: “Oh what a beautiful morning
: Oh what a beautiful day
: I’ve got a beautiful feeling
: Everything’s going my way”
: Saturday, 15th August 2015, barely a month
: since J O’R made the announcement, 4 days
: since Sharpe Peter delivered the final
: arrangements, and here we were, excitedly
: hurtling along the M6 after a restless,
: sleepless night, long luminous flames of red
: clouds stretching across the eastern skyline
: fronting a pale blue sky, pierced
: intermittently by the silver arrowed jet
: streams, soft mist rising from the
: surrounding countryside, the obligatory two
: magpies swirling, swooping and diving across
: the motorway, Debbie Harry blasting out “I’m
: in love with you, ooby doo” on the radio,
: and yes indeed, something told me, this was
: truly a beautiful day.
: A new season, a new boat trip for the Irish
: Toffees. The unbreakable hope of Evertonians
: and Toffee’s worldwide, rising to the beat
: of a new dawn. This is going to be our
: season and we are going to be there to help
: bring it on. Nothing’s gonna stop us now.
: Past the pockets of Blue assembling at the
: designated pick-up points at the Four Courts
: and Customs House, and on to the Irish
: Ferries terminal, park up safely and head
: out to meet and greet my fellow excited
: Blues. A short wait and our tour bus comes
: into view. Undefeated world champion driver,
: Paul, alights, beaming from ear to ear,
: pointing out our new environmentally
: friendly, wind powered bus to all and
: sundry. Peter Pieman and his Pie Girlettes,
: Áine and Lianna, looking resplendent in
: their colours, welcome us aboard, while ever
: present chairman, Big Dunc watches over
: proceedings with his usual benevolent calm.
: Big Dunc is especially proud at the start of
: this season, as he unfolds his new team.
: After a very successful close season, he
: introduces his new signings in Ally,
: Anthony, Richie and Marge. He has also
: promoted some of our most promising Junior
: Blues, Daniel. Dean and Shauna to the first
: team. Big Dunc believes he has put together
: a perfect blend of new blood, youth and
: experience in this new team, one that is
: ready for the long haul, capable of reaching
: the dizzy heights, of going all the way. We
: all know that teams including family members
: have extra special bonds and understanding,
: and Big Dunc has also included members of
: the Young and Younger O’Reilly’s, Healy’s
: and Murphy’s. One more important signing,
: already in the pipeline, and this team will
: be phenomenal. We all clapped and cheered,
: and eternal hope rose another couple of
: Peter Pieman finalises embarkation details
: with Irish Ferries, the signal goes up,
: Frankie distributes the first of the
: Werthers Toffee’s, and Paul rolls our
: packed, ecologically sustainable bus up the
: gangplank and on to deck five of the
: Ulysses. The clear blue sky now framing a
: waft of bright, white clouds waving us on
: our way.
: A swift climb up the Sapphire Stairs and we
: are shortly positioned in our favourite
: position on the front starboard side. Peter
: Pieman dishes out our free Hughie’s Big
: Breakfast vouchers, and we are all thrilled
: to see the great man himself on board,
: ensuring quality control is as high as ever.
: The breakfast has become a real highlight
: and staple diet of our tours, and always
: prepares and fortifies us for the long day
: ahead. Off we head to Boylan’s Brasserie for
: our helpful servings, chatting excitedly
: about the new season, as we chomp on our
: Full Irish, or Full House, as it’s now
: Once our appetites are sated, we head back
: to our favourite spot, order a few drinks
: and chat animatedly as Tom doles out our
: match tickets. This time we were set for the
: Upper Bullens and were looking forward to
: our first visit there for a few seasons.
: The Clayton Gang pulled out their cards and
: took on all-comers once again. I tell you,
: the number of times we’ve seen confident,
: arrogant cardies approach that table, only
: to skulk sheepishly away as fast as you can
: say “Martinez”, just has to be seen to be
: believed. We could make money on this you
: know....if we play our cards right.
