Today is a good day to be an Evertonian. Tomorrow may be a different matter but, for this afternoon at least, everything is rosy. The FA Cup final today is our biggest match in 14 years, since we last won the Cup. It was in the months running up to that match, and Paul Rideout's winning goal against Man Utd, that I first felt an affinity for the Blues. Brought up in North Wales, barely an hour from Liverpool, I was surrounded by legions of both Reds - United and Liverpool - for whom victory was a God-given right.
That May afternoon was a false dawn. Although it was followed by the shock purchase of Andrei Kanchelskis from United, and a sixth-place finish the year after, years and years of mediocrity followed - years that acted only to cement my love of Everton. The lowlight of the last 14 years? Where do I begin? It could be the loss to Bradford in the FA Cup. It could be the re-re-appointment of Howard Kendall as manager. It could be the near-appointment of Andy Gray, a TV pundit with no managerial experience, as boss. It could be the feeble attempts made to retain the services of performers such as Kanchelskis, Gary Speed and Nick Barmby.
The years of being underwhelmed made me all the more determined to follow Everton, convinced that a club with such a glittering heritage could not stay in the doldrums forever. So it came as a shock when David Moyes started to turn things around. A win today might not make up for so much expectation being unfulfilled, but it would come pretty close. * Roland Hughes