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My Everton #139: A Novel Idea

I have loved the Toffees for 20 years now. 

Having been introduced to football at the age of nine, when my father moved the family from Arizona to the West Indies, my curiosity grew steadily after subsequent sojourns in the Middle East and South America.

The beautiful game was sowing its seeds into my psyche.
 
I played Sunday football for 22 of the next 25 years, hanging up my boots six years after the Premier League was created. At that time, both of the top clubs on Merseyside fascinated me - their history, traditions, and proximity to one another across Stanley Park was fascinating.
 
My heritage lies in Britain, origins unknown, and all my travel to foreign shores seemed incomplete without a trip to England. My wife and I came to Liverpool in 2019 and spent 12 days walking the long and winding roads of the city.
 
All the usual sights were taken in: the waterfront, Penny Lane, the City Centre. All memorable, all special. We were smitten.
 
But what we took home to America the most was an affinity for the people we encountered. Scousers are an honest, gritty, proud lot, loyal and determined. They are also open and welcoming, with considerable humor and wit.
 
And they love their football.
 
We went to matches at Anfield and Goodison Park, both brilliant experiences. At Liverpool's game, we were sat amongst tourists. The following Saturday found us next to an Evertonian and his young son. They lived three blocks from the grounds.
 
That’s the difference. Now we know why it’s called The People's Club.
 
On the day of the game, our first stop was Prince Rupert’s Tower, the old keep. Iconic! Then it was pints of Guinness at the Abbey with two brothers, both Gwladys Street End season ticket holders for decades. My wife was in the loo pre-match and got a cuddle from a Nan who was so happy she’d come all the way from the States to see Everton. The lads were defeated by Sheffield United on the day, but we were hooked.
 
Everton, the Spirit of the Blues!
 
I’m a pensioner now, and fancy myself as a writer. Our trip to Merseyside was the catalyst needed to kick-start what has become four historical fiction novels based in Liverpool, beginning in 1968 and carrying through the turn of the century.
 
One of my main characters is a young expat aspiring footballer who catches on at Bellefield for Harry Catterick. He apprenticed under the Holy Trinity during the 1969-70 season and became the Club’s number six for more than 15 years. Songs were sung for the ‘Ponytailed Prince of Goodison Park'.
 
We have a proper English pub here where I live in St. Petersburg, Florida, The Horse and Jockey. It’s owned by a gent from Chester, and if there’s a match on, it’s on in there. Here, I often find Mike Donan, an Evertonian who grew up on Lloyd Street, close to the tower. ‘Uncle Mike’ is a treasure, as a gentleman, and as my Everton history teacher.
 
And so, with my head full of Labby, Big Dunc, Z Cars, Sir Philip, and Seamus Coleman, I’ll crack open my piggy bank and see if I can’t get back to Goodison before the move to Bramley-Moore Dock.
 
Nil Satis Optimum.

By Harold Bell, Evertonian

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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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