Days of Heaven (from Tony's seat)

by   |   22/04/2019  31 Comments  [Jump to last]

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.

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Reader Comments (31)

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Darren Hind
1 Posted 23/04/2019 at 16:08:19
Brian Williams
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?

Isn't it?

Mike Gaynes
3 Posted 23/04/2019 at 16:19:39
I am so very happy for you, Andy my friend. You deserved a day like this.

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.

Brent Stephens
4 Posted 23/04/2019 at 16:37:57
Good stuff, Andy. Sounds as if Tony let you have his ticket?? What a family the Abrahams are. Was it Mike G who got one of their tickets for the Liverpool game?
Tom Bowers
5 Posted 23/04/2019 at 16:50:35
Sunday's game was a breath of fresh air especially after that awful game against Fulham.

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.

Jay Wood

6 Posted 23/04/2019 at 16:58:39
I've been waiting to read your account of the day Andy. You don't disappoint.

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.

Bill Griffiths
7 Posted 23/04/2019 at 17:10:51
Great to read this account of your day Andy which I am sure you will never ever forget.
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.
Kieran Kinsella
8 Posted 23/04/2019 at 17:24:16
Andy Crooks

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

Tom Bowers
9 Posted 23/04/2019 at 17:57:08
I remember when we beat Soton 9-3 with Bally getting 3 and Royle getting 4 or was it the other way round. I think David Johnson played in this game also. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Ray Roche
10 Posted 23/04/2019 at 18:02:21
I remember beating Cardiff 8-3 but I think we only scraped past Southampton 8-0. Again, like you I’m going from memory. We had a couple of big wins against The Saints. Which is as it should be!
Dave Williams
11 Posted 23/04/2019 at 18:07:16
Tom- I think it was 8-0 or 8-1 with Ball getting one, Royle 4 and Johnson 3?
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.
John McFarlane Snr
12 Posted 23/04/2019 at 18:38:37
Hi Dave [11] I was In the old Park end stand that day, and because the scoreboard was located on the front of that stand, I didn't get the chance to view the 7 9 7 9 8 9 9 7 which indicated the goal scorers, [Royle 4, Johnson 3, and Ball, [the final score was 8-0.] I have obviously seen it many times since.
Dave Abrahams
13 Posted 23/04/2019 at 18:42:37
So glad you enjoyed the day, I enjoyed watching you, like a kid on Christmas morning, lovely to see someone get so much pleasure out of watching the Blues at Goodison, something we all take for granted.

Tony, Michael and Cameron ( he can’t half rabbit, can’t he) enjoyed your company as much as me.

If my wife reads your post she’ll think you met someone
else “ the wonderful Mr. Abrahams “ she’ll 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.

We’ll meet again Andy.

Frank Wade
14 Posted 23/04/2019 at 19:03:06
You can certainly pick your trips Andy. Sounds great. What does one have to do to get a stroll up to the ground with Dave Abrahams? Sounds like a major tourist attraction to me.

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.

Dave Abrahams
15 Posted 23/04/2019 at 19:09:35
Dave (11), the scorers and score were as John Mac says, all on a snowbound pitch, on the same day Ted MacDougall went one better than Everton scoring NINE
goals for Bournemouth in an FA cup game.
Lenny Jameson
16 Posted 23/04/2019 at 19:17:44
I went to my first match in 1959. I was 5 and have been going ever since. So I love the club and have seen all they've won during that time.

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.

Absolutely brilliant!!!!!!
Tony Abrahams
17 Posted 23/04/2019 at 19:17:55
Like I said on Sunday Andy, the only thing that looks better than Goodison in the sun, is Goodison Pk under the floodlights, but when I was telling you to look at the pitch on your way up the stairs, it was because I just felt it was going to give you one of those special moments.

It’s only a pitch I know, but it was a perfect pitch, on a perfect day, and I’m glad you got to witness Goodison at its finest.

I didn’t realise how such a small gesture could give someone so much pleasure, but I didn’t 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 you’ve 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 we’d lost. Everton’s greatest weapon, is starting to really come to the fore once again, and that’s what makes Goodison Pk, one of the most special places on earth!

Mike Doyle
18 Posted 23/04/2019 at 19:43:11
Reading the chain of comments it seems clear that TW has identified the 3 key elements for guaranteed success next season...
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!
Nick White
19 Posted 23/04/2019 at 19:58:49
Great write up and glad you got to see a great performance! Brilliant day!

Kieran - I was at both of the games you mentioned, Feyenoord we just couldn’t 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!)

Mike Gaynes
20 Posted 23/04/2019 at 20:20:56
Hey, Mike D, I'm two wins in two at Goodison, I'm coming too. But I'll bring cash, no worries.
Rob Halligan
21 Posted 23/04/2019 at 20:37:34
Andy, made up for you that you had a great day on Sunday. Unfortunately I couldn't make the Excelsior due to family commitments, but will deffo see you next time you're over.

I'm just gutted that I missed out on a free drink from Mr Gaynes. I'm sure that can be rectified soon!!

John Keating
22 Posted 23/04/2019 at 22:06:57
Well done Andy.
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.

Eddie Dunn
23 Posted 23/04/2019 at 22:47:14
Great stuff Andy- so good to hear it all.
Andy Riley
24 Posted 24/04/2019 at 00:35:12
I was at the 8-0 Southampton win in 1971 and seem to recall it was snowing. Does anyone else recall an 8-0 League Cup win over Wimbledon in around 1975 when I think the scorers were Latchford 5 and Dobson 3?
Peter Mills
25 Posted 24/04/2019 at 07:25:00
Andy, I’m made up you had such a great day, you were in good hands with the Abrahams gentlemen.

I’m 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.

Steve Ferns
26 Posted 24/04/2019 at 11:39:05
that was a great read. It was better to meet you, Andy. I only wish we had had more time to chat, but I had to get off to see my mother for Easter Sunday. I hope you can make it over again some time.
Gerard McKean
27 Posted 24/04/2019 at 13:10:32
That's a very evocative piece, Andy, it took me back to memories of being a small boy running towards the sunlight at the top of the stairs and then just staring in wide-eyed wonderment at how green that pitch is. Very well written!

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. (!)

Ray Roche
28 Posted 24/04/2019 at 16:35:50
Andy, an excellent article, capturing the wonderment I felt as a lad when my Dad took me for my first match at Goodison in the 59-60 Season. I also recall climbing the stairs at the Park End Stand and then looking down on Goodison in all its glory a moment never to be forgotten. The nearest thing to it was seeing Wembley for the first time in 1966, drenched in sunshine. The old guy, the steward saying, "Was it worth it?" what do you think?
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.
Brian Williams
29 Posted 24/04/2019 at 22:07:25
Andy. Thoughts are with you today mate.
Kevin Hudson
30 Posted 28/04/2019 at 10:42:42
I don’t read ToffeeWeb as much as I used to, or should, but I’m so glad I read this article over my breakfast.

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 I’m 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.

Andy Crooks
31 Posted 28/04/2019 at 11:55:04
Thanks to everyone for their kind words and deeds. Wish it was this time last week. My wife has decreed that one week on I must now stop talking about it. Maybe next year.

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