My Everton #129: Blue Bliss In New Zealand

My name is Manu J Timai and I have been a proud Evertonian for 35 years.

I grew up and still live in a Rugby-mad country - New Zealand - and it was a strange thing for a young boy in the 1980s to like football. Rugby is life for many here. 

There wasn't much coverage of English football back then, so we relied on highlights packages that were purposed for the New Zealand audience, and my family were not football people. 

Luck would have it that my best friend at the time had parents from England - London, to be exact, and they would let me watch the highlights every Sunday evening with them. 

That was the first time I saw my Everton. 

It was then I decided I was an Evertonian. I still hear my friend's dad, who is a Chelsea fan, telling me, 'Manu, you chose the wrong Blues!'... Oh boy, was he wrong!

Fast-forward to the early-90s and football was starting to grow in popularity in New Zealand. A lot of my peers were Liverpool supporters, Arsenal supporters and the grief I would get for supporting Everton was immense. I was never much of a bandwagon jumper, though. It felt like Everton had chosen me - and I chose Everton. 

There was something about Everton that drew me in. I really liked Gary Lineker but it was Big Nev that sealed the deal for me. He was my hero, a true Evertonian. 

Go forward a bit more and it was great to see a fellow Samoan in the form of one Tim Filiga Cahill playing for my team, in the best league in the world.

As you can imagine, was ecstatic. What a difference maker he was, when games were thought to be lost... Cometh the hour, cometh the man. The number of games he saved us from nowhere was incredible. He electrified every Evertonian and made us Evertonians - and Samoans - proud. He's a legend in my eyes. I will never forget his power headers, worldie volleys and, of course, that famous goal celebration.

I am a huge fan of the community initiatives that Everton are involved in. My wife, who is a Paediatrician, is amazed at how the Club visit the children at Alder Hey every Christmas, as well as visits to other hospitals and charities throughout the year. It is truly special. There is something about Everton's inclusiveness and social awareness that, as a Community Developer myself, shows how important the community is to Everton Football Club and how important Everton Football Club is to the community, not just on Merseyside, but through the international Evertonian community as a whole. 

For me, that is what makes Everton the true People's Club, a true asset that we all can be proud of. 

Presently, as in the past, I am committed to waking up in the wee hours of the morning to support my team from the other side of the world. My wife thinks I'm crazy when I get out of bed at 2am.

For me, it's bliss. 

It's the highlight of my week, watching the match, and it can never come fast enough. The international break and the end of the season drive me crazy. 

Looking to the future, with our new stadium being built, I truly believe there is a positive future for us. There will be a day when my family and I emigrate to England as my wife is English. I dream of the chance to pack my boys and I on a train to Merseyside to watch our team play in the flesh, shouting the lads on, singing every song. Honestly, it's the stuff dreams are made of.

Everton, we never shone so brightly!

By Manu J Timai, Evertonian

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