Bob Read (1924 - 2000)
A small tribute to a good Evertonian...
BOB READ, R I P
|A small and humble tribute to one of the very best Evertonians there has ever been who died in July 2000... Robert "Bob" Read (1924-2000). Posted by Preno on the ToffeeWeb Discussion Forum.|
THE BLOKE SAT NEXT TO ME
There's something uplifting about a funeral. As I sat in Springwood
Crematorium, I think I realised just what it is: a chance to put all the
trivia of life to one side – £40M for a footballer; Will we get
Duncan? Tthe gas bill's arrived... – blah de blah.
I have sat in the same seat in the Upper Bullens (Row J, Centre Line) since I was aged 7 in 1974. First with my Dad – and more latterly with by best mate. One constant throughout that time has been Bob, who sat next to me – or should I say, I sat next to him.
Quite simply, a top wee bloke with a Trilby Hat who, week after week, unveiled the glorious history of the club to me – tales from the end of Dixie's career, Dunlop, Scott, Parker – so many names, so much history. He taught me the offside rule, showed me it was OK to stand up and shout at the ref – and his knowledge of the game was second to none. One of his favourites was "I've never seen Everton have two good halves in the same game" (5-0 v Man Utd, 1984 apart!).
He came with me and me Dad to Wembley in '77 on the Pullman – posh meals both ways; the lot – and every August, as I grew from kid to spotty teenager, to student, to proper person, to married bloke, to a Dad, Bob would be there – wisdom oozing out of him – a laugh and a joke – and always asking after the family before mentioning the match itself.
There were just 20 people at the service – including me, me Dad, and my mate from the game. We got name checked too – such was his affection for is Saturday afternoons. The kids at his daughter's child-minding group all called him Bobby Blue!
But he had his life in order: he loved his daughter and grandsons much more than football – something we should all remember from time to time. Last season, his eldest grandson Richard (16) started coming to the games when Bob was ill. He said to me in May he was hoping he could come next season – but also hoped his grandad would be back.
Yesterday (with EFC scarf in hand), he broke down totally reading the lesson. It was beautiful in its own way – he obviously loved the guy to bits. Perhaps, not least, because despite being hospitalised in his final days, Bob had already renewed his season ticket for Richard – who will be carrying Bob's torch forward from next month. An amazing act of kindness... and totally fitting that it won't be a stranger in that seat after 55 years. (Apparently, Bob has kept all the season ticket stubs to prove his continual devotion.)
I'm not totally sure why I'm sharing this all with you – but, as I drove back to Leeds, I thought that as many Blues as possible should know about this guy. It' s not that he went to all the aways (he didn't) or that he didn't miss the odd game here and there – that stuff is part of the trivia.
On the face of it, he was just one of those blokes you see every week walking down Walton Lane with a funny little hat and a slight limp. (It turns out he was a navigator in a Wellington Bomber during the war, at 17/18 years old. Something I never even knew until yesterday.)
But to me he embodies everything of what "Everton" means – a collection of memories and shared experiences. And a man who took so much pleasure from watching the Blues over some 50 to 60 years.
The strange part about it is that I could name on one hand all the times I saw Bob in a non-EFC setting – usually the Bulldog Pub Quiz in West Derby in the mid to late 80's, in fact! And yet it feels like losing a wise old uncle – 26 yrs is along time to have known someone on such a regular basis, I guess.
One thing is for sure – part of "My" Everton experience died along with Bob last week; the place won't quite be the same again.
Let's hope he looks down on a sunny season to come.
R I P