Well, it was a great day for me!
Almost four years since my last trip to Goodison Park, I woke up at daft o’clock yesterday with that Christmas morning feeling.
While I was sitting at the airport, I started thinking about my late Dad. All the great memories: that magical first game against Derby in October 1970. The night against AC Milan in 1975, who were so dirty, I heard him swear for the first time. The Boxing Day when I persuaded him to go to the match after a couple of years absence and we lost 6-2 to Manchester United. The FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park when someone bear-hugged me after Sharp’s winner and realising it was him. After the 1995 FA Cup Final when he was beaming because he hadn’t thought he’d see us with anything again. The Kanchelskis Derby, when he gave me his ticket (he never went to Anfield) and still met me in town for a celebratory drink afterwards, before pouring me on the train back to London.
He died in 1999 and we laid his ashes at the Park End. Every time I think of Everton, I think of him. So, while I was waiting for my flight, I rang Everton and asked if I could ‘see’ him before the match. Vicky answered, was lovely, said she’d call me back. 5 minutes later, she called back, said it was fine, as long as I was out of there by 4:30. I got into town at 3pm, dumped my stuff in the hotel, met my brother and we made our way to Goodison. The security staff knew who we were, let us park behind the Park End and led us through the gate and into the Park End. We found ‘his’ spot, a simple blue plaque with his name and birth/death dates and stood there for 10 minutes. It was lovely to spend some time with him in the place where he was happiest.
If Vicky, or any of the security staff are reading this, thank you so much. You made my day!
We repaired to Wetherspoon's on County Road for a couple of beers, my brother disappeared (driver and non-football fan!) and I toddled around the corner to the Royal Oak, where I ended up in a great long conversation with Dave Abrahams, who I could have talked with all night, and briefly with Steve Ferns. Thanks for coming, lads. At 7:25, I remembered that I was going to a football match, so I went around the corner to Goodison Road, took my seat in the front row of the Top Balcony and……well, you know the rest. For the benefit of our American friends, I did have a ‘pie thingy’ at half-time. It was a steak pie and the nearest thing to beauty I saw all night! After the match, I sprinted to County Road and, as if by magic, there was a cab right there to take me back to the hotel.
That whole day, I experienced off-pitch Everton as more than the sum of its parts. Great people working together, doing things with care and love for a stranger who happened to be a Blue. Great people making the effort to meet and drink with a stranger who they only know from writing a few things on our website. On the pitch, we have good parts, spare parts, old parts, and scrap parts. We need someone to put them together and make them work, while getting better parts. Is Silva that man? My jury is still out, but he needs time.
But that’s for another piece, another day. Yesterday, Everton made me feel special, re-united me with my Dad, re-affirmed my love for This Great Club of Ours, which acted like a great club off the pitch.
Thanks to all of you. And I promise not to leave it too long till the next time!
Reader Comments (20)
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1 Posted 03/10/2018 at 22:54:57
If only we could get the football up to snuff!
2 Posted 03/10/2018 at 23:19:01
EFC sadly are the nap to let you us all down, probably more than any other constant in life.
Still great humour, gallows humour, warmth and good spirit by Evertonians.
Let's hope the team gets up to the mark very soon.
3 Posted 04/10/2018 at 06:09:43
4 Posted 04/10/2018 at 12:40:23
5 Posted 04/10/2018 at 13:00:36
6 Posted 04/10/2018 at 13:49:44
You also prompted me to look back at some YouTube of that semi-final. I wasn't there but I can imagine the Rush when Sharpy scored – it was that kind of goal.
I had something similar when Inchie got the winner in the semi-final – was it against Stoke? Set us off on those few years of domination. My, how long ago that feels...
7 Posted 04/10/2018 at 14:50:45
One thing about Everton is aptly put in your article heading. It's the individual parts. However, it can be the sum of all parts because some of the parts don't suit many of us. This makes ToffeeWeb interesting.
We love this Everton thing so much that sometimes we want to gripe so hard because it hurts. Other times we're ecstatic after things like the second-half performance against Fulham. But you've hit the nail on the head in showing that it is the family (& Everton Family) that is so precious.
