Second Time Around

Mike Gaynes 04/12/2018 43comments  |  Jump to last

Ah, shit.

My sincere apologies for that inelegant opener to what is supposed to be a charming travelogue, but what else can you say after a derby that ends like that? That’s not how a three-week overseas jaunt for this dazed Yank was supposed to end, but we can’t always write our own scripts.

But hey, I got to see a derby in Mordor, and I not only survived, but right up to that last minute I was having a blast.

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As to how I got there, here’s a condensed background for those not aware, and which the rest of you are welcome to skip: I first visited Goodison in April 2017, taking advantage of a surprise remission in an incurable cancer. I was enveloped in a bear hug of Evertonian hospitality by ToffeeWebbers Peter Mills, Kev Johnson, Rob Halligan, Keith Harrison and so many others, culminating in being smuggled onto the Goodison pitch by Kev The Conspirator with a signed ball and banging a pen into the Park End goal (which I suspect got Kev in trouble). I also saw two comprehensive Everton victories from Row EE.

That’s me up front on a Kirby Shaw pop song in Italy

That’s me up front on a Kirby Shaw pop song in Italy

Having somehow remained in remission (medical science is miraculous sometimes), I signed up many months ago for the 2018 European tour of my community choir, bound for Italy, Germany and Poland. I planned to jump off the end of the tour to revisit Merseyside and catch whatever game we were playing the first weekend of December. Then the fixture list came out, and that game turned out to be Anfield, the toughest ticket of the year. This time my hero was the magnificent Dave Abrahams, who with son Tony organized a massive intelligence operation that ended with a ticket for me. Surrendered by a Red, no less.

Our partying priest and our tour coordinator, both slightly sauced, caper down a sidewalk in Italy. I’m at far right, cracking up

Our partying priest and our tour coordinator, both slightly sauced, caper down a sidewalk in Italy. I’m at far right, cracking up.

So on November 17, my 62nd birthday, off I went with the choir in a blur of planes and buses and accommodations in convents. We performed at a mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, an occasion that had the devout Catholics among the group in tears, and several of us illegally struck up a Hebrew song in the Sistine Chapel. We also sang at four other basilicas in Rome, the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, the Duomo in Florence, community gatherings in Germany, parties in Poland and even a baptism – about 21 performances, scheduled and impromptu, in 12 days.

The trip also featured a day-long restaurant takeover on a rainy day in Rome (we kept singing to the owners and they kept bringing us new rounds of food and Limoncello), a party-loving priest who relentlessly marketed his family’s gullet-scorching vodka (“Didn’t you order five bottles to take home?”), and a leprechaun-esque character who jumped up in front of the choir in a Polish church and began entertaining everyone with four-note folk songs on an accordion. It was a memorable trip, by the end of which I could barely croak out a note.

The rest of the choir flew home from Wroclaw, while I scrambled through a two-plane, three-train marathon to Liverpool. After a badly-needed night’s sleep in The Liner, I was picked up by my host Peter Mills and his older brother Charlie, an Everton trustee and a completely delightful fellow, and it was off to the Liver Building where Rob Halligan awaited (awesome to see you again, mate!). Charlie had arranged a tour of Everton’s new offices conducted by Christine Prior, the explosively enthusiastic outreach officer for the club. The new headquarters take up an entire floor and are beautifully corporate in design, and they leave absolutely no doubt of Mr. Moshiri’s big-time ambitions for this club. Trust me, “Plucky Little Everton” is no more.

An impromptu barbershop performance in Germany

An impromptu barbershop performance in Germany. Note that I’m rocking an Everton ball cap.

The next stop, to my surprise, was Goodison, where we reunited with Kev Johnson and took a stadium tour conducted by former Blue Mark Higgins and a firecracker named Lill. When we got down to the changing rooms, I discovered that Kev the Conspirator had done it again – on display there was a painting Kev had commissioned from a local artist of the iconic photo he had taken of my Park End pen in 2017. As usual with Kev’s magic moments, I could barely get words out. All I could do was pose with the painting opposite Mark, with a goofy grin on my face. Kev Johnson is a very thoughtful man.

Stunned again by Kev’s imaginative generosity as Mark Higgins unveils the painting.

Stunned again by Kev’s imaginative generosity as Mark Higgins unveils the painting.

