By Michael Blakey
A quick google will tell you that the 9th July is a somewhat insignificant date in history. Unless you were Nicole Brown or part of her family, as it is the date Mr and Mrs Simpson welcomed “The Juice” into the world.
However I believe this date in 2017 will be significant for us in the future.
For me it started with rising from bed with one of those half hangovers, you know the ones were you’ve drunk a bit too much but it wasn’t really worth it. I’d been with the wife to our friends’ flat in the bright light of Prescot along with another couple the previous night. If you’re 30 plus and married you’ll know type of gathering. We picked up Sara and Tom – another early 30s lifelong Blue, on our way. “It’s happening” he stated doing away with the normal pleasantries. “I know mate….I just…I just don’t know what it is I’m feeling”. We got to Kat and Rob’s and immediately demand Sky Sports News be put on the telly. Rob, West Ham fan who moved up north with his Liverpool born wife a few years ago, obliged. We were fixated and hardly spoke until we were over ruled at 9pm when Love Island came on. The wife drove us home about 1am (we’re expecting in January so I’ve got a free taxi till then!) and I was smiling all the way back to Allerton a little worse for wear with that clip of him driving out of Finch Farm playing over and over in my head.
So I had to shake this fuzzy head and get into work. It was my weekend in the office, so a quick shower and into the car for my 30 minute commute to Haydock. Talk Sport reminds me of what had happened the night before. He was at Finch Farm. Driving out signing the autographs for the kids. It must be happening. But we are Everton. This was the first time I’d been alone to really allowed myself think about it. All the memories came flooding back. I was 18 when he broke into the team. I remember my dad saying: “It happened to me with Joe Royle, I was 18 when he broke into the team and I realised the dream was over, I’d never play for Everton”.
He was right but I didn’t care. This lad wasn’t Royle, he wasn’t Ball or Sharp or any of them he was going to be better than them, the best in the world, and the best thing of all – he was me, he knew, he knew how I felt and he was going to the top and he would take us with him. That season we finished 7th and we thought it was the start but May 2004 we finished 17th and that summer my hopes and dreams were crushed at the age of 20.
The love turned to pure hate. That FA Cup night match, the stuff we sang at him, he kissed their badge, we made Ferguson sub him before he was sent off. But as I grew older the hate turn to indifference. I understood why he left, I forgave the badge kiss and I respected what he has achieved
It’s said your body never lets you forget pain, so you learn, avoid it and never go through it again. So I think that’s why I have never allowed myself to fall for anyone quite like I did for him and why I always watch my footing outside my mum and dads back door in case I stand on a nail again. There’s been excellent, passionate and committed players since, but there’s never been anyone like him.
So I arrived at work and I have so many emotions running inside me but the overriding one still is excitement. And then it happens. I’m sitting at my desk alone in an office and there’s a notification on my phone. It’s that video. It doesn’t even get half way through and I’m in bits. I’m a 33 year old man, soon the be a father, crying my eyes out. They were tears of joy. But I have realised not only joy of his return, but joy of what in his 13-year absence we have become and more of where we might go.
We all know these are exciting but critical times for our club. I don’t know if he will be a success on the pitch and I can only hope Moshiri, Walsh and Koeman get it right. What has happened over the last year has made me dare to dream again. That 18 year old boy who thought we could be great again is now a 33-year-old man who is feeling the same.
For once I’d like the football Gods to shine on us. I pray to them. I don’t ask for much. All I want in life is a safe birth for my wife and a healthy happy baby………. and if it’s ok…………. just for once……….. look down on Everton and say: “It’s your turn now”. If you do and it’s a boy I promise I’ll call him Wayne.
So we remembered the name now remember the date. 9th July could be day it all started to fall into place.