My Everton #80: Living The Goodison Dream From Japan

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I'm an Evertonian from Japan and have been supporting Everton for around 10 years. 

I don't actually remember the exact time I realised I was a Blue but it felt like it came very naturally.

I love Goodison Park and for years I dreamed of visiting it in person. That became a reality in February this year!

There were two home matches in succession - against Leeds and Aston Villa - and I decided to make the trip. It took more than 20 hours from where I live to get to Liverpool but it really was a dream come true for me.

I did many things that are associated with Everton during my time in Merseyside. Not only Goodison Park, but I also  visited Prince Rupert's Tower, Walton Hall Park, and the new stadium site at Bramley-Moore dock. 

All of those things were memorable, but two things, in particular, really stand out from my trip... Our captain, Seamus Coleman and his goal against Leeds and the Evertonians I met during my time in England.

On 18 February, I was in my hotel room and put on my Everton shirt with No.23 printed on the back, as always. Seamus Coleman has been with us for such a long time and he is the only player who is still playing for the Club since I started watching games. 

My admiration for him grows by the day. 

I bought a shirt with his name and number on the back last season and I was so happy to put it on for my trip to Goodison to support Everton.

Then, as everyone knows, Seamus scored on that day!

It was amazing to see my idol scoring on my first game at Goodison. I was sitting at the Main Stand and when he took the shot I couldn't believe it. I relive that whole move now, the way he ran into the box and took the shot on from an impossible angle, using his experience to catch out the goalkeeper with a fabulous goal.

I took in the Gwladys Street end and the fans' reactions said everything. 

I can't describe in words, how it feels to see him score with my own eyes, but it is certainly one of the best goals I’ve ever seen.

After the match, I didn't want to leave the stadium. It was the best day of my life and I didn't want the dream to end.

I was one of the last supporters out of the stadium that day as I wanted to take it all in for as long as possible. As I left, I was walking down Goodison Road and thinking I should go into a pub - but all of the pubs around Goodison were too crowded... like Japanese commuter trains! It was hard to get in.

Then, I remembered a facility of Everton in the Community, the Blue Base. I have huge respect for the work of Everton in the Community and I thought, perhaps, I can catch up with Evertonians there and talk about the win. 

So off I went, I ordered a beer and I was standing alone. I felt like I was a 'nowhere man' because I didn't know anyone beforehand but, thankfully, an Evertonian called Ray maybe sensed it and began a conversation. 

He urged me to come to his table and I sat down. 

I introduced myself and got to know other local fans, too. I talked about my stories on Everton and they welcomed me so kindly. 

My English isn't great but they listened to me and I really felt being a part of it all. Part of Everton.

I loved sharing that time with Evertonians so much. 

After that, Ray and another Evertonian, Paul, took me to a few more pubs and I talked with more Evertonians. To sing "60 grand, 60 grand, Seamus Coleman..." with them is a precious memory I will never forget.

A week goes by and on 25 February, I met up with the guys again. I was really happy that it wasn't a one-off and to be invited to be around Evertonians before and after the match again. The result wasn't what we all wanted on that day, but the experience was special again because of the special people I had met. 

I decided to take a Mersey ferry ride, as they had advised. I saw the Everton Stadium from the ferry and it was so spectacular. I can't wait to see the final construction and to see Everton play games there.

Another unforgettable moment came when I bumped into Pat van den Hauwe. I never expected to shake hands and talk with an Everton legend. I'd seen him in the Everton film 'Howard's Way' and I knew he was an important part of our glorious team of the mid-1980s. He was very kind, a true gentleman. I wanted to know more about him, so I bought his autobiography from a shop and began reading it as soon as I returned to Japan. 

After all, including all the Everton fans I got to know in Liverpool, I really felt a family feeling through talking and sharing time with them.

I'd heard the phrases like "Everton Family" or "Blue Family" before but it's hard to truly get a sense of that without experiencing it first-hand. Since my trip, I know exactly what that means and I couldn't agree more with the sentiment. 

Everton is a family, where no matter where you're from you can feel at home, comfortable, living the emotions together.

The experiences were even more wonderful than I imagined and my love for the Club has only grown deeper as a result.

I brought back a whole load of memorabilia and Everton bits for my home in Japan and my place is now decorated with scarves, shirts, mementoes from St Luke's and gifts kindly given to me by my new friend, Ray.

I'll keep supporting Everton from Japan, always. And I can't wait to get back to Merseyside one day.

Once a Blue, Always a Blue!

By 志村 研太郎 (Kentaro 'Ken' Shimura), Evertonian

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