The first memory I have of Goodison Park is sitting on one of the barriers in the Gwladys Street End, with my dad behind me stopping me from falling off. I was seven years old when we won the league and The Holy Trinity of Kendall, Harvey and Ball weaved their magic in front of me.
That's me in the image above, in my first Everton shirt back in 1980. 'Born a Blue', as they say. That was certainly true for me, but that connection was severely tested when I moved to Canada at nine years old. No coverage for several years, only a list of scores on a Sunday morning in the Toronto local newspaper.
All of that changed with the increasing coverage of football in Canada in the late 1980s and it notched up again with the dawn of the Premier League in 1992. Finally, I could watch Everton games live again and now I have not missed one for many years.
Sure, it's great watching games on television in these circumstances but nothing beats being able to fly home and watch the Blues in person.
At the end of 2001, sadly, my mum passed away. I was bringing her ashes home to be buried in Liverpool. We had arranged her funeral and, since I was in England, I had to get to Everton’s league match at Middlesborough as well. Straightforward enough? Well, not quite.
I celebrated New Year’s with my cousins in Derby, then, after a few hours of sleep, I was awake again to get my brother from Manchester airport. I collected him at 9am, then I drove him to my aunt’s house in Liverpool and informed her that I was off to Middlesborough for the 3pm kick-off.
She thought I was mad but I was determined to make it there on time.
Cue the weather.
The rental car had no windshield washer fluid and, as I headed over the Pennines, a snowstorm began. I could barely see the road and I had my window down as I tried to clean the front window with my hand. The traffic crawled along and, at that point, I knew that I was cutting it fine.
But I plodded on until I entered Middlesborough and saw the stadium in the distance.
I found a place to park and there was now only a field in my way. Two feet of snow was my next obstacle as the clock ticked to 2:55pm. I galloped across the field hoping I didn’t break a leg and when I got there, I ran up to the nearest gate and handed my ticket to the official. I was told that I was at the wrong gate.
Perhaps my patience was getting thin and my response may have been short as I told him of my 3,500-mile journey to get to the match from Canada. Thankfully, I was allowed in and sat down in my seat amongst the Middlesborough supporters. It was -11°C at kickoff and the the leather jacket that my brother assured me would suffice in England wasn't doing much to help!
In a perfect world, I would have been warmed up by a Duncan Ferguson goal but that was not to be. We went down to defeat after a 50th-minute goal from Gianluca Festa. We were on a particularly bad run at the time but the David Moyes era was about to begin and there were brighter days were ahead.
By the time I travelled back over the Pennines to Liverpool I had covered more than 500 miles that day, on top of more than 3,500 to get over from Canada. Crazy, perhaps, but I would have done it again to see Everton play in front of me rather than on a TV screen.
My next trip back over is in March, while the Merseyside derby at Goodison is on... Any spares?!
By Peter Creer, Evertonian
Everton and technical partner hummel are proud to collaborate to present My Everton, a weekly series of first-hand accounts describing the most-treasured memories of fans, players, and staff both past and present.
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