A Swansong…

So I have now left Liverpool and the UK – the Brentford game being my last game attended – although I watched the Chelsea game in The Harbour Pub in New Brighton with old friends and saw the Spurs game in Ravenna, Italy. Today, I will watch the Man Utd game in my new hometown of Santa Caesarea Terme.

I close my eyes for a moment and think back to all those years of walking the same streets, child, boy and man:

I have often walked
Down the street before,
But the pavement always stayed
Beneath my feet before
All at once am I
Several stories high,
Knowing I'm on the street where you live.

Eyes closed, I am floating above Westminster Road; up ahead the Goodison Glow; behind, all the street full of memories;  underneath, the Dark House… like Scrooge (Alistair Sim of course) guided by the Spirit of Christmas Past.

I am able to see an empty space by the bar and an empty seat underneath the dartboard – that’s where I stood and sat for 40+ years. But now I am bidding arrivederci to Blue friends:

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Arrivederci, my first heroes Tommy Ring and Micky Lill… walking up from Smith Street with Brian Brady pretending to be our heroes, “sloppy joe and shorts”... hard-earned pocket money saved to get us into the Boys Pen. Then, at three-quarter time, running around to get behind the goal end. 

Too young to understand Bobby Collins leaving but quickly finding our new stars in The Golden Vision — I ran on the pitch at the famous Spurs game and kissed his boot and told my Mum I was never going to wash my face again!

Saving up to go in the Gwladys Street. Saturday morning, helping mum with the shopping and then stocking the shelves for dad in The Britannia for match money. “A Double Diamond Works Wonders, Works Wonders, So Have One Today!”

Cooler now, wearing “longies”. Big memories of rushing home from school and going straight up to Goodison Park for the Inter Milan game: 0-0. Walking back home in awe at actually seeing “international players” who we had only read about in football books

Starting to go to away games… Wolves  — coach stopping at Newcastle Under Lyme, The Half-Way House. Going to watch The Reserves, then realising that, being Cardinal Godfrey and St Alphonsus Boys and blessed by Father Winder, we were chosen to watch and feel part of The Holy Trinity!

A feeling of pride of camaraderie, invincible with Bally Howard and Colin Harvey. Alan Ball's goal against them in the FA Cup, going to Wembley — I've still got my West Brom ticket, 7s/6d — shows what football is about now! 

Walking past the Dark House never thinking “One day”… Then the tough years but everyone remembers Big Bobs 30th goal, me and Gaff standing on our own in the Dark House on New Year's Eve, Everton 0 Coventry 0, waiting for the next blessing.  God Bless Howard Kendall.

How we loved our Neville Southall… and so on and so on. Matchdays home and away we will never forget races around the block outside the Dark House in our undies,singing together, unbeatable, Europe, Bayern Munich, Rotterdam, Wembley weekends… still going — “No matter what”.

Arrivederci to the Dark House: quizzes under the darts board, waiting for the Pink Echo “no opening” until after the Quiz. Singing together, where we could be ourselves and support each other through thick and thin. Births Deaths and Marriages all measured against the match.

After the Coventry Game, a new mate turned up at the Dark House with a white polo neck and leather jacket. I asked him where he parked his U-Boat? From then on, U-Boat Phil… Ted leaving his teeth around; Ted getting arrested for kissing Villa Fans at Villa Park. 

The Dark House  — a place for love and affection shown in many ways: handshakes and kisses, kids coming for their first game and grandkids, who sits where? A 4-0 bet, doing the coupon (but never winning — experts???), refusing to bet on “them”.

The Dark House  — a cultural centre:  photos from The Dark House Blues shown in a trendy art gallery in Köln (you can see it — Google 'George McKane Everton Cologne',  a French TV Documentary. In the newspapers, visitors from all around the world, best friends in the world. Arrivederci, friends.