The evening was reserved for the get-together Peter had arranged at The Midland, where I was privileged to meet more ToffeeWebbers I had known only as online pals. I was particularly honored by the presence of John McFarlane Sr., whose posts have taught me so much about Everton’s history. For a gent of 80 to make the effort to come out on a damp evening for a drink and a chat was a lovely gesture. Peter, Rob and I were also joined by Brian Williams, Dave and Tony Abrahams, Derek Knox, Andy Crooks, John Raftery, and a story-telling retired sailor named Jimmy.

It was a blast putting faces with the names I’ve seen so often here, and sometimes being surprised. Andy, for example, often comes off as a bit of a crotchety crank in his posts but turned out to be a delightfully jolly Irishman who had come all the way from Belfast for the occasion. Derek is just as entertaining in person as he is in his posts. And I was finally able to tell Brian directly how much his posts about surviving cancer had cheered me during my dark times in 2016.

(Full disclosure: I disgracefully skated on my promise to buy the first round for all TWers who showed up. Who knew English pubs don’t take credit cards? Everybody but me, apparently.)

After a night in the world’s most comfortable digs at the Mills Hotel in Crosby – Peter and his wife Sheila are warm and wonderful hosts – on Saturday it was off to Marine AFC, where Pete, Charlie, Pete’s son Ben and I were hosted at a hospitality luncheon by Crosby legend Joe Wright, who unaccountably took a liking to me and gifted me with a Marine scarf. The food and hilarious anecdotes they shared were far more enjoyable than Marine’s result against a superior Warrington side. This year’s Marine is a team of good, hardworking lads who, to use an old Texas expression, couldn’t score in a two-bit fancy house. I seriously think Everton should loan them Oumar Niasse as a neighborly preventive measure against relegation. (Nobody could tell me exactly where one goes when relegated from the 7th-level Ivo Stik league, but it can’t be good.)

Sunday was The Day. Pete and his buddy showed me around Anfield, including a stop at the Hillsborough memorial – it really is quite affecting, especially when you see people who evidently lost family or friends put their hands on the names displayed and offer a quiet prayer. We then met up with Dave and a mate of Tony’s named Steve who steered me to the person who had my ticket. I was never quite clear on how the precious ducat wound up in my hands – it seemed to involve multiple people doing generous things – but the seats Dave and I occupied were primo, right on the midfield stripe.

With Dave Abrahams in Mordor

With Dave Abrahams in Mordor. What a magnificent Evertonian he is.

The Red noise at the start was deafening, but as the game went on and the fans around us grew more and more nervous and agitated, it became so quiet that Dave and I were able to converse in normal tones as if we were watching it in the living room at home. As Everton’s assurance on the pitch grew, so did the apprehension around us. By the 80th minute some of the fans around us were actually walking out (on a nil-nil derby?? Really?), waving disgusted hands towards the pitch as they departed. They honestly thought they were going to lose.

I told Dave I felt a gamewinner coming, and that it would be an accident. I really didn’t think it would be Picks’ accident. As I said before… ah, shit.

Pete’s grandsons sporting Chicago Cubs caps. You’ll be seeing a few of these around Merseyside

Pete’s grandsons sporting Chicago Cubs caps. You’ll be seeing a few of these around Merseyside.

After the game, Dave vigorously walked me all the way to Lime Street Station – he is seriously pacey for 78 – and then it was off into a nightmarish blur of trains and planes that eventually got me home to Oregon, exhausted but again glowing with the kindness I had encountered on Merseyside. I truly cannot believe the good fortune I experienced in choosing Everton to support in 1986 (if Sheeds had missed that second free kick against Ipswich, who knows who I’d be cheering today?). Or perhaps, as so many have told me, I was chosen.

Either way, I’m a lucky man. This trip cemented lifetime friendships I could not have imagined only two years ago, and renewed beyond measure my appreciation for all things Everton. We may not have had the storybook ending on the pitch that I got last time, but for a guy to whom every healthy day is a fairy tale, Everton and ToffeeWeb are the greatest storybook of all.

