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Becoming an Evertonian Saved My Life

By Chris Wilkinson :  02/12/2010 :  Comments (23) :
How becoming an Evertoninan saved my life. A letter to the club, players and fans of Everton.

Dear Everton (club, players and fans),

In 2008, I became an Evertonian. I had just turned 17 and had been a typical North American "soccer" hater. Although I'm Canadian and not American, a lot of the population still thinks of "soccer" as a strictly European sport and therefore not worth watching.

Having grown up playing competitive baseball, rather than football, my "hatred" for football had been more than the average person. Since both seasons ran simultaneously, it was a constant battle to get players in order to make the leagues competitive. I had no interest in learning about football at all, even though games were readily available and there is good coverage of the Premier League in Canada. However, in 2008, that changed.

In 2008, two days after his 50th birthday, my father died after a four-year battle with cancer. It should not have been a shock, he had been getting sicker, but after four years of battling I had assumed that he would just pull through like he always had before. After his death, being a stereotypical male, I kept my emotions bottled up, letting everybody believe that I was fine, however I wasn't. It seemed as if I couldn't do anything without the constant reminder of my dad.

Because sports had always been a part of my life I naturally tried to turn to sports to make me focus on something other than the fact that my dad was gone. But sports had always been something that I enjoyed with my dad, so watching a baseball game, playing basketball, golf and even HOCKEY (which is basically illegal in Canada ? getting no joy from hockey) left me with an empty feeling inside.

So, I decided that I needed something that I could do without remembering my dad. I turned to football. Being a sports person, I knew the basic rules of football, and had seen a few World Cup matches, but had never jumped on the World Cup bandwagon and become a fan. So I started to do some research into the teams in the Premier League. I looked at profiles for all 20 teams playing in the league at that time, and that's when I discovered Everton.

I had remembered my mom telling me about my great-grandmother being from Liverpool. So, I looked into Liverpool and Everton. When I read about Liverpool, however, I just got the feeling that they were not my team. I knew that when I found my team I would just know. And I was right. Because after I looked into Liverpool, I found Everton. The Toffeemen. The Blues. And I knew at that moment that I would be a lifelong Evertonian.

I began watching the games, and celebrating their triumphs and bemoaning their losses. I discovered Tim Cahill, who soon became my favourite player, because of his work ethic and tremendous ability to head the ball. I also discovered Tim Howard, with his drive and absolute fearlessness inside the net. Mikel Arteta, Phil Jagielka, Phil Neville, Leighton Baines and the list goes on. Everton became my whole life. Reading the news, hearing transfer rumors, looking at their tactics, it gave me something that I could do without the constant reminder of my dad, because we had never watched or played football. It stopped me from becoming too depressed.

Now that I am a 19, almost 20, year old university student, I have had some chances to look back on that time. Of course, I don't know what would have happened if I never discovered Everton. I don't know if I would have found something else, or if I would have pulled through, or what I would have done if I would have let myself get too depressed. But what I do know, is that becoming an Evertonian saved me from going to a very dark and very lonely place. A place that many people have either not come back from or have come back a very different person. That alone was enough to make me an Evertonian for life.

So with the Everton fans grumbling about the recent performance of the team, I decided to write this, to let the fans know that there is something good with this team and club. I also wrote this as a thank you. A thank you to the club, the players and most of all the fans. Because although there are very few Everton fans in Canada, I love watching the games on television and hearing the support and knowing that I am not alone in my support. So, thank you Everton and everybody involved with the club. Thank you for saving my life.

Sincerely,

Chris Wilkinson

ps: Forever Everton!

Reader Comments

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Art Jones
1   Posted 02/12/2010 at 15:18:16

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Chris, a lovely letter, there is an Everton ethos saying Evertonians are born, they do not choose... You my son were born an Evertonian ? you just didn't know it.

Good Luck!
Yusuf Bobat
2   Posted 02/12/2010 at 15:50:01

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Very touching, brought a tear to my eye, sometimes we forget that there are more important things in life.
Mike Gaynes
3   Posted 02/12/2010 at 15:34:40

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That's a wonderful story, Chris. I too became a passionate Evertonian at the time my dad passed. Unlike you, I've always been a committed amateur soccer player, but because English football got only sporadic exposure here in the US, I had not adopted a particular team. Watching Kevin Sheedy cavort at the World Cup and then subsequently for Everton caused me to turn completely Toffee. (As a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, I have a genetic weakness for blue-clad underdogs.) And when my dad, like yours, departed way too young, I too needed an outlet, and Everton was it. 20 years on, I have never regretted that adoption.
Lee Courtliff
4   Posted 02/12/2010 at 16:13:03

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Beautiful story. I am so sorry to hear about your father, cannot imagine what that feels like. Welcome to the family mate.
David S Shaw
5   Posted 02/12/2010 at 17:05:56

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Nice letter. Discovering the Blues is great.

