The Evertonian who crafted ‘home’, a poem celebrating Goodison Park for the Club’s 2018/19 Season Ticket campaign, described seeing his creation come to life as “magical”.
In ‘home’, Paul Cookson, a lifelong Evertonian and ‘Poet in Residence’ at the National Football Museum, eloquently celebrates the sights, sounds and rituals of a Goodison matchday, while also capturing the emotional lure of matchday rituals and devout loyalty of Everton Season Ticket holders.
The poem featured in the matchday programme and the composition’s accompanying video was played out on the big screens during the New Year’s Day visit of Manchester United, with Season Ticket sales set to commence for renewing members from 8am on Monday 15 January.
Paul, who took several trips in a working capacity to the Grand Old Lady - both when the stadium was empty and on a matchday - before penning the piece, says the starting point came from drawing on personal experiences that every Evertonian could relate to.
“I am made up,” he told evertontv. “As a poet and an Evertonian, to put the two together and be commissioned to do this job has been a dream come true.
“It started just at the top of the Park End stand. I had a wander around the ground when it was empty and sat up there with my notepad for 40 minutes or so. I was up there watching the preparations for an upcoming game and just seeing the humdrum of the ‘ordinary’, every-day things was a buzz. Even when I came here to an empty stadium, watching people mark out the lines on the pitch, being able to walk around the stands and up the tunnel was exciting for me.
“Then you watch people gather in their different ways - to get chips outside the ground, to meet at the Dixie Dean statue and things like that. You take all that in and try to distil it. The poem took the best part of a week to write, chipping away at it and getting feedback from people at the Club.
“When you come to Goodison, it’s your extended family - you come every week, you see some of the same people every week, you’ve got that shared connection and those shared memories as well. That was the starting point. I was trying to make it as much about being at home and that idea of Goodison Park being a homely place.
“Obviously I am using my own point of view but you are writing on behalf of the fans as well so you’re always trying to encapsulate how they feel about coming to the match, too. It’s quite easy because when you come to the ground, because it is so special.
“To see the poem all come together, with the film to go with it, is just magical.”
It is not the first Everton-related poem Paul has written, either.
He has previously written piece celebrating a number of Blues legends, including Brian Labone, Dixie Dean, Howard Kendall, Neville Southall, Alex Young, Joe Royle and Graeme Sharp - and performed them at official Everton events.
“It’s always a pleasure to write about Everton,” he explained. “The first one I wrote was about Brian Labone, when he passed away. I’d been interviewed for ‘Everton’ magazine three weeks’ prior to that, so I had the editor’s contact details. I sent it to him and didn’t think anything more of it until I found out it was in the matchday programme.
“Then later I found out that Ian Callaghan read it out at Brian Labone’s funeral. As an Everton fan I was just thinking, ‘Wow, he read my words at such an important ceremony.’
“I’ve done a poem about Alex Young as well when he was the guest of honour at a fan event. I was sat on a table [at that event] and I didn’t know who I was going to be sat with but I happened to be sat next to Pat Labone - Brian’s widow - who introduced herself to me and thanked me for the poem I had done. That was incredible.
“Later down the line, after I’d met Mr Kenwright at an event for the shareholders, I wrote something about Dave Hickson, ‘The Cannonball Kid’, when he passed away and the Chairman read it out as part of the elegy.”
Paul has travelled the world with work for many years and believes his latest work, ‘home’, will help him spread the Club’s message to all corners of the globe.
“My work takes me all over the world - I go to a lot international schools and things like that,” he added. “The one thing you find about football is that no matter who you are talking about, it’s an international language.
“I remember being in Argentina seven or eight years ago and a taxi driver was taking me from my hotel to the airport. He didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Spanish but as we drove past a stadium he said, ‘football!’ and that started the conversation. He said Diego Maradona, I said Alan Ball and it went on and on! With the Premier League as it is, people all around the world know about Everton. I think this will absolutely help with that.”
Everton has frozen Season Ticket prices for the 2018/19 season, with Season Tickets available from just £420 for adults, and £95 for junior fans which equates to £5 per game. Supporters can continue to take advantage of the flexible payment options offered by the Club, including 12,11, 10, nine and eight month Direct Debit options, two and three staged payments and interest free payment options using the Everton Mastercard. For the first time, supporters using the Club’s Direct Debit options will also benefit from an auto-renewal service which means fans can guarantee their seat for seasons to come by maintaining their Direct Debit payments.
Everton Season Tickets are on sale to renewing members from 8am on Monday 15 January. To renew a Season Ticket fans can call 0151 556 1878, visit the Park End box office, Everton Two in Liverpool one, or go to evertonfc.com/home1819 to renew online.
Non Season Ticket members wishing to register their interest in for a 2018/19 Season Ticket will need to become an Official Member to receive priority access to non-renewed Season Tickets. Supporters can become an Official Member by purchasing a membership in-store, by visiting evertonfc.com/memberships or by calling the Fan Centre on 0151 556 1878. Official Members will be able to register their interest from 8am on Monday 15 January.