When SBNation said this was to be ‘moments that made you cry’ week I’m sure the first instinct for Evertonians was to let out an ironic laugh.
Everton, after all, make us want to cry most weeks.
Whether it’s through joy, pride, despair or disappointment, following the Toffees is rarely dull.
I’ve picked out three examples during my time as an Evertonian that has brought a tear to the eye of many a fan, all for different reasons, though all sum up why we keep coming back for more.
Tears of fear, tears of relief, tears of anger - Everton 1-1 Coventry - May 10 1998
One of the most surreal afternoons I have ever experienced as an Everton fan, as the team dangled over the precipice only to survive by the skin of their teeth.
For those who don’t know, Everton went into the final game of the 1997-98 season in the relegation zone, one point behind Bolton in 17th.
While the Toffees hosted coventry at Goodison, Bolton were away at Chelsea, who had a European Cup Winners’ Cup final to prepare for just three days later.
As the two games edged towards their conclusions, Everton were still leading 1-0 courtesy of Gareth Farrelly’s early strike, though they had missed the chance to double their advantage when Nick Barmby’s penalty was saved by Magnus Hedman. Bolton meanwhile were losing 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. As things stood, Everton were safe by two points.
Then, in the 89th minute, David Burrows’ hanging cross was met by Dion Dublin, whose header squirmed through the palms of Thomas Myhre and into the net. Everton were still safe on goal difference as things stood, but one goal for Bolton - or another for Coventry - and it was all over.
I was in the Gwladys Street that day, which had been stunned into silence. But I vividly remember looking around me to see some fans bursting in tears. It was if we were already relegated.
Then, a roaring wave ripped through the stands. Chelsea had scored again, 2-0, game over. But another Coventry goal and Everton would still go down. The rain began to fall from the menacingly grey skies. The mood was dark and foreboding. Was this it?
Then, in an instant, the mood was transformed. The referee’s whistle brought a rush of instant relief, and those in tears around me were tears of joy, rather than despair. I joined the rush of fans who raced onto the pitch in celebration, though those celebrations quickly turned to anger as then-chairman Peter Johnson bore the brunt of the supporters’ ire.
We were well and truly put through the mill, a complete kaleidoscope of emotions. But it was a day I will never forget.
Tears of euphoria - Everton v Man Utd (FA Cup semi-final) April 22 2009
Given we’ve gone 25 long years with a trophy (that sentence alone is enough to make you cry) there is little to choose from when it comes to ‘glory’. But the FA Cup semi-final shootout win over Man Utd is the clear standout. But, for me, it wasn’t just for the sheer nail biting drama of penalties itself, it was what happened shortly afterwards.
Once the initial burst of ecstasy following Phil Jagielka’s winning spot-kick had eased, Z-cars began to be played over the stadium’s speakers. The famous drumbeat triggered a fresh injection of euphoria amongst the blue hordes, dancing to the famous tune of Johnny Todd.
It was a brief glimpse as to what will happen when we do lift a trophy again, and leaves me lamenting why we have had to wait so long to do so.
Tears of pride, tears of solidarity - Everton 2-2 Newcastle September 17 2012
I’ve chosen this game not for what happened on the pitch, but for what occurred before it.
The previous week, an independent panel cleared Liverpool fans of any blame for the tragedy that occurred at Hillsborough in 1989.
After 23 years, the families of the 96 victims had finally began to uncover the truth.
Everton had stood proudly alongside their neighbours throughout. You cannot dispute the fierce rivalry between the sides that, occasionally, spills into rancour. But in moments like this, there was nothing but solidarity.
Before kick-off against Newcastle two young mascots, one in Everton blue, the other in Liverpool red, walked to the centre circle. On their backs were the numbers ‘9’ and ‘6’.
The players joined the youngsters in the centre of the pitch as The Hollies’ ‘He Ain’t Heavy’’ played over the loud speakers. A cover of the song would be released in December to raise funds for charities associated with the Hillsborough, claiming the coveted Christmas number one spot.
Accompanying the song was a montage of the victims on the two big screens, while the players, mascots, staff and fans stood and applauded.
It was an incredibly moving moment and showed, despite all the emotional capital we expend on what happens on the pitch, it’s the emotional bonds off it that matter most.