Fellow Blue Eugene Ruane put it best

Choose your mates. Choose your family. Choose Walton. Choose Blue. Choose curry and chips. Choose Tommy Lawton. Choose anger and disappointment. Choose occasional moments of sponk-shooting ecstasy. Choose Dixie’s 60. Choose history. Choose Alan Ball. Choose Labby. Choose Rotterdam 85. Choose tears. Choose pure bad fucking luck. Choose L4. Choose bent refs. Choose no to Kirkby. Choose last minute heartbreak. Choose to laugh at ’them’. Choose panic. Choose Baines. Choose COYB! Choose rioting if Hibbert scores. Choose big Duncan. Choose amber away. Choose going away. Choose The Golden Vision. Choose The Goodison Supper Bar. Choose night-game madness. Choose 1878. Choose Big Nev. Choose NSNO. Choose 9 titles. Choose 5 F.A Cups. Choose Everton de Via del Mar. Choose throwing beer. Choose Eddie Cavanagh 66. Choose The Dogs Of War. Choose ’The Cat’. Choose The European Cup Winners Cup. Choose The Street End. Choose Z-Cars. Choose Dave Hickson. Choose Martinez. Choose life. Choose....Everton.

I have been a Blue for all of a week now. Last week, I wrote of how I came to choose Everton as my team, with my being a new EPL follower and all, and through all the many great comments I received, I quickly became aware that I did not choose Everton; in truth, I was born Everton Blue but it just took me nearly 49 years to realize it.

My first week as a full-blown Blues supporter was quite eventful. First of all, things in my household are now a little different from the period before I discovered Everton Football Club. I now have a new rule in my house.


No red clothing, no red food products, no red bedding, etc. Everything to do with the color red is now forbidden in this house. Of course, my wife was confused as I tried to explain how red was the color of the Evil Empire down the street in Liverpool, the evil reds down in North London, and the other Evil Empire over in Manchester, but while she cannot understand my fanatical desire to eliminate the color red from the house, she at least appreciates that I support a team wearing Blue, which is one of her favorite colors.

Next up was the Evertonization of my computer. My PC wallpaper and Facebook background now bear the proud images of Goodison Park. When asked by family members what the odd stadium planted right in the middle of a neighborhood is, I just reply Only the greatest stadium in the world and one we WILL visit before we die! Or else!

Late in the week, I realized that NBC would not be showing the Everton/ WHU match on TV and that I would have to watch online on NBCs website. Of course, the cross-town Evil Red Empire would be on instead, playing and hopefully getting killed by Southhampton. No problem. Saturday morning, I set up with an iPad in my lap and the TV on across the room. I had dreams of a glorious day that would include an Everton victory, coupled with watching Liverpool go down in flames at Anfield.

Halfway through the first half of Evertons match, I tried my best to get into the spirit of cheering the boys on. I stood up and did my best attempt at screaming/singing at the top of my lungs, with the occasional lines of profanity thrown in for good measure. This, of course, had my wife running into the room asking what I was doing and wanting to know why I was singing/cursing at the TV. I told her that I was trying to sing some of the good Everton songs that the fans all sing from the stands, but told her I was not quite sure of the actual words as of yet, and only knew that most of them had a few good profane chants thrown in, usually involving colorful descriptions of where the other team could stick their colors in relation their rear-end human anatomy. (If anyone can post a comment with a link to the words to our songs, it would be greatly appreciated.)

After the second Baines free-kick found the net, late in the second half, to tie the match, I knew we had the match won. Twice, the Hammers had tried to put us away and had failed. I just knew this was Evertons day, yet again.

After Lukakus exploding header, which nearly knocked him out cold, I sprinted around the house, arms in the air, screaming for joy, before sliding on my knees across the carpet in celebration. (Let me tell you, that hurts!)

As you know, life is indeed good this week. I got my wish, as did we all. Everton won in probably the most exciting match of the day on Saturday, and Liverpool lost. Baines was out of this world, Lukaku was a beast, Barkley looks to be a Superstar in the making, and the boys again played as a team and came out the victors.

I liked the post-match interview in which our new striker admitted he had no memory of the final goal and had to ask who had scored.

You did, Lukaku!

Sundays here in the USA are ruled by NFL Football. I live in North Texas, home to the famed Dallas Cowboys, who have the nickname Americas Team.

They have NOTHING on Everton and its fans.

I now follow the best team in the world!

I might be new, but it sure is good to be a Blue.

