A feel good story - look away now if you enjoy misery.
It has seemed like the endless English summer so far, a day with no natural closure to allow a break before another long day begins tomorrow. I am not prone to depression or negativity, but I am getting worn fingers from continually logging onto my laptop to check NewsNow and ToffeeWeb for transfers, and would be suicidal if I was to partake in too much of the misery of late. To alleviate some of the pain, I have been casting my mind back to late May and remembering just how good the week leading into the FA Cup Final was…
My family and I live in Sydney, Australia. Prior to the FA Cup Semi-Final, I had said to my wife that when Everton made the Final I would need to go, on the basis that I would need to have the odd thing to talk about in my rocking chair when I reach my dotage. Unfortunately, she said that she wanted to be able to participate in that dotage conversation, hence decided that, for me to go, I would need to accept that both of us and the two teenage kids would go, when we beat Man United.
With this settled, the Semi-Final was amazing and I just knew we would win. I felt it from the first kick to the last as the magnificent Everton fans at Wembley bossed the day. I didn't despair when Tim Cahill missed his penalty and I just knew Jags would score!
So, how to get tickets, time off work, the kids out of school (my daughter is in Year 12 doing her HSC — A-Levels in the UK), find the money etc. We found a way to do all of this, although here in Australia I did have trouble convincing people of my sanity.
How to get tickets?? I went through a sports tour company who deal in Club Wembley tickets; $6,000 Australian for four tickets and my wife was beginning to lose her sense of humour... Another $8,000 Australian for four airline tickets and she was well and truly off the gig. Roll in needing to visit the relatives in Liverpool, take the kids to Goodison first and also have a bit of a family holiday, and she was apoplectic!
Anyway, off we set, with Everton stickers stuck to our entire luggage collection and all wearing Everton shirts for the pilgrimage. Excitement abounded as we set off on Sunday night (Sunday 24 May; lunchtime UK time), to arrive in Manchester at 22:00h local time on Monday night.
Oh, I have forgotten to mention that my wife had broken her back in three places earlier in the year after deciding to throw herself down the stairs at home, hence she didn’t really enjoy the flight through her pain-killers – particularly when I was playing ‘Jagelka Took a Notion’, 'Waltzing Tim Cahill’, ‘Saved by the Fell’ and ‘The Leaving of Goodison’ on my laptop for most of the flight. The things you do!
Liverpool was great. Every other time I have been to Liverpool in the past 10 years, there has been no Everton presence. This time was different. There were flags in house windows, stalls selling scarves and flags, and cars sporting flags from windows. The city is looking alive and well compared to a few years ago and Liverpool 1 is fabulous (particularly as it has Everton 2 within it, although it had not opened when I was there). Goodison was as tired as I remembered her, but I still love going there and it was a treat to have my family see it in its aged pomp, although the emptiness of the trophy cabinet is a little sad.
On to London, where we walked through Kensington Gardens on the morning of the Cup final in our Everton shirts, to surprisingly be met with calls of greeting rather than loathing in the middle of Chelsea territory. We met a chap playing football with his kids. A keen Evertonian who went to the Semi-Final but didn’t have a ticket to the Final.
Walking down Wembley Way was just amazing. Surrounded by other Everton fans (the first my kids could remember ever meeting other than on the Goodison tour) singing and waving flags was worth the fare. We were stopped by a journalist at an outside broadcast van who was doing radio interviews with fans and we did a live radio interview for about 6-7 minutes, trying to explain why Aussies were at Wembley supporting Everton.
The game flashed by. When Saha scored after 26 seconds I proclaimed it the best moment of my life. My wife questioned this immediately but I reaffirmed my conviction in the statement I had made! Even in defeat, we sang, shouted, clapped and in all aspects milked the moment for all it was worth. The Everton fans were brilliant and we let the Chelsea mob know it.
That night I was sat in a pub feeling a little down, as the realities of loss hit me. My wife was outside having a cigar and a wine, while I hid inside nursing an ale. On hearing scouse accents, I headed outside and met a bunch of Everton fans who were just beginning to wake up. I met a bloke who had had a ticket but who had tried to scam his mate who didn’t have a ticket into Wembley – the result being both were evicted and missed the game.
We played football across the main street of Bayswater, the Everton group kicking a ball back to the locals on the other side of the road until the ball was lost on the roof and the Police came. We pub crawled until about 3am, when we straggled away, full of the joys of life. It had been quite a day.
Why have I told you this?? Because I’m sick to death of the stuff I’ve been reading and even feeling myself in recent times and I wanted to reach back but a number of weeks and remind myself and others of what joy we had at the end of May.
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1 Posted 01/08/2009 at 21:41:51
At the risk of hurtling back into the depressive side of life, I think it is because of these uplifting and positive moments that there is such a sense of angst at the moment — we all loved the good part of the cup run and we want more. Right?
Negativity over, to the good times! (think positive, think positive, think positive!)
2 Posted 03/08/2009 at 15:15:06
Apparently misery owns the day.
3 Posted 07/08/2009 at 11:24:29
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