Soccer is the world’s sport. The fan experience is unlike anything else, whether you’re traveling to every game with your team or watching from home in the wee hours of the morning on the other side of the globe. For Everton fans in the United States, it’s always been the latter. While the MNUFC v. Everton friendly at Allianz Field on July 20 will provide a rare chance to watch in person, most Toffees match days take place awfully far away from here. That’s where Everton Supporters Clubs come in to bridge the gap.
With more than 45 registered groups around the US, and many more around the world, this network of Everton Supporters Clubs exists to connect people with their favorite club and try to bring a taste of Goodison to every Toffee fan. The people involved with this group do so in the spirit of community and mutual love for the game, and they come from all over.
For the last few months, Tony Sampson has served as the head of the Everton Fans Forum, a subgroup of the Supporters Club setup. A Scouser by birth, Sampson comes from a long line of Evertonians and grew up going to Everton games with family during the club's successful spell in the 80’s. When he found himself making the move across the pond, he wanted to stay involved with his beloved club.
“I remember watching the games in the 80's; I loved watching Inchy (Adrian Heath) play,” Sampson said. “When I moved to Chicago, I got involved with the group around here. I noticed that there were a lot of Everton supporters in the USA, so I ran for a position with the Everton Fan Forum on the platform of organizing and connecting the groups in North America.”
Upon becoming the first person elected while living outside the UK, Sampson became a point of contact for local club leaders around the country. He works directly with these local groups and Everton to schedule events, much like we will be having right here in the Twin Cities.
When Everton announced their friendly with Minnesota United, it was Marc Mueller’s turn to step up. Mueller, a Canadian with familial ties to Merseyside, heads up the Minnesota Toffees, the supporter’s club based here in Minnesota. They meet at The Local Irish Pub in downtown Minneapolis to watch Everton games together while enjoying a pint.
“When I first moved here in the mid 90’s, it was really hard to watch games,” Mueller said. “Before NBC got the TV rights, I really struggled to find them anywhere. I went around to different places, occasionally meeting fellow Evertonians. We ended up forming a little group to watch at The Local, then we became official when Dave Malm came and started watching with us.”
Since 2010, the Minnesota Toffees have gathered and grown. On any given match day, a core group of about a dozen will come to the pub, while numbers can swell up to 100 for derbys and other big games.
The group is made up of a variety of fans. Whether you have family connections to Merseyside, are an expatriate, or you fell in love with Everton on your own, all are welcome with the Minnesota Toffees.
“I feel a connection to family as an Everton supporter,” Mueller said. “It's the shared sense of love and passion that takes us through the many ups and downs we experience as supporters of this great football club. The Minnesota Toffees give all Evertonians located in this little corner of the world a way to share that experience.”
If you ever get the urge to grab a pint and watch some Premier League on a Saturday morning, they’d be more than happy to have you join. Just be sure to wear the right shade of blue!
Here in the United States, there are plenty of connections to Everton. Some of our nation’s best players have donned Everton blue, including Tim Howard, Landon Donovan, and Brian McBride, among others. These links are felt by all American and Everton supporters, but the connection to Adrian Heath is unique to Loons fans and their Everton counterparts. At his first-ever MLS experience, Tony Sampson recalls seeing this connection firsthand.
“I went to a Chicago Fire match with my sons when I moved here, our first MLS game,” Sampson said. “They were playing Minnesota United. My lads were wearing Everton hats, and Inchy saw them in the stands. He came over and chatted with us when he got the chance; it was a great moment.”
Between the American history and the shared connection to Adrian Heath, both Loon and Toffee fans will have plenty to appreciate about their friendly opponents when July 20 rolls around.
The MN Toffees will be hosting a pre-match meetup at BlackStack Brewing at 2 pm on July 20, as well as a welcome party event at La Doña Cervecería in Minneapolis from 6-8 pm on Monday, July 18. The welcome event will include a Q&A with former Everton players, as well as various giveaways. See the Minnesota Toffees Facebook page for more details.
Bring your pals out to the friendly, because the best things in life shouldn’t be experienced alone. In fact, experiencing this world with friends is often what makes it great. Whether your team wins or loses, you’re going through it together. Friendship and togetherness is important to us all, and that’s a big part of what the Everton Supporters Club does. Through every trophy and the occasional near miss with relegation, Everton supporters are connected each step of the way, no matter where in the world they are.
Minnesota United FC vs. Everton F.C.
Allianz Field | St. Paul, Minnesota
07.20.22 | International Friendly
7:00 pm CT (Bally Sports North, ESPN+, coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.)