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Reader Comments (47)

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Eric Myles
1 Posted 22/09/2013 at 06:51:17


Peter Warren
2 Posted 22/09/2013 at 07:14:39
Mark you are an absolute fanatic (some would say lunatic). Funny how you just get it because you're a Blue.

I wouldnt worry too much about not knowing the words to songs Evertonians aren't renowned for getting tge wirds right all the time, again because we're nit manufactured. however, Lyndon's article is about the feeling you have at the minute which goes line this:

"I've never felt more like singing the blues, when Everton win and Liverpool lose, oh Everton you've got me singing the blues!"

Keep up with the postings they are class

Peter Warren
3 Posted 22/09/2013 at 07:20:23
Sorry to all for my bad grammar, badly hungover after celebrations last night !
Derek Thomas
4 Posted 22/09/2013 at 07:46:33
Mark, well done for your 'Letter from America' ( it would compliment Ken Buckley's ' From my seat' ) please make it a regular thing ( tip/advice, google Letter from America for the ethos and style of the thing and also read and listen to the man himself, it is well worth the effort even though it has nothing to do with the blues. As Robbie Burns said Oh would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us)

Also in the best 'glass half empty' ToffeeWeb tradition comes the disclaimer.

It isn't always this good

That's half the fun... the highs are higher and the lows lower...but you knew that.

Jon Beck
5 Posted 22/09/2013 at 08:10:35
Excellent read Mark which, along with the repeat of Match of the Day, has given me a warm glow on a sunny Sunday. Morning here in Chester. Keep purging the red!!
Leung Chi Ho
6 Posted 22/09/2013 at 08:09:28
Hi, Mark, glad to hear you again!!
I support Everton since 1995 when I was 10 and become alien to support Everton when people around me cheering the red shite and man utd.
No internet at that moment and the live coverage had us live on screen about 12,13 matches every season. So it is fortune to be a Blues today.
To be an Evertonian is unique and no matter how worst we were in the 90s, I wont change my heart. The high and low make me a better person in facing any challenge because I know I can overcome it.
Once a Blue, Always a Blue.
An Evertonian from Hong Kong.
Matt Traynor
7 Posted 22/09/2013 at 10:28:20
Mark, for when you do decide to make your pilgrimage, I recommend joining the "Darkhouse Blues" Facebook group. Whenever I'm in there, there seems to be at least a couple of people who've made the trip for their first game, usually following the advice of lead singer / occasional mouth organist and general philosopher George McKane.

The bitter is only 2.12 a pint too, which isn't bad for a matchday pub!

David Stewart
8 Posted 22/09/2013 at 10:46:51
Mark, good to see you had a good first week as a blue... I had my billionth and it was absolutely brilliant. See I support two teams, different codes, different colours and totally different countries but both (in my opinion) solid working-class teams, both with a truly passionate fanbase.

So I realize its early days for you but, when you get the chance, google Australian Football League (AFL) and check out the Fremantle Dockers. I know plenty of bluenoses who follow them and, like me, they believe they compliment each other. Last night they qualified for next weeks Grand Final and the noise and passion at the ground brought me back to so many games Id seen at Goodison Park. Blue and purple the greatest colour combo ever.

So, after watching the game, I then got to watch the mighty blues clean up whilst drinking the beer that compliments both these teams Coopers Pale Ale. A truly magic weekend... oh, and the deludes getting beat was the icing on the cake.

Ken Crowther
9 Posted 22/09/2013 at 11:42:39
Once again, Mark Hi and thanks.

However to take up a position that will not be welcome on here... I don't actually hate the Red Shite.

I just dismiss them!

My first ever game was at Anfield taken by my older brother-in-law, who died a raging Koppite it was 1952 and they beat Man Ure 2-0.

I didn't actually get to see my beloved Blues until 1954; but I persist in my proclamation that it's not necessary to revile all things red just because the Dark Side wear that colour. I think no more about them than I do about Scunthorpe, and a good deal less than I do about Sterling Albion.

It's good that you are keeping up the contact.

Now I'm going to the air-raid shelter to avoid the flak from the red-haters on here.

David Chait
11 Posted 22/09/2013 at 11:52:57
I 2nd that... Would love to hear from Mark weekly.. As he goes on his journey of enlightenment... I'm enjoying these Yanks... That American can do attitude, as annoying as it might be to the Anglo in us normally is quite fun and feels like it belongs with the fresh air that is sweeping through...
Tony McNulty
12 Posted 22/09/2013 at 12:16:00

Since you arrived on the scene the record has been perfect. All you have to do now is keep this correlation going.

