'It All Went Wrong... But Now I've Found Peace': Pat Van den Hauwe Exclusive

Pat Van den Hauwe is still settling into his seat as he spells out the rules of engagement.

“Right, I’m not talking about all that stuff from the past,” he declares.

Van den Hauwe can rest easy. We’re not here today, perched either side of a wooden desk, its surface covered by a confused mass of paperwork, to rake over inglorious old tales.

A laptop, idling in sleep mode, is within Van den Hauwe’s reach.

“I did start a computer course and was getting used to it and excited,” he laughs.

“But I have trouble with a phone, ask my missus. WhatsApp and all that stuff? It drives me round the bend.

“I just call and text people and that’s my lot.

“I don’t make things too hard for myself.”


It wasn’t always that way, Van den Hauwe choosing the more straight forward path.

When he met with Graeme Sharp and Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale four years ago, Van den Hauwe was tired of life.

“I was continually having to start all over again,” he says.

“I just couldn’t do it anymore over there, you know what I mean?

“And I said to them [Sharp and Barrett-Baxendale], ‘It all went wrong’.”

‘Over there’ is a reference to South Africa, the country where Van den Hauwe spent more than two decades after originally relocating to prolong his football career.

It is home to a deal of that “stuff from the past”, those episodes which have faded into irrelevance, stored away like a collection of passe CDs, piled high in the attic gathering dust.

Pat Van den Hauwe is writing a new story now.

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Pat Van den Hauwe invites evertonfc.com into a compact office, situated in the recesses of Everton in the Community’s [EitC] Blue Base facility.

He is fresh from two hours out front, pouring tea and coffee and divvying out cakes for the animated group attending a session on the charity’s acclaimed Pass on the Memories programme, which supports people living with dementia and their carers.

“We had 60 in here just now and you slowly get to know them all,” says Van den Hauwe.

“I do different things with the various groups and have got to know loads of people – it feels like I know everyone in this area around Goodison Park.

“And you get attached.

“It is nice to talk to different people: to ask, ‘How has your day been?’”

Van den Hauwe the conversationalist represents a seismic character shift for a man formerly considered an archetypal introvert.

He shunned the media during a glittering football career.

Former Radio Merseyside sports reporter Charlie Lambert recalls Van den Hauwe's stealthy retreat from the microphone as he hesitantly answered questions on the day of his arrival at Everton from Birmingham City in September 1984.

“And that,” asserts Lambert, “was it. I didn’t speak to him again in the five years he was here.”

Van den Hauwe’s reluctance to expound publicly fed the menacing aura around a brilliant left-back, revered on the Gwladys Street for his uncompromising brand of defending.

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09:01 Tue 19 May 2020

EVERTON HEROES REMEMBER '84 CUP FINAL WIN

Untold stories from Wembley.


His self-imposed silence erroneously added to the impression of Van den Hauwe as a complex soul.

“I am shy,” he says.

“I have always been shy, really.

“And cameras don’t help. Even when Lynsey [Van den Hauwe’s partner] films me on the camera phone, I don’t like it.

“I just don’t like being on camera.

“I was never an outgoing person and I still am a little bit shy.

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“It was quite hard to come out of my shell a bit and start talking to people.

“But over the past few years, it has been really good.

“I have made new friends.”

Van den Hauwe had resettled in Liverpool – “I always thought… if I was to ever come back to England, it would be to Liverpool, I would not go anywhere else, there is just something about the people and the city” – when he was invited to meet Sharp and Barrett-Baxendale.


He had met Lynsey but professionally lacked direction.

“I was just knocking around with my mate for a while,” says Van den Hauwe.

“I was with Lynsey and, basically, I had to look ahead.

“Things just didn’t work out in life, you know, you’re married… I don’t want to go too much into that… it’s like starting all over again.”

Sharp’s intervention represented the leg-up Van den Hauwe was after.

The pair were near neighbours in Southport when both had substantial roles in Everton’s mid-1980s’ emergence as, arguably, Europe’s pre-eminent football team.

Everton chief executive Professor Barrett-Baxendale held the same post with EitC when Van den Hauwe was summoned for the get-together where he let it all out.

“I had a serious sit down with them, a good chat, I was honest about where I was [mentally] – and they gave me an opportunity to work for this football club, which was a dream come true,” says Van den Hauwe.

“It feels good to have someone on your side, an old teammate.

“Once you have played for Everton, had all those experiences, you think you’ve had your turn. You don’t expect to come back.

“For my own sake, I had to get this right.

“I didn’t want to come to the club I love and mess it up, you know what I mean?”

Van den Hauwe’s EitC remit is broad and immersive.

He is an active figure in weekly football coaching sessions for refugees and asylum seekers and at the forefront of the charity’s walking football programme.

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12:06 Fri 15 May 2020

RAPID VIENNA KEEPER ON FACING GREAT EVERTON TEAM IN EUROPEAN SHOWPIECE

Michael Konsel recalls 'bittersweet' Cup Winners' Cup final against Kendall's Blues.