So my heartfelt thanks again to Peter and Sheila, Kev, Dave and Tony, Charlie, Rob, Derek, Brian, Andy, John M., John R., Jimmy The Sailor, the eminent Mr. Wright, Mysterious Steve and the Unknown Red who gave up his ticket for gifting me another spectacular adventure. (And thanks also to the US Reds who let me share their Uber to Heathrow at 2AM when I got stranded.) I love you one and all.

And yes, I’ll be back for the Cup final. Might even bring along the leprechaun with the accordion.

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Reader Comments (43)

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Will Mabon
1 Posted 04/12/2018 at 21:22:13
An interesting read, Mike, and nicely written, I might say. I'm sure you'll eventually shake off the dirty feeling of having had to enter that horrible ground. You'll appreciate Goodison Park even more next time, or perhaps, the new stadium...
Jack Convery
2 Posted 04/12/2018 at 21:35:05
You have a gift for The Word, Simply wonderful and Definitely chosen.
Brian Williams
3 Posted 04/12/2018 at 21:46:46
I was there.... that's all I feel I have to say!
Kevin Hudson
4 Posted 04/12/2018 at 21:49:07
What a great read. Thank you for sharing. Wishing you continued good health.
Dave Abrahams
5 Posted 04/12/2018 at 21:57:07
Just to butt in on a lovely story by Mike, Jimmy the sailor moved over and made some room for us.

When I explained we were all of ToffeeWeb, he said, "Hey I'm on that." I said, "Are ye?" He said, "Well, I read it." So I told him he'd be reading about himself next week.

Turned out he was an ex-seaman who became a taxi driver.

When our Tony sat down later, Jimmy said, "I fuckin' know him!" I said, "So do I!" We found out he knew quite a few fellas that we knew: all bluenoses.

By the way, Mike, you do realise if Tony hadn't have got that ticket for you, then I wouldn't have got one; it was you who did me the favour.

David Pearl
6 Posted 04/12/2018 at 22:12:50
What a fantastic opener, Mike (sums it up), and a wonderful read. I would've liked to have met you also but I'm having a few problems with ‘er indoors' – brought on as we have been dealing with a sick child the last year. It's been very hard... in particular, having to fly back and forwards to Canada, where they are, to here for work.

I've been spending more time on ToffeeWeb recently to stop my brain from exploding and of course the mood this season is a lot better on these pages these days. Great to see you were looked after; sorry for that last minute you had to endure but I'm very pleased that you've been well looked-after and Ihope you make it again in the not-too-distant future (maybe to Wembley). All the best!

Derek Knox
7 Posted 04/12/2018 at 22:15:06
I can only echo the plaudits on your interesting read Mike, it seems you have accomplished more in almost three weeks than a lot do in a lifetime.

What a pity though that the trip ended with the match culminating in such a manner, but more than encouraging signs that things are changing dramatically for the better.

I think I share the feeling that other ToffeeWebbers did on the Friday night, by meeting you in person at the Midland, indeed a privilege and an enjoyable experience, what a nice guy and a credit to TW.

Hopefully we will be able to repeat it Mike, in the not too distant future, so take care and kind regards.

Andy Crooks
8 Posted 04/12/2018 at 22:51:56
Top stuff, Mike, it was a pleasure to meet you. By the way, if you ever refer to me again as crotchety crank, I will travel to Oregon, with Brian Williams, and demonstrate to you what being crotchety actually means.

Next time you come back please bring the admirable Jamie Crowley with you. I reckon this man could sink some ale.

Mike, it was an honour to meet you and the rest of the lads. Let us, as John senior said, do it again.

Brian Williams
9 Posted 04/12/2018 at 23:11:16
Book the seats, Andy!!!
John Raftery
10 Posted 04/12/2018 at 23:25:45
Thanks, Mike, for sharing the full story of your tour of Europe. Great to hear you arrived home safely. Hopefully that 96th minute disappointment will not spoil the memories. It was great to meet you and fellow ToffeeWebbers on Friday.

Please include me in your plans for a Cup Final gathering! I have a feeling this might be our year! I think we all deserve it but you most certainly do.

Brent Stephens
11 Posted 04/12/2018 at 23:34:12
Wow! What an experience that must have been for you, Mike. A whole lot of experiences.

And what wonderful people pulling to make that a great trip for you. I'm full of admiration for you all. Scousers are a wonderful lot.

If only our lads could have got that result for you on Sunday, if only.

