Many people or things on God’s great Earth are named after, well, famous people or things, following on from the Scott Baio sandwich, Christiano Ronaldo (Ronald Reagan, apparently), Arthur Conan Doyle (a Barbarian, apparently not) and my lad, whose middle name is named after the greatest football club on the planet. He has the honour of writing it down in every school book, application form, cheque, cash card etc.....for his name is Gavin Everton Kelly, and I had the honour of our first father/son (live matchday) Everton match together.

The poor lad had to wait until the tenth year of his life – "scandalous" I here you say, "no kid should wait that long" . Agreed, I always wanted our first game to be at the Old Lady, but being an ex-pat Scouser now living in Kent, coupled with ill health (a sScouser on the sick, you can take the boy out of Liverpool...) for the last few years, it just didn’t happen. But today, 21/09/2013 it was going to happen; me and Gav’ were off to the Boleyn Ground.

I acquired the tickets at 10 o’clock that morning at Victoria station, (thanks to Paul Withe and Matt) and thanks to Toffeeweb’s Miscellany section, a quick ’Nelson’ in the Wetherspoons and a brief chat to two Evertonians from the Northern Ireland Supporters club and it was off to pick up my soon to be overthemoonjumpingforjoydeliriouslyecstatic little Evertonian. How wrong could I be? The little squirt had had a sleep over and after a little less than four hours’ shut-eye it was like presenting the tickets to a pint-sized Victor Meldrew. "Oh, Everton tickets," he said in a sleep-deprived monotone voice. To say it wasn’t the reaction I was expecting is a slight understatement; I’d envisaged cartwheels, back flips, singing, dancing, ticker-tape parade. There were only two things for it: A – "I’ll take your sister," I told him .Cue coat on and he was out the front door and match bound within 10 seconds; B – Red Bull.

Our journey from the sunny southeast took us via (Wetherspoons) and the first McDonalds in London, Woolwich – if this place could be twinned with anywhere it would be the Mos Eisley Cantina, better known as the Star Wars Bar, and that’s being kind. After we’d polished off our horseburgers, it was time to leave Mos Eisley and hit the DLR towards Canning Town.

Up until this point the logistical side of the journey had been running like a well-oiled machine, and now, the cogs were about to come off. Faux pas #1: I took the decision to avoid the tube and get the bus to Upton Park. I mean, how busy could the Barking Road be on a Saturday afternoon whilst West Ham are at home? Jesus, was this bus ride slow. I’m talking continental drift slow; fuck, I know glaciers that moved faster than this traffic. So it was off the bus and time to give it ’toes’ to make the kick off, which we would have made with time to spare had we stayed on said bus, as it passed us only five minutes later and disappeared into the distance.

We arrived sweaty and breathless (one of us anyway and it wasn’t the kid) and took our seats some thirty seconds before kick off, with myself (unselfishly) neglecting the customary alcoholic pre-match beverage (as parched as I was) so as the boy didn’t miss the start of the game. (I know what you’re thinking at this point: Father of the Year Awar. Me too. Put in a link, editors). The things we do for our kids...

So, the game kicked-off and at this point I will fast forward to half time, and let’s say for arguement’s sake that West Ham scored a lucky deflection and me and Gav’ possibly witnessed the worst 45 mins I care to remember, sort of reminding me of when Mike Walker had us passing round the back with no end product. I apologised about the performance to the boy, this isn’t what his first game should be like. Even the bloke next to Gav’ asked him did he have an Everton shirt under his hoodie, as they (Everton) could have stuck him (Gav’) on the pitch as he could have done better given his tender age. Our response to said stranger was that Everton had no chance as the lad wouldn’t wear any kit with that God-forsaken badge on it, same view shared by his sister, and that is with no input from me, I swear.

Half time was my chance to de-virginise the boy to match-day food, drink (and alcohol for his dad), but judging by the queue and the fact there were only three staff serving at the refreshment stand (so close yet so far) we re-took our seats for the second half.

Two subs’ – fuck me – and then a forced third substitution only seven minutes in. Three changes, no more personnel to come on and change the game. Did we need them? Did we fuck. I ain’t going to give an in-depth match report; we all know about the game, but the play and passing was all coming together, a foul and then a free kick. Baines shoots, he scores. The Toffees in the away end were ecstatic, shouting, kissing and cuddling but none tighter than me and Gav’. I’ve witnessed some fine moments over the years, notably Wimbledon, last day of the season, Bolton too and the ’95 Cup Final, all at the game with my mates, but that goal going in beat them all, for I was there sharing it with my boy. Hearing how Gav’ reacted, feeling the bear hug we gave each other,the euphoria and every fucking great emotion... I don’t know how to put into writing. It was unbelievable, and, unbelievably, it got better. Gavin Everton Kelly turns to me and says – and I quote – "Dad, this is the best day of my life". Firstly I couldn’t reply, I just smiled and hugged him, then came out with "Mine too".