Arrivederci, Smith Street: I look back and see mum and Colette and Joan and Margaret and John standing on the corner — without them, I am nothing… part of them, I am somebody. Mum arms folded, Ma Joad, Joan with her sticky-out skirts and plastic waist belt and beehive under her Tate’s Cap, ready to go The Loch on Saturday night. 

Arrivederci, Lambeth Road and Harcourt Street: Mary Walsh, Clare Boggan and Anne Whittle standing waving. I saw my first television in Anne’s House, her mum let us watch it and gave us a chocolate biscuit.

Arrivederci,  St Ollies and Daisy Street, where we all sat in class but, when break-time came, we were separated into top and lower playground — Catholics and Protestants separated... Education, hey!!!  

Arrivederci, Wessy Road Baths, the No 33 Bus (The Magic Bus), top deck full of smoke and coughing dockers, Pat Clarke and Bancy and Pob Mack, Micky Curran, Jimmy Kennedy and Lenny Mc Clusky in our Cardinal Godfrey Uniforms — and it's still there, even though St Ollies has gone and The Britannia is now Thomas Winder Court.

Arrivederci, ToffeeWeb:  wonderful articles, proactive and evocative… friends we have met at various pubs around Everton — too many to thank but best wishes to you all.

Arrivederci — how can I finish this off?  Okay, what about the ending of Concert For George when Joe Brown picks up his Ukulele and sings I’ll See You In My Dreams?

Reader Comments (40)

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Jerome Shields
1 Posted 08/04/2023 at 17:07:37
Happy retirement George.
Barry Hesketh
2 Posted 08/04/2023 at 17:11:17
Keep fighting the good fight George, you will be greatly missed on Merseyside, however, you're new neighbours will soon find out what a diamond you are and more in tribute to you, than being a footy expert, I'll stick a tricky tenner on Everton next week with the traditional 4-0 scoreline. If it doesn't work next week, I'll go again for the remaining home games. Good luck George and have a happy retirement.
Ray Jacques
3 Posted 08/04/2023 at 17:26:52
Our loss, your new town's gain.
Don't know you George, but your articles are always entertaining and bring fond memories for me.
Take care.
Tony Abrahams
4 Posted 08/04/2023 at 17:51:47
Enjoy the rest of your life making people happy just by being yourself George, mate👍💙

It goes without saying that I hope to see you at Wembley stadium sometime in the future George, because our kids deserve a cup win, and us older Evertonians deserve to see them celebrate it with tears in our eyes🙏

Kieran Kinsella
5 Posted 08/04/2023 at 17:53:56
Lovely article George. Enjoy Italia!
Paul Columb
6 Posted 08/04/2023 at 18:04:02
Never knew nor met you but have enjoyed and often savored your writing, in particular your musings before leaving for the Old Lady with Van in the background.

Always thought I’d get the chance to buy you an ale on one of infrequent trips over the foam from the States, bumping into you in the Dark House. Might happen. Can’t imagine you’ll not set foot in there again.

Have a grand retirement. Keep writing….if you find the time!

Paul Birmingham
7 Posted 08/04/2023 at 18:18:41
George, enjoy your new adventure in Italy, and hopefully Everton, will stay up this season, and start fresh, with a new board to bring in the completion of BMD, and hopefully success for EFC!

Keep up the ditties George they're inspirational.


Paul Birmingham
8 Posted 08/04/2023 at 18:18:41
George, enjoy your new adventure in Italy, and hopefully Everton, will stay up this season, and start fresh, with a new board to bring in the completion of BMD, and hopefully success for EFC!

Keep up the ditties George they're inspirational.


Ray Roche
9 Posted 08/04/2023 at 18:31:53
George, only met you once, doubt if you remember, in the Excelsior but regularly read your pre match ramble through music, life and, of course, the Blues. Enjoy your life mate.
‘Ere, that there Santa Caesarea Terme, bit of a change from New Brighton innit?
Dave Abrahams
10 Posted 08/04/2023 at 18:36:00
“” Sweet, Sweet the Memories You Gave Us, You Can’t Beat the Memories You Gave Us”” George, thank you for them and the articles you wrote, I hope you enjoy many happy years in your new home, very best wishes and good health George and maybe “”We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, But I hope we’ll meet again some sunny day”” Arrivederci George.
Robert Tressell
11 Posted 08/04/2023 at 18:47:35
Enjoy your adventure in Italy, George. I've just had to look up your new home town and Google says it's near the beautiful city of Lecce.

