A personal one from me, but relevant to Everton. It’s a personal time of year for reflection, but always poignant for, so I'm sorry if it gets a bit personal. Without going into detail, my best friend was taken 21 years ago in a brutal attack and beaten to death before he reached 30, leaving behind a wife and very young daughter.


I was in Northern Ireland when the news broke. I held hope initially that he would pull through even though the prognosis wasn’t good, But the day before Christmas Eve, my wife contacted me and broke the news. Dave was gone. 


A best and a lifelong friendship that started awkwardly. Two lads who didn’t know each other. His family had just moved from Toxteth and became next door neighbours in the house where his aunty had previously lived.


Our mothers introduced us and told us to go to the park with a football. Two awkward teenagers who didn’t know each other. We never looked back. We had a common bond. Everton and football.


We went to school together and attended every home match for several years. We even bunked off one afternoon to get to Goodison and queue for Derby tickets. We got wronged for that one, but we got the tickets.


The countless trips on the 81D or the train from Hunts Cross to Kirkdale. The occasional lift in the back of the van of one of our friend’s Dad’s work van. No seats, no windows and instructions to just hold on. It didn’t matter. It got us to Goodison and back. Lining up early to get into the Gwladys Street to ensure a decent spot and tie my brother to the ledge and make sure he was okay at half time. Memorable days and nights at Goodison and who can forget Bayern Munich? Dave’s favourite of all time. Different circumstances, but I wish he could have been a the Palace match.


Travelling to as many away matches as we could afford to get to. United, City, Forest, Sheffield Wednesday (countless times during that FA Cup marathon). Villa Park for the semi-finals. The list goes on. The icing on the cake being Carrow Road and winning the league. The trip back on the Amberline was special. Better than the match.


As was the normal then, numerous Wembley trips. I forget which one, but a Charity Shield against Liverpool. The coach we were on took us to Walthamstow as the owner of a pub was from Speke and he hosted us (Blues & Reds). We went out to grab some food on our own. On the way back, we were encountered by a gang who challenged us as to where we were from. Decked in blue and white. We chanced it. The response we gave was “round here” in our best London accents. They shrugged and walked on. I still don’t know how we got away with that.


We were different types but the best of friends. I was the more reserved, he was more mischievous.


He once visited me and the wife when we were in Germany. I left him with the lads and headed home. Mistake. At about 2am I get a knock on the door and there is a Land Rover outside the house. He had been found stumbling around the camp, had the German Shepherds set upon him and been arrested. He talked himself out of it and got a lift home!


He was the godfather to my son, I was to his daughter. I spoke to his widow yesterday and will take his daughter to Goodison as she was so young she barely remembers him and has never been. But I will ensure she gets to experience the passion he had for Everton.


Friend and massive lifelong Evertonian. Look down on us this weekend Dave. God bless you in blue heaven.


Apologies if this is a bit personal.