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Deadline Day Madness

Andy Lewis, 3rd February 2012 - 15:24

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Andy Lewis

Andy Lewis

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Andy is a digital media journalist at Everton, working for evertonfc.com and evertontv.

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After the mayhem of the final day of the summer transfer window, we knew we were in for potentially the busiest working day of the season on Tuesday.

David Moyes revealed on Monday he still hoped to sign a couple of players and there was, of course, the small matter of a home game against top of the league Manchester City.

We’d got the nod that a fee had been agreed with Rangers for Nikica Jelavic, so it wasn’t a surprise that after arriving at Goodison at 10am we were told to get down to Finch Farm to film the new boy undergoing his medical and record his first evertontv interview.

However, when we got there he was nowhere to be seen, off at a clinic undergoing the latter part of his medical before heading to Goodison to discuss terms.

It wasn’t a wasted trip though as one striker who was there was Louis Saha, and we arrived in time to see him saying his goodbyes to his teammates before heading down to Spurs, who had come in for him at the last minute. At that point, it was a story that hadn’t even hit the deadline day rumour mill.

Hugely popular at Finch Farm, Louis was always interesting to interview and he agreed to come and record a farewell piece for evertontv. He talked with sincerity about how Everton had saved his career and how he always felt loved by Bluenoses, and he also came out with a wonderful soundbite when he said ‘you can feel the spirit of great sportsmen when you step out at Goodison’.

Louis was on his way and so were we as we headed back to the Old Lady in time for lunch.

Also back at the stadium was Mr Jelavic and his agent, who were with chief executive, Robert Elstone, and Head of Football Operations, David Harrison, as they concluded a deal to make him an Everton player.

So off we went over to the Park End where we patiently waited to interview the new boy. With us this time was Graeme Sharp, who was there to meet Nikica and give him a tour of the stadium, Goodison strikers past and present.

Also in attendance was the Sky Sports crew as they gave live bulletins updating viewers as to the situation.

But as the hours crept by the deal still wasn’t signed and, while Sharpy’s tour went down a storm, interviews were understandably put on ice until the ink was dry on the contract. The deal was never in doubt, but unless you have seen it yourself, the amount of administrative work that goes into a multi-million pound transfer is hard to fathom.

It was late afternoon by that point so our new striker decided to head back to the hotel to shower and change before coming back to pen his deal and be paraded at half-time in the City game.

Sky Sports News, however, created a mini-panic by reporting that he had left the ground without signing. So with supporters understandably miffed, we did our best to get the right message out via Facebook and Twitter that there was nothing to worry about.

It was late afternoon by that point and the rumour mill was churning away. The name of Adam Johnson – who would later appear against the Blues for City – kept popping up, while reports from Greece suggested a move to sign Kostas Manolas, an exciting young defender with AEK Athens, was being explored.

And, of course, another rumour that was starting to gather pace regarded a loan move to bring a certain Steven Pienaar back to the Club.

It was getting into the evening and we were busying ourselves researching Jelavic, getting background features together and compiling a player profile for the website.

A call went in to David Weir, while I got hold of Slaven Bilic, the Croatia national team boss and officially my favourite person to interview, on account of his intelligence, honesty and just being a bit cool…

He told me David Moyes had first asked him about Jelavic when he was playing for Rapid Vienna many years ago and also asked after his progress when the two of them had dinner together in South Africa while the 2010 World Cup was on.

With plenty in the bag it was time to start thinking about the game, so we held our pre-match meetings and worked out the running order for the evening.

We headed over to Goodison, updated the website, put the team news out and took our places in the press box. And at all times, members of the Club’s media team were fielding calls from reporters for responses to the ongoing speculation.

A few minutes into the match I got a call from Mark Rowan, the Club’s Head of Media and Communications, to say the Jelavic deal had been completed, so we quickly published a story to that effect and put the news out on the social networks.

So then it was downstairs to present him with a shirt with his name on the back and interview him for evertontv shortly before half-time in the contest with City. ‘I am here to score goals’ was the message from the striker during a frantic 10 minutes that also included an interview with Sky’s Geoff Shreeves before he headed out on to the pitch to rapturous acclaim.

It was a big, big boost, and soon there was another one as Jelavic’s fellow January new boy Darron Gibson smacked home a winner to see off City. Again.

The night just kept getting better and better.

But while David Moyes had been busy inspiring his team to victory, chairman Bill Kenwright had been locked in talks with Spurs counterpart Daniel Levy in an attempt bring Pienaar back to Goodison.

And as we were sat in the media room frantically putting out the post-match reaction, along came the call to get a piece ready in the event that the Pienaar deal went through.

By now the word was out, but Sky Sports chief reporter Nick Collins was reporting categorically that the move was off, obviously receiving bogus information from his London sources.

However, we had received the news from Mr Kenwright that he had managed to do a deal and a phone call from David Moyes to Harry Redknapp in the tunnel at Goodison confirmed that everyone was happy.

So out went the story that Pienaar was on his way back, a story we were able to break first, beating Sky and the BBC to the punch.

And that – as well as humbling City and signing two class players – was a real bonus for us. We always want to be the ones that break news to the Evertonians but as a Club we can only deal in certainties. Sky Sports News, however, and other independent outlets are able to take a punt on stories giving them a real edge and a headstart.

But on deadline day we were able to beat them with the stories and break the news to our fans first hand.

And interestingly, more information kept coming out about just how ambitious the Club had been in the market, just missing out on a very-late deal to bring in an unidentified Premier League striker on loan.

But all in all it was a fantastic day, a great day to be an Evertonian and a day where it felt a real privilege to be in the employ of the Club.

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