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.