: Before we knew it, someone shouted “Land
: Ahoy” and soon, we were rolling down the
: gangplank and on to the Isle of Anglesea.
: The sun was shining so brightly we had to
: pull the curtains a bit. Big Dunc and Peter
: Pieman treated us to a sneak preview of
: tonights Rolling Thunder Revue, while J.O’R
: readied our latest and newest quiz.
: Finally, the 30 questions were handed out by
: Peter Pieman, Áine dished out the answer
: pencils in the all encompassing
: “thankfcukthefootballisbackquiz” Quiz. 10
: questions on Everton, 10 questions on sport
: and 10 general knowledge were chosen to
: separate the knowledgeable from the
: Tension and excitement rose, as everyone
: waited with bated breath to witness the
: shootout between Gary and Frankie. This was
: the super-heavyweight battle to beat all
: battles and the Claytons were taking bets on
: the winners…and losers.
: It seemed the air stilled, and the world
: fell silent as the bus rolled along the
: Welsh coastline, while tensions rose and
: confidence sapped within, before the last
: question was thrown out.
: Peter an Áine handed out the Golden Goal
: tickets and Shauna dispersed jellies and
: Pringles while we all drew breath. Finally,
: after what seemed like an interminable
: wait…..”and the winner is…Dave and
: Marge”….wow!!…what an unexpected
: upset….everyone completely taken by
: surprise…they weren’t even on the bookies
: list….and a large mountain shattering cheer
: rose up from the multitudes.
: This result gave hope to all men…and women…
: everywhere…“yes, we can“. Dave and Marge
: bounced excitedly up to the front of the bus
: to receive their well deserved prize, while
: Gary and Frankie sank dejectedly back in
: their seats. They both sportingly praised
: the new champions though and promised to be
: back next year.
: There was further excitement at the bottom
: of the table as Ally’s team tied with the
: Murphy’s. There was no way they could be
: separated, so they both ran up to collect
: their shiny new L Plates. Dean and Shauna
: won the best team name with “Quizlamic”,
: showing once again, that creativity and
: originality runs deepest in the younger set.
: They are one’s to watch for the future. You
: heard it here first.
: Jimmy ran around with more Werthers mints
: and Dorito’s and Jellies were also
: distributed once again. Some “soft” drinks
: were also spotted, but Big Dunc turned a
: blind eye.
: The bus seemed to be finding the Welsh Hills
: difficult to climb at one stage. Some
: concerned groans emanated from the erstwhile
: travellers, but Paul flicked his mechanism
: into gear and switched to turbo. Before we
: knew it, J.O’R was reading out the team news
: as we rolled into the Mersey Tunnel. We all
: groaned at 3 holding midfielders at home
: against Watford, and only Lukau up front.
: Baines was in as we entered the tunnel, but
: out as we exited. Nerves were beginning to
: They were rattling a bit more as we realised
: we were running about 30 minutes late and
: barely on time to reach Goodison for the
: start of the game. Our expert on all things
: Liverpool, Gary, moved to the front of the
: bus and took on the co-pilot roll, helping
: us to bypass some major traffic jams and get
: us down Goodison Road in jig time. A
: friendly steward allowed us to disembark
: close to the ground and we headed swiftly
: towards the Grand Old Lady.
: Time for a few match day programmes, badges
: and Everton Pies, we hurried excitedly to
: our seats. The atmosphere was electric as
: the crowd roared and sang the new season in.
: The pitch looked fabulous and there wasn’t
: one part of the stand that hadn’t received a
: coat of paint. The whole place was buzzing
: and looking fabulous.
: Game on and our beloved Blues started
: brightly, but it wasn’t long before we
: noticed signs of nervousness and rust.
: Tentative movements forward, only to break
: down and morph into nervous defence. Watford
: didn’t come to lie down and had our shaky
: defence in trouble with their slick passing
: and fast movement. Our new contract hero,
: James McCarthy, was having one of those
: stinkers from early on and then, wham, a
: Watford goal as Jags gives a poor ball away.