Bill Watson
12 Posted 04/12/2018 at 23:44:31
Enthralling story, Mike, and glad you had a great trip, at least until the 95th minute.

Hope you, and the rest of us, make it to the Cup Final.

Best wishes for continued good health.

John McFarlane Snr
13 Posted 04/12/2018 at 23:55:17
Hi Mike, I have written on another thread of the pleasure I had, in meeting you and the other ToffeeWebbers on Friday evening. I had previously met Peter Mills, plus Dave and Tony Abrahams, at my 80th birthday bash.

Rob Halligan, Brian Williams, Derek Knox, Andy Crooks, and John Raftery, I met for the first time, and by the time I had to leave the Midland, they felt like old friends, this is what Everton does for us.

I'm only sorry that I had to leave early, my 'young lady' is recovering from a complete knee replacement operation, and I had promised to be home early. I'm counting on somebody suggesting another get-together, it really is great to be able to put faces to names, and to reminisce on bygone days.

It's good to hear that you arrived home safe and sound, and I shall add you to the list of people of an Everton persuasion, who I have met through our love of Everton Football Club. Best wishes.

Paul Columb
14 Posted 04/12/2018 at 23:58:26
Fantastic, Mike. Other than the result, sounds like another great trip and more scouse hospitality than you can wrap your head around.

As I balanced on my barstool at the ToffeeClub up until the last minute, I thought of you often and how fortunate you were to pop your derby cherry with a good performance. And then... well, you put it best.

My first derby was the Clattenburg and so we likely shared some similar emotions in some respects. Really made up for you though on what sounds like great times amongst remarkable Blues.

Frank Wade
15 Posted 04/12/2018 at 00:01:01
Delighted that the trip went so well for you Mike and I'm sure like me were proud to see how much we have progressed this season. With all that singing around the Vatican and the various basilicas, I'm now amazed the results didn't go our way. Looks like a prayer to St Jude is needed for next time. Well done to all ToffeeWebbers for hosting you so well.
Mike Gaynes
16 Posted 05/12/2018 at 00:35:01
Thanks all for the kind comments. I requested Lyndon to not publish the article if my brain-dead prose was not of sufficient TW quality, so I’m glad it cleared the bar in spite of my exhaustion.

David, I’m so sorry to hear about what you’ve been dealing with. You were one of the folks I was looking forward to meeting, and you were definitely missed at the Midland. I hope the sunshine’s a little brighter on you soon.

Andy, I think that qualifies as a cranky and crotchety comment. But you and Brian would be most welcome at the beach house. I’ll put the Guinness on ice just in case you show up out of nowhere. But if you want me to bring Crowley on the next trip, you’ll have to arrange it yourself. He’s about 3000 miles closer to Liverpool than I am.

Don Alexander
17 Posted 05/12/2018 at 00:58:51
Lovely account, Mike, every true scouser knows how precious every true scouser is – period.
David Pearl
18 Posted 05/12/2018 at 01:41:00
Thanks a lot Mike, it can only get better I hope.
They'd misdiagnosed him for 18 months. Anyway...

I've often felt I had a love-hate relationship with ToffeeWeb but it's helped me recently to take my mind off things and – ya know what, some things you can't help smiling broadly about.

So you being looked after properly, getting your ticket and Kev Johnson (I don't know anyone personally on here, I've been in Canada the best part of 30 years; currently in Wales) getting that painting made makes me proud to be a blue.

This is what being an Evertonian was all about for me growing up, of course I was spoilt aged 14-17 when we had some sustained success. Last year all the bickering and finger pointing was possibly the worst I could remember. I've enjoyed this season because, so far, the turnaround has been miraculous.

I know I'm going soft because I'm even missing Eugene Ruane, one person who used to wind me up no end... but I miss his posts. Anyone know what's become of him?

David Ellis
19 Posted 05/12/2018 at 03:52:22
Mike – I saw the Cubs play the Yankees last year (on a business trip to our Chicago HQ)... the Cubs lost in the final inning having led for the whole game... ho hum.

Apparently that's a thing with the Cubs. Remind you of anyone?

Great article. May your remission long continue.

Jamie Crowley
20 Posted 05/12/2018 at 04:28:01
MIKE! Great column. I was grinning ear to ear the entire time, sharing snipets with my wife - who promptly rolled her eyes in that, "you know I just humor you Jamie with your TW stories" kind of look.

