My Everton #56: Life, Death And Everton FC

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I had spent 10 years living across the country - 3,000 miles away from my family. 

Upon my return, I looked to spend every minute I'd lost making up that time with them.

I remember one early Saturday morning last year, watching an Everton game at my parents' house. My father and I always shared a love for sport - his favourites being baseball, rugby, and American football - so when he walked down the stairs and saw how engaged I was with the game he asked, "So who do we support?".

"Everton Football Club," I replied.

And that's how he became a Toffee.

Most days we would talk about the ups and heavy downs of last season, and fighting relegation. I would also tell him stories of Everton's past, assuring him that we are the famous Everton Football Club and we would always fight harder than any side.

There's a magic around us.

When we secured safety against Crystal Palace, we celebrated all night - and my dad's love and loyalty for Everton was cemented. 

He called me one day over summer and asked if I'd like to go to watch Everton v Arsenal in Baltimore. Finally, we would see our Toffees in the flesh.

Despite the result, it was an amazing experience. We sang the songs together, and had a chance to show our Blues that Everton is everywhere. 

His love for Everton and the bond it created between us led him to, unbeknownst to me, buying me a personalised number plate for my car that read 'TOFFEE'. 

He told me he was working on a trip for us to go to Goodison Park, too, before we move away from The Grand Old Lady.

A few weeks ago I ordered him his first Everton shirt. His birthday was on the way, and his hopes for the Blues were only overshadowed by his faith in them. 

Tuesday, the 13th of the September, he and I were attending a baseball game for his birthday (which was the following day).

He suffered a heart attack in his seat and fell out of consciousness.

His Everton shirt arrived two days later.

Last Sunday, we watched our last Everton game together, as we recorded our first win of a promising new season against West Ham. He had his new jersey and his Everton scarf from our trip to Baltimore.

Everton were playing with 12 men that day. He may have even pushed that Saïd Benrahma strike on to the post at the end.

I am so grateful we got to share our Everton moments together. 

We have always been close, best friends whether we were near or far. 

Everton gave us yet another thing to bond over, share joy and pain over, and celebrate together.

His name was Rich Clark. He was my father and a great man.

He is Forever Everton.

By Kevin Clark, Evertonian

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