It’s a rarity to have as busier week as I have this week and although it has seemed somewhat chaotic and non-stop it has been nothing short of one the most amazing weeks I’ve had in a long time.
This week my friend Eric Howell and his wife Tracie came over for their first visit to Liverpool all the way from Kansas, USA. I first spoke to Eric through the world of that Twitter lark roughly about two years ago, his love for Everton yet being isolated over 3000 miles away from his spiritual home of Goodison drove him to try and start up a podcast about the club he loved. After a few weeks of working on a plan and despite being separated by 3000 miles Eric and Goodsion Park regular Ped managed to record the first episode of “FOLLOWTONIANS.” A year and a half later the podcast is still going strong, and despite not being a regular contributor to the show myself I have remained good friends with the lads behind the show, staying in touch with Eric via all forms of social media and recently getting to a few matches with Ped and his family. As this was Eric’s first trip over to Liverpool, needless to say we have been helping him plan to make the trip quite a special one.
The Howells arrived in Liverpool on Tuesday just gone and despite having to rearrange flights and make 2 separate connections they made it over for their first game at Goodison against league leaders Man City, and what a first game it was. I wasn’t at the match myself unfortunately but from what I’ve been told Eric was like a kid who just downed a 2 litre bottle of Coke and a massive bag of Jelly beans before opening his presents on Christmas morning and who can blame him, travel thousands of miles for your first game and Everton beat league leaders City 1-0 with a bracing shot from new boy Darren Gibson, followed shortly by the boss news we had actually SIGNED a player, Nikica Jelavic from Rangers, and the re-arrival of former Everton man Steven Pienaar who despite leaving under not so great circumstances has had a torrid time at Spurs and has been welcomed back at Goodison, what a way to start your holiday.
Wednesday saw myself and Eric and our other halves Tracie and Kirsty head into the City of Chester for a “classy” pub dinner (Sorry, Eric haha) followed by a nice stroll around Chester’s famous Roman Walls and despite having murder with my bank in the morning (again, sorry Eric) it was quite a nice pleasant day spent finally spending time with a friend who I’ve spoken to a million times but never actually physically met until then.
Thursday was one of the big days we were all looking forward to. A LIVE! recording of Followtonians at Walkabouts in Liverpool. The recording was attended by a good sized group of Evertonians as well as BBC Radio Merseyside’s Football pundit Alan Jackson who has on several occasions helped to “plug” the podcast on his show. A superb night was had by all, loads of drink was flowing, putting faces to fellow Everton “tweeters”, plenty of jokes and “banter” (I HATE that word), an Everton quiz with Free £5 bet slips up for grabs and just a generally great atmosphere made it a terrific night.
It was Saturday that was the icing on top of the cake for all of us. An away day down the East Lancs Road to Wigan, anyone who knows me knows that an ACTUAL away trip is a rarity for me these days, so even if it was just Wigan this was going to be a special one. The day started with a group of 7 of us including Eric, Ped and I as well as Ped’s sister Jayne, brother law Paddy and young nephew Aidan and another American chap called Nick, who is currently on leave from the US Airforce based out near Kaiserslautern in Germany, heading for a massive breakfast in some greasy spoon in West Derby near Melwood. After we all ploughed down our huge portions of bacon, eggs, sausage, black pudding and the rest we headed on the short 18 mile journey to Wigan for an afternoon of booze, Everton and more booze.
Anyone who has been to Wigan will know it’s a great away day, especially if your one of the more “local” teams i.e Everton, Liverpool, United, City etc etc. It’s a ground where the home support isn’t exactly great so thereby away fans are allocated an entire stand, in other words Wigan was invaded by 4,250 Evertonians who, through conquering the snow and sleet, were all thirsty for beer and hungry for three points. Although the thirst was quenched, ALOT, the three points evaded us after a clumsy Tim Howard mistake saw Wigan lead 1-0 only for “super sub” Anichebe to seal the equaliser. Despite the crap result, poor quality of football, the freezing weather conditions, the “incident” on the concourse at half time (which I will go into in a separate post) we didn’t allow our spirits to be dampened as we headed back to Wigan’s Red Robin pub which was well and truly taken over by Everton fans on the day for more beer and laughs. All in all a great day out at Wigan with a great bunch of people and a great opportunity to once again put faces to “Twitter handles” of many Blues I’ve spoken to a million times but never had the chance to meet.
The week was topped off nicely on Saturday night with a massive group of 12 of us headed back into Liverpool for a few more drinks in the Slaughter House followed by a cracking meal at “The Restaurant” Bar & Grill in Exchange Street, Liverpool. Needless to say by the end of it all I was slightly steaming drunk, sod it, I admit I was shit faced, but it was worth it. A terrific week had with friends regular and new and I hope it won’t be too long until we get to see Eric and Tracie back on our shores again.