I was born in Warrington, at the time it was part of Lancashire eventually moving borders to become part of Cheshire in the late '70's. On the banks of the Mersey Warrington is 20 miles east of Liverpool and 20 miles west of Manchester. Right bang in the middle. Eventually the family moved to Lowton which again is almost equidistant from the two larger metropolis's of Scousers and Mancs. I went to primary and secondary school in Newton-Le-Willows (home to Rick Astley!) which is part of the borough of St Helens in Merseyside. Given these locations you can extrapolate the influence of soccer in the area and of course the four major clubs - Manchesters United and City, Liverpool and of course Everton.
When I was born Everton won the league. I don't remember too much about that of course, but given The Beatles were also Number One ("From Me To You') maybe it was a glimpse of my eventual destiny. From 1964 - 1970 the other League Champions were Liverpool/United/Liverpool/United/City/Leeds/Everton. An indication (Leeds aside) that the Northwest was a true football stronghold. Add in 5 appearances in FA Cup Finals during that time also.
In 1970 when I was 7 Everton won the league again. I can distinctly remember one summer evening walking home from a kick about at a local pitch telling my young self that it was time to pick a team. I had friends that were Liverpool, United and City fans. I decided I was going to be a Blue. Actually, I was going to be a Blue because the final choice was between City and Everton.
To seal the deal I was on holidays in Ireland and my folks left me and my siblings with our grandmother and they went off for a weekend. When they came home they had brought me back a football kit. It was actually navy blue, but close enough.
19th April 1975. Everton vs Sheffield United. My first game at Goodison Park. My Dad and a mad Blue neighbour John Carroll headed off to L4. Everton went 2-0 up, goals by Gary Jones and David Smallman. My idol Bob Latchford played that day. But, in a turn of events that has become more than a common occurrence for Evertonians, Sheffield fought back and won 2-3. Set the tone for the rest of footballing life. Tony Currie played for Sheffield that day, and he was one of the most wonderfully gifted footballers I ever saw.
My love of all things Everton continued to grow, from my first ever pin up, Joe Royle, the dynamic duo of Bob Latchford & Duncan McKenzie, Mick Lyons, Dave Watson through to Duncan Ferguson. I've been able to tell Howard Kendall "thank you" for the wonderful years in the mid to late 80's when either Everton or Liverpool were Champions or cup winners. I was at the first ever all Merseyside Final, the League Cup in 1984 and I was at the next all Merseyside final the 1989 FA Cup Final (the 'Hillsborough' final).
Its been an almost 50 year journey. Dreadful lows (although no relegations, just!) and a few significant highs. There's a saying that you're born an Evertonian, it's in your blood. You're picked, you're anointed. I'm too sure about any of that, all I CAN tell you is that it's certainly character building. There's only two points of reference that I have carried with me throughout my life, one is Bowie the other is Everton.
I'll hardly be changing allegiances anytime soon. I've had to stand by and watch Liverpools domination of Europe in the 70's and 80's. See United take the mantle through the 90's and 00's. In more recent times, watching City become a dominant force. I always say, if there are two queues for anything and I'm in one of them, join the other one.
Nil Satis Nisi Optimum baby. Never be satisfied by nothing but the best. That's rang hollow for nearly three decades. Maybe I'll see a last hurrah from the Toffee's in my lifetime yet. I won't be holding my breath.