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My Uncle Joe Brazzill was a big Evertonian who came over from Ireland to live in Chester just after the war.
He started watching Everton then, primarily, I think, because there were a lot of Irish players playing for the Blues at the time.
Amongst other things, he worked on the turnstiles at Chester's old Deva Stadium in the 1960s and from the age of eight, he'd take me along to games, letting me bunk over the turnstile to get in free, so long as I understood that first and foremost I was an Evertonian and watching Chester was my football apprenticeship!
He finally got my mum to agree to let me go to a match with him one evening after school in 1968.
That was me done.
It was overwhelming seeing a full Goodison on a dark Tuesday night when all I'd known about football up to then was what I'd seen at Chester's old ground with a couple of thousand people scattered around it.
My Uncle Joe is no longer with us but at his 40th wedding anniversary party, I wrote and read out a poem for him that I hoped captured everything I thought about that night that he took me to Goodison... and all the times since. He seemed pretty touched by it but as Bally said, "Once Everton has touched you..."
That night, he gave me the faith.
You gave me the faith (an evening in November 1968)
The darkest of evenings, the start of so much,
excitement so real I could reach out and touch,
the years watching Chester, though welcome and fun,
now mere preparations for seasons to come.
It started so simply, a message to phone,
Uncle Joe at his house, when from school I got home.
Delivering leaflets, I thought it might be,
Rebel songs in the car, and then Aunty's for tea.
But this was an evening, a Tuesday and dark...
How was I to know this meant Goodison Park!
'68 was the year, and at 12 years of age,
I knew all of the stars that had graced that great stage,
From Dixie to Hickson, all giants so tall,
from Mercer to Bingham, 'Golden Vision' to Ball.
And now, at last, I would see them play live,
The Blues playing Chelsea, Joe's car leaves at five...
I sat in the back never making a sound,
All the time my neck craning for a sight of the ground.
Then finally I could see it, all lit up and blue,
the home of the greatest, my dreams had come true.
The night was fantastic, the Blues won 3-1,
and though Bally was missing, the deed had been done.
For 30 years now I have suffered the pain,
the losses, the victories, the glories, the shame.
And it's all down to you and that trip that we made,
On a night in November when the blue seed was laid,
After great nights so many, and bad nights – a few!
I'm eternally grateful that you took me with you...
By Gerard Ryan, Evertonian