My Everton #9: My Grandad Golly

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My grandad passed away last year but had been a Season Ticket holder for many years. He started watching Everton when he was 10 in 1944.

He took my uncles and my mum to the game whenever he could and when me, my brother Paddy and our cousin Kate were old enough, we were taken to Goodison to be introduced by our family, to our family.

Growing up for me, Paddy and Kate, going to the match was the closest thing to magic in the world. It was always a week-long affair if we knew we had a ticket.

If it was a 3pm kick-off on a Saturday, I would be sitting looking out of the living room window ready to go by half-10 in the morning, despite knowing full well we weren't getting picked up until 2pm, at the earliest.

After what felt like forever, we finally left the house and would listen out for the team line-up on the radio on the way.

The walk to Goodison always seemed to take an eternity, mainly because our pockets were stuffed with sweets and drinks Grandad had given us for the match and they limited our mobility.

One of Grandad's worst traits (for us as kids) was the fact he could not go anywhere without someone talking to him.

I'll never forget scanning my ticket and clicking my way through the turnstiles to turn around and wait for the others to come through.

Me and my brother knew we only had three flights of stairs and if we got through the first flight, we grew in optimism, only to be disappointed by that one unfortunate phrase, 'Alright, Pat?'

It devastated us, as all we wanted was to go to our seats. We must have looked as if we were watching a tennis match, with our heads continuing back and forth in line with the conversation, as we grew more and more restless with excitement (which Grandad knew, as he would glance down and grin every so often).

When he finally turned to me and my brother and said, "Go on then", we would race as fast as we could and every single time would stop at the last flight of stairs and slowly walk up to simply savour the flicker of the floodlights as they caught our eyes; the glow from the hallowed turf and the smells and sounds that can only be associated with the terraces.

It truly was the closest thing to magic anyone could get. 

Throughout the game, Grandad would turn to each of us and, thrusting his hand into the pocket of his leather jacket, pull out loose Mint Imperials, which we still all laugh about, as you never knew if you were being given a fresh one or one that had been sat in his pocket a while. 

Win, lose or draw, every matchday was made all the more humorous listening to Grandad inevitably arguing with our uncle - Stephen Gallagher - over a simple difference of opinion about an incident during the game or someone's performance.

The debate would always be concluded with Grandad accusing Uncle Ste of "not knowing what he was talking about".

One memory that sticks in my mind is from 2008 when we beat SK Brann 6-1 at Goodison. When Andy Johnson made it six, I remember celebrating with Grandad and looking up, thinking to myself, I'm going to touch the ceiling of the Main Stand any second now. I was so high on life. 

On the days when he was ill, I went to see him to basically say goodbye, which I was dreading for the entire journey to his flat.

When I got there, he looked incredibly frail in his bed. On his bedside table, there was a framed note from the late Brian Labone that I know meant the world to him.

I was emotional when I walked in and Grandad looked at me and proceeded to perfectly describe Richarlison's header against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane a few days before.

I've never been more speechless in my life. Even the condition he was in, all he wanted to do was discuss Everton and, in particular, Richarlison, who was the last player he really loved.

That made it all the more fitting when in front of the first full house back at Goodison, Richarlison scored Everton's first goal. I was in the Street End wearing Grandad's watch and I celebrated so much that it nearly flew off my wrist. 

I know for a fact that Goodison won't be the same for any of our family – but we all carry the memories of him to each game. 

They say, "We die twice. Once when the breath leaves our body and once when the last person we know says our name."

And if that is true then we know, whether it be at Goodison or Bramley-Moore in years to come, Patrick Gallagher – 'Golly' – will always live on.

By Peter McAteer, Evertonian.