Following on from Part 1 – The Singing Civil Servant

Rather than tales of Keeble, White and Allchurch (although he did love Milburn), I grew up in a house filled with Sinatra, Jack Jones, Dean Martin and Matt Munro (always a queue for the bathroom!). Not a professional singer grant you; Dad combined his moonlighting with a clerical job at the Ministry, as it was called back then – more Singing Civil Servant than Singing Detective, although he had marginally better skin – but not an ardent football fan either. Don’t ask me where I get it from.

So I will have gone along to my first match with a school friend unless Dad had been ‘paid off’ at the club the night before and decided to turn his back on the music business once and for all. If I had to put money on it, I’d claim that our 1-1 draw with West Ham in the 1973/74 season was the first match I attended (at 9 years and 163  days) and, although I couldn’t swear to it, I’d say Pat Howard played for us and Pat Holland for them, as I was struck by nothing more than the similarity of their names.

I don’t recall the stats or the match incidents. Again, the record shows, I took the blows on January 19th 1974, 15 weeks before the Cup Final, Supermac scored for us and I was there with 27,216 other hardy souls but, as I was only 9 years old, it was the sounds and the smells which struck me and stayed with me. The heavy, iron turnstiles, the long winding climb up the Gallowgate steps towards the deafening noise, passing the overpowering stench of those toilets along the way – toilets thankfully from another time, a time when Health and Safety were two words as far apart in our thinking as they were in the dictionary.

Then the mass of smelly blokes reeking of Tartan or Brown Ale, the lush, vivid green of the pitch, the rusty old West(wood) Stand and finally those magnificent Black and White stripes, black shorts and the classic hooped socks.

They say you never forget the first time. They are right.

  • john

    My first match was in April 2003. I had just moved to South Shields from New Zealand and by pure chance, a mate of my Dad’s managed to get a ticket for Everton away. I only found out at about 6:30am on the morning of the match. I was still drunk off the night before down at Brigham’s in Shields. I had no idea I needed cans for the trip down. I knew nothing of away matches. I needn’t have worried as two lads in the back started feeding me cans of Carling most of the way down.
    Drinking in the Stanley Park pub was a bit of an experience. Seeing all the Everton legends on the wall but only about 5 Everton fans in the corner and they were taking some stick! They decided to give some back and then the plastic pint glasses started flying! We weren’t part of it but decided we didn’t fancy getting lifted with the trouble making chavs in the middle of the pub.
    I will never forget queuing to get into Goodison. The racket coming from the away end was unreal even from the outside. Inside it was even better. We were still going for the title at the time and the support was constant and noisy. It seemed to get even louder after Rooney scored for them. I remember the equaliser and not actually being able to see Robert hit it because of a massive pylon in the way but the ball went like a laser and in off the crossbar. Bedlam. Hugging complete strangers, banging shins and knees off the seats, the shouting and screaming. Won’t ever forget it!
    You know the rest. Graveson should have been sent off for trying to amputate Olivier Bernard’s leg at the knee, Rooney decided to carry on playing instead of kick the ball out and Woodgate conceded the penalty and that was that. Brilliant experience but a crucially bad result given what happened against the Mancs the next game …

  • J Nelson

    My first time was 59 years ago on Monday, v Blackpool. Have the program, we lost 2-1.

  • Andy

    A bit spooky that – that was my first game too! I too was in the Gallowgate with me dad, and I remember Bovril at half time, and my mam buying some afterwards cos I said I loved it – but its never the same away from the match. Yes Supermac scored, and I think West Ham had Bobby Moore etc in the team. Afet another draw in my next match against Liverpool, it was Forest and all that went on that day – an early baptism of fire!