A series of first-hand accounts describing moments that made us fall in love with Everton, 'My Everton' is a new weekly offering here on evertonfc.com, bringing you the most-treasured memories of fans, players, and staff both past and present.
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How can someone with no ties to a club with no recent success feel so close to it?
In fact, how can someone living in Los Angeles fall madly in love with a soccer (sorry, football) team in Liverpool that isn’t...Liverpool? Even more pressing, why would someone capable of choosing any team to support, choose a club that most casual fans of the game in the United States had never even heard of?
The answer is simple, really.
You don’t choose it. It chooses you.
Everton, for me, is so much more than a football club. Everton is a family unlike any other I have in my life. It’s an unexplainable connection that I feel to anybody who supports this club. So deep are my feelings, that I’ve made a personal rule that I will never fight or even argue with another Evertonian (especially online). And that’s more of a rule than I can say I live by than with my own blood family.
I began following Everton when Tim Howard was first loaned to the club. I only loosely watched or kept up to date with how Howard was doing at the time.
Slowly I began finding myself really rooting for the club. Any chance I’d get to watch Everton matches here in the States at that time, I would. And those chances were few and far between and usually against the “top” teams in the league, which would mean I saw relatively little Everton success on TV.
I still continued to follow and began falling in love. I fell in love with the history and I began falling in love with the supporters.
There was something infectious about how the supporters treated one another, and really cared for each other.
I wanted to be a part of that.
When Landon Donovan was loaned out to Everton, it was even more reason to give my complete heart to this club. Not only because our local Los Angeles star was playing for Everton, but also with the way he was embraced and accepted there, I was all in. This club didn’t disappoint.
On this day in 2016, I went home. pic.twitter.com/4ATp5a1ndm— Gyorgi (@TweetGyorgi) August 27, 2020
For roughly three years, between 2013 to 2016, I began dealing with some serious bouts with depression and anxiety. It was sucking the life out of me, and though I tried to hide it, it was really taking a toll on me.
One day in 2016, my wife came up to me and told me that I should have a change in scenery. She was pregnant with our third child and felt it was a good time for me to go and have this experience I’ve always wanted.
That experience was seeing a match at Goodison Park. So I agreed, purchased tickets, and ended up going to England on my own to see Everton at Goodison Park for the first time.
I thought I would be alone.
What happened when I got there, however, was anything but lonely.
Everything I had heard about Evertonians, all the stories about being The People’s Club, not only ended up being true, but ended up exceeding every expectation.
I was embraced, looked after, and treated like family. I was cared for and accepted in such a way that it almost felt unreal.
I was taken in, and though I was not a Scouser or from the city, I was treated as a Blue. I was one of us. It was everything I needed to experience at that moment.
For the short time I was in Liverpool, I truly felt like I was home.
It’s not an exaggeration when I say that Everton gave me light in my darkest time.
I always say that in some strange way, God used Everton to heal me.
I came back a different person.
I left Liverpool physically, but more than anything, I left a piece of my soul there.
And I’ll forever be grateful for this club. For the supporters. For this family.
So much happened after that moment...
It’s not often a professional footballer would take time out of their break and willingly meet up with fans of his team. But that’s what makes @Everton so special. Truly the People’s Club. Thank you @michaelkeane04 for giving @SoCalEverton such an amazing memory. pic.twitter.com/v8ZPmqMzt2— Gyorgi (@TweetGyorgi) June 22, 2019
I made lifelong friends in both Liverpool and in Los Angeles because of Everton. I had an incredible experience where I was able to meet and cut Michael Keane’s hair while he was here in LA. And maybe most importantly, I’ve been able to share the joys (and pains) of Everton with my son who has not only been raised an Evertonian, but is madly in love with the club.
We were most recently able to share the experience of watching Everton in person in Florida, and we made memories we’ll both never forget.
So what is Everton to me? It might be cliche, but Everton is my family. And you don’t choose your family, it chooses you.
I may be in LA but my heart is in L4.
By Gyorgi Hakopian, LA-based Evertonian