It was a long journey to get there, but well worth the wait. It was a dream that commenced in childhood and was finally realized over 33 years later. Quite fittingly, it was Retro Day against Hull, that I achieved the feat of finally watching my beloved Toffees in the flesh.

It was an early start, 5:30 am and I did not care because I could not sleep anyway. I was full of excitement and I felt like a little kid on Christmas Eve. I arrived at John Lennon Airport around 9am and headed straight to the city centre. There were no thoughts of shopping or getting in a few pints, there was only one thing on my mind and that was to reach the promise land that is Goodison Park. All that could be done next time; I arrived nearly 4 hours before kickoff, which may sound a little bit crazy.

After collecting my tickets, I did a tour of the outside of Goodison Park. I read every single banner and plaque that adorned the Grand Old Lady. Amongst the plaques, there was Brian Labone, Dixie Dean, Dave Hickson, Alex Young, Joe Royle, Howard Kendall and Alan Ball, Everton Giants of yesteryear, and the legends I grew up with, Southall, Watson, Ratcliffe, Sharp, Reid and Steven. They were missing one player, who was one of my favorites: Kevin Sheedy, who had the sweetest left foot around and who got me hooked on my beloved Toffees many years ago.

I went for some authentic homemade scouse in the County Kitchen, it was just what I needed. I then went to the Everton One store; I want to buy one of everything there, but ended up with just a matchday programme. I went straight to the Fan Zone and waited a while to see my heroes in the flesh...

Coleman was first to appear, he spent time signing autographs and taking pictures with young fans and one old one, we actually had a short conversation and he recognized my fellow Irish accent. I shook his hand. Ossie, Jelavic, Ovedio where next and I also shook them by the hand and got autographs. Distin was followed with Ovedio pretending to try and crush him against the barrier. The rest of the team arrived later in a pack and moved quickly through the fans. I wanted to shake Naiseys hand because his goal and the 1-0 versus Chelsea paid for my trip.

I made my way to my turnstile, beside which there was an entrance to the Brian Labone Suite. I peered my head inside the door at Sky News on the TV and the nice security guard asked if could he help me. I enquired how the Shite were getting on, He said that they were losing one-nil, I said thats a good start to the day. I entered in though the turnstiles and went straight to find my seat; I was one of the first to enter the stand. I was talking to one of the stewards, he informed me that the Shite had equalized and playing against ten men for the second half, maybe not such a good start to the day...

I watched as the teams warmed up, Hull were first out. When I started hearing the familiar Evertonian tunes, I knew the game was about to start. When Z Cars came blaring out, a shiver went down my back.

When Mirallas scored, the crowd including myself were ecstatic (It was a Kevin that got me hooked on Everton). I am sorry to anyone who heard my bad language when Distin nearly scored an own goal. The Hull fans to their credit sold out their section and were in full voice even when going 1-0 down. I applauded every good tackle, pass, closing down. I shouted encouragement until I was hoarse. Hull equalized and I was gutted. Amazingly Pienaar scored with his first touch. I was happy again. Kone could have made the last 15 minutes to watch if he had stuck away one of the two chances he had. We hung on in the 4 mins of added time.

The game was not a classic by any means, but it was hugely enjoyable for me. I cant wait to get back to Goodison, the bug has bitten me. I would like to thank some of the Everton fans who I meet on my journey who were friendly and helpful.

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Reader Comments (5)

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Steve Cotton
1 Posted 20/10/2013 at 16:34:43
Great article Kevin... you are welcome back any time.
David Chait
2 Posted 20/10/2013 at 18:37:20
Nice one... Always remember your first time. I have only ever been to Goodison once and only did enough to make me have to go back one day with my boys (who will be Everton fans) in tow one day!
Phil Traynor
3 Posted 21/10/2013 at 09:13:08
Great stuff, Kevin.

I remember my first game at GP, 26th Nov 1966, versus Blackpool in Division One. My Dad was a Blackpool fan and wanted to see his hero Alan Ball play for the first time against his previous employers. Me, I was 8 years old, and having moved to Kirkby a few years earlier, I had long since been faced with the questions : Everton or Liverpool, Celtic or Rangers, Wigan or St. Helens. My mates were Everton fans so the choice was obvious. The Glasgow teams and the egg chasers meant nothing to me so I just plumped for Celtic and Wigan.

We were stood on the terraces in Goodison Road and I remember Z Cars being played and a roar beginning to develop, then as the teams emerged from the tunnel to my right the roar became quite deafening. I think it was the roar that first sent a shiver down my spine but here we are 47 years later and Z Cars at GP still has the same effect! I remember, during the game, a young lad about 10 years old climbed out of the Goodison Road terraces and armed with an autograph book and pen headed for Alan Ball, during the game!!, a policeman gave pursuit but Bally held up his hand telling the busy to back off. Bally then picked up the youngster and carried him over to the Bullens Road terraces and placed him in there. I remember thinking, how on earth is he going to get reunited with his Dad in this massive crowd (38,127 that afternoon).

As for the game, FA Cup holders, Everton, with World Cup winners, Bally and Ray Wilson in the team, Westy in nets, Tommy Wright, Sandy Brown, Brian Labone, Colin Harvey, Jimmy Gabriel, Derek Temple, Alec Scott and Alex Young must have been massive favourites to win the game. We lost 1-0!! And so the rollercoaster began...

Harold Matthews
4 Posted 21/10/2013 at 11:05:23
Enjoyable stuff Kevin. Thanks for the little bit about Oviedo having a laugh with Distin. I was wondering how he would take not being on the bench.
Ian Burns
5 Posted 21/10/2013 at 15:23:49
Great read Kevin, some good articles on this site at the moment and this most certainly up there with them. Great stuff and I have to say I was living every moment with you there Kevin. Fantastic.

I won't tell you about my first game because I am an old twat!

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