A chance meeting in Scotland

by   |   30/01/2022  22 Comments  [Jump to last]

Just a story to take minds off managerial angst, and part of it is relative to the question of forgiveness for historical footballing wounds.

I’m currently on holiday in the south of Scotland, and Mrs Mills was very tolerant when I said I fancied going to watch Queen of the South v Dunfermline Athletic this afternoon. I wasn’t offended when she declined my invitation to join me.

When I looked at the league positions it immediately appeared to be a mid-table battle, but then it dawned on me that 9th v 10th is actually a match between the bottom two in the Scottish second tier.

I arrived at the ground early, and there was little sign of life, apart from a guy taking a few photos of the outside of the old turnstiles. I got chatting with him, he was from Bradford, he paints portraits of football grounds, and had befriended a few Dunfermline supporters some years ago and was due to meet them.

We went for a beer, then met up with the Dunfermline lads, 3 of whom said to me “We beat your lot in Europe”. That victory was in 1962! I decided that 60 years was time enough for absolution.

Talking at half-time with Paul, the artist, he told me he had done a portrait of Goodison as a commission for an author of an Everton book, “Faith of our Families”. I told him I know the author quite well, he’s my nephew, James Corbett.

I’ve found out this evening that the picture captures a scene of Goodison from the Main Stand, in the foreground of which is the back of me, my brother, and my late Dad, from whom is emanating a puff of smoke (from his pipe, not the papal smoke we are awaiting).

Dunfermline won 0-2. It was a good day.

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Reader Comments (22)

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Brent Stephens
1 Posted 29/01/2022 at 22:29:15
Peter... wonderful.
Will Mabon
2 Posted 29/01/2022 at 22:31:23
Peter - nice story. Small world element in there too.
Jonathan Tasker
3 Posted 29/01/2022 at 22:45:29

Love it!

Jim Lloyd
4 Posted 29/01/2022 at 22:48:55
Peter, amazing story. What a wonderful memeory for you.
Matt Byrne
5 Posted 29/01/2022 at 23:04:56
Thanks for the superb story, Peter. I hope you and your family enjoy your Scottish holiday.
Stuart Sharp
6 Posted 29/01/2022 at 23:40:36

What a great tonic your story was. Thanks for sharing.

ps: I went to school with James and occasionally used to help sell his fanzine outside the ground.

Mike Gaynes
7 Posted 30/01/2022 at 02:57:04
Loved your story, Pete.
Ajay Gopal
8 Posted 30/01/2022 at 07:52:51
Superb story, Peter.

Your nephew James Corbett - any relation to the great naturalist and killer of man-eating tigers in India - Jim Corbett (1875-1955)?

Eddie Dunn
9 Posted 30/01/2022 at 08:43:48
Peter, what a coincidence! Talking to strangers can reveal so much. Brilliant stuff.
Keith Harrison
10 Posted 30/01/2022 at 09:01:13

That James Corbett you speak of was an Irishman. Possibly still related? His books (all true stories) are tremendous, The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag being my favourite.

Ken Kneale
11 Posted 30/01/2022 at 09:09:34
Peter Mills - as ever a lovely story.

Might I ask for those not fortunate enough to have read James's excellent books about Everton and Evertonians, you pen an article at some point outlining the breadth and depth of all things Everton within your immediate and wider family - I am sure some of the individual stories pulled together would make an excellent book in themselves.

Jay Wood

12 Posted 30/01/2022 at 09:19:03
Peter Mills.

The single most uplifting story on ToffeeWwb in weeks, months even.

A remarkable chance meeting, pre-destined in the stars which would not have happened if two strangers hadn't indulged in civil conversation between them.


Danny O’Neill
13 Posted 30/01/2022 at 09:20:12
Lovely story, Peter.

I too enjoy going to watch other football when I get the chance.

Hopefully soon I can get to see Everton's German alter-ego Schalke make their way back to the top tier of Bundesliga football.

I follow Everton unreservedly, but its always healthy to look at football in the wider sense and not just the Premier League. I've watched many non-league matches over the years.

