Bryan Oviedo — What A Gent!

On behalf of ToffeeWeb, Paul Traill takes up a very special invitation from David Sawyer to attend Sponsors Day at Finch Farm as a guest of Byran Oviedo's Sponsors — Bircherley Ltd.

Paul Traill 20/02/2014 23comments  |  Jump to last

It was nice to get to work and find an email had dropped into my Inbox asking if I wouldn’t mind joining David Sawyer from Bircherley Ltd on a day out at Finch Farm the next day. With a single day’s holiday to use up before the end of the tax year next month, I didn’t think twice and was delighted to accept the invitation.

David’s company, Bircherley Ltd, are Bryan Oviedo’s sponsor for the season and this was the Sponsor's Day when they get to acquaint themselves with their player. Suffice to say, I was a rather excited chap for the rest of my day in work.

Onto the big day and it was a pretty straightforward journey for me from Wirral to Finch Farm in Halewood… not so for David who travelled all the way up from Hertfordshire for the event. We met near Finch Farm and approached the gates…disappointing a few autograph-hunting kids in the process who assumed we were footballers. We parked and up the stairs we went to be greeted by the ever affable Graeme Sharp who was fantastic company.

As we were rather early, we chatted to Graeme in depth about all sorts. Injuries – what it was like recovering from them when he was a player compared to now (a lot more guess-work used by surgeons back then). We chatted about Curling as that was on the TV at the time…inconsistency of modern referees, the poor ticket allocation for the Arsenal Quarter-Final... It was great to chat to him and you felt very at ease talking to Graeme.

There was one very funny moment when another gentleman asked Graeme who he thought would win the league. “Erm… I'd best be careful what I say” said Graeme. There was a pause. The gentleman head-bobbed in sad acceptance. “I think they, might you know”. He was referring to Liverpool FC. “NO. NOT THEM!” snapped Graeme. “Chelsea I think — because they’ve got Mourinho”.

It wasn’t long before all the other players' sponsors had arrived and we were soon on our tour around Finch Farm, Graeme Sharp leading the way around the excellent complex. We were taken outside and shown where Roberto’s office is… complete with balcony. As Graeme was showing us around some of the training pitches, Roberto walked down some steps near his office and smiled politely at us.

We walked around the corner and were advised to huddle behind a wall to escape the sharp wind. Here, we were able to watch the players go through their warm-up drills… only Traore and Barry sporting hats. It was nice to see them all go through their paces before they did some ball work. They seemed to be just getting going with some sort of five-a-side match when we were moved inside to see the rest of the facilities. Newly promoted Duncan Ferguson also oversaw the training.

We had a great walk down the corridor where we met Jimmy Martin, our long-serving kit man. “He’s the hardest working man at the club” said Graeme as he introduced him. On we went. Large photos of great moments from our current era adorned the walls and we were lead past the swimming pool and on to the gymnasium where Darron Gibson was doing physio work on his right leg… he waved a nice hello to the assembled guests as he went through his treatment.

Next, we moved on to the Academy where a few lads were cleaning some of the players boots outside… it's nice to see some old customs are still retained. We walked on through and Graeme Sharpe explained that on the wall were photos of all the Academy graduates who have gone on to play for the first team at some point and how this can be a good example of what can be achieved by hard work in the Academy. On the walls, some of the graduates were more famous than others of course… for every Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley there was a Nick Chadwick or a Jake Bidwell, for example, but it goes to show just what can be achieved with dedication and a bit of luck.

The tour concluded with a look at the media room. Roberto Martinez had conducted his Press Conference earlier that morning. Graeme explained how the Sky TV questions are carried out in the media room and then the local radio questions are asked in a separate adjoining room. Graeme cheerfully answered a few questions. He explained how with Finch Farm being so different to the older facilities of Bellefield and with the importance Bellefield has to Everton’s history, that David Moyes was a little worried about how the squad would adapt to moving to Finch Farm, though thankfully it all happened quite smoothly.

I asked Graeme if Finch Farm was David Moyes’s project? It actually wasn’t: it was a project Everton had been working on for some time, going back to when Walter Smith was Everton manager. The facilities really are top draw. One of the Everton representatives was telling me earlier on how it had a real sway in the decision of John Heitinga and Steven Pienaar to join Everton once they had seen Finch Farm as this is where they work every day.

We were then moved on to lunch and were afforded a fabulous buffet. The sponsors joining us on the table were representing Kevin Mirallas so we were soon to be joined at the table by Kevin Mirallas and Bryan Oviedo…well at least we were supposed to — Kevin Mirallas somehow failed to turn up!

We were overlooking the car park and David was telling me how he could have sworn he’d seen Kevin Mirallas get in his car and leave. Word filtered around and sure enough Kevin didn’t show up but in a way it was probably just as well for his sponsors as, once we had gotten chatting to them, it emerged one was an Aston Villa fan and the other wasn’t even a football fan… they’d just gone along for the day as part of their company. They were actually asking us for any interesting questions they could ask Kevin.