My younger days with Everton were full of some great occasions, many of which have been reflected on recent ToffeeWeb postings. 76,000 attendance vs AC Milan. As a teenager, I was there with one of my uncles and I remember being swayed down about 15 flights and then back up 10 etc etc. 1966 FA Cup Final. Oh, what a memory!
Just before migrating to Australia, going to Rotterdam for the win against Rapid Vienna, driving back to go to Leeds with some German suppliers and then straight to Wembley without a ticket (understanding wife – a Geordie lass!). Bought a ticket outside the ground at face value! Shit – Whiteside!
Walking through Adelaide with either my scarf or track top on, I regularly have Everton supporters give me high fives.
This club is something very, very special. We will overcome, that is for sure!
Your article said it all. Well done, mate!
8 Posted 04/10/2018 at 19:49:05
Paul, I think that AC Milan game, is my earliest memory that has stayed with me. I thought it was a year later, because I'm not sure I could read the echo when I was five, and that's how I knew my dar was going the match when he walked past me at the top of our street.
I remember that I wouldn't let go of his legs, and I was crying for him to take me the match. He dragged me home, made my mother put my school uniform on, and then he took me to Goodison Park, which was already my favourite place in the world.
Even though I was young, I knew those Italians were dirty bastards (even then!) because they were even fouling Terry Daracott, which I honestly couldn't believe.
Goodison is quiet these days, not like the way it used to be, but it's still a place that is magical, and I hope you, me, your father, and every Evertonian who has ever lived, sees it in its finest voice again before we leave for Bradley Moore.
9 Posted 04/10/2018 at 19:56:14
Mark (#6), I live in the Scottish Highlands. The Inchy semi-final was, ironically, against Southampton at Highbury. A great day on the North Bank.
10 Posted 04/10/2018 at 19:57:02
11 Posted 04/10/2018 at 20:33:57
I hope to see you again next time you come. In the meantime, if you see a horse you fancy, give us the wire.TheTin Man wasn't a bad tip in the summer.
Good health and best wishes 'til then.
12 Posted 04/10/2018 at 20:39:24
And Steve, thanks for dropping by. Couldn't meet afterwards as I need my sleep – can't work after a late night anymore!
13 Posted 05/10/2018 at 01:18:48
So Southampton. I wasn't in the North Bank, I lived in London then and you couldn't easily get in with the 'away' supporters – except at Millwall, as I recall, when we appeared to be housed in a cage!. But I was there and I remember being side on to the goal, on the right-hand side as you looked down the pitch to the goal we were attacking at that point, and pretty much level with Inchy as he headed in the winner. Great memories.
I used to try and see Everton whenever they came to London. Wimbledon was the easiest to get tickets, such a weird old ground, Plough Lane.
I'm old enough to remember the great 60s side too, when I still lived on Merseyside and I used to go with a relative of ours, who had two season tickets. As a young lad, I still remember them running out to Z-Cars and the toffees getting thrown into the crowd. How could you not fall in love with that?
At least you only came down from Scotland but hopefully it will be a more worthwhile trip, from a football perspective at least, next time...
14 Posted 05/10/2018 at 06:34:16
Amazing how I can remember stuff like that but not my co-workers' names!
Great memories – almost the same timeline as mine. I love Everton and cannot imagine supporting anyone else!
15 Posted 05/10/2018 at 09:04:50
Shame the lads could not deliver, but sounds like you thoroughly enjoyed your pilgrimage. I hope to do my annual trek too.
Also very nice to hear how accommodating the club were to you. It is one of the reasons my son and I love this club ever so dearly.
16 Posted 05/10/2018 at 11:27:50
You never went on the pitch at Highbury after the game then or you would have remembered that, ha ha.
17 Posted 05/10/2018 at 11:42:23
18 Posted 05/10/2018 at 15:56:24
19 Posted 06/10/2018 at 10:21:39
The club really are good with stuff like this and its something people overlook when they criticise the ownership.
Delighted you had such a great visit.
20 Posted 06/10/2018 at 12:08:41
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