Watford 2-3 Everton was the last away game I went to before the country went into lockdown and we all endured some of the most challenging 18 months of our lives. Things are starting to pick back up now, and the thought of being able to travel around the country and watch the team I love play again was music to my ears. Seeing all those familiar faces, who live and breathe The Toffees, and hearing the minority of the crowd make the most noise didn’t fail to put a smile back on my face.
I didn’t go to Leeds a few weeks back, so my first away day was a trip down south. Brighton, who’d started well would be a good test for a team who have been riddled with problems all summer. An ex-Kopite in charge, £1.7m spent on 3 players, our best player taking to Twitch to tell the world he wasn’t going to play for us again, the digital season ticket farce, etc. But we’d started the season surprisingly well, so I wasn’t massively dreading it as I have done in the past. The only thing I was dreading was sitting in the back of a car for a combined 10 hours to watch 90 minutes of football. We’ve all heard this story before. You travel, you stand there, Everton play awful, the drive home feels like a lifetime. Not today, cheers.
The service station on the M40 was chocker and the queue for Gregg’s was longer than my list of reasons why Benitez being manager was a bad idea, so no Gregg’s = terrible start to the day. Surely not a sign of things to come?
We got there in around 4 hours and parked in a lay by about a mile away from the ground. The walk down was the most scenic matchday stroll I’ve ever embarked on. Taking in the views and the scenery and the warmth from the sun made it feel as if we were going to sit on the beach or in the beer garden all day, not to the match. It definitely beats walking up Goodison Road with the aromas of a mixture of horse shit and the chippy.
If you’ve been to the AMEX, you’ll know that there isn’t much there, apart from a few quaint houses and a shithole pub that refused us entry as we were away fans (as if we were going to start scraping with Brighton fans) so a taxi into the nearest place with a pub and a bit of life was on the cards. We sat outside an empty pub, and after paying £17.90 for 3 pints, I soon realised why we were the only ones in there on a Saturday afternoon.
The taxi back to the ground was a weird one. The driver showed us a book of martial arts and self-defence routines that he’d published and told us that it was in all Waterstones (other book stores are available). He didn’t look the type with the ability to batter you, but we took no chances and read through it.
First half bored me a bit, so we went for a pint, and in typical fashion, I missed Gray’s goal. And the ale was Fosters so it made missing it feel even worse.
Second half was sound though. I thought we looked really comfortable on and off the ball and we limited Brighton to very few chances. There aren’t many teams in the league that can look that confident away at Brighton because they’re a very solid team, especially at home. The second goal came from the penalty spot as Allan, who was playing like the Allan I thought we’d signed, and not the one that the tea-drinking, pasta guzzling snake had signed, played a through ball to Coleman and the defender bundled him to the deck.
Richarlison picked the ball up and seemed confident he was going to take it, despite Calvert-Lewin scoring at Leeds a week earlier and then massively saw his arse when he was told that there was absolutely no chance he was taking it. Maybe if we were 4-0 up then fair enough, but you’d have thought he’d have wanted what was best for the team and not his goal tally. Calvert-Lewin lashed it into the bottom corner to make it 2-0 and 3 in 3 for him this season.
We saw the game out and kept the clean sheet that we deserved and everyone was made up. Not a bad way to get back into watching Everton on the road. The only thing between me and Match of the Day was 275 miles of dreaded motorways. I’d have thought that after years of hopping around grounds, I’d be used to it, but I really couldn’t be arsed. We stopped at the only service station in the country with a pub on it, but it was a Wetherspoons, so I didn’t go near it because they’re all shitholes. Whoever authorised the idea of a pub being on the service station of the M40 had definitely just come out of the pub himself, because that to me, is a recipe for disaster.
I made it home a whole 15 hours after I left, just in time for the highlights on the telly, but it was worth it. It felt so good to be back doing the thing I love the most, and I’ve got the bug again, so I’ll be finding a way of being at QPR for a League Cup game in a few weeks.
Up the skint Toffees.