: We could see it happening from early on. In
: one fell swoop, we saw all our seasons hopes
: dissipate in a moment. Our bubble was burst,
: our hopes deflated. Same old, same old.
: We tried hard, huffed and puffed, forced
: Gomez into a couple of saves, had a few near
: misses, but to no avail. It was a very
: disappointing first half performance, but we
: disagreed with the boos of some sections of
: “supporters?” as the half-time whistle blew.
: Second half and there was a visible
: improvement. McCarthy was still having a
: stinker, but Coleman was lightning fast down
: the wing, frightening the Watford defence
: and sending in some great crosses, Galloway
: was improving with every step at left-back,
: Cleverly was shining in mid-field, Barkley
: growing in confidence and the newly
: introduced Kone, was proving a sharp foil to
: Lukaku’s thrusts.
: After a number of close chances, Kone lays a
: beautiful ball off to Barkley and we all
: rejoice as the ball hit’s the top corner of
: the net. Another Barkley wonder goal and we
: celebrate with the team. This was truly the
: start of it.
: Watford were not taking this though, and a
: few minutes later they made it 1-2, as they
: nutmegged Stones and banged a fierce shot
: past Howard. Oh no, not again, why does this
: always happen to us!?
: We were not giving up though, 4 minutes and
: Kone took on a delightful ball, pushed it
: through to Lukaku, ran on to take the return
: and buried it in the far corner. 2-2 and we
: were going all out for the win. The crowd
: willed it, we created some more chances, but
: couldn’t make the final breakthrough. The
: final whistle and 2-2 it ended. Our 3rd 2-2
: draw in a row on the first game of the
: We stayed around Goodison to savour the
: after match atmosphere. Some went to the
: Winslow, others to the Everton One shop, a
: few sampled the Blue Dragon fish n chips,
: and others went to the Park End to sample
: the last of the afternoon’s entertainments
: and see the players leaving. Some did all 4.
: The players took their time to sign
: autographs. It was especially great to see
: Coleman go the whole way around the waiting
: crowd, signing autographs and taking the
: time to chat with young supporters. He’s an
: all round top guy, a great ambassador for
: sport and Ireland.
: It was noticeable also, that Duncan
: Fergusons picture replaced that of Martinez
: on the side of the Park End. I know it was
: his testimonial last week, but was this a
: sign of change!?
: Paul picks us up at 6.30pm and drives us
: into Liverpool. We head to our own favourite
: spots and establishments. Some to Rigby’s,
: others to the Novatel, others to Matthew St
: to see the ocean of flowers left at the
: Cavern Club for the late, great Cilla Black,
: witness the revelling crowds and listen to
: the music.
: Liverpool One was buzzing and it was great
: to see the crowds and families out enjoying
: the sunshine. The small Chavasse Park at the
: top of the shopping area had a small
: festival going on with an open air stage and
: musical acts. An open air bar and lots of
: tables, seats and deckchairs were set up on
: the grass. Everyone was enjoying the summer
: sunshine. The Albert Dock was also busy and
: the many bars and restaurants were enjoying
: a fruitful night. Liverpool was at its very
: We all head back to Rigby’s for the 10.30pm
: pickup and it was a special time sitting in
: the open courtyard, having the chat and the
: craic with everyone. There was a great buzz
: and atmosphere around the place. This must
: be summer. Last orders and it was ready to
: return to the bus and head for Holyhead.
: Paul rolls the full bus out of Liverpool and
: we head for the A55 once more. Peter starts
: the Rolling Thunder Revue with his tales of
: strange goings on in faraway seaside towns.
