Things rarely turn out how you expect and more often than not it's not in a good way. A few times, though, the stars align and it all falls into place. Those are the days that make memories. I had one of those days yesterday.
It's been a long time since I have seen a live game but, thanks to the generosity of Tony Abrahams, yesterday, I got a chance. I am naturally pessimistic. I predicted the flight would be canncelled, we would be stuck in traffic. So, after a sleepless night, I insisted that we left for Belfast airport (my wife was giving me lift) early enough for me to cover the 15 miles on foot if necessary.
All went well and I met the wonderful Dave Abrahams in a sunny Liverpool and headed to Goodison Park. Contrary to what Dave has said, I did not have the balls bored off me. It was fascinating to walk round the ground with an Evertonian who is incredibly knowledgeable. After a beer in the sun outside the People's Pub, we met Dave's two sons, Tony and Michael, and his grandson Cameron; just like Dave, lads out of the very top drawer. I suppose this is why I had been like a kid on Christmas Eve.
Walking up the steps and seeing the pitch was special. Is the grass, greener than it used to be? Is the sky bluer? That's how it seemed. Like a painting. By now, I couldn't have felt more tense if I was playing. I'd have taken a draw there and then. What unfolded was the stuff of dreams.
Five minutes in and we looked good. Fit, confident, pressing, passing forward, movement, guile. Here's something that never occurred to me before: the big difference in watching live or at home. It's the sound. The split second delay between the ball moving and the thud reaching your ears. When Sigurdsson scored, the ball was half-way to the net before I heard it.
At four-nil I relaxed, not at three-nil, though. We are Everton. I must have looked at the screen a hundred times in disbelief. Four-nil... how can that be?
Manchester United were made to look poor. There was not an Everton player who was less than excellent. They seem to like one another and be a team. Bernard has it all – skill, great skill, work rate and attitude. A special mention to Dominic Calvert-Lewin. He worked and battled and is just a bit of composure away from being top notch.
We left the ground and I was walking on sunshine in the sunshine. That is as good as I have ever felt leaving a match. A pint in the Halfway House (full of reds watching the Cardiff game). Then back to the hotel for the Toffeeweb get-together.
It was a terrific evening. Thank you, Derek. It was good to catch up again with the Johns, Derek, Brian and to meet the others and put faces to the names. The two Bills, Ged, Steve, Ray, Mike and the magnificent George. (I'm glad it stayed at four, George!)
I doubt there is another club with a website like this. I know there is no other club with supporters like this. Thanks for the drink, Mike, what a wonderful gesture. Thanks for setting this up, Derek. Dave, Tony and Michael – this meant more than I can say, thank you.
Finally, the siren and Z-Cars. I thought I was too old and cynical to have a lump in my throat at a game. Thankfully, I'm not. This club and its supporters still move me and always will.
Reader Comments (31)
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1 Posted 23/04/2019 at 16:08:19
2 Posted 23/04/2019 at 16:18:20
Isn't it wonderful, for those few hours, to be childlike, childlike in a way where things can almost be too much, too good, childlike where emotions aren't suppressed by adulthood and years of growing up. Where you can show your sheer joy and happiness and not be looked at like a complete fucking tool!
That feeling of walking from the concourse (concourse ffs!) and seeing the painted green of the pitch the somehow artificially bright royal blue shirts that bring a lump to my throat EVERY fucking game mate.
Isn't it wonderful being a Blue, mate?
3 Posted 23/04/2019 at 16:19:39
I'm delighted that you got to watch the game with Dave and benefited from the generous efforts of the Abrahams family, as I did in December. They are the finest of Evertonians!
And yes, the sky is bluer and the grass is greener at Goodison than anywhere else in the world. At least that was my impression on my first glimpse two years ago. I will never forget the moment.
4 Posted 23/04/2019 at 16:37:57
5 Posted 23/04/2019 at 16:50:35
Manure are no slouches and have done well since Mourinho went but somehow we knew the Solksjaer bubble would burst eventually.
Everton, have played few outstanding games this season, arguably Leicester and West Ham away and the great efforts in the Liverpool games.
Now, having taken a point off Liverpool and maximum points from 3 top six clubs as well as the Hammers in recent weeks we can be forgiven for have a lot more optimism for the rest of the season Including another game against a top six London club (bring em' on) and also for next season.
Everton were looking half decent at the start of the season and again now but most of the in between was just lukewarm and even less especially after that injury time loss at Anfield.
Obviously there is still a lot to sort out with personnel and hopefully all the right moves will be made in the Summer but for now enjoy the reruns of the Man Utd game.
6 Posted 23/04/2019 at 16:58:39
I posted in the matchday thread that I genuinely thought of you as each goal went in, imagining what a great, GREAT day you were having.
The stars most certainly did align for you on every front.
Delighted for you.
7 Posted 23/04/2019 at 17:10:51
It was great to meet you and the and all the others in attendance at the Excelsior which made a truly great day even better.
