This is the start. Grass. Green blades that make the foundation of my life. This is Goodison Park, or heaven; home. This is my dream. I take my steps onto the ground, trembling like a building in an earthquake as my heart is pulled about; a tug of war between fear and excitement. I have grown up here, in the stands. My grandfather, my father, my brothers, and now me. But I’m playing here.
I take a seat on the bench, my team mates talking to me, but the crowd, the occasion, the pride, all deafen me as I am dazed by the floodlights, the eerie feeling of making out every single face in the crowd. Time passes, as the players do, and my thoughts are broken sporadically by the roar of the crowd, three times, but one quarter is just as loud as the rest of them, and their roars are to follow. A roar. A roar. A roar.
The score is level, but I’m not. I can barely focus. The time passes quickly. The ball goes out, a board goes up. An announcer.
“Coming on, number twenty, Wesley Powell”. My heart explodes out of my chest, I shake hands with the man I’m replacing, and I’m on.
I run out, and zone in. I’m watching the ball, like an eagle watches a mouse. One of the opposition tries to beat me, and I stick a foot out. It catches the ball and I run. Another announcement is made.
“There is to be two minutes’ added time”. I know what needs to be done. I pass between myself and my teammates – laser-guided passes like missiles in their accuracy that allow me to run forward.
I’m not fast, but I’m aware, and move into the box unnoticed. A cross comes in, and I see the ball. Leaping at it like a dolphin, I stick my neck forward, and the ball pings off my head like there’s a force field around it and time stops. The crescendo-ing crowd’s screams stop dead. I’m staring their keeper in the eyes; he knows he’s messed up, and the ball spins slowly in the air, teasing me with its sluggishness, but it trickles across the line; the crowd spirals out of control. I sprint to the corner and clothesline the flag. I scream my lungs out.
“He’s one of our own…” is being chanted throughout the ground. Tears stream my face, and then I return back to restart the game. But it doesn’t last long before the final whistle, and the rapturous thundering of the blue Evertonian wave restarts. People start to leave, and as I head down the tunnel, one last announcement.
“The final score: Everton 4, Stoke 3”, and that is the confirmation of the end of the start of my dream.