You'll soon be writing letters on how supporting Everton has ruined your life like the rest of us! Enjoy it before the anger and despair of being an Evertonian takes over!

Norman Merrill
6   Posted 02/12/2010 at 16:58:17

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A great time to join the family Chris, as you well know we are not doing very well at the moment, and it would be easy for someone to come on board after we had just won another trophy. As you will have already read up on our history, it's 15 long years since we won any silverware.

And I just hope that you enjoy your visits to Toffeeweb, and hopefully our luck is about to change... And maybe one day you may visit the old lady Goodison Park, and see your club play, for real.

Welcome aboard Chris.
Nil Satis Nisi Optimum

Dave McBride
7   Posted 02/12/2010 at 17:19:42

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Chris, a very nice post. I'm sorry about your father. I lost my mother to cancer in 2009 and miss her every day.

While you are correct that there are not many visible Canadian Evertonians, there are some! I know a fair number in Vancouver (some of them, not even my family members - :) ).

I have e-mailed the club on a number of occasions, because I think they are missing an opportunity to market more actively to North America. Soccer (sorry) is on the rise, particularly in the Northwestern US and in Western Canada. I don't know who would fit this role, but imagine if Everton could find a Canadian player to act as a marketing talisman in a similar way to Tim Cahill for Australia? If they could permanently sign Landon Donovan, and if they could do more of a marketing job with his likeness in the US, you'd have to imagine that this would help to build the club's brand and result in more revenue via shirt sales, etc.

Oh well, one can dream...
Richard Osborne
8   Posted 02/12/2010 at 17:28:13

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Chris, a fantastic letter. Thank you for sharing that little bit of your life with us.

While I can't imagine what you must have gone through, I can't help but feel a little proud that Everton helped you through.

The club is special. The supporters even more so.

Incidentally Chris, where abouts in Canada are you? I'm an ex-pat Brit, living in Toronto and you are right, there are too few Evertonians in Canada. I'm hoping to change that by converting a few hockey fanatics!!

Enjoy the blues mate. They will make you laugh, cry, scream, shout, cheer and just about every other emotion. But whatever happens, keep on keepin' on. The good times WILL be back!
Chris Wilkinson
9   Posted 02/12/2010 at 17:31:51

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Dave (7):

Yeah, I know of a few fans in Canada, but most are Man U fans, unfortunately.

I agree that Everton could benefit from marketing more actively in Canada. We have a few good players. Paul Stalteri plays in the Bundesliga, David Edgar for Burnley, Iain Hume plays for Preston North End and David Hoilett for Blackburn. And funnily enough, according to Wikipedia Landon Donovans dad is from Canada...so we got something at least.
Chris Wilkinson
10   Posted 02/12/2010 at 17:40:31

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Richard (8):

I am in Ontario too, Kitchener-Waterloo area. Cambridge specifically.

If you are from Toronto you HAVE to listen to the Footy Show on the score. Am I right?
Dave McBride
11   Posted 02/12/2010 at 18:14:08

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Richard/Chris:
My brother and I were in Toronto a few years back. There was a match on, and we needed to find somewhere to watch it and ended up at "Scallywags" I think it was called? Anyway, there were a dozen or so Evertonians there who apparently have a Toronto-based supporters' club? It was a fun morning, and we were made to feel very welcome.

And, like Richard, I have been working to enlighten people to the blue path. Why should we horde all of the pain and anguish for ourselves?!?
Dennis Stevens
12   Posted 02/12/2010 at 18:54:17

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Very well put, Chris. As an Evertonian you may still often find yourself in a very dark place but at least you won't be lonely - we'll all be there with you!

Keep on keeping on ...
Eugene Ruane
13   Posted 02/12/2010 at 20:18:38

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Great letter Chris, welcome.

Word of warning though.

You're in now and there's no getting out.

From now on..

You'll hear the name 'Emershom' and think "Did he say Everton?"

You'll see little logo on a coffee cup in Venezuela and think "Is that an Everton badge?"

You'll hear a phone ring and think "Is that Z-Cars?"

Red clothes will become unwearable.

Red ANYTHING will become..um..unwhateverable.

Buying a cigarette lighter won't be "doesn't matter, any colour" it'll be "give us a blue one"

Your life will never be the same, in ways you probably haven't even thought of.

