I was lucky to realise a boyhood Everton dream earlier this month and play a match at Goodison Park. As part of Everton Former Players’ Foundation’s annual Play on the Pitch game, I joined around 25-30 other Evertonians, and former Blues Stuart Barlow and Gareth Farrelly, for a match on the famous turf.
I was on the home team, which meant we used the first team dressing room, and of course, wore the Royal Blue of Everton. It really was a day when you get a taste of what it would be like to be a Premier League footballer.
Waiting in the holding area in one of the Club’s suites before we were called down to the changing rooms, I caught up with Farrelly, a man I had watched 15 years prior playing a huge role in maintaining the Toffees’ top-flight status with his stunning goal against Coventry City. Now, I was set to play against him – a man who is currently studying at university.
After getting the call, we made our way down to the home team dressing room to find our kits laid out and names on the back of our shirts, with our chosen squad numbers, hanging on the wall. It was all a bit surreal. I proudly put my ‘Appleby 23′ jersey on and me and the rest of the lads then got ready for the match.
Trying my best to take every part of the experience in, the match officials rung the bell to tell us it was time to line up in the tunnel. If any nerves were going to happen that day, that was the moment. I felt a few butterflies, and goosebumps, when Everton’s famous Z-Cars tune began and we marched out onto the playing surface with our friends and family cheering on in the background.
It was brilliant to be out there in the Blue of Everton, and after a shaky start (we were 3-0 down at half time), we won the match 4-3. I managed to score a left-foot volley at the Gwladys Street end (our second goal), and get an assist for our next, so I went home happy!
It was a brilliant day overall, and most importantly, we raised a lot of money for the Foundation. If you’re reading this and would like to enquire about taking part in next year’s event, contact Philip Ross: firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s certainly a day to remember.
Everton Former Players’ Foundation Website Journalist, Stuart Appleby