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Thanks, Dad

By Joe Jennings :  03/02/2009 :  Comments (18) :

He would only ever show me victories, never defeats. What he told me, as his level smile always implied, was for my own good. Everything would improve, he promised. There would be glory. I must trust, I must keep the faith. He tells me what I long to believe. He was, and still is, very convincing.

It was my Dad who groomed me into one of Goodison?s most dedicated patrons. It was he who showed me the way. It was he who educated and indoctrinated me, it was he who recalled our healthy list of honours every day to me as if it was as important as learning the alphabet. It was thanks to him that I found love, real love.

I always swayed towards my Dad and his Everton spell, I was hypnotized. I would ask everything ranging from the players, the trophies all the way up to the width of the Goodison pitch, I had found my passion.

I would daydream in school and just say ?Everton? over and over in my mind. The name had an aura around it, like an amulet, a charm that had survived from an unimaginably distant past. Without his guidance, would I at this moment in time feel frightened, the fear that is now tightening my muscles, tensing my spine and pulling me so taut that I?m certain I would break if touched? I doubt it. But that?s just pre-derby day jitters.

It is an indescribable feeling which extrudes, expands and winces before it all begins. You can't diagnose it, only Everton can effect and overpower you in this way. Come 19:50, I will be sitting in my Gwladys Street seat. I will lower my head and close my eyes. I will listen to the held breath, the almost inaudible gasps, the shaking transpiring behind my back. I will pray silently. I don?t know what it means, but it will feel right, and it will have to do, because I don?t know what else I could say to God. Because this game is everything to us, defeat is not an option. Maybe my antics are a sign of insanity, but Everton are my therapy.

If I am to leave Goodison Park come the final whistle and my Everton, our Everton, have lost, I will feel empty. You can wet the rim of a glass and run your finger around the rim and it will generally make a sound. This would be how I feel, the sound of glass. I would feel like the word shatter. And I owe that all to my old man.

I often liken Everton to a room. Hear me out. A room where things once happened and now nothing does, except the pollen of the weeds that grow up outside the window, blowing in as dust across the floor. I?ve wanted to change that for years, I?ve wanted my Everton to seize the moment and believe in themselves. I still do. I still believe they can attain our dreams.

Whenever Liverpool visit, I feel surrounded by a smell, the smell of a cooped up animal in a dirty cage filtering through our beautiful Old Lady. A smell of arrogance. I can safely say that nothing would give me more pleasure than seeing those red shirts trudge off the electric Goodison grass come the final whistle having been outfought, outwitted, outbattled, ?outeverythinged? by my Royal Blue heroes, it would possibly draw me to tears.

They say sanity is a valuable possession, but my Dad made me give that up the day he proudly helped his son but on his first Everton jersey. I would wear it day in, day out. Come rain or shine, my Danka would more often than not be on show for the world. It gave me a sense of identity, a sense of unbridled pride.

He would tell me that I was part of a transitional generation. It was the hardest for those my age. He helped me comprehend the sacrifices you are expected to make. He helped me accept my Everton duties with a willing heart.

He still tells me we?ll be great again, and I believe him. I believe in everything he has instilled into me from an early age. This deluded, and somewhat contradictory way of believing seems to me, right now, the only way in which my mind can really believe that we can beat our red nemesis.

The greater the risk, the greater the glory. Come on you Blues.

Reader Comments

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Santosh Benjamin
1   Posted 04/02/2009 at 01:18:30

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Hair on the back of my neck stood on end when I read it and my eyes filled up too. Truly moving piece, Joe. I fell very much like you do. I am not privileged to be at the games since I live in India but over the last 20 plus years it's been the same for me. I somehow feel this year we can break out of it and succeed... COYB
Anthony Martin
2   Posted 04/02/2009 at 06:46:48

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Loved your piece, your Dad did to you what my grandad did to me and, despite all the false dawns and empty promises that Everton have delivered over the years, i would not change a thing. My granddad has now passed on and I know he will be watching tonight.
Alasdair Mackay
3   Posted 04/02/2009 at 08:05:29

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I am in my late-20s and things are starting to pan out for me in terms of where I will be, what I’ll be doing and who I’ll be with for the rest of my life - but I now have a growing sense of reponsibility to ensure that I am able to pass the message of Everton on to another generation.

This artcle has really brought that responsibility home to me.