No pressure.

Harold Matthews
13 Posted 22/09/2013 at 11:53:09
Nice one Mark. It's called "character building". Don't worry about chants and songs. I've been a supporter since WW2 and leave that stuff to lower league fans.

Leung Chi Ho. Great name, great post. Believe the Racing is fantastic in Hong Kong. Happy Valley etc. Love your philosophy. You're right. Being a Blue will increase your strength and make you a better person. Keep posting.

Stephen Karnes
14 Posted 22/09/2013 at 13:02:44
Another American and (relatively) recent Toffee devotee. This isn't your first week as a blue, mate, it's just the first week you've realized it. Welcome to the People's Club, we'll treat ya' real nice.
Tony Draper
15 Posted 22/09/2013 at 13:09:56
Thanks for the update, and I do agree with others who have asked that you keep us posted on your journey ever deeper into Evertonianism
But, please don't feel the obligation to comply every week/game

As Brian Labone sagely advised "One Evertonian is worth 20 Liverpudlians", the same could be applied to the quality of input
So please, don't feel stretched or coerced, though I am enjoying your "Affirmations of Faith"

Your original thread drew remarks from a number of other "far flung Blues", so you have already served the cause nobly

Us blues get a buzz when someone new joins the fold

Careful with those carpet burns !

Phil Friedman
16 Posted 22/09/2013 at 13:18:06
Mark, spend about $35 for an HDMI cable and the Apple connector (if you have an internet-ready TV) and project your iPad onto it to watch the match in full-screen HD!
David Nicholls
17 Posted 22/09/2013 at 15:44:33
Welcome Mark
As your a Texan you may be able to advise me. After becoming hooked on Friday Night Lights I promised myself I would get into NFL. Obviously its much better when you can support a team but I can't figure out which one.
Given our illustrious history, loyal fanbase, financial issues etc, is there an NFL equivalent of Everton out there?
Cheers Mate
Mike Doyle
18 Posted 22/09/2013 at 16:39:19

You should support the Dallas Cowboys. There are few similarities with Everton: one of the most-storied NFL franchises; they feature blue as one of their main colors, they are near the top of all-time Super Bowl wins (but nothing since the mid-1990s); they have an owner who leaves fans constantly scratching their heads; and, as modern rivalries in the NFL go, they are in a division in which the other team's fans still hate each other.

The differences are that they have no financial issues as they are behind only Man U and Real Madrid in franchise value and the NFL has a salary cap which prevents teams from trying to outspend each other. In addition, they don't have a hallowed ground like Goodison. If it's any consolation, their stadium is the jewel of the league.

On a personal note, I have been a fan of the Cowboys since the mid-1970s, through two very succesful stints and through two long playoff droughts. Since we are currently in one of those dry spells, you will be joining at the perfect time.

Liam Guinan
19 Posted 22/09/2013 at 14:38:54
Mark, excellent article again. I look forward to reading your next installment. As I type this, Man City are 2.0 up, OFM looks doomed and my weekend just keeps getting better. Here's hoping tonight goes just as well to cap it all off.
Jackie Barry
20 Posted 22/09/2013 at 16:56:16
The Dallas Cowboys, we have been joking about them at work the past few season stating they have the stadium (it's a really cool stadium), but they don't have the team to play in the stadium! LOL.
Mike Doyle
21 Posted 22/09/2013 at 17:05:27
The ownership is probably the biggest detriment to the success of the team. That's another similarity that I have deduced in my short time as an Everton supporter.
Leung Chi Ho
22 Posted 22/09/2013 at 17:26:18
Hi, Harold, Hong Kong is now such a great place to watch European football because the live coverage time is perfectly on the night of the weekend.
Every football fans in Hong Kong that I know are admire how we play since the Moyes era, I never heard any bad word to our team.
I know some of the football fans choose us as a 2nd favourite team, they may be a fans of gunners, spurs, manure or even the shite.
I still remember the night when Farrelly scored 'that' goal and keep us in the league, how the crowd celebrating the 'draw' and invaded to the pitch like we win the league.
I hope one day I can visit Goodison Park to watch a match and cheering with you guys!
(Sorry for my grammer, but follow Everton with those years have improve my English significantly)
Julian Wait
23 Posted 22/09/2013 at 17:55:52
Mark - I live in Austin, sometimes visit family in Dallas. We should meet for a game sometime.
Dominic Tonge
24 Posted 22/09/2013 at 18:03:27
Julian and Mark, Do I sense the birth of the Dallas Cowblues (or something slightly less shit in the name department) our very own Texas supporters club.......
Mark Pakulak
25 Posted 22/09/2013 at 16:51:59
David (251) As far as an NFL team that might equate to Everton, personally, I think the Cleveland Browns might be the closest comparison. Currently, and in recent years, they are wretchedly awful, but they did have a good history of success in the earlier years of the NFL though they have not been been to a Super Bowl (Championship) as of yet. No matter how bad the team might be, the fans are probably the most loyal in the league and will still support the Browns through the toughest of times. That's pretty unusual here, because bad teams usually result in empty stadiums and very poor fan support until the team starts winning. Many losing teams will even cover parts of their stands with tarps because they cannot sell all the seats to their games. As far as I can tell, Cleveland continues to sell out all their home games, no matter how good or bad the team.
Mark Pakulak
26 Posted 22/09/2013 at 18:22:17
Julian (338) Maybe if we are lucky, the Blues will come to Dallas or Houston this next pre-season for a match and we can see them in person!
Mark Taylor
27 Posted 22/09/2013 at 18:49:32
Hi Mark from a fellow Mark and fellow Blue.