Enjoy!
John Maxwell
14   Posted 02/12/2010 at 21:38:41

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Welcome aboard the rollercoaster Chris.... not easy being an Evertonian, character building I would say.

We are a great bunch though and you chose wisely, get ready for lots of pain, anguish, despair.... that was last week, hopefully in true Everton spirit some joy is around the corner, enjoy it while it lasts.

You've also found a good website, very passionate... not always easy to read.... But some great articles of our beloved team.
Tim Brashar
15   Posted 03/12/2010 at 02:35:25

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Get yourself to a game at Goodison son!

I was like a kid the night before Christmas every match I was lucky enough to get to. Could hardly sleep a wink and woke up with a stiffy every time.
Dave Charles
16   Posted 03/12/2010 at 10:09:21

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Nice letter Chris and welcome aboard the good ship Everton.

Now this thing about 'grumbling'. It's an Everton thing and you will get used to it, believe me, after 40-odd years of going the match, I couldn't do without a 'grumble'. Win, lose or draw, it's just an Everton thing, we will find something to grumble about. The referee, a certain player from our team or the away team. It's what makes us special.

Do try the Royal Oak or any pub around the ground after a game and join in the post match grumble. I couldn't do without it.

Enjoy being a Blue-boy, it's something very special to be.

Stephen Kenny
17   Posted 03/12/2010 at 11:07:29

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Welcome to a lifetime of heartache and misery. With the occassional unimaginable high!
Richard Osborne
18   Posted 03/12/2010 at 13:17:43

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Chris, yes I do listen to The Score. I also get most of the games online so get to see the Blues most weekends (more is the pity!!).

If you find yourself in Toronto when a match is on, get yourself to the Sports Cafe on Yonge/ St. Clair. Don't bother with Scallywags (Dave @ 11) unless you enjoy talking about how your kids are doing at school and getting scornful looks when you go berserk after goals against Liverpool.

Oh and the owner of Scallywags decided to try to charge me and a group of friends $10 each to watch an Ireland International game, even after we had been in there putting about $300 behind the bar on drinks and food.

In short, Scallywags can go fuck themselves!

Forza Evertonia.
Gerry Quinn
19   Posted 03/12/2010 at 13:22:46

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Chris - welcome to the family, and I hope you bring with you the better times.

Over 50 years I have supported the blues and still I learn even now how much alike us Evertonians are - reading through #13 Eugene's list of "do's and don'ts, I giggled, because I can relate to those things that make people stare at me puzzled at how panickity I can be.

#16 Dave - I look back at when I never seemed to complain about Everton - EVER - life was good, defeats were few and players like the Holy Trinity ruled my happiness and my attitude. Nowadays - what an absolute whinging, moaning, sulky bastard I have become with age, but more so having to suffer so many heartaches and misery.

Would I change it - NOT AT ALL - we are so lucky to have ToffeeWeb to give all of us that outlet to whinge and moan!

Welcome again to the family, you picked a great time to support Everton as it can't get much worse than this - CAN IT?
Paul Joy
20   Posted 03/12/2010 at 16:13:42

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Chris - thanks for sharing such a personal account with us.

Being a blue will get to you in many ways over the years - some quite ridiculous.

One morning I went to our door to take delivery of a new wheelchair for my son. The delivery was all happy and cheerful until he looked at my face - the chair was bright red. I said "No chance mate we are not having that in this house"
" You are joking are'nt you - just sign here mate"
Take it away and bring one in any other colour but red.
He did
I said it was ridiculous but just imagine me having to tell my son he had to sit in a red wheelchair when his life was bad enough without that level of abuse.

One day I believe you will understand.
COYB
Leon Perrin
21   Posted 03/12/2010 at 16:41:39

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Chris,

Your dad must have been some man to have a boy as remarkable as you.
People complain when they care, no body cares more than Evertonians, welcome home Chris.

Christopher McCullough
22   Posted 03/12/2010 at 20:15:50

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Nice one, Chris.

The word 'Everton' (whatever that means) also provides a link to my dad. I think Evertonians are an epistemic community.

You may develop an absurd disposition when trying to explain the love in deepest blue. Nevermind.
Lance Manion
23   Posted 05/12/2010 at 13:47:21

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Welcome, Chris,

I'm glad you were able to find solace in our beloved club in such a sad time in your life.

As was previously mentioned, they say Evertonians are born blue, we never had a choice (which I'm happy about). I believe this to be true, so you have been a member of this family for a long time ? you just never knew.

I hope you get the chance to see a game at Goodison and experience the atmosphere of the most loyal and passionate fans in the world first hand, it's truly remarkable.

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