AN under-7s football coach in Ellesmere Port who has raised thousands of pounds for charitable causes at home and abroad received the surprise of a lifetime when Everton first-team coach Duncan Ferguson turned up to join him on the sidelines for his team's match.

Lifelong Evertonian Dave Palmer, 49, a Goodison Park season ticket member who attends the Blues' games home and away, was preparing his team for their training match at Vauxhall Motors FC on Monday when Ferguson strode across the pitch to join him.

The treat was part of the club's Side By Side Season Ticket campaign.

Dave got an added surprise when Ferguson revealed his tireless work as a coach and in the community was being rewarded with a season ticket for the upcoming 2019/20 campaign.

Chester and District Standard:

Among his many charitable efforts, Dave has previously raised money for The Bradley Lowery Foundation's Spider-Ede Appeal, as well as for the Stroke Association after his wife Nicola's father fell ill.

Through his own travel company in Ellesmere Port, he is currently gathering funds to build a new water tower to service a community in Uganda.

Having watched Everton with his family since his childhood, Dave was overwhelmed to have one of his all-time heroes standing alongside him as his assistant for the night.

"It's absolutely amazing," said a delighted Dave. "Duncan is a hero from watching him for years and I couldn't believe it.

"I wondered what was going on when I saw Duncan Ferguson coming down the pitch. I was going to walk over and just introduce myself. I didn't think he was coming here for me! It's absolutely amazing."

Dave's wife Nicola helped arrange the surprise for her husband and said he was a richly deserving recipient due to his charity work but also his selfless volunteering at Vauxhall, where he helps coach most nights of the week.

The family company also sponsor the club's under-7s and under-9s, donating the funds for their kit and other necessary equipment and provisions.

"I think he's just really proud of the boys and our sons who play for the teams as well and he loves watching them play football," she said. "He's a big football fan himself and he likes to get involved. He can't just be a spectator; he likes to get involved in it all.

"His whole family are Everton fans so he's been away, he's been to Europe, even when we were in New York he had to go and watch Everton in the bar.

"He works hard because we've got our own business as well, so it's long hours and this is really good for him.

"Duncan was his favourite player, he talks about him all the time, so he'll be made up."

Ferguson, who scored 72 goals in 273 appearances over two spells with Everton and is now a vital part of the club's backroom staff, added: "The work Dave does in the community is absolutely fantastic.

"I saw myself he’s absolutely brilliant with the kids, he gives up so much of his time to come down here and coach and on top of that he’s doing all his fundraising and still getting to every game home and away.

"I could tell from speaking to him how much Everton means to him and it’s nice to be able to give something back in the way of his season ticket for next season."

Dave will now be able to look forward to attending each game of next season alongside his sons, having received his 2019/20 season ticket as part of his surprise.