The Everton Hall of Fame returned to the calendar after an 8 year break in style on Friday night as over 300 Evertonians raised the roof of the Hilton Hotel in Liverpool.
Previously hosted at The Adelphi Hotel, these events would be the first evening fixture most Everton fans looked for as they turned over the calendars they got for Christmas on New Year’s Day.
Staff at the Hilton may have been forgiven for thinking they’d seen Evertonians at our most noisy when Tony Bellew held his pre-fight press conference there ahead of his duel with David Haye, but they hadn’t seen anything yet!
The room, filled to the rafters with Evertonians, erupted as the names of their heroes were read aloud, and then once more when the Bomber made an appearance ahead of being presented with the first of five “Everton Proud” awards.
Dr France, who couldn’t attend the Hall of Fame this year due to ill health, has held a long belief that there should be a “Hall of Fame of Evertonians” and this year, put a plan into action that would recognise the first five entrants.
Bellew was joined by Joe Anderson – Mayor of Liverpool – who received his award on behalf of the City council for their assistance with the proposed move to Bramley Moore Dock, but was perhaps a little more reserved in his comments than some had expected.
Lyndon Lloyd, from the excellent Toffeeweb.com was presented with his award for the way he has reported on Everton from the States for the best part of 20 years, and Lord Grantchester picked up the award for his work with the incredible Everton Collection.
Next up was Richard Kenyon, who accepted the award on behalf of Everton in the Community from Bob Latchford.
As David France was unable to attend, Evertonian author Becky Tallentire paid tribute to the late, great, Alex Young, whose funeral was held the morning after the Hall of Fame in Edinburgh. A short film was played and a piper played the national anthem of Scotland in a wonderful tribute to a truly great man.
Dr France and his wife would have wished to have seen the way Evertonians paid tribute to Alex, with Elizabeth France being instrumental in the planning of the Hall of Fame events.
Next up were the inductees into the Hall of Fame. John Bailey made an emotional speech thanking everyone for his award, while presenter Neville Southall told everyone that he couldn’t choose between Bailey and Van den Hauwe as his preferred left back, although he did say that “With Bails I had an idea what he was going to do, but with Pat I didn’t know what was going on inside his head!”
The ribbing continued as Pat collected his award, with Neville saying “I know you’re hating being up here speaking infront of all these people, so I’m going to ask you loads more questions” before host Darren Griffiths took Pat’s stare to mean that it was time to move things along!
Ian Snodin revealed why he chose Everton over Liverpool when the time came to leave Leeds, and Nigel Martyn – the most polite former footballer you could meet – said that it was justice that he moved to Everton from Leeds in the season we qualified for the Champions League, and they were relegated from the Premier League!
All in all some tremendous memories from some wonderful players, but it was the Evertonians in attendance who – as they always did – made the Hall of Fame so special. The couple who had booked their room on the second floor for their honeymoon could hardly have wished for a better sound track to the first night of their wedded life than 350 Evertonians singing “On the banks of the Royal Blue Mersey….”
Tony Pulis might rethink his team’s choice of pre-match hotel, however….
The voting for the 2018 Hall of Fame has started, with ballots collected at Friday’s event, and next year’s Hall of Fame is set to be another amazing night. We hope that Dr France and his beautiful wife Elizabeth can make it too, and after all their hard work to make it happen they deserve to see the fruits of their labours.