arteta will not be available to him to strengthen the squad. The money will instead go the bank.

This has left a lot of Evertonians feeling betrayed again after the Liverpool Echo were forced to make an apology in September after suggesting that Arteta was sold to ease pressure from the bank. Bill Kenwright also said at the time that some of the money would be available to Moyes to buy new players.