I was a little early turning up at The Box at FACT, Liverpool, for the exclusive unveiling of Everton's new season ticket video, Nothing Will Be The Same. With things not quite set up Everton directed me to the cafe a few yards away... having given up coffee for lent (glad that's nearly over) I instead went upstairs for a swift pint before heading in to the snug cinema where I was greeted with a bottle of Chang and tasty canapes.
We didn't have long to wait until the steadfast Darren Griffiths got proceedings underway, firstly introducing Matt Thompson, Head of Post Production at Zut Media, the company which developed the video. He spoke about how he really wanted the video to feel real for the fans. He said that in shooting the video they were trying to get a clip of Gerard Deulofeu on the substitutes bench but had Speedo Mick sitting in the backdrop so they had to move him along a couple of rows!
Richard Kenyon, Everton Director of Marketing & Communications, was then introduced and talked in depth about how pleased he was that Everton can now offer reduced pricing for all supporters, and also how pleased he is that a cap of £30 has been placed on all Premier League away tickets. "With other sources now we are not as dependent on supporter money as we used to be, so it's important to recognise that" he said.
Darren Griffiths then announced a "film star" was to be coming on stage and he introduced Tom Quinn, a season ticket holder with his Dad in the Upper Bullens. He stars in the film and it was a nice tough by Everton to give him some stage-time on the night. "How did you react when he scored in the last minute in front of the Kop?" asked Darren Griffiths pointing towards Phil Jagielka and Graeme Sharp who were sat next to each other. "I don't think I was born then" said Tom. "Not Sharpy!" said Darren, "I mean Phil Jagielka's goal last season"!
The film was then shown and as most of you will testify, it's decent. They've done a good job of encapsulating the feeling of going to Goodison Park, of your pre-match rituals, of what it means to you and your family. It's enjoyable. Make sure you catch it if you haven't already.
Phil Jagielka was next up and he spoke glowingly of the incredible atmosphere at Goodison Park for the recent victory over Chelsea. He spoke of how the team had felt the pressure all week but as soon as they turned up at Goodison Park they realised how much the crowd were up for it. "Were you screaming at Romelu Lukaku to pass when he got the ball before he scored?" asked Darren. "He can be so frustrating, Romelu, because you know he's never going to pass but when he can scare the opposition away and dance past a few players you can't complain, and he finished it well. The second one was a bit of a swinger though!"
Of his favourite Goodison memory, he said that the Gosling goal against Liverpool "which took three deflections and went in off the post" was special, but funnily enough given that he missed a decisive penalty in the game, it was the match against Fiorentina which lives long in his memory. And how did he feel stepping up for his penalty at Wembley against Manchester United in 2009. "Surprisingly I was quite calm, I was actually more nervous watching the other lads take their penalties" said Jagielka. "As I got closer Ben Foster came up to me and asked me where I was going to put it so I told him I was going to put it over the bar. Thankfully though I put it in the corner!"
Before Darren let him leave, he asked Phil if Aaron Lennon should be joining him in the England squad for the Euro's? "It's difficult. On current form yes, but there's players there who've been in the squad the whole time in qualifying so if he comes in someone has to miss out. I don't know if I'll be going yet either so it's difficult."
Finally Graeme Sharp was brought to the stage and spoke as fantastically as ever. He spoke of how when he signed for Everton from Dumbarton he felt like he'd "won the pools". He was asked about great Everton No. 9s like himself and if he felt the meaning of the No. 9 shirt has become a bit diluted over the years? "When I was playing you had to demand the shirt but players want different things now, like wanting No. 27 because 2+7 makes 9!"
His wonder goal against Tottenham Hotspur in 1983 was brought up. "I won goal of the season for that and Elton Welsby presented me with a tea-towel!" He does feel that a trophy could really bring out similarities with that squad of players from 1983/84. "If we won a trophy it would really make us believe. At Finch Farm there are pictures on the walls of our glory days and Roberto has left one of them blank to give the players the incentive to win the cup. It would be great to beat Watford in the cup final as the following day is what would have been Howard Kendall's 70th birthday."
He was asked about how highly he rated Gareth Barry. "When commentating on the games, though Lukaku has gotten all the plaudits this season, Barry is always in and around man of the match. He's been an excellent signing for Everton and he might continue for a while yet. People ask why Besic isn't playing but you can't drop Barry the way he's playing."
I'll leave you with the response of Graeme's of which I admired most. He was asked what he felt about the Merseyside Derby being just a few days before the FA Cup semi-final? "Go hard in both. Go hard in both games and win both. David Moyes tried resting players before the Sunderland game and look what happened. I say go hard in both. I can't speak for Phil (Jagielka) but when I was a player, they were the games you wanted to play in. Go out to win the derby and then go out to win the cup semi-final. Imagine if we rest players and lose the derby, and then go and lose the semi as well! All we'll hear about for ages is how we got beaten by that crew across the park. So go hard in both. Win both games."
Oh, for a bit of that passion these days.
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