Fantastic you were able to meet so many people. You deserve it Mike.

A shout out to Everton's greatest all-time striker, Kev Johnson, for such a nice gift.

The Abrahams boys did you a solid.

A quick thought for Steve Ferns. He seemed, through posts, very fond of you Mike, and he's been MIA on these pages as Derek Knox pointed out a day or two ago. I can't believe he wouldn't have met up with you if things were right. I really hope he's well.

Andy Crooks, can I sink some ale? Yes, yes I can. When I get over there we'll test our tolerances together, if you can make it over from your island. And a great gesture making that journey to meet Mike. Very, very cool.

David Pearl - I hope Lyndon and Michael read your post about TW being a respite for you. I often wonder if they realize how this site can bring people together, and be such a welcome distraction to the world at times. I also wonder about Eugene Ruane, among many, many others whom I do not see post any longer. The list of names is endless.

Great read Mike. Be well friend. Shame we're almost as far apart as England is to America. When I finally do make the trip - and with three kids in college next year it'll be a few years - I'll reach out and see if we can't coordinate. A two man Yank invasion would suit me just fine. Be forewarned, the missus will be coming with me. I'd not go without her. Only down side to that is I'll have to go see a Burnley game as that's her team. But that'll be fun so why not?

Wonderful stuff. Made my day. TY Mike. Happy for you. So sorry the game ended the way it did. Gut wrenching finish. But you experienced the Blues in Mordor, lived to tell about it, and my God what an experience that must be.

The endless ocean of hospitality shown to Mike is mind-boggling. You all should be proud. It's heart-warming.

Darren Hind
22 Posted 05/12/2018 at 04:58:58
Truly inspiring, Mike.

Thank you for sharing it.

Amit Vithlani
24 Posted 05/12/2018 at 06:11:51
Superb read. This made me chuckle:

"After the game, Dave vigorously walked me all the way to Lime Street Station – he is seriously pacey for 78".

Perhaps the answer to our striking problems is right under our noses! 

Paul Tran
25 Posted 05/12/2018 at 07:33:57
Mike, that's a great read. Your trip is a microcosm of our lives as Evertonians; travel, laughs, drinking, Blue family and disappointment!

I'm confident the good times will be with us again and I hope to share some of them with you next time you pop over, or if you end up this side of the border.

Derek Knox
26 Posted 05/12/2018 at 09:53:55
Paul Tran, don't worry: Scotland, in some small measure, was represented when Mike met all the guys in the Midland.

Although I have been in England for over forty years, I was originally from the Dundee area, and Everton were always my 'English' team.

I can also re-iterate what many have already mentioned, that it is great to put faces to names that you feel you already know as friends on TW.

While it was a very enjoyable experience to meet Mike, as John McFarlane Snr suggested we should do it more often. So Paul, let us know when you are next down here, and we can have another get together.

Nicholas Ryan
27 Posted 05/12/2018 at 10:03:39
Dear Mike ... 'the midfield stripe'? Uggh! Is this some quaint, Ante-bellum, colonial phrase, for 'the halfway line'!

But, seriously, it's interesting to see so many TWers drawing solace from the stories and postings here.

Having lost both of my parents, and my brother-in-law, in the last few months, I found myself, at odd hours of the day and night, reading almost everything posted here. It definitely had a 'healing' effect, getting to know quite a lot, about people you've never met; ... apart from Rob Halligan, who probably doesn't remember being at school with me; but he was!

The Pickford incident showed us, that anyone who thinks they can predict, either sport or life, is a mug.

Hope you'll be back soon.


Brian Williams
28 Posted 05/12/2018 at 10:04:42
I may not be able to make the next one, lads, as I'll be mostly fishing and hiking, and looking for an American millionairesses in Oregon.

I know, I know but someone's gotta do it!

Gerry Quinn
29 Posted 05/12/2018 at 10:17:20
Mike,

So, so glad you had such a great time and were “spoilt” rotten – ha, loved it. Your story-telling is brilliant and I envied every bit of your adventure except for that soul-destroying result…

As Paul Tran mentioned, you need to get yourself up here to Scotland, Aberdeenshire in particular (Aberdeen v Everton Europa, nee, Champions League) – some of the most majestic and wild scenery and we can all have a great sing-song together tromping through the local Dalgety Woods or Dunnattar Castle whilst walking the dog 😊

http://delgatiecastle.com/
https://www.dunnottarcastle.co.uk/

We could even ask the Crowley bird to join us – sounds a plan. All the very best to you and yours – and again, thanks for the great stories – and to TW for bringing everyone together.