He is a matchday host at Goodison Park and a mainstay of Pass on the Memories.

“Our Everton team made a lot of people smile and I would like to think that is what we are doing here,” says Van den Hauwe.

“I do whatever I can with the people, socialise, make tea and coffee for them.

“If I can help, I will help.

“You get a buzz out of it.

“It can be the smallest thing, just seeing a nice smile on someone’s face.

"It makes me a happy type of fella, helping others.”

The happiest he’s been in the two decades-plus since he quit playing football?

“Oh yeah, yeah, yeah,” says Van den Hauwe.

“Yeah, yeah.

“Things go wrong in life.

“I’m not the only one.

“Yes, it was hard. But you get through things, don’t you?

“You have to get through things.

“I had to focus again.”

Van den Hauwe, counter-intuitively, would formerly find sanctuary from the public gaze when he was playing football with thousands of pairs of eyes on him – millions if the game was screened on television.

He references his first FA Cup final to explain.

“The year we were going for the Treble [1985],” says Van den Hauwe, igniting his memory.

“Manchester United, wasn’t it?”

Mention of the day’s only goalscorer, Norman Whiteside, elicits a grimace.

“Eugh,” exclaims Van den Hauwe.

“But when you walk out of a tunnel and there’s 100,000 people there, and you get through that, nothing else is going to bother you, is it?

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03:17

HOW EVERTON'S MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAMME HAS SAVED LIVES

Blues skipper Seamus Coleman attends Imagine Your Goals event.


“Once I had done that – and played in front of packed houses at Goodison – it always felt the same, I looked forward to it.

“I was comfortable playing football. It is up to other people to decide if you are any good.

“But it was something I found I could do.

“I didn’t do school. I hated it, authority and all that business.

“I was with a football all the time.”

Van den Hauwe’s excitement at returning to the Everton fold, then, was tempered with a fear of the unknown, anxiety at the prospect of being thrust into unfamiliar territory where he was not in charge.

That supervisory responsibility belonged to Henry Mooney, until last year Everton’s Community Engagement Officer, who, in tandem with EitC Project Support Worker Lee Johnson, oversaw any number of Blue Base activities.

“I was very nervous,” says Van den Hauwe.

“It was an eye opener, being led into this different environment where I am not a player anymore.

“It is entirely different.

“That initial stage was daunting for me. I thought, ‘Oh no, I’ve got to do all that, learn about computers, all this’.

“But once I met Henry, I immediately felt very comfortable with him, he is happy-go-lucky.

“We get on very well – and it is the same with Lee.

“It all seemed to fit into place.

“They made my so-called issues easy.”

Van den Hauwe reels off a list of his best bosses. It is four-strong.

“Howard Kendall, he made it easy, a great fella, a great manager” he says.

“Terry Venables, Mick McCarthy. And Henry.

“Henry is Henry,” adds Van den Hauwe, by way of explanation, a sentiment which will resonate with anyone familiar with the irrepressible Mooney, who retired on his 66th birthday last June.

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06:48

EVERTON LEGEND HARVEY REVEALS SECRETS TO COACHING SUCCESS

Harvey explains coaching techniques.


Van den Hauwe was 16 when he left home in Bermondsey – 42 years later and his accent remains true to its owner’s London roots – to join Birmingham City.

His six years in the Midlands reached an abrupt end.

“Leaving Birmingham was a massive shock,” says Van den Hauwe.

“[Manager] Ron Saunders got us in one morning and put us in a circle.

“We had no clue what was coming. He started going around the group, ‘You’re going there, you’re going there’.

“He looked at me and said, ‘You’re going to Everton. Now’.

“I had just got changed for training, I was ready to get started and he said, ‘Now. Out’.

“It had been a big wrench to move there, you’re 16 and all of a sudden you have to leave your family and your mates.

“It was a little bit daunting but you play as a team, so you have to form bonds.”

Van den Hauwe was part of a Birmingham exodus which had goalkeeper Tony Coton scrambling to get to Watford and hard-as-nails striker Mick Harford on the motorway pointing his car in the direction of Luton.

“I was totally in shock. Everton had just won the FA Cup,” continues Van den Hauwe.

“I thought, ‘What do they want with me?’

“I didn’t have a clue.

“But it was a little bit of luck.

“You need that.”

Van den Hauwe draws breath.

“Good team we had at Everton,” he adds, unwittingly submitting his entry for understatement of this or any other year.

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03:32 Sat 16 May 2020

'I WAS 25 STONE AND SELF-HARMING – EITC'S GIRLS ON SIDE CHANGED MY LIFE!'

Evertonian Vicky Harrison on how Club's official charity gave her renewed hope.


Van den Hauwe won two league championship medals and the European Cup Winners’ Cup with Everton.

But it is more than the hardware on his mantlepiece which ties him to the Club.

The words Nil Satis Nisi Optimum are inscribed across his back.