: Duncan follows with his best known hit, the
: ever popular “Bare Necessities”. Gary
: tackled the best Everton songs and revived
: the great Squeeze classic “Kool for Kats”
: that had everyone rocking. The crowd was
: joining in with their own form of
: Motorway McDonalds and our last chance to
: stretch the legs before Holyhead. The coffee
: gave us renewed energy before we clambered
: back aboard. Big Dunc pulled a fast one and
: said he’d sing the full 365 verses of “Paddy
: McIldoo” unless he had a full participation
: of the journey men on our latest Revue. He
: wanted this to be the best ever.
: The great J.O’R stepped up with a snap of
: his new 8th album once removed of romantic
: tales of his summers in Dublin with his
: great love and his weakness for sandwiches
: and sausages. Hughie livened things up with
: his version of “Sweet Caroline” that had the
: bus waving and stomping. Not to be out done,
: Dean stepped up to the mic and we all
: thought it was Ed Sheeran on board. In fact,
: we still think it was Ed Sheeran!!
: Paul decided to go for broke and threw in a
: medley of Foo Fighters and Iron Maiden. Beat
: that y’all. By now the excitement was really
: mounting and Ally and his gang raised the
: stakes further by throwing in a rabble
: rousing “Bohemian Rhapsody”. We didn’t think
: it could be done, but when the Pie
: Girlettes, accompanied by Donna and Marge
: started hitting the high notes…..well, all I
: can say is, they left the Commitmentettess
: in the shade.
: The wind power was fading a bit on the hills
: again, but the big strong man, Mickey Harte,
: took over and got us up them hills.
: The only disappointment was that Quirphy
: failed to show again. The Clayton’s said
: they had been performing earlier in The
: Cavern but the crowd wouldn’t let them off
: the stage. They were probably on their 50th
: encore as we travelled. A visibly
: disappointed Big Dunc resolved to ensure
: that they would be exclusively booked for
: our Revue next time…no matter what it takes,
: no matter what it costs!!
: Big Dunc had even bigger problems to solve
: when the result of the Golden Goal had to be
: announced. There was controversy when people
: couldn't decide if it was the 11th, 12, 13th
: 14th or 15th min. Lots of head scratching,
: page turning, turning page later, Big Dunc
: pronounced that it was the 14th min and that
: Adam Clayton was the winner. Dave Russell
: was just beaten by a short head. Sky News
: took up the story and went with the 14th
: minute also.
: Before we knew where we were, we were under
: the lights of Holyhead, and rolling up the
: gangplank of the Ulysses. Up the Ruby Stairs
: this time and onto the top deck. Some tired
: travellers made for the reclining seats to
: grab some much needed sleep. Some grabbed
: some last minute deals in the duty free and
: others made for the bar to catch highlights
: of the days games and chat about our day.
: Gary regaled everyone with chilling,
: toe-curling stories of Miriam and the lost
: shoes. I tell you, no-one who heard those
: tales slept a wink on that journey.
: Anyway, all good days come to an end, 6.15
: am and we found our wind propelled vehicle
: rolling down the gangplank and onto Dublin
: soil. This time the sky was grey and cloudy,
: the wind was blowing and mist was rolling in
: across the river. However, spirits were
: still high in the tired but happy group, and
: we all talked excitedly and expectantly of
: the next trip. We had gained more happy
: memories to sustain us for many a year to
: Back to the cars and we all promised to be
: back. Big Dunc waited at the barrier to see
: us all safely out of the car park and on our
: way home. Debbie was on the radio again,
: “Ooh your hair is beautiful, ooh tonight,
: Atomic”…and yes, that’s the word for this
: boat trip….”Atomic”. It was simply
: brilliant. We'll leave the hair for another
: Thanks once again to the IT committee who
: worked so hard to arrange it, and make sure
: we had a safe and enjoyable trip. Duncan,
: Joe, Peter, Tom all deserve special mention.
: How ye kept the cost down in the current
: Euro/Sterling climate is astounding. To our
: special driver, Paul, what can we
: say….you’re the man.
: And all the crew and fellow travellers.
: Thanks for a great weekend and looking
: forward to seeing you all again real soon.
: Atomic….de de der deng!!!
: Come On You Blues