The Church of St Luke The Evangelist – better known as St Luke’s – is famously nestled between the Glwadys Street and Main stands. Whilst the church hall volunteers dispense pre-match cuppas to the Blues faithful on the ground floor, upstairs a dedicated band proclaims the gospel of St Domingo. For it is here that EFC Heritage Society (EFCHS), founded in 2008, has been welcoming home and away supporters for the past two seasons.
The banners adorning the fence outside proclaim Everton to be The First Kings of Anfield. As you then ascend the stairs you’re immersed in a sea of articles and images depicting events in Everton’s 138-year history. Many hours of preparation go into the matchday offering and much of the credit for these displays goes to Paul Wharton, Richie Gillham and researcher Billy Smith (curator of the wonderful Blue Correspondent website which transcribes newspaper reports dating back to the club’s infancy).
There is often a theme to the displays exhibited. For the recent Stoke City match we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Alan Ball joining Everton. Visitors enjoyed seeing photos of the great man plus one of his England caps. Former left-winger Ronny Goodlass was on hand to promote an Alan Ball DVD in aid of his Health Through Sport charity, whilst tickets were on sale for the Ball of Fire play. A special edition Bally’s Boots t-shirt designed by Toffee Art for EFCHS was flying off the shelves as were the free “Alan Ball – 50 years a Blue” badges. Thomas Regan’s Toffee Art stall is always a big draw with his unique range of tee-shirts, coasters and much more.
Visits by former players are becoming an increasingly regular occurrence. John Bailey and George Telfer were present on the most recent occasion – the latter supporting the Everton in the Community team. The Ruleteros Society celebrates the links to our Chilean namesakes – a recently imported consignment of replica shirts was selling fast. Everton Supporters Trust is a regular attendee at St Luke’s, as is Phil Thomson, selling his book: The Holy Trinity and Beyond. Future book launch events include one for EFCHS founder David France’s Everton Crazy tome.
An extensive range of vintage matchday programmes and team-sheets is on sale by the Society, as are books, posters and other items of memorabilia. Bren Connolly always has some of his artefacts on display and sells items – many of them player-autographed. Crawford Miles, the Society’s sound and vision guru, lays on a presentation of goal footage from previous encounters with the day’s opposition.
The Society fosters close links with historians at other football clubs and they kindly share with us images of players who have turned out for both clubs. It is always a pleasure to welcome supporters from other clubs as well as Toffees visiting from far afield.
This season the Society has expanded its pre-match presence. Paul Kelly, aided by young volunteers, mans our stall at the Matchday Hub located in the Everton Free School on Spellow Lane. So, if you have not visited us before why not call by in either location? We are typically open to visitors from two-and-a-half hours before kick-off to thirty minutes before. You can keep tabs on us via twitter (@Evertonheritage) and Facebook (theefcheritagesociety) whilst our website: www.efcheritagesociety.com is due for a relaunch in the coming months.
Photo credits: Rob Eagleton and Rob Sawyer.