You picked a good week. Two victories, a glimpse of what might be one of the most exciting CF's we've had in years, defeat for the RS and better again, a thrashing for the other version of the RS.

Problem is, it can't get better than this.....can it?

Mike Doyle
28 Posted 22/09/2013 at 18:40:47
Mark, this Cleveland Browns team isn't the franchise that had success in the 40s and 59s. Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore and they became the Ravens. The current incarnation of the Browns (with 73 wins against 151 losses, since 1999) would have been relegated years ago if they were being compared to an English football team.

We want our English friends to be frustrated, not suicidal.

Mark Pakulak
29 Posted 22/09/2013 at 19:01:56
Mike Doyle - This is true. Though the Cowboys fans can be suicidal as well given the .500 record for the past 16 years....... with the past success that the team once enjoyed. :) Me....... I still root for the Seahawks because I am originally from the NW.
Paul Thompson
30 Posted 22/09/2013 at 19:21:10
Mark - that was fun, thanks. I wouldn't worry too much about stuff like having no red in the house. It's a bit like the niqab and Islam. A few fanatics do it, but it's not strictly an article of faith.

On the topic of new US Everton fans, readers may be interested in the video blogs of Nick Bailey from Virginia who goes under the name of Nick Knows Footy. His musings on the Chelsea game are here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubm5c6Isj2E. A warning - not for the easily offended.

Mike Doyle
31 Posted 22/09/2013 at 20:05:04
Mark, it's a good time to be a Seahawks fan. I liked them when they had Zorn and Largent (Zorn was originally signed by the Cowboys) They had one of the best helmets in the NFL. When are the Mariners going to join the Seahawks and Sounders and add the bright green to their uniforms?
Danny McFlosum
32 Posted 22/09/2013 at 20:31:50
Being that I live in Seattle and can relate to the newness of your Evertonionism, I feel that with the direction this thread has gone I must post something...

Took my kid to his soccer game this weekend right after the Everton match, and one of the coaches (from the other side of the pond) made a beeline for me and said "an Everton jersey? Are you from there?" I laughed and said no but I plan on making it to Goodison Park one day. I guess I should've picked one of the big 4 teams so I don't get people so confused. We talked a little about the game and organization (organisation?), it was pretty cool.

As for the American Football team, definitely go with the Seahawks, a young and ruthless team that will be getting loads of TV coverage so you can watch. Plus their jerseys look damn cool. And as for the Seattle Mariners (baseball), we may not have to worry about them changing colors (colours?) because they may just have no fans by the end of the season.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the hottest team in MLS and my beloved Seattle Sounders!! COOOME ONNNN SEEEATTLE!!!!

Anyway, I love the post what a great weekend.

Dick Fearon
34 Posted 23/09/2013 at 00:30:16
I became a Blue somewhere between the nipple and a bottle. Since then I have been on a 70-year long hazy crazy roller-coaster.

My long suffering better half remembers my similar hatred of all things red, period even down to painting gate posts and window sills blue.

Nowadays, for the sake of peace and though it is still an offence to my eyes I will tolerate that awful colour. There is a lot more than that in being a Blue but it is a good start.

