I fell in love Everton in the early 80s. Like a shy teenager smitten with a girl, who never has approached her but admired her from afar. I am an armchair Everton supporter and proud of it. I never miss a game, I watch them on TV, listen to them on Everton radio, follow them on Soccer Saturday or (up to quite recently) stream the games live (thank God for technology; I used to follow them on Ceefax).

This makes me no less of an Everton fan than a season ticket holder, most of whom live close to Goodison Park. I live and breath Everton; my Twitter page has only Evertonians as followers; I read every forum concerning Everton. I buy the shirt every year, but I am unlucky not to live close to my beloved Toffees.

I live in Ireland; some would say it’s only an hour from Dublin to Liverpool on a plane and is not far away, but if you have to travel 2 hours to Dublin before that and queue for 2 hours in airport, this would then entail an overnight stay in Liverpool and add to the expense. It would have cost me nearly the price of a season ticket, just to see one match! With other financial constraints/commitments this has never been an option until now.

My personal circumstances have changed (I won’t go into details), but I have moved up to Dublin, so it is now possible for me to go see my beloved Blues and be home in time to watch us on MotD. (Well, if they show us on last as usual). All I now needed was some money...

My journey starts in an armchair on Saturday 14 September 2013, against Chelsea. It was 4pm and I was awaiting the team line-up. We had kept a lot of clean sheets at home in a row in the league, Naismith scored on the last game of last season against Chelsea, it was his birthday. He was starting the match, Twitter was awash over Naismith and Osman starting together and how we were going to get hammered. Naismith had become the chief whipping boy, since Neville left. Not for me, though; I was impressed with his attitude pre-season and he seems to give 100% each game. He was 60/1 odds to score the 1st goal and for Everton to win 1-0. I had some loose change on me (5), so I decided to have a flutter (my first of the season).

I watched the game in my new local. I was talking to two Arsenal fans, who had been watching their team that morning. They were temporary Everton fans for the game. Naismith scored just before half-time. I showed my new friend my betting slip, they wished me the best of luck for the rest of the 2nd half.

That 45 mins was the longest of my life. I remember Baines hitting the crossbar with a free kick, I did not know whether to laugh or cry. Thank God he saved his free kicks to score against West Ham. We had over 4 mins of injury time... Where the hell did that come from?" I thought. The final whistle eventually came. Elated, I rushed to the bookies down the road to cash in. I went home, just around the corner, and put most of the money away. I went back to to the pub and had a couple of pints with my new friends, I bought them a couple of drinks each to celebrate.

Next morning, slightly hungover, I thought to myself: "What would I spend the money on?" And then it dawned on me that maybe it’s a sign to finally visit the hallowed Goodison Park for the next home game. Newcastle were next at home, but that was a late Monday kick-off, which did not suit work, so I decided to buy tickets online for the Hull City game. I got cheap return flights to John Lennon Airport. Total cost so far was about 160. I had some money left over and decided to buy a home shirt. Whose name was I going to put on the back of the shirt? Naismith, who made my dream come true? Or Lukaku, who will be everyone’s favorite for one season?

I opted for Barkley, who will hopefully be here for seasons to come...

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Norman Merrill
1 Posted 03/10/2013 at 07:21:17
Kevin, interesting article mate, I hope you enjoy your visit to Goodison.
You will follow in the footsteps of many thousands of supporters from the Irish Republic who use to flock to the old lady, when our team had its fair share of Irish players.
A bit of history was to be played out at Goodison on 21st September 1949, when Eire beat England 2-0, & Everton capt, Peter Farrell scored the second goal.
They became the first foreign side to win beat England on home soil, four years before the mighty Magyars of Hungary defeated England 6-3 at Wembley.
Enjoy the whole experience, hopefully the boys in BLUE will make your trip worthwhile, & wear your shirt with pride, Ross just might make your day.
Ralph Basnett
2 Posted 03/10/2013 at 09:59:28
Enjoy your day Kevin, I’m one of those fortunate to live local with the season ticket,Goodson has always been a magnet too me, I’m the highs and lows.

Once again, enjoy the experience....

Eugene Kearney
3 Posted 03/10/2013 at 11:39:23
Good article, Kevin. I wish I'd written it (well, something similar) myself. Am also an Irishman and an "Armchair Evertonian" like you - all my life so far....but I hope to make my first pilgramage this season. I have been living in France for many years.

Thanks to technology (internet) I can follow Everton a lot closer now, because for many, many years French armmchairs didn't talk to you very often about any football in England!!!

Sound choice for the name on your shirt. I bought my first shirt (online, official site/shop) about 18 months ago. Got my own surname on it and number 11 cos it's my favourite number. Happens to be Mirallas at the moment, which is nice!!

