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Everton Sean Graham

 

Normally when the season ends, football fans get bored and cannot wait for the new season to start or at least see their team play a couple of friendlies before they head for their holiday’s.

But because Everton and other clubs have travelled half way around the world, the matches that I want to see are happening too late for me to see as I have a family break planned then.

When I heard recently that Everton were coming to Scotland to play two matches, I thought, fantastic…and then I saw the dates, which was not so good!

I am not too bothered about missing matches against Hearts at Tynecastle and Dundee at Dens, ( when I heard the draw for the Petrofac Cup and Hibernian drew Rangers, I knew that the Hearts game v Everton would have to move but they didn’t move it far enough back for me unfortunately!)

Those games will take care of themselves, it was the announcement of another game I was really gutted about missing.

When I heard that Everton had announced a game on Sunday August 2nd against Spanish opposition, I started to wonder who it would be and who it would be for.

The news was not good, the match would be a testimonial match for the iconic Everton legend, Duncan Ferguson.

Now this was one I was gutted at missing!

Big Dunc, had two spells with the Toffees and played 273 times for the club, scoring 72 goals, his last one being in the 2-2 with WBA.

The big Scot should have been part of an Everton side which was playing in Europe every season and making the cup’s a real priority instead of winning just the one FA Cup in 1995.

The opponents for the match are Villarreal and many will remember Duncan had a goal controversially ruled out by Italian referee Pierluigi Collina in a Champions League qualifier, which could have seen the match go to extra-time.

Perhaps this could be the big man’s chance at righting that particular wrong, although it won’t mean as much to the club to see the big man score at Goodison, it would be sweet.

The match marks 10 years’ service that the big Scot has given to the club as a player and as a coach.

He is now a vital part of Roberto Martinez back room staff and if anyone can get the best out of the strikers at Everton, Duncan Ferguson surely can.

He was recently awarded this testimonial for his contribution to Everton Football Club but he also does a vast amount of charity work which he wants no recognition for and I don’t just mean dealing with unwanted victors away from his house!

Thinking about big Dunc, brought me to thinking about one amazing night back in April 2005 when Everton played Manchester United at Goodison Park.

The game was due to be live on Sky Sports but because of my admiration for both clubs, I wanted to be there in person and sample the Goodison Park atmosphere and see one of the fixtures of the season.

My friend John Kayes had always wanted to see a Premiership fixture at Goodison Park and wanted to come along, if we could manage to get tickets.

We had booked flights from Glasgow and then we got tickets for the upper Gwlady’s Street end through my mate Tommy Burgess who is an Everton season – ticket holder.

We got to Liverpool and Tommy met us and took us back to the house to meet Anna and leave our stuff for the night before heading back into the city centre.

The police presence in the city was pretty heavy as there was trouble at an earlier FA Cup tie between the two sides but this time there was no sign of trouble.

We headed to the ground to meet up with our two friends Andy Conway and Tommy Steele and headed over to Goodison….via the club megastore!

I was like a kid at Christmas, looking to see what I could buy, jerseys, programmes, fanzine’s anything.

Then I just stood outside looking at the stadium, it looked amazing!

The crowd seemed to go on forever and people seemed so friendly and we could not wait to get inside the ground to sample the atmosphere and the Chang beer!

Once inside the ground I stood looking at the pitch and just taking in the atmosphere, it was electric and the seats were fantastic.

I seemed to remember as we went to our seats that Tony Christie’s, Show Me the Way to Amarillo was blasting out of the PA system, it must have been number one back then?

Then the hairs stood up on the back of my neck as Z –Cars was playing and the teams came out of the tunnel, a fantastic show of colour, the Blue and White of Everton and the Red and White of Manchester United, this was great.

There was so much talent on show on both sides, Arteta and Cahill in the mid-field, Yobo and Weir in defence and Big Dunc up front for Everton and Keane, Scholes, Ronaldo, van Nistelrooy and of course the return of the prodigal son, Wayne Rooney.

The match itself was just end to end from start to finish!

The first chance of the match on six minutes fell to Wayne Rooney but Nigel Martyn was well up to the task.

With so many fierce competitors in the middle of the park, it was no surprise that no quarter was asked or given but perhaps surprisingly Mikel Arteta who ended up first in Phil Dowd’s book.