I used to watch Serie A on Channel 4 in the 1990s and have a nostalgic affinity with these Italian clubs (and the idea of eating Italian breakfast reading the Corriela Delo Sport).

Hopefully I'll have the chance (and courage) to do what you're doing now. All the best.

David France
12 Posted 08/04/2023 at 18:53:58
Take care my old friend. You'll missed. david
John Burns
13 Posted 08/04/2023 at 19:12:07
What pictures you paint George, Don’t stop contributing and don’t stop reminding people how it was and how it should be. .
John McFarlane Snr
14 Posted 08/04/2023 at 19:13:23
Hi George, best wishes for your new life, although I only met you on a couple of ToffeeWeb get-togethers, I really enjoyed your company. 'Once a Blue always a Blue'
Oliver Molloy
15 Posted 08/04/2023 at 19:48:16
Best wishes George, hope its all good and your new home brings happy times.

Barry Rathbone
16 Posted 08/04/2023 at 19:56:21
"Arrivederci ??" - Each to their own but no way I'd move to Albania - best wishes, George.
Steve Shave
17 Posted 08/04/2023 at 20:05:38
Best wishes George.
Steve Hogan
18 Posted 08/04/2023 at 20:44:42
Hi George, I miss our 'Everton' conversations at 9.05pm at 151 Dale St on Tuesday night's. Best wishes in your new venture.

Steve Hogan ex receptionist on the desk at LCVS.

Paul Ferry
19 Posted 08/04/2023 at 21:37:04
All the best George and warmest wishes for the years ahead. That's a lovely little spot you've chosen on the blue seas down there. I much prefer the south of Italy to the north. People more salt of the earth, great simple food, cafes with wine and bread and olives on tables.

It was Carlo Levi who turned my head to that part of the world and I love travelling through the region stopping off somewhere where no one can speak English. The north/south divide is crueller in Italy in most respects but my Sheedy George you've picked yourself a plum place at Santa Caesarea Terme.

You sound almost final in your goodbye George and I hope that that is not the case and that you will be back from time to time walking up Spellow Lane until the time comes when we will all say goodbye to her.

Divertiti amico mio. Buona salute. Buoni raggi solari cosmici.

Andrew McLawrence
20 Posted 08/04/2023 at 21:39:39
Good luck, George!
Derek Thomas
21 Posted 08/04/2023 at 22:03:15
George, you were never a person for 'negative waves'. Both of us will continue to 'think bridge'.
Tony Everan
22 Posted 08/04/2023 at 22:07:29
Good luck, George.

Sometimes when I'm in Liverpool looking after my old dad, I'm walking on Crosby beach in all weathers just to get out of the house. I always in a moment look over the river and think George is in his top floor writing room will be well pleased with this moody sky and wind-battered sea.

Thank you for your inspirational verse on home matchdays, you've enriched this site. Wishing you all the best in beautiful Italia.

Jeff Armstrong
23 Posted 08/04/2023 at 23:36:57
George, not being funny, but they do have the internet in Italy. Keep in touch with ToffeeWeb, paint us a view from your window next Saturday morning before we beat Fulham.
Rob Dolby
24 Posted 08/04/2023 at 00:01:08
Good luck, George. Always enjoyed your positive vibes on here.
Julian Exshaw
25 Posted 09/04/2023 at 09:54:35
Wonderful stuff George. I was near Lecce last year, surrounded by those 'trulli' and olive tress. Stunning. I envy you. Enjoy it and keep on posting!!
Dave Williams
26 Posted 09/04/2023 at 11:38:13
What an emotional posting! I had the pleasure of your company a few years ago in The Dark House and what a great bloke you are!
Have a great retirement George and stay well but the occasional post on a match day morning would be treasured by one and all!
Tony Abrahams
27 Posted 09/04/2023 at 11:57:41
I agree with Jeff, and hope you keep posting from time to time George, and hopefully the blue sea that you are now going to be looking at, can give you even more inspiration than the murky waters of the Mersey, if that’s even possible, mate!