I don’t have any kids of my own yet, but my sister’s 2 year old son has already learnt the phrase "Everton, yeah!" even though he doesn’t know eactly what Everton is yet. She now has another one on the way and I have confirmed with her that I will have the opportunity to influence this one as well. The Dad, by the way, is RS and we are watching the game together tonight.
Trevor Lynes
4   Posted 04/02/2009 at 08:03:09

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I'm afraid my dad did nothing to influence me about football, he was a pro boxer and had me and my brother boxing when just kids... I made MY own mind up all that time ago when EFC were filled with Irish internationals like Eglington and Farrell which was odd because I am not Irish at all. They were supposed to be the Catholic side in those days and I am not Catholic either. I just for some reason loved the team and watched them relegated and emerge again in 1953 as Liverpool went down.

I played against Smith, Lawler, Temple and A?Court as a schoolboy and marked Wainwright when I played for Southport in the old 3rd Division North when he played for Rochdale in the twilight of his career. My heroes were originally Wally Fielding, then Hickson and Young, Roy Vernon and the holy trinity, Tony Kay, Alan Ball, Bobby Collins and Tommy Ring. So I have been a ?BLUE? since 1948 when the great Billy Liddell put the fear of God in me every time he got the ball in Derby matches.

I have loved the Blues and argued over them more than I ever did with my ex wife... I will still watch tonight with a sick feeling in my stomach that I cannot dispel until the final whistle has blown, when we have beat the Reds and then comes the euphoria (or is it pent-up relief?), especially if we have won well and deserved to.

Everything later is an anti-climax until there comes another worry about the next tie versus probably Villa... and so we go on. I must admit that my enthusiasm, heartaches and sometimes elation gained from supporting a team like ours has never diminished even though we have endured some bad times of recent years. It's a roller coaster I joined in 1948 and am still aboard today... and long may the ride continue!!!

John Foat
5   Posted 04/02/2009 at 09:45:04

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Well put into words, Joe, and Trevor sums it all up for me.
Peter Hurley
6   Posted 04/02/2009 at 09:38:54

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Brilliant Joe, captures the emotion of what THIS fixture means to all of us and reminds me of my first derby when I was 7 and Andy King scored that glorious winner in the Park End. My Godmother took me and I remember us leaving the ground beaming when a red turned to her and said "I bet he?s never seen that before" she simply smiled and replied "No, but he?ll see plenty more!". I want more than anything for tonght's game to add to that vision. COYB
Christian Yandell
7   Posted 04/02/2009 at 09:58:28

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WOW!!!! Magic, Joe, absolute magic. Tonight is the night when show the RS that kind of passion, something they can never better us at!
Paul Joy
8   Posted 04/02/2009 at 10:19:49

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Joe, great timing mate, it's good to read posts like yours ? puts a smile on my face.

Trevor Lynes, fantastic post ? young Evertonians should read it and learn.

What influenced me to be a blue? My Grandad really. In 1963 he insisted that I made my own mind up and got my uncles to take me to Everton, Liverpool and Tranmere as well as New Brighton at the old Tower Grounds. He was a very quiet man my Grandad and he was a docker and an Evertonian himself. He said to me that deciding which team to support was important for me and would be a decision for life ? wise words indeed.

So off I went around the grounds in 1963 and Everton was the last one for me to see. The fact that it was 1963 meant that Everton were the top side around and on my 1st visit I saw us win 4-2 and Roy Vernon scored 2. After that there was no decision to make really ? it was Everton for me. When I told my Grandad that after going to Everton that they were the team for me ? he gave me a huge smile ? said "Good lad" that was all that was needed. No more Liverpool or Tranmere.

I am 54 now and never regretted my choice and I am as daft about Everton now as I have ever been.

I will be there tonight for what is a massive game with that same feeling in the pit of the stomach that Trevor described. Derbies are just too tense to really enjoy and the atmosphere between the 2 sets of fans has deteriorated over the years. Particularly since Benitez has been at Anfield.

It won?t be for the faint hearted tonight... Us by the odd goal.
Jon J Cox
9   Posted 04/02/2009 at 16:50:23

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Joe, sheer poetry!!

I’m a Dad who has two sons who like me live in Cornwall and they are as Blue as the Mediteranian on a good day.

I’m going to e-mail them with your post because I think like them everyone who has the slightest conection with Nil Satis should read.

Trev, 10/10 also poetry

James Boden
10   Posted 04/02/2009 at 17:23:13

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I dont want to rein on your parade but I have a bad feeling about tonight. I just think this Anichebe incident is a sign of things to come and besides i never have confidence before a derby match. And we know if its going well a terrible decision will go against us. We owe them bigtime and this will make or break our season.

