When Jasmine Priest and Reece Van-Aston-Kerrigan took their dog Myra for a walk in Stanley Park on Sunday (May 1), they did not expect that she would return as an Everton icon.
The couple are not football fans and were not aware of Everton’s game against Chelsea until they left their Walton home on Sunday morning. Hundreds of fans had already made it to the ground hours before kick off but Jasmine, Reece and their four-year-old Belgian Malinois were able to get to Stanley Park for their walk with little bother.
However, they were met with a different proposition on the journey home.
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Thousands of Everton fans had answered the call of fan groups and gathered around Goodison Park to build an atmosphere and welcome the players’ coach before the crucial game. The Toffees began the day five points adrift of relegation rivals Leeds and Burnley and were in dire need of a victory.
The crowd stood between Jasmine, Reece and Myra and their home. Needing to guide their dog safely through the horde, Jasmine and Reece picked her up and raised her above their heads.
Pictures and video of Myra being carried through the cheering Goodison Road crowds have since gone viral, with her presence being hailed as key to Everton’s win. Owners Jasmine and Reece spoke to the ECHO about Sunday’s events, their dog’s unlikely fame and her forthcoming role in Everton’s battle to maintain Premier League status.
Reece, 18, said: “We took the dog out as normal and noticed that there was an Everton match on, fans were already beginning to congregate. There were around 100-200 people around the ground.
“We ploughed through as normal, went to Stanley Park, did our walk for about 45 minutes and then headed home. We came back and there were a few more people there than what we thought.
“We walked through thinking it might be the same as the morning. We made it about 100 yards and the dog was struggling to get through all the crowds, as were we. I decided to pick her up and that got us a little further, but then I ended up saying to Jasmine ‘get her front legs’.
“When we picked her up and got her above our heads, it was like a parting of the Red Sea. Everyone was clapping and cheering, we’ve never seen anything like it before.”
Jasmine, 21, added: ” It was easier walking through with her like that because everybody moved and there was then a path. Before that, it was like gridlock and you couldn’t move anywhere.
“But once we lifted her, she was fine, she jumped down once we were clear – it was amazing, everyone was laughing and cheering, stroking her, taking pictures.”
The Toffees won the game 1-0 thanks to Richarlison’s second half goal, goalkeeping heroics from Jordan Pickford and a raucous Goodison Park crowd. However, many fans have said that Myra was just as crucial to the pivotal win.
She has become a social media sensation and has been adopted as a lucky charm by many Blues. Some fans see her attendance as key to Premier League survival, while others have called for a banner to be installed at Goodison’s famous Gwladys Street End.
As the ECHO spoke to Jasmine and Reece, their phones were constantly buzzing with notifications on Instagram and Twitter. They welcome Myra’s new-found fame but said that managing a social media celebrity has not been easy.
Reece said: “If you’re not on your phone for 15 minutes, you’ve got three hours’ worth of catching up to do. I still can’t fathom the scale of that and it’s pretty much all positive. She’s become an Everton icon.”
After picking up a vital three points against Chelsea, Everton remain in the Premier League’s bottom three and still face a scrap for survival. Two of the club’s five remaining games are at home and Reece and Jasmine plan to bring Myra to Goodison and embrace her role as a lucky charm.
Jasmin said: “We’ll just take her down and meet everyone – it puts everyone in a good mood. It’s not really out of the way for us, we’ll probably be on a dog walk next Sunday anyway. People are now stopping us in the shops, or in the park, they’ve seen her, she’s getting all the love.”
Joe Royle referred to his battling Everton side of the mid 1990s as the ‘Dogs of War’. For many Evertonians, Myra represented the return of such spirit almost 30 years on, as Frank Lampard’s side embraced the fight on Sunday.
Reece and Jasmin were unaware of the symbolism but they welcome it now. Jasmine said: ” The love she’s had since Sunday – she deserves all this fuss”, before Reece added: “To walk through an Everton crowd and all of a sudden become such a big part of Everton – it’s crazy. He continued: “We’re pushing for mascot. Mascot is the endgame.”
As they return for two more decisive matches at Goodison, many Evertonians will hope to see the return of both Myra and Everton’s dogged attitude.