Tales from End to End
The Kiwi’s Tale
by Maureen Evason
Hello. I’m John’s sister and I have been living in New Zealand for about 37 years.
John has persuaded me to write a tale from “down under” and so I thought that I would tell you a couple of things about John that you may not know.
We were born and raised in Liverpool. John has always been the older and wiser(?) sibling. He is kind and considerate and can become incredibly enthusiastic about new ventures… such as LEJOG.
When we were young John was introduced to the game of Monopoly. He was very keen, but could not afford to buy his own game. Undeterred, he spent hours and hours meticulously cutting, writing and colouring all those little cards and banknotes. He made the big board too. Guess who was press-ganged into playing at home? He didn’t even let me win! Such was his enthusiasm!
Several years later came his “running years”. He would put on his sneakers and don his little blue shorts with the white stripes down the sides; leave the house, slamming the front door behind him (amazingly only shattering the glass in it twice) and proceed to jog around the streets of our neighbourhood. This was in the days when NOBODY else did this; but John was oblivious to the astonished stares of people he passed. He was going to keep fit!! To my mortification, this regime lasted for some considerable time.
As you may know, Liverpool has many good footballers and there has always been great rivalry between its two teams: Liverpool and Everton.
One day John came home from school and proclaimed to our father, a staunch Liverpool supporter, “Dad, I’ve been converted! Liverpool is not the best football team – Everton is!” He’d been given this revelation by his pal, David, who was captain of the school team.
From that day onwards, ours was a divided household, never to see the solidarity and unity that an all-Red or all-Blue family might expect to share. No mature counselling or fatherly advice would ever persuade my brother that he had been misled.
So John grew up a loyal, enthusiastic fan of The Blues. I remember all too well his deafening football “rattle” that he would practise twirling at home (until it was banned from inside the house); the blue and white rosette (he still has it, treasured in its special box) and the blue bob hat mum knitted specially for him (Nancy inadvertently lost this bit of dog-eared memorabilia). He was, and still is, an ardent Evertonian.
Naturally my dad and brother did not go to watch football together, but there was one occasion when they did. It was a Liverpool-Everton derby game at Anfield. Somehow dad had procured two tickets for the Kop (the Liverpool supporters’ end of the ground) and he and John stood together on the packed terraces. What a game! Everton (Blue) trounced Liverpool (Red) 4-0; but John, the only Blues’ supporter standing amongst literally thousands of Reds’ fans, did not dare to utter even a whisper of a cheer! Yet John tells me that after the game, my father was the epitome of the good sportsman, without a grudge or excuse or word of malice. It was all incredibly good-humoured.
Years later, John, married with four young children and living in York, took his three eldest to a local League cup game. York City had been drawn to play at home to Everton. A decade earlier, York had played Liverpool in the FA Cup two years running and John, of course, had been delighted to join his children and enthuse about the possibility of York beating The Reds! Now came a much sterner test. Would John be able to emulate our father’s behaviour from years ago?? He tells me, and I must believe him, that he went genuinely intending to remain neutral. However, after the first ten minutes he couldn’t stop himself… he was supporting his old favourite, Everton (who subsequently lost 3-2 in what was a cracking game, points out one of John’s sons). Later he admitted how deep-rooted his allegiance had been.
I hope that I’ve been able to give you a glimmer of my brother’s almost life-long enthusiasm for Everton F.C.
I have offered him a challenge (that I know he will not like doing!):
If he wears a Liverpool hat and shirt, NOT covered by a mac or jacket or the Christian Aid tabard for a whole day, then I will sponsor him for the LEJOG walk.
I’m confident that John is enthusiastic enough about Christian Aid to take up the challenge, but I rely on Nancy to verify his success.
I am delighted to be able to support John and Nancy on their venture. Their faith and enthusiasm will get them there.
Maureen Evason (nee Eckersley)