As the great Alan Ball once said, “Once Everton has touched you, nothing will be the same.”
In whatever city you travel to across the world, you’re bound to find a supporter of the Blues.
One particular hotspot of supporters located in North America is the city of Chicago, Illinois.
Founded 20 years ago by Diana McNally, Evertonians gather every matchday morning in a pub called A.J. Hudson to support the Toffees.
While their pre-match experience differs vastly to the supporters in L4, the Chicago Evertonians president, Loran McDonald says the atmosphere the group experiences on matchday is truly unique.
“When you walk into the pub and head to the back, it’s just covered in Everton memorabilia,” he told evertonfc.com.
“Our bartender is a neutral but we have an Everton jacket, so we’ll get him to wear that when the game is on.
“We have the speakers on so you’ll hear Z-Cars playing when the team walks out and we have a bell in the pub that rings when we score.
“When we win, you can hear everyone in the pub sing Grand Old Team.
“It’s a great place to come to and the people we have in our supporters group make it feel special.
“Because we have our own place to go to and Everton fans know to meet there so it helps to build our following and create an atmosphere.
“Chicago is also the third largest city in America and it’s a pretty intense sports town which helps us find more fans too.”
Loran has been a part of the Chicago Evertonians fan club for seven years and a supporter of the Club for many years prior to that.
He spoke of his delight of the growth of the Club’s support across the Atlantic - and is strongly confident the fanbase will continue to grow.
“It is exciting to see our fanbase grow,” he said. “When we meet up for a midweek game or a Sunday game and it’s the only game on the screen, we see some neutrals come in and help educate them about the Club.
“I have a neighbour who is a Colombia fan.
“When we signed James Rodriguez, she didn’t know too much about Everton so I spoke to her about the team, the Club.
20 years. Up The Toffees. 💪💙 pic.twitter.com/fJihrIhBBc— Chicago Evertonians (@EvertonChicago) November 15, 2021
“When we sign new players, I feel it’s the best opportunity to educate people about the Club, the team, how and why we became fans.
“One of my favourite things about being an Everton fan is because we have a bar that’s specifically for Blues supporters.
“We’ll get supporters from out of town and it’s great to meet people from different states or countries that happen to be in Chicago and want to catch the match.
“They’re always kind people and I feel it’s indicative of the Club that you meet strangers but they’re welcoming to you and you’re welcoming to them.”
Despite being an Evertonian for many years, Loran is yet to have the opportunity to see the team play in the flesh, having been unable to attend the Florida Cup earlier this year.
And, while praising the Club's commitment to holding games in North America, he says he is determined to experience Goodison Park before the Club moves to its future new home on Bramley-Moore Dock.
“I haven’t been over to Liverpool yet; the pandemic has delayed those plans even further," he explained.
“Me and my girlfriend have spoken about it and we want to go to Goodison before the team moves on.
“It’s the next item on my bucket list that I want to tick off.
“The supporters group has spoken about getting a group together to fly over for a game.
“It would be difficult to plan around our work schedules but it’s something we would like to do one day.
“I couldn’t make it to the Florida Cup and I was gutted, but I’m making sure to go to the next game they play here.
“I still went down to the pub to watch the game and it felt really nice to watch a game at a normal time, like it would be back in England.
“It was nice to see the timing work and not feel you have to leave work early or take a half day.”
As well as a successful trip to Miami, Florida, in pre-season, last month Everton revealed a limited edition warm-up shirt inspired by its US fanbase and celebrating the Club's long-standing, historic ties with the country.
The two-tone blue shirt, which featured the US flag's famous stars and stripes across its front, was been created by Everton's Technical Partner, hummel, and allowed the Club to show its appreciation to supporters living in - and from - the United States.
It was a gesture that was greatly appreciated by Loran and his fellow members.
“It’s great being a fan here in America because you see a lot of representation from other clubs," he added.
“It’s nice to see Everton is making an effort to connect with their fans here, to grow their support to make inroads in the United States.
“There’s a more united effort with the United States fanbases across the country.
“It’s good to know if you move to a different state that you’ll be able to find Everton fans to watch the game with.
“The stars and stripes kit that was released was great too.
“Creating more opportunities like having friendlies in the US and getting good results in the league can only gain us more fans.
“You feel the loses just as much as the wins but that’s part of being a fan.
“There’s always potential to be great and I want to be there when we are.”