My dad had taken my big brother to a couple of games the previous season. The nearest I got to a match was going the shop to get the Pink Echo. Going the game in them days was not regular, my dad was on a good wage but that came with the hours he worked. He was a foreman boilermaker on the docks, at the mercy of the tide.
His favorite pub was the Tramways. He used to park on Delamore Street and, as we got out of the car, came the call “Mind yher car for yher, mister?” -- knowing a reply of No was not advisable. He would go inside while we sat outside with a bottle of pop and a bag of crisps.
Then it was off to the game and a spec in the church corner. Dad said he liked us too much to send us to the Boys Pen? He made me and our kid two foldable stands to lean against the wall. I loved it and, with the cup win that year, what an introduction to the School of Science. And yes, the kid minding our car stood on a pop crate further along the wall.
On to the Seventies. 1970, still not a full season of games but we made the West Brom game. I remember that year for another reason. We were on our way back from Raby Mere via Liverpool Airport to watch the planes… god, what an exciting childhood.
Anyway, I was legging it up the stairs when I bumped into some fella who was huge. Well everyone was huge to me and, after he lifted me up and put me to the side of the stair to pass, I thought, “I know him.”
When I got to the top, well, bugger me… It clicked: Gordon bloody West!! The whole team were at the airport. I legged it to dad, got sixpence off him, and bought a pen and notebook from the souvenir shop. I got every last one of their autographs, I wish to god I still had it… but alas no.
1975 saw me join Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, so no chance of regular visits to Goodison Park for a good few years… 18 actually. Instead, half a match on the BBC World service -- and you don't need to guess who the favorite teams were, even back then.
The Eighties and, at times, football was a joy to watch. I managed a few games during the title season and the FC Cup Final: 11 hours from Plymouth to Liverpool, back down to London, back to Liverpool, and back to Plymouth -- totally knackering, but would I do it again? In a heartbeat.
In the late Eighties, I was based in London. I saw more away games than home one. Springs to mind at Highbury we lost two-nil and both teams fielded only English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish players. The train station was right by were I came out after the game but you had to go right round the ground and the queue was staggering so I cheated.
I went straight up to a copper, flashed my ID, told him I had to get back to base because of an emergency and I was on call. Bob’s your uncle, home for tea. While I was in London, Hillsborough happened. On a suggestion from my sister, me and some of the lads cycled from Watford’s ground starting on the pitch to Anfield. We raised £5,000 but, when we arrived at Anfield, there was nop-one there to take the money.
The 80s also saw the Falklands War. No football down there. I do remember, a little after the war, Port Stanley had satellite phones installed at the post office. The dishes were as big as Jodrell Bank and, at £18 a minute, calls were short.
Me: “Hello, love.”
“McMahon and King.”
“How are the kids?”
“Fine, love you.”
The Nineties and I left the Navy in 1992 but did not come home to Scouseland. I ended up in South Wales. Her indoors is Welsh. Not much football on in the pubs, mostly rugby, and yes, when football was on, it was both sets of red shite.
1994 and THAT game against Wimbledon. I remember it well because I was stuck up the side of a Welsh mountain. The best radio coverage was in my car, a Ford Sierra. I was so nervous, I decided to wash it. Nearly two hours to wash a car -- must be a record.
Well, we all know how the game went. The locals already thought I was a mad Englishman but seeing me jumping up and down, soaking myself with a hose and screaming like a lunatic, just confirmed it.
2002 and back home. I have been in catering in one form or another all my life and, as any one in catering will tell you, most of the time it is unsociable hours, so a season ticket was not viable. In 2009, I went in a different direction: Tesco's on nights and, for two seasons, I had a season ticket… but not mine: a lady I worked with had one but never went to the game. All she wanted from me was a matchday program.
A couple of years ago, I totally changed jobs to work in a small firm as a storeman, Monday to Thursday, 7:30 to 5 pm, nicely setting myself up for retirement. The company boss is a Blue, most of the staff are dickheads.
On the odd occasion, the boss has given me his ticket when he was out of the country on business. He has two tickets; his tickets are in the Brian Labone Suite. Great food, loads of ale, ten rows back from our Ken -- they even have carpets on the floor in the main stand! Best night was beating West Ham 4-0.
Last year, 31 July was my 60th birthday. The Saturday before, we had a bit of a do, with the family up from Wales. When we were all sat around in the back room, my eldest pulls out a season ticket. My very own!
For my 60 years, I have waited to get one and what happens? Covid-bloody-19!! In the words of the late Terry Wogan… “Is it me?” Stay safe, everyone, and keep the faith.
Reader Comments (15)
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1 Posted 06/05/2020 at 13:42:01
Watching games after then was a bit hit and miss, although I managed most of our 'home' (well it seemed like it at the time) games at Wembley in the '80s, not to mention that wonderful night in Rotterdam.
But your memory of THAT Wimbledon game really raised a smile. I too was in a Ford Sierra, not up a mountain but on the M1 heading north to Tamworth with my partner Beryl to visit her mum, as we did most weekends after Beryl's dad had passed away not long before.
We didn't say much on the journey as I was listening to the radio and turning suicidal as the miles rolled on and the goals went in against us. By the time we arrived, it was 2-2 but I was no less nervous. We went in the house and the first thing Beryl said to her mum Ida was "Come on, mum, let's go out in the garden and leave Mike to the radio". Cometh the hour, cometh the man... Graham Stuart scored the winner and I could go out and say hello to Ida.
