On Saturday April 17th, the club hosted their Everton USA Live event for supporters in America and Canada. The event was hosted by familiar face Darren Griffiths, who made the viewers feel a sense of togetherness despite being several miles away. I had the pleasure of being put on the “fan wall” in a Zoom call with hundreds of other eager supporters hailing from all over the map, including California, Oregon, Illinois, and even Nova Scotia. Darren prompted everyone to turn their cameras on and give out a big wave as our faces were put up on display behind him.
The event started out with a video message from Big Dunc, which drew many smiles and cheers from the fans. The jubilation soon turned to some hands-over-eyes and faces of despair as the highlights from our 2-2 draw with Spurs was shown on screen.
Mason Holgate then hopped on to talk about his love for America (including Las Vegas, which he is itching to get back to) as well as the impact Everton’s overseas supporters.
“You don't really realize the cameras are on when you’re playing.
“For me, I’m just playing football.
“So to think that there’s people on the other side of the world watching me play football is a little bit crazy and is something that you never really get used to.
“It’s great for us, Everton, and the game.”
Live now with @Everton Director of Football... Marcel Brands! #EvertonUSALive https://t.co/7XwBKtIuMM— Everton in the USA (@EvertonInUSA) April 17, 2021
Marcel Brands then joined the show to answer questions from fans, including myself (Marcel’s favorite American destination is Florida, in case you were wondering). Marcel was also asked the million-dollar question about a future USA preseason trip that has been on the minds of many supporters since the club’s last visit to the States in 2013.
“We did it in the past and we are absolutely looking forward to see if we can organize it again.
“We know we have a lot of fans there and we’re starting football camps there. So it’s absolutely something that we will consider and are looking forward to coming back to the USA.”
Brands also touched on the possibility of Séamus Coleman staying with the club after his playing career is over (hopefully not anytime soon), which was a pleasure to hear after seeing the impact that Leighton Baines has had in his new role so far.
Everton Women goalkeeper Sandy MacIver also joined the party to talk about her time at the club, as well as her time in America after her graduation from Clemson University in South Carolina last year.
“Being at Clemson was the first time I’d been in a professional life environment.
“We were training then just as much as I train at Everton now.
“On top of that, you had four or five classes a week which you had to balance in.
“Having to balance those two really big parts of my life together at the same time helped me when I was thinking about the future and being a professional footballer as my ultimate goal.”
Now on #EvertonUSALive... it's @clemsonwsoccer alumni @SandyMacIver_ and @EvertonWomen boss @WillieKirk! https://t.co/7XwBKtIuMM— Everton in the USA (@EvertonInUSA) April 17, 2021
We also heard from Everton Women manager Willie Kirk, who talked about the possibility of signing American players.
“We were close to signing one [American player] in January and it fell through.
“She chose to go back to America rather than stay in Europe.
“We have a couple [players] on the radar and time will tell if anything will come to fruition.”
The highlight of the day came from a lengthy chat with Tim Howard. Howard talked about his love for the Blues, his top-five saves for the club, that penalty shootout against Manchester United, and more.
“One of the things that fills me with so much joy is sharing American Evertonians’ passion with them.
“Listening to them talk about a moment; the first time they went to Goodison, the first time they bought their first kit, a goal, a save.
I look forward to those conversations now more than I ever have.”
TIM HOWARD IN THE HOUSE!— Everton in the USA (@EvertonInUSA) April 17, 2021
Well, his house. Dialling in live to #EvertonUSALive - it's the one and only @TimHowardGK! https://t.co/7XwBKtIuMM
Additional guests included Abdoulaye Doucouré (he says his injury rehab is going well, don’t worry), Men in Blazers host and Evertonian Roger Bennett, newly appointed international strategist and consultant Jurgen Mainka, and more.
The roughly five-hour event was capped off by a Kahoot trivia quiz on any and everything Everton (say that five times fast) to win a signed kit. I was happy to finish 15th out of 70 or so contestants and I’m looking forward to improving on those numbers next time around.
A special thanks to Darren, the club, and everyone else involved for the tremendous experience. I left with an overwhelming sense of optimism for Everton’s future in America, and after a well-orchestrated and successful event, I feel that such hope is only a short ways away.
Watch the full event with all the interviews below.