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Thursday, April 18, 2024

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In Conversation with – Sarah Halpin

Football, a catalyst for bringing people of all walks of life together. Whether you’re a red or a blue, man or woman the game reunites the city of Liverpool, its more than just a sport.

One person in particular who has used their passion for the love of their club to carve out a phenomenal career is Sarah Halpin.

We caught up with Sarah to talk about all things Everton and inspiring women in the industry, its certain to say the Bird is definitely blue.

At what age would you say your interest for football began and the love for Everton Football Club?

My passion for football and for Everton was passed down to me from my Dad, it’s in the blood. He was born and raised in the Dingle in the 60’s and grew up a staunch Evertonian, like his Dad and 4 brothers. (His Mum was a red and so is his sister) but I’m Everton to my core. I grew up with my Dad telling me stories of those great title winning sides from the 60’s and 80’s.

The Holy Trinity, Joe Royle, Sharpy, Reidy, Kev Ratcliffe, Sheedy, Degsy Mount..the list goes on. The stories of him being at Goodison seeing the Toffees clinch the league, winning the cup final at Wembley and of course Rotterdam. His Dad even made an old bench that they would hook over the wall in The Gwladys street for him and his brothers to climb on to get a better view of the game back before the grounds were seated. I loved it all! I first started going to watch the Blues in the late 90’s and have had a season ticket at Goodison ever since.

Is there a particular game or season as an Everton fan that inspired you to be more involved in the football scene?

I am lucky enough to have witnessed some special moments in that ground. I could never forget THAT Wayne Rooney goal against Arsenal, but a season that stands out for me was 2004/05 when we had just sold Rooney, we were tipped by a lot of people to be fighting relegation that season, we brought in players like Tim Cahill, Marcus Bent etc and against all odds we secured a top 4 finish.

Every game that season the atmosphere was rocking from start to finish, a real sense of togetherness and the underdog coming out on top and that’s why it meant so much, we were all together. That season I saw us win the derby at Goodison with that Lee Carsley strike, beat United with a Duncan Ferguson Gwladys Street header under the lights to name a few. Goodison was electric, it was a special season.

Another is the moment Phil Jagielka’s penalty hit the back of the net at Wembley to send us through to the final, that was a special moment. I’d also say the first season under Roberto Martinez, some of the best football I’ve seen from Everton was played that season.

Your love for the blues has seen you carve out a career in the industry, even winning an award for Best Women’s Football Content Creator, as well as being a finalist for an award for this year’s ‘Best in Women’s Football’ creators, what would your advice be to inspire women who are interested in the Football industry?

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind these past few years, I had to overcome and work through some personal demons and my love and passion for Everton and football just sort of developed into me doing what I’m doing.

I never thought it would result in opportunities for me in a career that I love. But the reason it progressed into something is because I have a genuine passion for it, it’s authentic and engages with people because it’s real. I got to travel to Budapest and France last year for the Women’s Champions League Final and the Women’s World Cup covering the game, and I travel home and away with Everton Women providing media content and interviews and even got to be a part of the derby experience in November last year where I saw us win at Anfield in front of some 25,000 fans.

The return fixture was also scheduled to take place at Goodison before the pandemic. I never thought I would be able to have experienced what I have done and get the opportunities to do these amazing things in these places. It is testament to how far the Women’s game has come and how it is growing. It is an absolute honour to be a finalist again in the ‘Football Content Awards’ for ‘Best in Women’s Football Creators’, following receiving the award last year, something I am immensely proud of. For any women or young girls out there who have a passion and love of the game and want to be involved, whether that be wanting to go on to play professionally or working in other fields surrounding the game like myself, then please do pursue it! There hasn’t always been the opportunities in the game that are here now and it’s only going to get bigger and better.

The game needs people who have a genuine love for it and the next generation will hopefully go on to bring it even further on and strive to make it more equal. Pursue your passion!

In Conversation with – Sarah Halpin

How has the stoppage of Football during lockdown affected you and what are your thoughts on the restart of the league?

The football being stopped has been quite difficult, on a personal level focussing on football has played a big part in my own recovery, but it is an enormous part of so many of our lives especially in this footballing city.

No matter what is going on in our lives, football is there. A routine, ritualistic in a way, somewhere you see your mates and family and feel you belong. Something to focus your energy into. I think many have missed that. On top of that of course, so much of what I do workwise is surrounding football. I’ve missed seeing all the Everton Women players and staff and the match days and away trips.

You become like a big family and I miss them all, and sadly the WSL was ended early due to the pandemic. I’m missing Goodison Park on a match day. Feels like forever since the last time. I have mixed feelings about the restart, the conversations have been ongoing for a long time and I still can’t keep up with the ever-changing rules and regulations surrounding it. I just hope that everyone stays healthy first and foremost that is the concern.

But I can’t pretend that the thought of seeing Everton play again isn’t making me a bit happy, especially given how hard of a year it’s been for everyone, seeing the teams we love back in action is a welcome distraction. We are all aware that without fans it is nothing like the same and doesn’t feel right really, but I’ve no doubt that most will still be watching on. From Everton fans point of view though I think we are looking forward to next season with Carlo Ancelotti and what the team will look like then.

Bragging rights and rivalry aside, how will you feel if Liverpool FC win the title in the coming weeks?

To be honest, there has been such a massive lead in the league that it hasn’t really been a title race for the past months, so it feels as though it’s already done, especially after the huge break in the season.

Like every Blue nose, I know many reds and they will certainly be gloating to us for a while as expected but in all honesty my focus is on Everton and what we’re going to do over the next few years. We now have one of the best managers in the world in charge at the club and a ground-breaking stadium on Bramley- Moore Dock on the horizon so hopefully we can focus on Everton success in the coming seasons.

Lastly in all your years of being a blue, who is your favourite player to wear the Everton shirt?

This is a tough one! I have been enough lucky to see some great players in the royal blue. Technically, Mikel Arteta is one of the best I have seen play, I also loved the pairing of Gravesen and Carsley in the midfield and Bainsey and Pienaar down the left. Leon Osman was criminally underrated as well.

Lukaku’s goals were great when he was with us and Richarlison has the potential to be a legend here, but my favourite 2 would be between Duncan Ferguson and Tim Cahill. I idolised them both growing up, and still do! The passion, love, determination and will to give everything for that badge is what it means to be Everton. They’d usually get carded, score or both when they played, and they scored some of the most memorable Everton goals I’ve seen! Too difficult to choose between the 2 for me.

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