Karl with his dad in the pub. Circa 1987, Karl still with a jaw line.
Karl Coppack, AKA The Cenci from The Anfield Wrap, remembers the game that all fans never forget. The game you can still hear and smell. The game that’s a rite of passage and a point of no return. His first game with his dad.
11th November 1978.
In eighteen long, tortuous days I’m going to be ten years old. The big one. Double digits. I am now grown up.
My Dad has promised to take me to a match. I am beyond excited. I have waited for this moment ever since my uncle explained the 1974 World Cup final to me. I’ve checked the Echo and it looks like 11th November is the day.
And it’s Everton. Everton v Chelsea.
I don’t support Everton. I support Liverpool. The European Champions. My Dad does not. There is an agenda in play.
But it’s a game. I get to see Bob Latchford, for whom I already had a sneaky regard for but would never voice that in public. I’d certainly see Duncan McKenzie who could jump over a Mini, which is as magical as it gets for a nine year old. I had no interest in his football prowess at all. I’m half hoping there’ll be a Mini on the pitch before kick off. I am to be disappointed.
Karl, with his dad and his sister. Circa 1974.
But the day was still great. I got to sit with my Dad and drink weak soup. The pitch looked magnificent and the kits, kits you couldn’t buy, looked marvellous. Ray Wilkins played for Chelsea. Back then he was known as ‘Butch’. This amused me tremendously. It still does. There was talk of a player called John Bumstead! I was nine years old! That was the funniest thing I’d ever heard.
Everton won 3-2 despite being 1-0 and 2-1 down. Martin Dobson got two and Duncan McKenzie, sans Mini, got one for Chelsea. Everyone seemed happy. I just wanted more and more of it.
As a birthday treat I was allowed a fish with my chips on the way back, rather than the usual fishcake which my sister and I were always given on Saturday nights. I felt grown up. At 10, fishcakes turn to fish. A rite of passage.
It was a big day for my Dad too. He was taking his only son, his eldest child to his first Everton game. He was 33 at the time and it meant something to him.
‘SWEARING AND LAUGHTER’
‘Did you enjoy that, son?’
‘Yeah. Can we go again?’
‘Yes, of course. I think United at home is the next game so maybe not that one but…’
‘No, I mean can we see Liverpool next?’
His face fell and the bus ride home was quieter. He’d tried but failed. My heart belonged elsewhere but a bond had been formed. I liked the noise, the smell, the anger, the joy and the heady soup of swearing and laughter. I wanted more. I got more.
This week I was at Fulham v Liverpool. It felt exactly the same. Exactly the same.
Karl is a former writer for Through The Wind and Rain and a whole host of others who are desperate for copy. Troubled with the modern world, grimaces at ball playing centre halves and frowns at fancy-dan back heels. Apt to talk about the magnificence of Ray Kennedy wherever possible.
Can you remember the first football match with your dad? Or is there another time when you bonded with him that you’ve never forgotten? Or maybe you wish there had been a moment like Karl’s with his dad, but it never happened? We’d love to hear about those mile-stone moments with dads. Tell us in a tweet or a comment.
Also from Karl on insideMAN:
- You can shove your office newspeak right up your memory hole
- What does Ralf Little’s tweet to Clarke Carlisle tell us about attitudes to male suicide?
- Being forced to leave the job you hate…
- Men, it’s time to stop suffering in silence