My Everton #125: 10 Years On

In my office over here in Malaysia, behind my chair, is a huge Everton poster. 

Every time one of my lawyers sit down in front of me, they are forced to look at that poster. I love that. 

You see, I have been an Evertonian since I was a boy. I started following the Blues in the early 1980s and at that time, we were doing really well. I used to watch the games every Sunday morning.

Obviously, less successful days have followed but that doesn’t matter, I was already hooked on Everton. And what happened to me 10 years ago this week proves how special this Club are. The way I was treated, not like a tourist but a true Evertonian, will never be forgotten. 

It’s crazy how it all happened and even now, I walk around Liverpool and have people coming up to me to say hello or wanting to shake my hand - it’s a huge honour. Even Liverpool fans have come up to me over the years and asked for pictures!

To be honest, I often feel a little embarrassed about it all. After all, I am just an Everton fan. I am not a celebrity, I am simply a fan who didn’t end up getting to watch a match…

It was a decade ago when I’d returned to Merseyside to attend, what I believed, would be my first ever Everton game live. 

I’d been to Goodison many times previously, but it was always during the summer break or on occasions when there were no live matches. For example, for my honeymoon in 2012, my wife and I went to Goodison because I wanted to introduce her to Everton. 

We were due to attend the Everton v Newcastle game, but about three weeks before the game was moved to the Monday, and we were leaving on the Sunday - I was devastated. 

So finally, I returned to Liverpool in 2014 with my wife and daughter who was around 13 at the time. My wife was travelling to Paris for work, but my daughter and I had tickets for the Crystal Palace mid-week game. 

As our old friend Gerard Deulofeu famously said, it was ‘very very wind’ that evening, but I didn’t expect what was to come next. 

We arrived at Goodison that evening around 6.30pm and were having coffee in one of the suits at the stadium. It was around this time that I took a selfie picture out in the stand - the now infamous picture! 

I just wanted to share my excitement, to say how proud I was to be watching Everton live after supporting the Club since 1984. I posted it and then forgot all about it. 

Meanwhile, around 45 minutes before the game, the MC apologised and announced that the match had been postponed. I could not believe it. I was gutted and just thought, ‘Oh my word, I’ll never get to watch Everton live’.

After the disappointment subsided, I explained to the staff I was travelling a long way home soon and asked if I could go outside one final time to soak up the Goodison air. 

They agreed, so I went out and there on the pitch I could see Leighton Baines warming down. I waved at him, and to my surprise, he waved back. Then while I was standing there, one of the Everton staff asked if I would follow them. At this point, I must say thanks to Helen Mayo and Christine Prior, both were great that night and I can’t thank them enough. 

I figured I was being taken to the exit, but instead, I was escorted down to the Everton dressing room - I could not believe it. 

We went to the Players’ Lounge and met Kevin Mirallas, Sylvain Distin and one or two others. I was also taken to see manager Roberto Martinez. It was a really nice gesture - they were all so lovely. 

Then I got to see Baines again, who was one of my favourite players. I asked him about his decision to stay with the Club despite the interest from Manchester United that year. His response was brilliant, he simply said, ‘I am an Evertonian’. It was delivered in a way that suggested leaving the Club he loved was never an option. I thought, ‘Wow, this guy is the best’. 

Meanwhile this whole time, I had no idea that my Tweet was blowing up and going viral. It ended up getting over five thousand retweets and publications ran news stories on it – remarkable.

After all that we got some pictures, then headed back to the hotel. That night I got a call from someone at the Club who asked us to go back to Goodison Park the next day where I went on a full tour and met Graeme Sharp. 

The Club really turned what would have been such a negative experience into a once-in-a-lifetime one. 

Despite how lucky I was, though, I remember at that moment the team was doing so well. Two weeks after that game we beat Arsenal 3-0 which put us into fourth place and we were well on our way to the Champions League. 

But then when we finally played Palace in the re-arranged clash, we lost 3-2! After that, our charge started to fall apart a little. I always say to my friends, I was so honoured by how the Club treated me that night, but truthfully, I would have swapped my experience for three points that night because then perhaps we might have went on to finish fourth! 

Everton invited me back for the final game of that season when we lost 3-2 to Manchester City - Ross Barkley scored a fantastic early goal. Although we lost that day, I can say with a smile that every game I’ve been to since - five of them - we haven’t lost. So hopefully I am becoming a bit of a good luck charm. 

In around 2016, with my law firm as a base, the local Toffees decided to register an official Everton supporters club here in Malaysia. I was the president for a few years and tried my best to represent our Club the best I could. 

Things like speaking with dignity and integrity. Even now I am invited by TV press or podcasts to comment on Everton matters - and I always want to make sure that our Club is seen in the best possible light. 

The last 10 years have only strengthened my bond with Everton, I’ve not been back to Goodison since the 1-0 win at home against Arsenal nearly a year ago - Sean Dyche’s first game in charge. But I hope to get in one final memorable trip there before we move to our new fantastic stadium. 

By Ric Wee, Evertonian

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