“Ask him about the goal he scored for England” teased David.

As it turned out, and probably as a bit of a compromise, the guys were passed through to go and chat with Roberto Martinez instead. This was probably for the best… I think they’d have had a better chat with Roberto.

Bryan Oviedo was actually the last player to come out and meet his sponsors but it was well worth the wait. Prior to that (in no particular order) Steven Pienaar, Jon Stones, Gerard Deulofeu, Antolin Alcaraz, Lacina Traore, Gareth Barry, Leon Osman, Aiden McGeady, Sylvan Distin, Tim Howard and Phil Jagielka all came and sat with their sponsors and chatted pleasantly... Alcaraz chatting to his guys for a particularly lengthy time.

Everyone was thrilled to meet their players and pose for photos. Each sponsor was given a signed shirt from their player. The First Team players’ canteen was on the other side of the kitchen area. Graeme Sharp had earlier explained how they have a TV, a pool table and table tennis table in there. I approached the kitchen for a cup of tea and one of the chefs said to the other. “One of the players has ordered a steak”. The other one rolled her eyes and asked “Who?”. The other lady said “The big one… I wasn’t gonna argue with him”. I peered through to the other side of the canteen to see Lacina Traore standing there.

Bryan finally came through the doors, smile on his face as he hobbled over on crutches. He lit up the room when he came in with everyone pleased to see him up and about. The obvious question was the first one: Bryan answered “It’s OK. It was very painful for the first two weeks but now it is getting better. I want to do more work but I have to rest it to let it recover.”

David asked him if he’ll be back to play again this season. “Maybe for the FA Cup Final,” smiled Bryan who is also very hopeful of being fit for the World Cup. “I really want to play against England” he said… again with that nice big smile of his. I’m actually heading over to Brazil for the World Cup myself and am taking in the England vs Costa Rica match — I really hope he’s playing or at least in the squad.

He certainly is on the road to recovery and is driving already. “Yes, I can drive. It’s an automatic!” His best friends at the club are Kevin Mirallas and Sylvan Distin “but everyone is great. We’re all friends.” David asked if he preferred working under David Moyes or Roberto Martinez. “Both. It’s difficult to answer that question.” I asked about the difference in training. “Training is different. We do more ball work with Martinez.”

“Do you think we can beat Chelsea?” asked David. “Yes. It’ll be very difficult but Yes.” He is unable to travel with the squad just yet to away games but is attending the home games.

Finally, I asked how his move to Everton came about? He said that in June (2011), West Brom were interested and he spoke with them but he had heard of Everton’s interest and wanted to go to Everton instead. It transpired that in January (2012) he then signed for Everton and was very excited to be doing so. He still has three years on his contract and loves being at Everton.

He even understands the Scouse accent. “A few weeks ago, some friends visited and they all speak English but they couldn’t understand the accent — but for me it’s no problem.”

With that, Bryan posed for photographs with David and myself before he was away. It was a real pleasure to chat with Bryan and just awesome to be shown around Finch Farm by a legend as highly regarded as Graeme Sharp. Just sitting there in the canteen area was brilliant… seeing legends like Kevin Sheedy, Duncan Ferguson and Alan Irvine wandering around in their training kit and all the Academy players present. We were well looked after at Finch Farm. Everyone was so welcoming.

We said our goodbye’s and then managed to get ourselves lost on the way out though got there in the end. Though I again managed to lose my way. David dropped me at the end of the road and I tried walking back to where I parked and tried to take a short cut only to get even more lost. If anyone has a worse sense of direction than me I’d love to meet them.

So a great day at Finch Farm and great to get a snapshot of what it is like day to day for the players. Thanks to Bryan for being so nice, thanks to Everton for being so welcoming and a big thank you to David Sawyer for the very kind invite. It was brilliant to come along.

Oh, and on behalf of everyone — get well soon, Bryan!

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Reader Comments (23)

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Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
1 Posted 21/02/2014 at 04:03:58
Fantastic account, Paul. Great that you could take up David Sawyer's very kind invitation. Sounds like a fantastic day and a great opportunity to meet some of the rich and famous.

Thanks so much for this — really appreciated.

Keith Edmunds
2 Posted 21/02/2014 at 04:30:50
A great read Paul, thanks. Let's see the photo!
David Ellis
3 Posted 21/02/2014 at 05:28:44
Paul – great account.

If you want to meet someone with a worse sense of direction how would they find you?

Trevor Thompson
4 Posted 21/02/2014 at 05:51:41
Great write-up! Thank you.
Derek Knox
5 Posted 21/02/2014 at 09:29:02
Excellent report on the progress of Bryan, Paul!

As so many fellow TW'ers have mentioned previously, it is ironic that his time at Everton was eventually beginning to take off, and he was not only playing regularly, but playing really well! I hope his recovery does allow him back before the season ends, and that he does manage to play in the World Cup!