Well, if Everton, the comeback, the fans and the atmosphere had given my lad the best day of his life, judging by the look on his face when we conceded the penalty, it had suddenly, possibly, turned into his worst. "Dad, have they got a pen?" he asked. "Yes, son".

"FOR FACKSAKE," came the reply (Cockney accent), obviously forgetting he was in the company of his old man (yours truly). I seen the better end of, well, just letting it go. My language when Barkley was fouled for the Baines (first) free kick was, quite frankly, disgraceful (normal); the look on the little lad in front of us because Master G Everton Kelly hadn’t been told off was priceless.

Cracking atmosphere, good performance too; kind of had the feeling we were going to get something out the game. Hindsight is a wonderful gift but that was what I genuinely felt at the time, that we would get a result. We had too, it was my boy’s first game, for crying out loud.

And then Super Ross gets fouled, red card, free kick, Baines and Mirallas lining it up. Gav’ shouts out "come on Baines!" I had to step in at this moment and give the kid an insight to my supeior knowledge on football. Faux pas #2: "The keeper is expecting Baines to take it, we’ll see Mirallas step up and put it in the top corner son." Baines, 2-2. Who’s the wanker now, but who cares? Not me, not Gav’, certainly not anyone within an earshot of my (piss poor) comment and definitely not the two thousand-plus Blues because of the euphoria, the ecstasy, the kissing, the cuddling and me getting to spend another quality moment with my son as Everton scored again.

This day couldn’t genuinely get any better. Fuck, genuinely, yes it could! A couple of minutes later it’s 3-2 to us. One of Gav’s favourite players, Mirallas, twists and crosses it for Lukaku who heads it home for an emphatic winner. OMFG (to coin a phrase), the noise, the euphoria, the ecstasy, the kissing, the cuddling it was all back but ten-fold as me and Gav embraced each other and went berserk along with the rest of the travelling Blue army!

We left shortly after the goal as to beat the hordes back home via Mos Eisly. We exited onto the Priory Rd and it was at this time Gav’s delayed reaction to receiving the match tickets kicked in as he started to dance and sing Everton songs on the walk to the Barking road right infront of several hundred disgruntled Hammers fans. I had to tell the little fella to hold off on the victory dance until we were a little further away.

So there we have it, a day that had everything; agony, ecstasy, shit-hot free kicks, Star Wars characters, near-death experiences,Victor Meldrew, 5 goals and a superb win for the Toffeemen. But most importantly, I had my son by my side to share it with. A little later in the evening Gavin, whilst recapping the day, admitted he had tears of joy when the third goal went in. I think I had tears of joy too, but for a totally different reason. Can’t wait for the next time.

C O Y B.

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Reader Comments (19)

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Tamhas Woods
1 Posted 02/10/2013 at 21:45:12
My first 'un was also a 3-2 win, over Leicester at the old lady nearly 10 years ago - how time flies!

When I was 16 (eight years ago) I even wrote a match report on (what is now) vintage bluekipper

(second one down)

Happily, my writing skills have come a long way since then!

John Crook
2 Posted 02/10/2013 at 21:46:39
My first was Saturday 19 November 1988, aged 9... An unspectacular 1-1 draw against Norwich. I still have memories as clear as mud about the day and falling in love with Goodison Park and the club.

Me and my Dad were sat in the Main Stand but, as it turns out, we were supposed to be in the Upper Bullens (I still have the ticket stubs). I also remember a Trevor Steven penalty as the equalizer in the Street End. For the very first time in 25 years (less 1 month) today I have seen the goals of that game thanks to YouTube and St DomingosEFC. Thank you for uploading. That day 25 years ago changed my life forever!

Kevin Tully
3 Posted 02/10/2013 at 21:55:58
Bring a tear to a glass eye that Paul!!

My boy (who is nearly 18) is giving it the old 'gerrrofff dad' now when we score.

Enjoy it while he's young mate - great days indeed.

Brent Stephens
4 Posted 02/10/2013 at 22:04:43
Paul, more than a cracking experience, what a cracking story you write!
Lee Courtliff
5 Posted 02/10/2013 at 22:00:24
Oct 1990.

Barclays League Division 1.

Everton v Crystal Palace at Goodison.

Nil nil.

My first 4 Everton games were all nil nil.

I should have known then.

Wouldn't change it though.

Kev Johnson
6 Posted 02/10/2013 at 22:05:52
A heartwarming read. Funny too. Nice one, Paul.

As a fellow expat Scouse Dad living in Kent, I take my hat off to you.

Ray Robinson
7 Posted 02/10/2013 at 22:18:12
Absolutely brilliant piece of writing Paul that encapsulates all that it means to initiate another Blue, although, we're all born that way inclined anyway, aren't we?