Hopefully Joe your dads words and inspirations will come right. If we do everything you hope we do tonight then it will be the icing on the cake but heck if we play incredibly shite and win, will i be complaining- like shite would i be complaining, in fact even better. Lets settle the record straight.
EJ Ruane
11   Posted 04/02/2009 at 16:58:24

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Great piece Joe.

Made me think about the start of my own relationship with Everton and actually, It was slightly different for me.

Don’t get me wrong, my dad was a blue until the day he died (as was his Dad) and he took me to Goodison from 1967.

However, it was my (late) mother who instilled in me not only a love of Everton but a detestation of...’them’ - of the colour red, of all that homespun Shankly bollocks etc etc.

If I’m honest, she WAS bitter.

What was, on reflection, even stranger was that my mother wasn’t even from Liverpool (she arrived from Ireland - Roscommon - in the early 50’s, worked as a nurse, married my Dad, 4 kids etc etc).

What little I do know is that when they were ’courting’ (love that word) my dad (the old romantic) regularly took her to Goodison and it seems she was bitten ’big-time’ (as ’the kids’ say).

I think the fact that Tommy Eglington and Peter Farrell were playing must have had a big hand in things.

As the years went by, my dad stopped going regularly (not helped by all the 70’s hoolie stuff) and anyway, by then, I wanted to go with ’the lads’.

His attitude to football generally became more "None of them these days could lace Lawton/Hicksons/Etc’s boots" (er...bit like me now).

My mam however never stopped hating anything to do with ’them’.

Her language, very ’rural’ and ’Irish’ at the best of times, would become more than a little ’fruity’ if there was the wrong quote in The Echo or on Kick Off.

Tommy Smith was Satan as far as she was concerned but they were all ’gets’ and ’gobshites’ (snotty-nosed gets, shitty-arse, snot-nosed gets etc).

In 1980, I moved to London and EVERY week received a rolled up ’thing’ full of pages from The Echo about Everton.

I’d go home every couple of weeks and while eating a big plate of bacon and eggs would listen to her talk about how "that big ugly get Smith/Souness/Paisley was on Merseyside talkin’ shite..." etc.

I can truly say that none of my mates or anyone I’ve ever met, had such a Everton loving, LFC hating mother.

Odd I supose, but it made me the man I am today.

(I think these days, the social services would have been notified!).


(and fuck you Rafa you big ugly get!)

Terry McLavey
12   Posted 04/02/2009 at 17:43:23

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Great piece Joe! My uncle Eric took me to Goodison to an evening match against the RS it was in a competition called the floodlit cup(?) l was 7 l’m 58 now so it was a while ago! l remember the result was 2 2 and l’ve never stopped supporting them! Lovely memories, lets put things right tonight ! !
Gerry Grimes
13   Posted 04/02/2009 at 23:32:28

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Great piece,Joe. Showed it to a lot of people today. Couldn?t help but think of you and your dad when the final whistle went. Hope you gave him an almighty hug. Best of luck mate.
Paul Connell
14   Posted 05/02/2009 at 01:06:01

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Get that, you 'orrible arrogant scumbags, this is the greatest moment since my son has been born, get in there!!!!
Blair Johnson
15   Posted 05/02/2009 at 04:12:04

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Thanks for this Joe ... if my two boys inherit my passion (as you clearly have from your da?), I?ll be a very pleased toffee. They received their first kits three days ago (check out the pics on my Facebook page) and what a great omen they?ve been. And ... can we start a campaign to have Feb 5th remembered every year as ?Dan Gosling Day???

It?s a grand old team to support eh? What a day ... I can?t stop smiling ... even on the other side of the world in New Zealand.

Blair Johnson
16   Posted 05/02/2009 at 04:17:24

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Whoops - Feb 4th ... we’re a day ahead in New Zealand!!
Sean Condon
17   Posted 05/02/2009 at 04:56:38

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Ha! When I was really young my dad never told me about losses, either.

He?s been strictly worm food for nearly fourteen years now, but tonight I know that he?s very, very happy worm food!
Steve Edwards
18   Posted 05/02/2009 at 12:23:41

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Joe - Great article, brought a tear to my eye as I remembered my own father. My fathers ashes are buried at Goodison Park on the side of the pitch near to where we stood in the old paddock. A small plack bearing his name, Harold Edwards, marks the spot. Well I hope he enjoyed the game last night, I’m sure he did. He brought me up on the exploits of Dean and Lawton, the wee blue devils, just as his father brought him up. I never needed a history book to know my history, it was instilled in me at an early age just like you and I have done the same with my son who is a forth generation proud blue.

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