My Everton #104: Tales Of Following The Blues Since '55

My first season ticket was for the 1955/56 season, and I’ve had one ever since, moving seat just the once during that time.

It was a gift from my dad for my seventh birthday. I remember when he asked what I wanted, I told him I’d like a guitar, but he surprised me with a season ticket instead.

Off we went to Goodison Park. Up the rickety wooden stairs that seemed to go on forever until we arrived at the office. Tickets bought; we made our way to the stands. 

The excitement and the feeling in my stomach was something I had never experienced before, but I've have had that feeling many times since, thanks to Everton.

An early memory was meeting Peter Farrell and Tommy Eglington. They’d just left, and it was in 1957 when they both joined Tranmere and Farrell had taken the player-manager role.

They obviously didn’t have a game that day and my dad knew Farrell. We saw them, and Farrell shouted: “Alright, Johnny,” to my dad.

Introducing me, my dad said: “How are you, Peter? This is my son. He’s got a season ticket this year.”

“You’ve got a great club,” Farrell said to me. “The best club in the world. You’ll enjoy it. You’ll enjoy watching Everton.”

Things like that definitely stay with you.

I was brought up as an Evertonian. My dad was 37 when I was born, so he’d seen Everton in the 1920s and 30s.

There wasn’t a thing you could tell him that he didn’t already know about Dixie Dean and that Everton team.

We were a family of Evertonians, but there’s always one black sheep, isn’t there? My brother was quite a bit older than me – 17 years older, and he was a Red.

I had a cousin who was the same age and an Evertonian, and he told me that because my dad was in the war, he wasn’t around to tell my brother: “Don’t go near them! Don’t go near Anfield!”

A lot of the early years, I don’t remember too well, but I definitely recall the feeling of when the Club sold Dave Hickson. I was very upset over that, but then I remember him coming back.

Just after that, we had a player called Tommy Ring, a winger, and I remember his debut in 1960. I don’t think we’d won at home for quite a few games, but we were well up at half-time against Nottingham Forest at Goodison, and it ended 6-1.

Another moment that sticks in my mind is when we were struggling between the middle and bottom of the league, after we’d been promoted. It was 1958 and we signed Bobby Collins. He just turned the club around. We were a different team when he played.

Collins would have to be one of my favourite players I’ve seen over the years; him or Alan Ball. They were very similar, and both had total commitment and energy, so I’d probably go with those two.

Dave Hickson too because he was the centre forward back when I was younger, but after that, you had the likes of Colin Harvey, Alan Ball, and Howard Kendall.

Kendall was underrated as a player, I’ve always thought. After Ball had gone, the team struggled because it changed the gameplan.

But Kendall was phenomenal. He was everywhere, and if it wasn’t for him, I think we would’ve been in the relegation zone. Even though he’s our greatest manager, I don’t think he got enough accolades as a player.

Another memorable game was when we beat the Busby Babes, when no one was giving us a chance. That would’ve been around the mid-50s, just before the Munich disaster.

We beat them comfortably and it was a big day because they were the darlings of football then.

I remember watching Duncan Edwards. He was a big lad and wasn’t unlike Wayne Rooney - big legs and big shoulders, and I watched too Roger Byrne. He was their captain at the time.

A more recent standout game was when we beat Liverpool 3-0 with two goals from Andy Johnson. We played them off the park that day, and it was unreal. The Liverpool end just emptied out with 20 minutes to go.

But I still definitely get nervous for the derby games, and I'm sure I will for this season too. The tension for them is unbelievable.

By Gerard Stafford, Evertonian and Season Ticket Holder Since 1955 

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