Yesterday’s result was more than just 3 points for me. It had taken on a greater, more personal relevance and I had been worried about it for weeks. 

You see, this was no ordinary game or 3 points. This Palace game had taken on monumental significance in the Walsh household – well, for me at least. There was far more at stake. It was the first time I was taking my boy to Goodison Park for his first-ever game. 

I felt I was doing my bit for the long-term survival of our fanbase. It was about continuing the blue lineage and traditions that I had with my father and it was about making great memories with my 5-year-old son who was experiencing his first-ever game. 

I was a bag of nerves before kick-off as my in-laws support the Dark Side and had been drilling it into him that he was wasting his time supporting Everton and a lifetime of misery would follow. 

Most of his classmates support that lot and he was getting stick every time he wore his Everton kit to school for football practise. 

So I was determined to set the tone early on. I splurged a fortune in the club shop to brainwash him beforehand and was unashamedly bribing him. As a side note… £80 for a child’s kit is obscene and no wonder there is a boom in fakes! 

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I hadn’t been to Goodison regularly for a couple of seasons now since my dad passed away as that was “our thing”. I hadn’t felt ready to return to the Grand Old Lady but now seemed about right to head back with my son. 

We experienced the usual traditions I had with my dad and created a few new ones of our own. Photos with Dixie, a pre-match pie and a walk around the ground. 

Back to the game – I thought we were superb. All the players seemed up for it against a very niggly Palace team who should have had at least one player sent off. The referee, as most say on here, was awful for reasons already given. 

Seamus Coleman was excellent, Dominc Calvert-Lewin gave us an outlet up front we had been missing, and Iwobi never stopped running. He really does seem like a completely different player!

Our two English no-nonsense centre-halves have what we have been crying out for in years. My only slight criticism was Gray who I don’t recall beating his man once and he kept cutting inside. 

A special mention to the real MotM – the crowd, who were incredible. As I say, it had been a while since I had been and, to be honest, I felt the crowd had been a bit flat for a few seasons.

Yes, I know the team drives the fans and vice versa but yesterday we were awesome. So much so that my shy boy was belting out Spirit of the Blues at the end!!

It brought a tear to my eye and memories of me attending my first game with dad (a 4-1 defeat by Spurs in 1984 – when John Chiedoze scored for them) 

So now we have another “lifer” and my boy is hooked. He needs to and wants to go every week now as our lucky mascot! I know you are all likely to have experienced similar emotions and they are all very personal but making memories like yesterday are what life is all about. 

It is now my fault I have bestowed a lifetime of disappointment, shattered dreams, false dawns for the occasional hope and elation like yesterday… but it’s our hope and dreams and no red in-laws are ever going to take that from me without a fight! 

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Reader Comments (13)

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Alan Corbett
1 Posted 24/10/2022 at 15:10:30
Congratulations, Joseph, on achieving your goal (pun intended). I'm always envious when I hear stories like this.

I live in America, so it was always an uphill battle to get my sons interested in Everton and I rarely get to see our team live. You will have years and years of special moments with your son and he will have cherished memories of his Dad taking him to the games.

Condolences on the loss of your father.

Take care.

Christine Foster
2 Posted 24/10/2022 at 16:19:43
Joe, there is no greater gift a dad can give than the initiation of Goodison Park at its best. It's a moment in his life he will never forget, sometimes never forgive, but always be thankful for.

It will become the cornerstone of his life, around which, joy, passion, love and laughter will prevail. You have passed on a gift more precious than gold, he will learn humility, experience unbounded joy, riveting heartbreak but throughout it all, experience hope.

A memory made today that will be passed down through generations. The joy of an Everton family where every game, 40,000 are his best friend, who he will hug strangers who aren't..

It's a tremendous gift...

Tony Abrahams
3 Posted 24/10/2022 at 16:55:09
A very nice story, Joseph, and as you say, it's probably the Goodison crowd that have given your young child the most memories from Saturday.

Another Evertonian has been born - so god bless you both mate.

Dale Self
4 Posted 24/10/2022 at 17:28:17
So you two were the reason for that inspired performance. I think I saw Coady looking up in the stands regularly and was wondering what that was about.

A couple of seasons you say, hmmm, that might explain a lot, Joseph. Get yourself and the new mascot to the match regularly! It's the new thing! UTFT!!!!!

Stephen Vincent
5 Posted 24/10/2022 at 18:09:53
Loved that account of your day out, Joseph. Brought so many memories flooding back, being taken for the first time by my dad and granddad, then taking my son to his first game, both victories for the Blues, but the atmosphere on Saturday was special.

My dad kept the programme from each of my 'firsts', first game, first FA Cup tie, first League Cup tie, first European game, first away game. He had them framed and gave them to me as my 16th birthday present. I did the same for my lad. Just a thought.

God I am going to miss The Old Lady so much.

Martin Reppion
6 Posted 24/10/2022 at 19:37:45
Was that 4-1 defeat to Spurs the first match of the 84-85 season when we went on to win the league? Don't think your lad will get that this year. But he can dream.

Having moved to Bradford when I was 4, my dad brought me home for the Carlisle Utd game in 1974 when I was 12. I'd previously seen us lose at Elland Road.

From 2-0 up we managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Carlisle were relegated. But I remain I die-hard optimist.

A few cup wins and a "2 steps forward, 1 step back" rise up the table will do me. Hopefully your lad will see the glory years you witnessed in the '80s.

Joseph Walsh
7 Posted 24/10/2022 at 19:55:38
Thanks guys - We will all have our own very personal accounts of our first game, cup finals, celebrations and dare I say games like Palace last season which was must win and the memories will stay with us forever.

Martin - correct… that was the year we went on to win the league. I was hooked! I just hope my boy gets to see us win a few things in his lifetime like I did.

Keen to read all of your first game stories if you want to share.

Dave Carruthers
8 Posted 24/10/2022 at 19:57:49
Love the story, Joseph. As we said on another link, it's what Everton is all about. Let's hope the win is a sign of things to come and gives him some bragging rights at school!

I had the late '60s when I felt I could win with the golden trinity vs the likes of Smith and St John. You of course had those wonderful mid-'80s years when we gave as good as we got.

Let's hope the next few years deliver when it really matters!

David Pugh
9 Posted 24/10/2022 at 20:01:16
I was talking to some American blues last week up at Newcastle, from Philadelphia if I remember rightly. There were about three or four of them, and it was their first ever Everton game.

They were staying over in Newcastle then getting the train down to Merseyside to take in their first ever game at Goodison against Palace. Not quite as good a story as Joseph's, and the Newcastle game must have made them feel why bother.

As things turned out, it was a cracking first ever game for them at Goodison. They were going to do a tour of Liverpool, the city that is, taking in Bramley-Moore Dock, so I hope they had a great few days on Merseyside, made even better for them with the RS losing!

Peter Mills
10 Posted 24/10/2022 at 23:51:13
Joseph, your Dad was a top man, an excellent Evertonian with a great sense of humour.

I’m sure he was present at Goodison on Saturday.

Danny O’Neill
11 Posted 24/10/2022 at 00:15:19
Joseph, your lad will always be able to talk down that condescending and sneering crowd. He has the moral high ground.

Pleased his first visit was memorable and will live in the memory. There's no going back now. Not that there was!

Mike Gaynes
12 Posted 25/10/2022 at 06:02:54
Great article, Joseph. Please post a photo of your young man in his genuine Everton kit!!
Joseph Walsh
13 Posted 25/10/2022 at 20:23:26
Mike - if I could figure out how I would!! :-)

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