Just don’t give us your wonderful sermons before the game George, because the better you wrote, the worse we usually played. It’s probably just me but I hate a positive ToffeeWeb before the game, and much prefer it afterwards!!

Paul Tran
28 Posted 09/04/2023 at 19:26:43
Have a great life out there, George. Keep being you and please post the odd piece on here!
Lynn Maher
29 Posted 09/04/2023 at 20:06:05
Good luck George. Always enjoyed you positivity. Keep sending those cosmic vibes.
Phil Parker
30 Posted 09/04/2023 at 20:29:36
All the very best to you and yours George, and good luck in the beautiful country of Italy. A great great Evertonian that I first met over 50 years ago. Hope you keep posting positive vibes even in these dark days.
Brendan McLaughlin
31 Posted 09/04/2023 at 21:20:44
Enjoy La Dolce Vitae George

And if you ever decide to Airb&b (other letting sites are available)...let us know.

Dave Lynch
32 Posted 09/04/2023 at 21:30:50
I go to that region every couple of years George.
Usually stay in or around Ostuni.
I'll drop in for a bevvy next time I'm over.
Tom Hughes
33 Posted 10/04/2023 at 09:56:14
All the best George. Cardinal Godfrey was a great character-builder for Evertonian austerity and (far too) occasional ear-splitting glory. I think it's fair to say that there aren't too many characters like yourself.

Italy can be your technicolour years.

Danny O’Neill
34 Posted 10/04/2023 at 10:55:07
Ciao George,

It was good to speak on the phone last week.

Enjoy life in Italia and be with us in spirit as we pull this team away from danger. You may be southern Italy, but your mind won't be too far from Goodison and the Dark House.

Paul Hardwicke
35 Posted 10/04/2023 at 11:27:20
We chatted often in the Dark House but I don't think you know me. I looked forward to your pre-match musings and hope you enjoy your new life in Italy. I am sure we will see you in the new stadium. Take care of yourself.
John Raftery
36 Posted 10/04/2023 at 21:37:17
George, it was a privilege to meet you briefly, all too briefly, at one of the ToffeeWeb get togethers when you generously handed out a load of lapel Everton badges to all present. You will remain a legendary figure in the great Everton family. I hope you will be able to make guest appearances on these pages and even at the new stadium. Very best wishes George.
Neil Copeland
37 Posted 10/04/2023 at 21:50:25
George, great post as always. A great pleasure to have met you before the Brentford game.

Italy is a wonderful country which now has a new wonderful inhabitant. Enjoy it and hope to see you back at Goodison or maybe BMD.

Mike Doyle
38 Posted 10/04/2023 at 22:20:25
Never met you George but always enjoyed your TW posts and hope they will continue.
Not sure if you speak Italian, but not a problem if you don’t - remember the wise words of Ian Rush on joining Juventus “Italian. It’s like a foreign language”.
Andy Crooks
39 Posted 11/04/2023 at 19:10:31
George, I will be wearing one of those lapel badges, that John Rafferty mentioned, this weekend. I won't forget that taxi journey that I shared with you and Derek from the Bramley Moor to Lime St. Neither will the driver! We were all running late, as was Danny O'Neill who actually ran to Lime St. I think everyone got there.
Wish you all the luck in the world, George.
Danny O’Neill
40 Posted 11/04/2023 at 19:37:34
Two minutes to spare and barged past the Avanti West Coast ticket people telling them to catch me on the train, Andy.

That made me roll back the years that one Andy. I still have it! Or had it!

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