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Armed Forces visit Finch Farm training ground ahead of remembrance fixture

9 months ago

Armed Forces visit Finch Farm training ground ahead of remembrance fixture
Veterans at Finch Farm. Credit: Everton FC

Members representing all of the Armed Forces attended a special event at Everton’s training ground ahead of this weekend’s Remembrance fixture at Goodison Park.   

Members of the Tri-Service Toffees, an officially endorsed Supporters’ Club for those serving in the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force, whether regular or reservist, joined participants of Everton in the Community’s dedicated veterans’ programmes at Finch Farm as the players prepared for the visit of Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League.  

The Armed Forces personnel spoke to Ashley Young, James Tarkowski and Jordan Pickford about serving in the military, the sacrifices made by modern service men and women as well as a reminder of the achievements and sacrifices made during the two world wars. 

The group then enjoyed lunch before touring the facility with Club Ambassador Ian Snodin to learn more about the player’s routines.  

Veterans at Finch Farm. Credit: Everton FC
Veterans at Finch Farm. Credit: Everton FC

In the afternoon, manager Sean Dyche stopped by to learn more about the Tri-Service Toffees and Everton in the Community programmes asking about their backgrounds, sharing stories and looking ahead to Saturday’s Premier League match which will see some of the group on the pitch as part of the Club’s annual Remembrance tribute.  

During the visit the group unveiled a special banner, designed and produced by the Gwladys Street 1938 group, that will be on display in the Howard Kendall Gwladys Street End in the build-up to kick-off.  

The banner is designed to celebrate personnel representing Liverpool’s Armed Forces history, with Everton great Dixie Dean also featuring centrally.  
 
The soldier to Dean’s left is wearing a Captain’s uniform complete with a ‘Liverpool Pals’ cap insignia, the famous battalion that was formed using volunteers from the city at the beginning of World War One. More than 3100 local men gave their lives in the Liverpool Pals battalions during the Great War and the service in Russia.

Veterans at Finch Farm. Credit: Everton FC
Veterans at Finch Farm. Credit: Everton FC

On the other side of the banner is an infantry solider in World War One uniform, typically worn by those who fought in the trenches during the Battle of the Somme. The same battle where charismatic Everton goalkeeper Leigh Roose lost his life aged 38. 

The Royal Navy sailor on the banner bears the inscription HMS Eaglet on his cap, the name has been adopted as the Royal Navy for their Merseyside Regional Headquarters and is home to a number of units including the Royal Marines Reserve. The name is also derived from HMS Eagle which was based in Liverpool and then become HMS Eaglet as a training ship.   

At the opposite end of the fan-designed banner, a pilot in World War Two uniform represents the Royal Air Force.   

Veterans at Finch Farm. Credit: Everton FC
Veterans at Finch Farm. Credit: Everton FC

Speaking after the visit, Major Barry Edwards said: 

“It’s great the Club recognises Remembrance weekend, as it’s an important time of year for the Service community.  

“The players and manager were really welcoming and showed a real interest in what we’re doing, and how we free up time to come to games. 

“I was part of the pre-match tribute last year and it really hit me in the chest, particularly the respect towards the Last Post being played and the applause from 40,000 people inside Goodison – it was spine-tingling and meant a lot to everybody in the Tri-Service Toffees.” 

In the build-up to kick-off on Saturday, Barry will be joined by Chief Petty Officer Patricia Wilkinson of the Royal Navy, Sergeant Mathew Hollis of the Royal Air Force, Michael Pike representing the Merchant Navy and Nikki McGee, Everton in the Community’s Veterans’ Projects Senior Co-ordinator, who will all lay wreaths at the centre circle.  

Also joining the tribute will be standard bearers Steve Calderbank and Bob Jones, members of the Tri-Service Toffees and ex-service personnel from EitC’s Veterans’ Hub and Stand By Her programmes.   

Sergeant Andy Manning will have the honour of playing the Last Post, which will be followed by a period of silence ending on the referee’s whistle. 

Nikki McGee, who took part in the Finch Farm visit, added:

“We wouldn’t be stood here today if it wasn’t for the sacrifices made by our ancestors. 

“Visiting Finch Farm and being around this environment has meant so much to the group as they’re big Evertonians. The fact that the reason behind it is to recognise their hard work and achievements makes it even more special. 

“If you’re at Goodison on Saturday, take a step back, be together and think about those service men and women that are out on the pitch, those living amongst us and those who have sadly passed away.” 

For more news on Everton FC click HERE.

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