A good pal of mine was the Matchday Sponsor for the Stoke game so of course all the lads had the invite and it was an early start 11:45am. The meeting place was the main reception on Goodison Road where, on arrival, 16 of us were shown to the Sponsor's Lounge.
Now it starts to get good. We are greeted by Everton legend Graeme Sharp who is our host for the day and the champagne bottles are already popping. Once all the lads are there, a mini-stadium tour with Sharpy doing the honours begins. Also present is a photographer, who snaps away all through the day and who makes copies for everyone who wants them at a later date. Free, of course.
First off, we go down to the Everton home changing room where all the kits and boots are laid out ahead of the game... and it's here we find out about Fellaini's new hairdo. After a brief look around, we are led down the tunnel and on to the pitch. BRILLIANT, this bit, as I got my mate to ring my mobile phone so the Z-Cars theme was playing as I walked out of the tunnel.
Now I have been on the pitch a few times before but this was always in an unofficial capacity. You know... after the staying-up games against Wimbledon and Coventry. This time, though, I had the chance to take it all in with out being legged by a Bizzie.
Let me say now that if you have ever stood in the middle of Goodison Park looking up at the main stand you will know what an AWSOME feeling it is. It's a must for any serious Everton fan and a 'must do before I die' thingy.
The place looks huge when you are out there in the middle and I was thinking to myself, How can we call this place a dump? — It's a shrine to me! "This is the Mecca of football", I was shouting, "Do you know how lucky I am right now? Ha Ha!" What a scream.... It must be an amazing feeling playing in front of so much noise, passion and history as a player at Everton FC. What lucky bastards they are.
By now, it's 12:30pm and the five-course meal starts with more wine, champers, beer etc in full flow. The food is top-notch and far better than the crap they serve up in the Joe Mercer lounge. While you are seated in the lounge, your every need is taken care of. Even betting slips and pens are brought in for those who want a flutter on the game. Absolutely spot on service all round.
By now it's 2:50pm and we are taken to the Directors' Box where we are seated in Row A in the big leather seats. Honestly, these are the best seats in the house and watching the match from this area of the stand is a pure pleasure. Not an obstructed view in sight and a perfect position to watch the game.
Part of the sponsor's duty is the Man of the Match award, for which I was out-voted with about 5 minutes remaining. My pick was Joleon Lescott but Jagz won it so he came down to the lounge for the presentation. Phil was first class and took time out to talk with everyone and have his photo took with all the lads. Great guy.
Also joining Jagielka was Ian Snodin, Derek Mountfield and Old Davey Hickson, along with the FA Cup, the original Rotterdam 1985 Cup Winners Cup and the Premier League Trophy. So here we are with all these famous trophies and a room full of Everton legends — a gang of mad Evertonians who are by now all well sozzled and you can imagine the carry-on. FANTASTIC!!!
We all took away some cracking photos and some wonderful memories from the day and I must say EFC did us proud. I don't think another football club in the country would have bettered the day we had on Saturday. From start to finish, it was perfect and what a guy Sharpy is. A real gent and a great laugh as well. Everton FC really was the People's Club on the day and I can't stress enough how much of a good job they did on this cracking day.
For once, it's not bad news or a horror story where I am concerned and I hope many of you lot out there get the chance for the type of Goodison experience we had last Saturday... BRILLIANT!!!
As for Saturday's pathetic kick off time at Pompey... WTF's going on??? Surely a low key match of this sort cant come under police procedure or overseas TV rights can it? We are leaving at 6:30pm and driving down. There's a boozer on the top road directly behind the away end, about 5 minutes walk where most Evertonians who want a bevy meet.
It's a mixture of fans but is mainly our lot. No trouble and not bad Grub either. I can't remember the name but you won't miss it and it's easy to find for those making the horrible journey to Pompey for the first time. See you there then... COYBs.
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