I've even taken in a MLS match. LA Galaxy v Chicago Fire. It was entertaining. Especially the half-time show and the party going on in the executive box balcony than continued well into the second half!!

Dave Abrahams
14 Posted 30/01/2022 at 15:36:12
A very good story, Peter, and what an amazing coincidence that links the story.

There used to be a programme on the wireless: Truth is Stranger than Fiction, your story comes into that range and how very nice you could see your dad n that long ago painted portrait.

Do you think your dad was indicating, puffing on his pipe, stay calm, everything is going to turn out okay, regarding his favourite team?

Tony Abrahams
15 Posted 30/01/2022 at 15:48:23
I love stories like this Peter, especially because not many people, would go out of their way to watch Queen Of The South playing Dunfermline Athletic, mate.

If I was you Peter, I’d be closing my eyes, to see if your late father, has also got six numbers he wants you to remember, or even better, maybe 2022, is going to be Everton’s year for the cup🤞

Peter Mills
16 Posted 30/01/2022 at 16:51:44
I was a bit taken aback to see this comment from a different thread had been awarded “a place of its own”, but I’m glad it has struck a chord with a few people. Thank you for your kind words.

Ajay, I don’t know about that, but I’ve necked a few Tigers with James. And Cobras. And Singhas.

Ken, James is the pen-master of the family, he does very well at it.

Dave, my Dad (who was very close to his grandson James) was always very calm. He told me once about the hell of flying in bombers, seeing friends die, the thought of what was happening to people on the ground below, and I always supposed after that there wasn’t much to get too anxious about.

Tony, 2022 add up to 6, maybe it’s the jackpot year and Frank will do his dance.

One of the things about which I am optimistic about Frank Lampard is that he is from sound footballing stock. The Lampards, Bonds, Redknapps know about the importance of football to supporters, and its potential for unifying people in a positive way. Everton FC has lost that over the past 6 years, I very much hope we can find it again.

Paul Birmingham
17 Posted 30/01/2022 at 16:57:17
Brilliant story Peter, which captures the spirit of the football Family and Evertonians.
Andy Crooks
18 Posted 30/01/2022 at 17:06:56
Pete, what can I say. Just Brilliant!!
Tony Abrahams
19 Posted 31/01/2022 at 19:01:49
It would also be our 6th victory in the most beautiful competition in the world, imo, Peter!
Matt Traynor
20 Posted 02/02/2022 at 04:09:13
Peter, great story. I bought a copy of the Everton Encyclopedia for my father a few years ago.

Ajay - on the Jim Corbett theme, I have all 6 of his books, published as 2 omnibus titles. I've not completed them, but a long-standing friend of mine is the long-term CEO of the TIger Centre in India, and we used to be Sunday lunch companions when he was in Singapore, where they had an office. I'm determined to take up his offer of a visit to Kanha, in Madhya Pradesh to go look at some cats.

Keith Harrison
21 Posted 02/02/2022 at 09:02:52
Hope you got to see the Red Kites near Loch Ken, Peter.
Have a safe journey home pal, and I'll catch you at my next game down.

For anyone with even just a passing interest in reading, Peters nephew James Corbett's books about Everton, plus the co-authored "Shankly - The leaving of Liverpool" are tremendous reads.

I would also highly recommend the (unrelated) Jim Corbett books mentioned by Ajay above. These are about his hair-raising adventures in Government sponsored 'removal' of various Tigers and Leopards which had turned Maneater, terrorising huge swathes of the population in remote areas of India in the early 1900's.

Suddenly life looks Blue again!

Ajay Gopal
22 Posted 03/02/2022 at 07:40:02
Peter (16), ha.. ha.. I prefer the Kingfisher myself!

Keith (21), Jim Corbett is one of the few Brits remembered fondly in India :-). He even has one of India's largest tiger sanctuaries in India named after him - The Jim Corbett National Park. Never been there myself, but the chances of a tiger sighting is supposed to be very high at the Jim Corbett.

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