My Everton #60: A Glorious Rotterdam Return On £5

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It’s a journey - being a Blue. 

The high anticipation of the ‘68 Cup final and the sad 1–0 defeat was the opening door for my seven-year-old self. 

Waiting for hours the next day to cheer up a very young Joe Royle arrive ‘home’ to his grandparents house in Norris Green was even sadder when we saw how disappointed he was.

Two years later, a league win and consecutive home derby victories brought bragging rights. 

They were to fade for the seven years that followed, but highlights continued to appear and bonds continued to be made with every visit to the Gwladys Street.

The epic '70s League and FA Cup quests brought huge smiles and several talking points, but the highlight of the decade was Bob’s brilliant 30th (and howling at loyal Mick Lyon for scoring the fifth in a 6-0 win, when Latchford was well-placed next to him... Fortunately the sixth was the goal we all treasured).

Then came the golden mid-eighties. 

Tremendously joyous semi-finals everywhere but personal lean years in terms of finance. 

Hence, when Everton reached a European final, I could not afford a ticket, nevermind the trip itself - but I never entertained the idea of not trying to get to a game I had been dreaming about for the past 10 years and more.

Two days before the final I counted my cash and had £5, my fiancée gave me £5 and that was it. 

Thumb out, I headed to Rotterdam on a clear Monday morning, with just a little bit of hope. 

My first lift was a Kopite heading to work in Manchester. He was amazed and insisted on giving me a quid! It was then I believed I was not only going but I was going to get in and we we were going to win it.

Dover... France... Belgium... Holland... All quickly transversed with a free ferry meal to boot. Then, I managed to meet up with my brother and his mates who bought me more than pint before I left them. 

I had seen on the news that there were some tickets still on sale at the stadium. 

I got there and there was no queues. The tickets were actually cheaper than they were being sold for back home. So, with my £6, I bought one and left with a smile wider than the Mersey. 

What a night. I don't need to go into detail here as, of course, we lifted the trophy.

The celebrations were well under way, then it dawned on me, 'It’s dark, it’s late and I have no way of getting home'. 

Off I went to look for a life home. I asked the first coach I saw and the guy said, "What? You’ve hitchhiked?! Brilliant that, lad, but sorry... No room." 

There was genuine warmth from fellow Blues who were seeing if they could help me.

I managed to find another coach and at first they laughed before quietly whispering to me, "Yeah, follow us."

I wasn't sure what to make of it after their reaction but I followed anyway and sure enough, they led me up the steps to a 50-seater with four other people on it - the coach company had overbooked and had to put on an extra coach!

On the way home, I danced in a club in Ostend, drank champagne and got a bed in a hotel. I also got invited to party in the Sparrow at the end of the season, all thanks to my fellow Blue soul mates. 

What a highlight, one of many.

The journey continues. 

By Kevin Blue Brown, Evertonian

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