My Everton #73: The Blues Community Of Nashville, TN

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Being an Evertonian in America used to be a lonely existence and, for some, it continues to be. 

Personally, I think that’s one of the things that draws us in when the love affair with this club begins. 

We saw it in the fight to avoid relegation last season... The scenes at Leicester away, the bus greetings, that night against Palace. I don’t know how anyone could watch those scenes and see that level of devotion beamed across the world and not want to feel it and be a part of it. 

After being 'chosen' some 15 or so years ago, I spent much of my early existence as the only Everton supporter I knew. I had a few friends who became casual (and now die-hard) fans mostly because they were intrigued by something I would never shut up about. 

But I’d never talked to anyone who’d lived and breathed the club as long as I had unless I was on Twitter. As low as the mood can sometimes get on social media, one thing Everton Twitter has always been in my experience is welcoming. If you say you’re a new Blue online, you may hop off the App for 15 minutes and come back to 100 new followers. This sort of thing may seem mundane, but it feels special, especially when you don’t have the person-to-person, everyday life on Merseyside with your fellow Evertonians.

After a life-changing pilgrimage to Goodison Park in 2013, I became borderline obsessed with finding more people like me, who felt taken in by this club but isolated in America. 

The following year, my professional life took me from Texas over to a city just outside Atlanta, Georgia, and I found just what I was looking for. 

The Atlanta Evertonians gave me the blueprint for what I wanted. I only spent 18 months with them, but it engrained in me a desire to stop watching games alone in my apartment or at work. I knew two people when I moved there, but if I made it to the pub on Saturday morning, I could now count dozens of folks as my friends, many of them just like me. I was working in a crazy field, often stressful, and this group gave me a reprieve and a place where I could cut loose. 

These moments we had with each other are as just as key as the big goal or save that preceded it. 

When we would reminisce about Jags scoring that goal at Anfield, it was never just about the goal. It’s remembering that we all got to the pub when it was still dark outside and screamed, hugged and sang until we couldn’t anymore. 

Everton brought us together, but the community the club created had become addictive.

As my professional career directed me back home to the University of Evansville (a school that still counts David Weir as its all-time leading goal-scorer—yes, you read that correctly), it was heartbreaking to know I was losing this important piece of my weekends.

My hometown has always loved this sport, but it wasn’t a place that opened bars early for matches back then. I was once again back to that lonely Everton existence, but now at least I was going through it with a network of friends from my stops along the way. 

And make no mistake, I still made regular trips to Atlanta to be with my people again from time to time.

Two years later, I moved to Tennessee. The very first thing I did was seek out the Nashville Evertonians. I’d only ever met a couple of them, usually through chance encounters over the years, and to be honest, it was a group that didn’t have a ton of structure. Having started in the wake of the 2014 World Cup, interest had waned. Some folks would get together for a few games a season, and that was basically it. We usually had to watch the game at the opposing team’s bar, and we didn’t have a place to call our own. With our new local soccer club starting up in Nashville, I figured it might be a prime opportunity to get something going, and a little over three years ago, we fully rebooted our group.

It’s taken time. We used to struggle to get five people at the pub most days, but we made core to the way we operate this sense of community. 

You’re coming to watch the match, sure, but you’re coming to be with your mates first and foremost. No one who follows this club in America is doing so because they’re glory-hunting. There’s something else about it, and to me, it’s that sense of belonging.

We’ve plastered the walls of our local pub The Lost Paddy with Everton memorabilia, and if you order yourself a tea or coffee, that drink will be served to you in a Nashville Evertonians mug too. We have annual memberships where everyone gets their card and a member number. 

We try to embrace Nashville as best we can, whether that’s doing a limited run of Hatch Show Prints, a legendary letterpress company that started here in 1879, or by putting together a fundraiser for a local youth football organisation that works with children who don’t have the means to play the sport.

And the watch parties have only gotten bigger and better. We had nearly 40 in the building for the first match this season, but it still will never top our watch party last March, when we took 21 to Goodison Park. It was an incredible trip, and one of my favourite things to bring up when meeting folks in Liverpool was telling the story of two of our Alabama members, Bryan and Christine, who often make a 220-mile round trip to watch games with us at the pub. That’s how important all of this has become to us. 

So that brings me to this past August. We have a messaging App we use within our group, and I had a private message from another person in Alabama. His name is Garrison. He told me he wanted to watch with us because he’d never met another Everton supporter in person. 

He’s a regular now.

By Clay Trainum, Evertonian

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