Day 34

Steve Lomas from BNI Scorpio Birkenhead introduced me to Tranmere Rovers, Everton and Liverpool Football Clubs. Yes, in the course of just three hours I had been welcomed to all three of these great clubs. Thanks and respect to Steve …..and BNI, of course.

The day started badly. Steve knocked on my door about 5am to say that his wife had been really ill during the night and that he was going to have to miss BNI and take her to A&E. My thoughts are with you and I wish you a prompt and full recovery.

From there everything went fabulously. Steve had me at Tranmere Rovers at 9am and on the stroke of 9, I was greeted by both Tim Roberts (website and programme editor) but also their manager, Les Parry! Les is “pure football” and I could have happily spent all day with him. He took the Micheal out of my love affair with Gillingham and remembered some great tussles we have had. In true Scouse style he only seemed to remember the ones they won! It was a great thrill to speak to Les and I was disappointed that I could not accept the coffee he offered as I had to get to Anfield. A true character. Pure class!

Now, let’s be clear as a Man United fan since 1979 I would be less than honest if I said that Anfield and Goodison park were my favourite grounds. That said, I totally respect the passion that Liverpudlians have for their two clubs which are both institutions in the proud city. You can almost smell, taste, feel, touch the passion as well as hear and see it. I have total respect for all of that.

Liverpool’s Steve Newton offered me a museum and stadium tour which has to be a highlight of the journey. The impact that Liverpool FC has had on the city is evident from every item in their impressive museum. The passion that the Liverpool fans have for their club is equally evident from the same items. A super hour that I will not forget. Sadly, all good things have to come to an end but today it just got even better if that is possible.

Five minutes after leaving Anfield I was at the gates of Everton where Val Lovell welcomed me like a long-lost brother. She took me through the stadium and introduced me to Bob the groundsman and her other colleagues. Now, groundsmen are not known for love-affairs with people nearing their pitches never mind standing on. They have an almost sexual affection for their hallowed turf but Bob was different. A true Scouser with the wonderful Scouse humour who was happy to be photo-ed with me and for me to tread on his beloved grass. I have to say that both the pitch and the stadium are looking good. Will the team match up to these next season? Like all football fans the world over, Bob was sure that next season was going to be the “one” for his team. Good Luck to Everton, Tranmere and Liverpool Football Clubs next season. Your hospitality does Merseyside and the Wirral proud!

Dixie Dean

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