I can only wish him all the very best, and thanks again for the article Paul.

Brent Stephens
6 Posted 21/02/2014 at 09:50:46
Great read.
Tony I'Anson
7 Posted 21/02/2014 at 11:42:44
Demand for player sponsorship goes through the roof.

LL, MK what about TW sponsoring a player next year and doing a raffle (Ł1 a go, pay via PayPal) with a couple of winners representing TW Towers during next season's "meet your sponsored player day"?

Eugene Ruane
8 Posted 21/02/2014 at 12:05:45
Tony (276) – "...with a couple of winners representing TW Towers during next season's "meet your sponsored player day?"

A COUPLE of winners?

Pffft! Bollocks to that, if I'm going to shell out a pound, I want a guarantee of a full day at Finch Farm (taxi there and back) and to be let loose at a buffet.

"Yeah, FA Cup, that's really interesting Grae.... HEY LOVE, IS THERE ANYMORE OF THEM RIBS!?"

Ian Bennett
9 Posted 21/02/2014 at 12:28:41
Tony - how about an Osman curse box on the forum, or a spelling fine for Deulofeu (checks website carefully). I reckon with those 2 we'd easily compete with City.
Mike Hughes
10 Posted 21/02/2014 at 12:51:55
Ian #283

Nice idea but how would we organise payment for tit-head Osman and Deolufeio issues?
(Only joking)

:)

Kris Boner
11 Posted 21/02/2014 at 13:40:38
Would be an excellent idea Tony, but Ian I reckon you would bankrupt many of the fine people who frequent the website.
Will Firstbrook
12 Posted 21/02/2014 at 15:35:11
Great read. Thanks for sharing, Paul.
Tony I'Anson
13 Posted 21/02/2014 at 16:10:53
http://www.evertonfc.com/hospitality/player-sponsorship

Could be a good prize for TW contributors to win, if say 300 paid Ł2 to cover the cost. (or maybe a bit more to cover Eugene’s taxi)

Promote your brand by sponsoring your favourite player from just Ł500(+VAT) Ł600.

What’s included?

• Meet your sponsored player at the Finch Farm training ground in February 2014

• Your company name or logo will be displayed alongside your sponsored player in the matchday programme and on big screens during the game

• Your company name or logo and web link on evertonfc.com

• Receive a boxed shirt signed and presented by your sponsored player

• Two tickets to the Player of the Month Lunch if your player wins during 2013/14. You’ll even get to sit at his table.

• Plus, two tickets to one Player of the Month Lunch between January and May 2014

Tony I'Anson
14 Posted 21/02/2014 at 16:17:48
Before anyone asks, yes we're still active. See twitter for a couple of the latest posts.
Joel Lueck
15 Posted 21/02/2014 at 16:41:54
Great Story! I was at Goodison Park from California for my 40th Birthday on February 1 and was so impressed with the hospitality. We enjoyed the match in the Joe Mercer Suite and everyone in there made the experience unbelievable. It's nice to see that the hospitality extends throughout the Everton brand.
Mike Gaynes
16 Posted 21/02/2014 at 16:42:44
Wonderful article, Paul. Thanks for the update on my favorite Blue.
Frank McGregor
17 Posted 21/02/2014 at 17:36:02
Paul, really good article. You mention in the article the "Media room" — I enjoy Roberto Martinez's interviews; however, one of the things I believe should happen is the media people introduce themselves by giving their names and then ask the question.

My point is that they are faceless people with no accountability.

James Welford
18 Posted 21/02/2014 at 18:52:01
Awesome article, thanks Paul.

Can't wait to see Bryan back on the pitch. OVVVVVVVVVIIIEEEDOO BABYYYYYYY!

Will Leaf
19 Posted 22/02/2014 at 01:07:23
Great read.

Although, I was disturbed to learn Tony Hibbert remains unsponsored this season.

I hereby register my support for a TW Adopt Hibbo Campaign.

Paul Ferry
20 Posted 22/02/2014 at 22:36:16
Anyone else completely floored and surprised that Mirallas did not turn up?
Patrick Murphy
21 Posted 22/02/2014 at 22:47:02
Paul do you mean today at Stamford Bridge? But, as for the event, It really doesn't surprise me. I think he is a "me, me, me" type of guy and I can't see him being at Everton next season — his choice by the way.
Paul Ferry
22 Posted 22/02/2014 at 23:11:05
Both Patrick and I do agree he does appear to be a "me, me, me" type although I would rather see him stay than go. Very nice write up by the way PT.
Wesley Coles
23 Posted 24/02/2014 at 09:35:08
Thank you so much for this article. I love the detail and lap up any insider style stories, even the likes of who came in first to the canteen! Moments in fan's lives when they meet players or have these great opportunities should never be taken for granted.

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