Alastair Donaldson
30 Posted 05/12/2018 at 10:19:06
Really enjoyed reading this very entertaining post, an antidote for an otherwise grey winter's day... sounded like everything was going perfectly until... how many minutes was it (I was impressed by the referee's punctuality at Watford last night... 94 mins 4 secs!)...anyhow!

The joy and pain of being a footy fan!

You can't have it good all the time, but the hope is at some point you will!

Rob Halligan
31 Posted 05/12/2018 at 10:57:58
Nick (as he was more commonly known as in school), I most certainly do remember being at school with you, but you were mates with our kid and Paul Daley, seeing as you were all in the same year, two above me!!

Great story by Mike. Being with him most of the day on the Friday, I know how much he enjoyed the whole time he spent in Liverpool.

Mike forgot to mention in his story, we paid a visit to Prince Rupert's Tower, and Pete got a couple of good photos of Mike by the tower. A small lock up, but very big part of Everton's history for Mike to see.

As stated by others, it was a great meet-up in the Midland on the Friday afternoon. Another one must be planned ASAP, and maybe even Nick might turn up!!

It was fantastic to meet you again Mike. You almost squeezed the life out of me with that bear hug outside the Liver Building!! Sorry I couldn't see you after the match but I know how tight your schedule was. Scouse humour and hospitality cannot be matched anywhere in the world, and I think all those who met you will be happy to call you an adopted Scouser.

So Mike, take care of yourself and hopefully we will all see you again soon. Down at Wembley in May will do.

Jay Wood
[BRZ]

32 Posted 05/12/2018 at 11:44:00
REALLY disappointed with this report...

I was soooo looking forward to seeing Mike and Dave Abrahams pictured in the promised drag, in all their glad rags and high heels, as they went into enemy territory as 'undercover' Blues.

Mind you, the stilettoes would probably have hindered the pacy return to Lime Street post-match.

Not at all surprised that you were once again totally overwhelmed by Scouse hospitality, kindness and humour, Mike.

Just a bugger about the result, eh?

Dave Ganley
33 Posted 05/12/2018 at 12:08:08
Great read, Mike. I'm glad you had a great time, apart from the result.

I was a bit gutted that I couldn't make it to the Midland to meet all the TWers as I'm recovering from a shoulder operation. Hopefully you'll be back over for a cup final and we can have a TW meet down at Wembley.

Tony Abrahams
34 Posted 05/12/2018 at 12:26:20
Brian @28, I don't see why not, mate, because I thought the way Mike, took you to one side to quietly thank you for helping him through some of his darkest hours was truly heart-warming, but you better check with Jamie C that those photo's don't really exist first!

Brilliant story Mike, “mysterious Steve is a cracker” with the biggest mystery being that he gave an Evertonian a ticket, because he absolutely hates Everton FC!

I enjoyed the company of everyone but Andy, coming from Belfast, was brilliant, and as it stands, Andy, I am away on holiday when we play Utd, at home. I get back on the Saturday night, but even if the game gets put back till the Sunday, you can still have my ticket mate, if you can make it over for the Easter weekend?

Thanks again Mike, “for a story of humanity, humility, and life, which is surely the greatest gift of all”

Brian Williams
35 Posted 05/12/2018 at 12:41:07
Cheers, Tony. My family's fed up of me telling 'em about it, mate.

Andy, get yerself back over here for a game, mate!

Mike Gaynes
36 Posted 05/12/2018 at 14:27:09
John #13 and Rob #31, the pleasure was mine.

Paul C, hope you didn't hurt yourself when you plummeted off that barstool. I assume Liam is still crying. Visit soon.

Jamie, glad you enjoyed this. Tell ya what, you and the eye-rolling spouse are welcome here at the beach anytime. You'll be comfortable in my neighborhood -- about a 3-1 proportion of Reds over Blues, if you know what I mean from the US perspective.