He remains fond of his other former employers. There is no body art, however, to commemorate his time with Birmingham or Tottenham Hotspur or Millwall.

“I have had that tattoo years,” says Van den Hauwe.

“Once they touch you, you know what I mean? And they have.

“And the people are still very kind to me and want to talk to me.

“Where else can you go and get that?

“Once you have played for this club and been with the people around it – Howard, Colin Harvey, Terry Darracott, Mick Heaton… the feeling just never leaves you.

“I see John Bailey when he comes to matches. And Mark Higgins, he is a lovely man.

“We had squads of 15 players 30 years ago, you had to be tight.

“Working with EitC feels like being part of a team again.

“Henry helped me tremendously.

“As you slowly get your wheels in motion, you meet people.

“The people I work with and around have been ever so kind and I get on with them.”

Van den Hauwe’s words as he recalls reporting to Everton’s old Bellefield training ground for the first time mirror those he chose to describe his emotions on starting over with EitC.

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02:40 Fri 20 Sep 2019

LIVING WITH ALZHEIMER'S - TOMMY'S STORY

Evertonian explains how Club's charity helped him rebuild his world after dementia diagnosis.


“It was a bit nerve-wracking, walking into that dressing room,” he says.

“But the lads made it a lot easier for me.

“Once I’d had a few games and knew how it worked, the system we played, I just wanted to improve all the time and work very hard.

“It all seemed to fit into place.”

Van den Hauwe played football on the edge, his crash, bang, wallop style perhaps doing him out of the recognition his talent merited.

A busy social life, meanwhile, masked the truth about his understated personality.

Today, in his 60th year, trim, measured, colour in his face, Van den Hauwe radiates contentment, transmits the impression of a man at last comfortable in his own skin.

“I am in here every day,” he says.

“I spend the rest of my time with Lynsey and my family, we enjoy going away.

“I do a lot of walking.

“I did try the gym but I thought, ‘I’ve done that all my life’.

“At my age, do I really need to go and slog my guts out in a gym?

“I have done all that business.

“It is a good thing to be in the space I am now.”

He searches for the right word to define that space.

“Peaceful,” says Van den Hauwe.

The old cycle, when any progress would inevitably hit a block in the road, says Van den Hauwe, has been broken.

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06:30

KENDALL ON EVERTON'S EUROPEAN TRIUMPH

Manager recalled night Blues won Cup Winners' Cup.


“Yes,” he confirms. “It’s been one-way traffic since I came back to Everton.

“Touch wood, I like to think it will continue.

“You don’t know what’s around the corner, do you?

“But I get up in the morning and look forward to coming in.

“And I feel good about it.

“I don’t think about anything else.

“I am not bothered about the old stuff, it is done. Gone.

“Now I just concentrate on me and what I have to do here.

“It is all stepping stones for me, little bridges you have to cross. You find your way.

“It has not all been easy. But then, what is?

“And I try to smile every day, you know what I mean?”

Van den Hauwe reckons it is a measure of his renewed outlook that once every year he accepts an invite to play football at Goodison Park.

“The guys in the lounge where I work on matchdays fly from the Isle of Wight,” he says.

“I play for one of the fellas and his crew in a game at the end of every season.

“Has my personality changed for the good? Oh yeah. Yeah.

“I enjoy having a conversation. If people want to talk to me on the street, I like standing there and chatting to them.

“I walk around here, to the post office or whatever, and everyone is saying, ‘Hello Pat’.

“I’m thinking, ‘Crikey’. In your own mind, you don’t think they know you.

“My playing days are long gone but they still want to know me.

“And you do what you can for them.

“If someone wanted a picture back when I played, I would always do it. Same today.

“It is respect, isn’t it? Courtesy.”

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02:41 Thu 14 May 2020

TEENAGE EVERTONIAN'S LIFE TRANSFORMED BY CLUB'S CHARITY

EitC's Breathing Space programme changed Tom's personality and outlook.


Van den Hauwe is invited to revisit that meeting with Sharp and Professor Barrett-Baxendale and consider his personal distance of travel in the intervening years.

It is put to him he must feel proud of how he “got it right” with EitC, as he demanded of himself, and transferred his energies into helping others.

Van den Hauwe inhales deeply. Ten seconds pass as he gathers himself, orders his thoughts.

“I have been humbled by it,” says Van den Hauwe.

“I am glad people still care, you know what I mean?

“When I had that chat with Graeme and Denise in the beginning, it was quite heart-wrenching for me.

“But I got through it. And I haven’t looked back.”

No, Pat Van den Hauwe's gaze is fixed on the open road ahead.


Everton - Howard's Way tells the full story of Howard Kendall's glorious trophy-winning team in the 1980s and tales from Merseyside during that era.

All proceeds from the documentary will go to fund The People's Place, Everton's purpose-built mental health facility close to Goodison Park.

Click here for details of how to watch Howard's Way.

Click here to donate to The People's Place.

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