In an era dominated by billionaire owners and oligarchs, Bill Kenwright, the chairman of Everton Football Club, provided a heartwarming reminder of a bygone footballing age in October 2011.
On a fateful day, he offered a ride to a family of Everton fans on their way to a match, making an unforgettable impression on the young supporters.
At traffic lights near Hammersmith station, while waiting with their family for a lift to come through, a luxurious car pulled up next to them and asked “Would you like a lift?” as the voice from its front passenger seat window spoke up: it was none other than Bill Kenwright – Chairman of Everton Football Club! They were stunned.
Without hesitation, they hopped into the car, accompanied by their sons Conor and Dom, both proudly wearing Everton gear, and their friend Stephen, a tentative Manchester United supporter. As the car sped them to the game, the boys couldn’t contain their amazement.
Dom couldn’t help but ask, “Do you REALLY own Everton?” It was an opportunity too unique to decline, even if it meant briefly breaking the “don’t accept rides from strangers” rule.
The boys, along with their curious friend, embarked on a spirited interrogation of Kenwright and his partner Jenny Seagrove, who was behind the wheel.
The chairman shared exclusive insights into the day’s match, revealing the starting lineup and the tactical plan. He even discussed favorite players and relieved Everton’s rich history, which left a lasting impression.
But this remarkable ride wasn’t just about football. It was a chance to glimpse the man behind the chairman’s title, Bill Kenwright. His dedication to Everton, his storytelling skills, and genuine interest in its history made him popular with both boys and parents.
Kenwright offered his candid response when confronted with questions regarding Everton’s financial struggles and their status in the Premier League; “I just need to find David Moyes more money.” Little did they realize just how prescient these words would become.
In the years that followed, Kenwright eventually sold the club to a billionaire, a decision that brought mixed reactions. However, his true legacy extended far beyond this business move.
Bill Kenwright was known for unheralded acts of kindness, civic pride in Liverpool, and unwavering solidarity with the Hillsborough tragedy survivors.
For many, the most significant transaction wasn’t in the boardroom but in a car, where Bill Kenwright passionately conveyed what Everton meant to him and bridged the generations of fans.
While the charismatic pitch didn’t convert young Stephen into an Everton fan, it left an indelible mark on those who experienced an extraordinary day with a football club chairman.
In an age when football is increasingly shaped by billionaires and mega-corporations, Bill Kenwright’s gesture serves as a poignant reminder of the grassroots football fan’s enduring spirit.