Darren, Paul T, Gerry, Frank, you're among the TW folks that I still hope most to meet in person. (Gerry, hope your Cathie is doing better.) David E., you as well, and you should know the Cubs did win it all two years ago after more than a century of trying, and most of us are still in tears of joy.

Tony, thanks for one more laugh, and again for your efforts on my behalf. Dave and I never did spot a taxi with its light on, except for one ill-fated sojourn in one that was stuck behind a barrier.

Nick, condolences on your losses... I've been through stretches like that in my life, and you find healing where you can. Glad you've reconnected with Rob at least!

Dave G, would have been great to meet you, feel better soon.

Jay, I only wear that outfit around the house. Maybe a few parties.

Gerry Quinn
37 Posted 05/12/2018 at 17:58:13
Cathie is doing fine, Mike – radiotherapy finished, will know end result next month – either clear or operate. We will meet, Mike – as long as it is over here. :)
Andy Crooks
38 Posted 05/12/2018 at 19:03:26
Tony@ 34, that is an incredibly kind and generous offer. I sincerely hope to be able to accept it. Many thanks for making my day.

Also, a thank you to Lyndon and Michael. Without your great work on this great site I would never have met these top lads and had a night that was truly wonderful.

Terry White
39 Posted 05/12/2018 at 19:17:25
Mike, having known Joe Wright and the Mills family for over 50 years that is the first time I have seen him described as "eminent"! A "Crosby legend", well, maybe.
Dave Williams
40 Posted 05/12/2018 at 19:18:55
Truly heartwarming stuff, Mike. so pleased you had such a great time.

Next time, you will see us beat them!

Dave Brierley
41 Posted 05/12/2018 at 19:32:22
Brilliant stuff, Mike. Delighted you had a great trip and hope you have many more.

Shame about the result Sunday but let's hope for better things tonight.

Peter Mills
42 Posted 05/12/2018 at 22:51:05
Mike, thank you again for the gifts. The boys were a bit anxious at first about the caps: “Is it okay to wear these, Grandad – they've got red on them?”
Keith Harrison
43 Posted 06/12/2018 at 01:25:54
Mike,

Consider yourself banned from the apparently uncomfortable hotel, Harrison!!

I bet you didn't take Pete's cutlery or towels either! You can keep our towels for your birthday, but return the silver service for my 60th, which was 3 days after your birthday, and the reason I missed this year's Gaynes Gala.

Glad everyone enjoyed, nice stunt with the credit card 😎😎, and make sure you get back over for the home derby.

Offski now as I've just walked through the door after the Newcastle match. Hate Lee Mason and his blind linesman.

Striker desperately needed, and Gana's feet straightened in a vice.

Take care of yourself mate.

Mike Gaynes
44 Posted 06/12/2018 at 05:34:48
Gerry, we are keeping our fingers crossed for both of you. Looking forward to meeting you someday soon.

Pete, I'm glad you reassured the lads. Trust me, they are now the junior fashion icons of Merseyside.

Keith, Pete and Sheila learned from your experience. They hid the good stuff. I did cast a covetous eye on Pete's comfy chair but it was chained to the fireplace.

Andy Meighan
45 Posted 08/12/2018 at 19:18:30
Absolutely brilliant, Mike. And I've got to say, one of the best pieces on here for a long time – and that's saying something.

First of all, Mike, I just hope you're okay with that other caper. The lads'll know what I mean... But, once again, it just proves to me, as if any proof were needed, that we've got the best, most fanatical, warmest, happiest, loving set of fans in the world. I mean witness the generosity these great lads have shown to you!

What a pity them dirty bastards (well Pickford) had to go and spoil what should have been a win, never mind a draw, but hey ho...

Next time there's a meeting, I'm getting down the Midland – the 10A only takes half-an-hour so no excuse. Big mention to the Abrahams lads; Dave sounds as if he's got more pace than Sigurdsson although Dave, I will say, going by your pic, you've got the perfect face for radio, with all due respect.

I've also heard Tony his lad was a fabulous footballer but slower than his arl fella. Special mention to Kev, Rob et al, who made Mike's 2nd time around even more special. Them Red bastards might at the moment have a far better side than us But have they got far better people supporting them? Er... I think not.

Take care, Mike, and I hope you get back over the pond again some time soon.

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