David Cornmell
35 Posted 23/09/2013 at 00:46:26
Seeing as Liverpool is in the northwest, and so is Seattle, seems almost a given that the Seahawks should be our NFL cousins. I always thought that Cleveland - being in the midwest - might be a more analogous team for our friends from the Midlands. Despite being absolute shite forever, Wolves, Birmingham and even Villa fans keep turning up.
That being said, aren't the Giants known as Big Blue?
In baseball, I'm a Rays man. Got no money, in a division with two of the biggest spenders in the game, yet routinely get to the postseason ahead of one of them. This is through the use of astute player acquisitions, youth and a manager who understands the game and can think a little outside the box.
Surely our MLB equivalent?
David Hallwood
36 Posted 23/09/2013 at 01:33:32
Nice post Mark. I had no say in the matter about being a blue, because both dad & granddad were, so I'm 3rd, possibly a 4th generation blue.

Like you I'm averse to all things red, and refuse point blank to drive a red car, much to the annoyance of the other half when we were offered a really good deal on a car. And then there was the sister-in-law's Christmas present of three red t-shirts and a red sweater-that was a laugh opening that on Christmas morning, I could go on.

But if you want a taste of what's it like to watch the blues, click on the link below of Bainsy's free kick v West ham. Pure magic

Welcome aboard and keep the faith


Julian Wait
37 Posted 23/09/2013 at 01:53:54
Dominic I know of several blues in Texas.

Gerry Quinn in Houston.
Mark in North Texas.
A mate here who I bumped into in the pub; and I believe Lyndon Lloyd's own brother Matt is in Austin too. Plus of course my family and any other neutrals I can adopt as Everton fans. We've fewer fans than the Sky teams, but we do get a lot of respect, I find especially from the Arsenal fans, more than Spurs surprisingly.

Actually, I had dinner last night at a restaurant, and they served Chang. So I had one, and then another. And I told the waitress that it was in honour of a fine victory of my team, thinking she wouldn't get it; she told me her boyfriend was an Everton fan and that she was a Spurs fan. I told her to see the light but, to her credit she stood her ground.

Anyway, so yes, a fledgling population of texas toffees. We also had Adrian Heath here in Austin for a while, but his Stoke backed team flew the coop to Florida and the (very successful) team in their stead is, alas alack, coached by the son of Queen Kenny himself.; he's done a good job though and I am coming around to the idea of supporting my local team.

Mark Pakulak, I hate to tell you this but Everton actually played Club America at the FC Dallas stadium in Frisco about 4 or 5 years ago. It was unremarkable game except for the fact that Simon Davies played quite well for us. It was however my wife and youngest's first game, so it is indeed memorable for that. Hoping to see us in Houston next time, it's air conditioned!

Viva Texas Toffees!

Mark Pakulak
38 Posted 23/09/2013 at 02:01:12
David (624) I could watch both those kicks all night long. It still amazes me how they can pull off those kicks with the wall in front of them. I watch some MLS matches on TV here and very few of the guys can pull off those kicks successfully. In fact, most of the guys can barely pull off passing the ball successfully......... but that's why they are in the MLS and not the EPL............. :)
David Ellis
39 Posted 23/09/2013 at 02:21:42
Mega typhoon hit Hong Kong last night so get a Monday morning lie in. Just read the OP out loud to my long suffering Chinese wife over marmalade and toast. She sends her commiserations to your wife Mark!
Kevin Thompson
40 Posted 23/09/2013 at 07:17:23
Mark, Spread the word in the USA Everton are the best, forget the rest. Choose Everton. We need all the promoting we can get
Kevin Thompson
41 Posted 23/09/2013 at 07:17:23
Mark, Spread the word in the USA Everton are the best, forget the rest. Choose Everton. We need all the promoting we can get
Phil Bellis
42 Posted 23/09/2013 at 12:06:06
Mark Pakulak 627
100% record with you on board, pal

If you think those 2 were special, check last season's Leighton netbuster


Tony I'Anson
43 Posted 23/09/2013 at 17:58:46
Ken, Stirling Albion.
Gerry Quinn
44 Posted 23/09/2013 at 18:16:09
I meant to introduce myself to you in your last article, but the West Ham game and then everything subsequently going on around it (new badges, etc) took over. So, what I meant to say was "Welcome to the Everton family, fellow Texan". Me, born and raised on Merseyside - now living in west Houston and have been lucky enough in the last 10 years to have been to Houston, Dallas (ps hi, Julian, hope all's well), Salt Lake twice, Washington, Denver and San Francisco to go see the boys play (ha, the wife still wonders why Everton suddenly appear wherever I seem take her on her vacation!!!).