And it was Graham Stuart who phoned me at home a few weeks back as part of the club's initiative to get in touch with supporters who they thought might be on their own. I'm not sure if the calls were just to hospitality members – I've been in The Captains Table lounge at the Park End for the past five years – or that they knew I had lost Beryl in January (which I know they did as they had sent a nice sympathy card), but I found our chat as welcome and heart-warming as what he'd done that day in 1994. It really summed up the Everton family (oh, and I think he wouldn't mind if this season was declared null and void for one obvious reason!).
Don, I hope we all get to enjoy many more years with our season tickets. I'm holding on to mine ready to swap for one at Bramley-Moore Dock when the time comes... now that's faith for you! Stay safe.
2 Posted 06/05/2020 at 18:58:09
I left to go to university in '64 and have never lived within 120 miles of Merseyside since. Nevertheless I have followed Everton, visiting Goodison as regularly as possible and watching them in away grounds when they played in the area.
Nowadays, the physical effort makes trips home more difficult. I envy you your ticket and hope you get to see a great Everton team as I did in the early sixties.
3 Posted 06/05/2020 at 20:54:44
All take care and stay safe and well.
4 Posted 07/05/2020 at 15:14:49
A poem (sort of) written by a Goodison Shelley or Keats of the time.
5 Posted 07/05/2020 at 17:08:57
My first ever game had been to see Stanley Matthews at Anfield and Liverpool won 5-2. However, it was my second game that turned me into a blue and I blame Dave Hickson.
His dash and his mop of hair captured my 7-year-old imagination and, despite my family being reds, I became a blue. I think I rather expected 12 goals a game to be a common occurrence!
Bill Short, I remember, was the Plymouth keeper and he was rotund, shall we say. Thanks for the rhyme, Dave.
6 Posted 07/05/2020 at 20:52:13
By the way, Rick, that was a good time to start watching The Blues, because those eight goals versus Plymouth were part of the 20 they scored in three games... it might even have been consecutive matches: 6-1 verses Brentford and 6-2 versus Derby County. John Mac will correct me if I'm wrong.
7 Posted 08/05/2020 at 00:38:35
You mentioned the Pink Echo and it brought back quite a few memories as a kid. Dad was an avid Red, Nan was a Blue, and my Uncle Jimmy took me to my first game when I was about 7 I think, Albert Dunlop going the wrong way and saving a penalty between his legs... I think it was against West Ham. Anyway, the seed was sown.
As a kid, my handwriting was awful, much to the consternation of my parents. Dad had flowing wonderful handwriting, as did his Dad... 'copper plate' they called it. Mine was like a crab crawling through an ink blob.
So my Uncle decided to help me out, bought me an exercise book, a biro, and said I had to copy, word for word, the match report in the Pink Echo every Saturday night – and if he could read it without asking what the words were, then I would get a florin... yes, before Decimalisation!
The lure of money was too great, so I endeavoured to do, badly. Each report would take me the whole night. After three weeks, I had improved to the point he could almost read it and so I was given a shilling... "Keep going," he would tell me.
3 months later, I was getting half-a-crown a week. My mum kept the exercise book long after I forgot. A few years back, before she died, she would tell me how the family would laugh at me but how glad she was I persevered because it fostered in me a desire to read, to understand, write, and a love and passion for all things Blue.
Strange I guess because history repeats. I was the only Blue in our family; my sisters and Mum and Dad all red. Now my own family is all Blue... except for one. How that happened, I don't know... must have landed on his head!
Good one, Don!
8 Posted 08/05/2020 at 10:21:08
This lady was distraught because her daughter kept bad marks in school, teacher after teacher downgrading her work. One day, another teacher sent for the mother and, as soon as she got there, the mother started talking:
“I know what you're going to say, but she does her best and tries as hard as she can.”
The teacher told the mother, “She does very well and she's very bright, but her writing could be a lot better.”
That teacher had taken the time to decipher the writing and read, properly, what the girl had written. That teacher made the mother very proud and the girl never looked back.
The girl's name was Christine!!!
No, it wasn't... but it shows how people can be written off even when they are a lot better than they seem.
9 Posted 08/05/2020 at 21:44:08
There is a passion and drive in scousers you seldom see elsewhere. A passion about who they are and where they come from, a drive to be the best they can, an ability to laugh at themselves rather than at other people, and a tribal link that knows no geographical boundary.
10 Posted 08/05/2020 at 22:19:59
11 Posted 09/05/2020 at 12:00:40
12 Posted 09/05/2020 at 15:07:49
I was at that game, I think we got beat fair and square. The incident I remember mostly from the game was an Everton fan coming on the pitch at half time for some reason and being chased by two or three bizzies which turned into four or five. This fella made a mockery of Eddie Cavanagh's chase in the 1966 FA Cup Final at Wembley, they eventually caught him and marched him up the tunnel where the players come out.
Two minutes later,he's out again, escaped, and the chase started all over again... brilliant! He could swerve better than Stanley Mathews.
13 Posted 10/05/2020 at 07:14:13
14 Posted 10/05/2020 at 10:27:50
15 Posted 10/05/2020 at 15:39:57
He was indeed in the promotion squad of 1954, and played in 18 games before giving way to Eddie Wainwright. His 19th and last game that season was away to Lincoln City; although I was at Sincil Bank that day, my only memory is the fact that Tommy Eglington scored in a 1-1 draw.
Ted Buckle's last game for Everton was at outside-left in a 5-0 defeat to Portsmouth at Fratton Park on the 16 November 1954.
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