I think Ross Barkley will be a massive player for Everton and I hope he has a long and successful (loaded with goals!!) career with us! So, I'd chersish that shirt if I were you.

I believe there is a fan club in Ireland called The Irish Toffees - maybe contacting/joining them will make this easier for you to organise further trips to Goodison.

Andy Crooks
4 Posted 03/10/2013 at 11:58:11
Good article,Kevin, I know exactly how you feel. When I lived in England in the eighties I was able to attend most games. When the era of cheap flights arrived I was able to get to at least six games a season,

Sadly, the last few years have been grim financially and I just can't go. TV is a great substitute but there is nothing on earth like being at Goodison Park. Make the most of every chance you get.

Steve Barr
5 Posted 03/10/2013 at 12:57:32
Your situation is appreciated and understood from my point of view. Moved to the USA in 1998 and have had limited opportunities to watch Everton live since.

However, I have managed to get back over the years at great cost of course...but its always worth it, win or lose, to savour the experience.

Always a pleasure to be part of the build up to a game at Goodison, pre and post match bevvies! The excitement and optimism before the kick off, the euphoria or post mortem afterwards.

Whichever it is, is always worthwhile.

Get there whenever you can.

Ben Dyke
6 Posted 03/10/2013 at 14:53:14
My life has taken me in the opposite direction!

From a dad who was brought up a stones throw away from Goodison and went with his dad, to me being born 'in exile' in Buckinghamshire followed by a move as a teenager to the Wirral in 1989, whereupon I bought my first season ticket. Then University in Midlands to married life in London then Leeds (where me and bro in law a fellow Blue bought season tickets again!) to York (and had kids here so stopped season ticket but fortunately through working for RFL made loads of contacts in sport so went to loads of away games and in Directors Box at home via contacts in Premier League), to now moving to Sweden in December and will only make the odd game again when visiting parents (who are still on Wirral)!

Kev Dale
7 Posted 03/10/2013 at 17:15:21
Great story! I too have gone the other way, the 69-70 season I went to every game home and away. Through work and family commitments, I now live down south and don't get to as many games as I would like, but when I do its always a great day out. Twitter, internet, Radio 5 Live and Sky Sports keep me close to the Blues

Once it's in your blood...

Paul Lewis
8 Posted 03/10/2013 at 19:48:27
Not arsed what anyone says. Someone who has never set foot in Goodison is no less of a supporter than someone was who's been there a thousand times (and I'm born and bred in Huyton and have been going the Old Lady since I was 5, I'm now 32). It's all about the passion you feel for your club. Good on ya, Kevin lad.
Peter Thistle
9 Posted 04/10/2013 at 02:59:59
You were probably the only one who had faith in Naisy, good on ya :) Perfect way to spend the winnings.
David Pearl
10 Posted 04/10/2013 at 05:43:55
Quite funny to read all the negativity toward Naismith on TW before the game so when he scored that goal, I didn't scream as usual, I had a smug grin instead, (Okay, I might of screamed a bit.)

Nice little win Kevin, have a great trip. Do you have any idea of your bet when you are at the game? If he doesn't score beforehand Mirallas is surely due a goal!

Pat Finegan
11 Posted 04/10/2013 at 06:45:13
I went to a match at Goodison last year, the Southampton one where we won 3-1. I live in the USA, Virginia to be specific, and I flew over for a weekend. Best 3 days of my life without a doubt.

I sat in the first row of the Street End where we scored all 3 of our goals that day. I got to go to london and see the sights (sidenote: Liverpool is an all around better city. It's kind of like a half price version of London with the added bonuses of The Beatles and people that aren't douche bags.)

You're going to love your trip to Goddison. I'd like to warn you though, that once you've been to the old lady, you're not going to be able to get it out of your system. It's more like sex than it is like Hajj; You don't just do it once and you're done. You'll always want to go back. Always. From the day you set foot in Goodison onward, the games you watch on TV will be games you wish you were at.

Derek Knox
12 Posted 05/10/2013 at 06:14:35
Good and interesting read Kevin, like the other posters on here, I know you will relish your baptism to Goodison Park !

From the, almost bizarre sequence of events that befell you, and your choice of goalscorer against Chelsea, it was almost inevitable, that is was meant to be !

By the way, have you got any similar premonitions for today's game against City ?

Paul Ferry
13 Posted 05/10/2013 at 23:43:36
Have a great day at The Old Lady Kevin and enjoy the city too - boozers on a par with Dublin. We will beat Hull. I always really like hearing Irish accents in and around The Old Lady.

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