Anyway, again, great to have another Texan brother-in-arms - and, as for only blue colours in your house (note the CORRECT spelling of colours :) - brilliant, now you have to go ahead and beat this for a Christmas Tree, Mark:


Gerry Quinn
45 Posted 23/09/2013 at 18:47:53
...and a warm welcome too for Leung Chi Ho
...and I am sure that all ToffeeWebbers hope that Typhoon Usagi did not interfere too much with your Everton match viewing or cause too much turmoil for you and your family.
Gary Creaney
46 Posted 23/09/2013 at 20:06:51
Mark, this and your previous post are an interesting story for me all cemented by David Nicholls @ 251.

Like Americans, I would refer to football as soccer because football to a lot of us Irish folk is Gaelic Football. But my main reason is because I would be your vice versa.

I'm a lifelong blue. By the time I had my first memories of any kind the seed was already planted by my dad that I would support Everton. I don't remember not supporting Everton.

But it was in 2004 I became a Baltimore Ravens fan. NFL is becoming quite big as a brand in the UK and Ireland these days, back then was probably the beginning of today's big movement. I'm not entirely sure why the Ravens, I suppose I could suggest I was chosen especially considering they won the Superbowl 2 years previous and the fashionable team for the glory hunter at the time would have been Tom Brady's dynasty at the NE Patriots which sandwiched the Ravens superbowl with 3 of their own in 01,03 & 04. Since then I'm big into my beloved Ravens (though Everton trumps them if it came to it) and it was amazing to watch another Superbowl winning season last year. Though like Everton your heart is always in your mouth. Even a huge lead in the Superbowl wasn't enough for Ravens fans to settle ourselves, we went about doing it the hard way and that made it super sweet when we won it in the last play of the game.
I'm not a Merseysider but I certainly can inadvertently understand your late coming and choosing of (being chosen by) a team in a league and sport you were initially unfamiliar with.

ps David Nicholls, along with my wife, I absolutely loved Friday Night Lights, so much so that our 17-week-old daughter is called "Grace" after we fell in love with the name that coach Taylor gave to his newborn.

Dominic Tonge
47 Posted 23/09/2013 at 22:59:32

Texas Toffees is a much better name..... Also, don't be put off your local team Because of Kenny's offspring. They are not ALL horrid rednose types, in fact one in particular is a lot less offensive, but I digress. I also have to say I am not too sure about my choice of NFL team having any relevance to my being an Evertonian but as a nipper I chose the Rams... My MLB team speaks for itself though... Mets..... It's the whole counterbalance of an evil neighbour thing coupled with a hint of underdog.
Harold Matthews
48 Posted 23/09/2013 at 23:36:17
Leung Chi," The Hong Kong Blue". Terrific story. Pleased to hear you are enjoying the new and exciting times with Roberto Martinez. Evertonians are a unique breed and we are proud to have you as a lifelong member of our wonderful family.

Your English, by the way, is excellent.

John Desmond
49 Posted 03/10/2013 at 19:14:31
Greetings from New Jersey !

When I was young, Dad took me to see the Philadelphia Ukrainians (winners of the US Open Cup in '60, '61, '63 and '66) play a few times, and I'd always been interested in 'real football', even if somewhat bewildered by the tactics and rules. When the Premier League got onto my cable package last year, I got up early Saturday mornings to watch (won't tell what I was wearing ;-) ). Got hooked. Read a couple of 'How To Play Soccer' books for kids, to help figure it out. And thought of picking a team to cheer for.

Considered squads with uniforms in colours matching the '70 era Phillies*, or with improbably cute Olde World stadiums.

Then came March 16th. Thought "this team - where's Everton** - is putting up a good fight, against the league champions ... oh-oh, red card, 10 against 11 with a half-hour to go ..." But I kept watching, and realized "This Team plays with HEART!".

And I realized - late but in earnest - that I'm an Evertonian

So, thanks for new things to learn, and appreciate, and cheer about, and for finding a loyalty in common with people around an ever-smaller world.

Finally, if I may suggest an American football team to root for - even though this is Not Their Year, and I primarily cheer for 'duh Fluffya Iggles' (especially now that I'm living in the borderlands with 'da Jints'(evil incarnate ;-) ) ) - the Pittsburgh Steelers have a long and glorious history, a public-spirited ownership, and a loyal and wide-spread fan base. Check them out.

Best wishes to all of you !

Yours, John

*Yes, was born a fan of the first sports team to lose ten thousand matches, and with red as their team color, too. Also went to a college that joins red and blue in the school colors. Sorry, but not planning interior redecorating soon.

**I'm something of a geography buff, too.

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