8 Posted 23/04/2019 at 17:24:16
Great piece. Your bringing back memories. The first time I went to Goodson was under the floodlights versus Feyernoord. They had a heavily policed vocal set of fans at one end but yeah that roar any time Everton get near a goal is magical. I remember being there when we beat Soton 7-1. Talk about noise! Only negative was the restricted view so I missed seeing five of the goals but it was evident we scored lol
9 Posted 23/04/2019 at 17:57:08
10 Posted 23/04/2019 at 18:02:21
11 Posted 23/04/2019 at 18:07:16
Andy you capture the sheer excitement of a visit to Goodison really well and I am delighted for you that the day turned out as it did.
Well done to Tony and Dave for showing what a true family this group of supporters can be.
12 Posted 23/04/2019 at 18:38:37
13 Posted 23/04/2019 at 18:42:37
Tony, Michael and Cameron ( he cant half rabbit, cant he) enjoyed your company as much as me.
If my wife reads your post shell think you met someone
else “ the wonderful Mr. Abrahams “ shell never let me live that down !!!
Once again Andy it was great meeting you again and whatever little we did for you, you were well worth it.
Well meet again Andy.
14 Posted 23/04/2019 at 19:03:06
I'm asking as I'll be over for the Burnley match. If any of the Toffee-Webbers are around, I would love to meet up. Staying in Jury's Inn and not heading back until Saturday night. My first visit was Easter 1970 for Chelsea game, where Howard Kendall made me wait all of 14 seconds for my first Goodison goal, in a 5-2 win. As match finished, word came through from Southampton that Jimmy Gabriel had scored v Leeds.
15 Posted 23/04/2019 at 19:09:35
goals for Bournemouth in an FA cup game.
16 Posted 23/04/2019 at 19:17:44
Winning things obviously brings elation and sheer joy. But the pride you feel in being an Evertonian comes from the way the club and its supporters conduct themselves.
Then you read a piece like the one from Mr. Crooks and you're given another lift.
So, to both the Mr. Abrahams and all those who helped make it such a wonderful day; I can only say "Well done. Be proud of yourselves." You can be sure that every true Evertonian is proud of you.
17 Posted 23/04/2019 at 19:17:55
Its only a pitch I know, but it was a perfect pitch, on a perfect day, and Im glad you got to witness Goodison at its finest.
I didnt realise how such a small gesture could give someone so much pleasure, but I didnt realise Everton, were going to play so well, which was the main contribution to a perfect day for you Andy.
I think I took as much pleasure as you anyway Andy, because I know youve had your own troubles in the past mate, and the guts you had, to pull yourself out of a big hole, is the only thing that made days like Sunday possible.
A Lovely day, was only bettered by both the team, and the company Andy, and also the thing that I thought wed lost. Evertons greatest weapon, is starting to really come to the fore once again, and thats what makes Goodison Pk, one of the most special places on earth!
18 Posted 23/04/2019 at 19:43:11
1) Andy Crooks to attend ALL home games
2) The Abrahams family to supply the tickets
3) Mike Gaynes to stay at home in the USA but to wire transfer funds for (unlimited) post match drinks.
I suppose it could be called a “Holy Trinity” of elements!
19 Posted 23/04/2019 at 19:58:49
Kieran - I was at both of the games you mentioned, Feyenoord we just couldnt get a goal! Southampton 7-1 was brilliant sat in the upper Gwladys Street with the Speed hat trick! Even remember Paul Gerrard replacing Southall at half time (still shudder at some of his games!)
20 Posted 23/04/2019 at 20:20:56
21 Posted 23/04/2019 at 20:37:34
I'm just gutted that I missed out on a free drink from Mr Gaynes. I'm sure that can be rectified soon!!
22 Posted 23/04/2019 at 22:06:57
You too Tony, great gesture.
I think Dave is right, possibly we do take it for granted and not realise the on off moments for those not as fortunate as most.
23 Posted 23/04/2019 at 22:47:14
24 Posted 24/04/2019 at 00:35:12
25 Posted 24/04/2019 at 07:25:00
Im sorry not to have been able to make it to the Excelsior, but hope to catch up with you and everyone else at a future event.
Best wishes all round.
26 Posted 24/04/2019 at 11:39:05
27 Posted 24/04/2019 at 13:10:32
Well done also to the Abrahams family for helping you out so brilliantly. It was a pleasure to meet you in the Excelsior, but how come nobody told me anything about a free pint?! I'm starting to think George might have had two by claiming craftily that one was for G. McK and the other was for G. McK. (!)
28 Posted 24/04/2019 at 16:35:50
Also, although our meeting was but a fleeting one in the Excelsior, it was a real pleasure to meet you and the other boys and, yes, you'd need to travel far and wide to meet such a grand bunch of fans. I look forward to the next one.
29 Posted 24/04/2019 at 22:07:25
30 Posted 28/04/2019 at 10:42:42
Always found Andy to be an excellent contributor and this piece was no exception.
Having not been to Goodison for some years now, (...fathering three kids in consecutive years does tend to hit the pocket..!!) I have asked my wife for two tickets for a home game (any) as my birthday present in October; one for me and the other for my eldest who I have deliberately infected with the Everton bug..His first game!!
I cannot wait. That walk up the stairs and seeing the pitch for the first time. Me and my six-year old - I know Im going to well-up, like I did when I first walked into the Vatican.
Everton is my (our) religion. As much as they frustrate & delight us. They hold a spiritual power over us all.
Great stuff Andy.
31 Posted 28/04/2019 at 11:55:04
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