My lad witnessed 4 defeats at home before, out of desperation and fearing the Man Utd sickness bug would kick in (we live in Warrington), I took him to the European match against Reykjavik when I guessed we were a racing certainty to win. Blow me, we went 1-0 down in that game too before eventually winning 3-1. No damage done though. He's 24 now and dyed in the wool Blue. It's in his blood and in his soul. Priceless!

Lloyd Brodrick
8 Posted 03/10/2013 at 01:00:41
Great piece Paul,took me back 40 years, first time at The Old Lady and to see my hero big Joe score the winner, 1-0 against the champs Derby. Magical day with my dad.
I'll be taking a similar journey with my 6 year old soon, it has to be soon!
David Ellis
9 Posted 03/10/2013 at 02:27:52
I used to live in Upton Park and went to the Boleyn Ground a few times in the early-mid eighties.

Once saw Everton win 1-0 (Heath - Nov '84 as we went top of the table). After the game the Everton fans (including me) we shepherded down the high street with a double-sided police escort to the tube station. Whilst West Ham fans tried to get in an kill us all.

As I actually lived in Upton Park (and did not want to go the tube station) it was highly surreal for me - and mildy terrifying. My mate and I then hid our Everton scarfs under our coats and ducked out of a gap in the police line (when it was bit quieter) and went off down a backstreet and so walked home. I was terrified of being spotted by a Hammers fan. Probably not too bright in retrospect.

So doing a victory dance in front of West Ham fans in 1984 was not a common impulse.

James Lauwervine
10 Posted 03/10/2013 at 09:33:13
A really enjoyable read Paul and undoubtedly a day you and your boy will never forget.
Ralph Basnett
11 Posted 03/10/2013 at 10:01:09
First game V Ipswich 1976, kids pen and did not remember seeing bill Kenwrong their, bore draw 1-1 can’t remember who scored.....
Ian Burns
12 Posted 03/10/2013 at 10:20:16
Paul Kelly - terrific article - take a bow!

I was laughing and crying at the same time, all the time relating the story with my own experiences.

That was a terrific read Paul - many thanks

Chris Williams
13 Posted 03/10/2013 at 11:03:42
A lovely story that and great memories for the lad.

My first time was a birthday present for my sixth birthday, and as we lived in Hans Road it was a 5 minute walk through the jiggers into Gwladys Street and then into the Paddock. (I'm fairly sure my dad lifted me over the turnstile too, but could be wrong.)

It was February 1954 and it was in the old Second Division and we played Blackburn and drew 1-1 (Davy!). And it was great – all standing except me perched on a crush barrier sitting on my dad's mac.

We got promoted that season back to where we've been since (as were Blackburn) and to put the icing on the cake the Shite were relegated too. WE had a big party in Hans Road and all my uncles and cousins – all Blues to a man – had a great old time, and there I was a Blue among Blues and have been ever since. My sons are Blues and I tell you straight nothing beats going to the match with your lad even when they're grown men. It's a sharing emotional experience for all concerned and I can't thank my Dad enough God rest him..

Neil Quinn
14 Posted 04/10/2013 at 07:30:51
As a 10 year old in 1969 vs Sheffield Wednesday. Alan Ball & Joe Royle for us, Alan Warboys for them. Little did I know I was watching the champions elect.
I was in awe at the size of the place, having only been to a few Tranmere games. My dad told me to go down to the front & I remember the disappointment when I realised the walls were so high that I couldn't see over. Fortunately another young lad took pity on me & let me share the crate he was standing on.
Anto Byrne
15 Posted 04/10/2013 at 10:28:43
I was in the Boys Pen for that game, Neil.
Graeme Jenkinson
16 Posted 04/10/2013 at 19:16:32
0-0 v Spurs @ WHL. My older brother took me for my first game. Amokachi hit the bar, not a lot else happened but it didn't matter to me. Must have been 1994-5. I'll always remember getting the piss taken out of us going up an escalator on the way to the game by about a dozen Tottenham fans doing Harry Enfield Scouser impressions. We're from Surrey and have no connections to LIverpool. I guess my brother was a gloryhunter of the 80's, I've never had a choice (or considered choosing). Now I spend 8-9 hours on the road every couple of weeks traveling to Goodison.
Jim Lloyd
17 Posted 05/10/2013 at 09:20:34
It's the morning of the Man City game and I've just finished reading your article Paul. Brilliant mate.

What a great feeling it must be, to see another Evertonian and your son to boot, take his first game in and witness our performance that day.

A smashing read...keep em coming.

Paul Ferry
18 Posted 05/10/2013 at 23:54:57
Great stuff Paul mate - being without male issue I do envy that dad/son Everton thing.

I hope that your health improves soon mate.

Richard Tarleton
19 Posted 06/10/2013 at 14:10:07
My first one was an 8-4 win over Plymouth, our last season in the old Second Division and almost 60 years later, I'm still waiting for my second 12-goal classic. A lovely article sensitively and humorously written.

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