Everton started to force United on to the back foot and almost took the lead when Tim Cahill’s overhead kick was cleared off the line by Wes Brown.

As soon as United had that scare, they forced the Toffees into some defending of their own when Nigel Martyn showed a safe pair of hands just before the interval when dealing with a stinging drive from Ronaldo.

After the break, the dangerous Rooney set up a chance for Scholes but Martyn was there again to deny the influential United midfielder.

Everton tried to assert themselves on Tim Howard in the United goal but big Duncan Ferguson was spoken to for clattering into the keeper and then booked for a challenge on Darren Fletcher.

The game was still flowing from end to end when Everton won a free-kick as the clock ticked towards the 53rd minute.

With the craft of Arteta, this was tailor made for one man….

On the 55th minute, Duncan Ferguson shook off Rio Ferdinand to plant a header behind Howard in the United goal and send Goodison Park wild with delight!

Even though they had taken the lead, Everton knew that this was nowhere near over.

United pressed for an equaliser but once again Martyn was on hand to parry the fierce drive from Ronaldo.

Things were heating up both on and off the pitch as David Moyes and Sir Alex Ferguson had a heated exchange about one or two challenges.

The United gaffer had reason to be raging…but not with the Everton gaffer, with one of his own players, Gary Neville, as his rash action of kicking a ball at a fan, resulted in him receiving a straight red card and leaving United with only ten men.

Despite having a man less, the Red Devils, still took the fight to Everton and Wayne Rooney in particular was unlucky to see his shot go wide of the post with the Everton keeper beaten.

Time was running out and with Everton making sure they would see out the game by chasing every ball, Paul Scholes saw Red for his second bookable offence after a wild kick at Kevin Kilbane.

As United finished with nine men, Everton made sure they saw out the game and claimed the hard fought victory with this 1-0 win and tightened their grip on fourth place.

The Teams on that night were as follows

Everton: Martyn, Hibbert, Yobo, Weir, Watson, Carsley, Bent (Osman 76), Arteta, Cahill (McFadden 86), Kilbane, Ferguson (Beattie 80).
Subs Not Used: Wright, Vaughan.

Booked: Arteta, Ferguson, Hibbert.

Goals: Ferguson 55.

Man Utd: Howard, Gary Neville, Ferdinand, Brown (Silvestre 72), Heinze, Fletcher (O'Shea 76), Keane, Scholes, Ronaldo, Rooney, van Nistelrooy.
Subs Not Used: Smith, Fortune, Carroll.

Sent Off: Gary Neville (72), Scholes (90).

Booked: Scholes, Ronaldo.

Att: 37,160

Ref: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

It was an amazing match and as we spoke to Andy and Tommy afterwards, we even got the chance to meet the Everton players and they had signed my autograph book.

As we left Goodison and headed back to Tommy and Anna’s for the night, just before I shut my eyes, I looked at the picture in the frame behind me above the bed I was sleeping in…it was Duncan Ferguson, I could not believe it!

And it was ten years before big Dunc did the same thing to United in a 1-0 win as a powerful header then gave Everton the win and the big man celebrated by taking his top off and running half the length of Goodison!

Before heading home the next day, Tommy took us round Liverpool and to some fantastic places and the beautiful cathedral.

I have said more than once to these guys that they have been three angels sent from heaven to bring me back to their beautiful city, they know why and Liverpool as a city will always have a special place in my heart.

I can’t believe it is ten years since I was last at Goodison, hopefully it won’t be much longer till I am back in that great city watching the Toffee’s once again.

Even though I am not there in person, I will be there in spirit and I hope that the sold out signs are up for the visit of Villarreal on Sunday 2nd August (kick –off 3pm)

The Prices are as follows £20 for adults and £10 for Under -16’s and Over 65’s

Sean Graham

Follow on Twitter @FeaturesSean


"I am just a guy who has over 40 years of memories of watching various clubs and matches since my Dad took me round the grounds in Glasgow each week before we went to meet my Mum after work and we always went to the Berni Inn where I had scampi and chips !

 

From watching Aberdeen, Celtic, Rangers, Partick Thistle, Maryhill juniors and Scotland as well as watching Everton and Manchester United, I have plenty of memories to share for fans to hopefully enjoy and remember."

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