Everton FC – Goodison Park

 

33Setting off from an overcast Atherton, I knew it would be a very wet day on Merseyside. To say we were wet by the time we reached the turnstiles would be an understatement.

I caught the train from Atherton to Kirkby, meeting my mate Zack at Wigan Wallgate along the way. We then carried on our journey by catching a train from Kirkby to Kirkdale. As the train was arriving in Kirkdale… it began to lash it down!

Luckily I was wearing a waterproof coat, and so was every other sensible person you could see. However, Zack had chosen to come to the match in his ‘Toms’ (A piece of fashionable material which is worn on the feet), Chinos and a jacket. He got absolutely soaked.

Meanwhile, the roads en route to Goodison Park had become fast flowing rivers and the houses/shops were getting more delightful the further into our journey we got. We didn’t really know where we were going, so I used my initiative and used Google Maps on my phone.

The rain continued to drown us, but as Northern lads we got on with it, and took refuge in a pie shop! (Any Excuse.) “ANY 2 PASTIES OR PIES FOR £1” they were advertising on the shop windows… How could we possibly resist? We both purchased a meat and potato pie and a pasty. Once again the shop failed to provide forks?! If I was to go on Room101, pie shops without forks would definitely be on my list.

As we continued our walk to Goodison Park our pies got really soggy, but we didn’t care. We just kept reviewing them, eventually deciding that they were worthy of a solid 7.5/10 rating. Still not really knowing where we were going we suddenly saw St. Lukes Church down a street on the left, and then knew that we had arrived.

St. Lukes Church is situated in between the Goodison Road Stand and the Gwladys Street Stand and can be seen during televised matches.

Arriving at Goodison Park, we had our usual photos outside and had a stroll around the stadium. There were programmes priced at £3 being sold in the church, and supporters strolling in and out… for prayers maybe? As we were walking down the famous Gwladys Street we passed a man in a red Liverpool scarf, how brave/deluded must you be to do that?

We then continued around the stadium and saw a couple of children peering down a drain. They were obviously wondering where all of the clubs money has disappeared in recent years. They also managed to ruin my picture which I was taking!

Turnstiles opened 90 minutes before kick off, and we decided to go inside as soon as possible as it was still raining. Now even I, a relatively slim 15 year old boy struggled shuffling in through the cramped, outdated turnstiles. It probably didn’t help the fact that I had a bag, but still…

The terms ‘cramped’ and ‘squashed’ were used quite regularly throughout the course of the day. The concourses were small, didn’t have much lighting, and with a low roof felt like quite a confined space. I would dread to know how cramped it would have been if Wigan actually sold more than 500 tickets for the away end!

The away end had two catering facilities, both of which served a wide range of food/drink. You could purchase a Goodison Steak Pie for £2.40. Lucozade for an extortionate sum of £2.10… and for just 90p more you could buy a beer! What’s the world coming to when a Lucozade nearly costs as much as a beer?

We walked up the steps to our seats and were greeted by a very friendly steward. After a quick chat, he directed us to our seats. I have now visited Anfield and Goodison, and in Merseyside they seem to have the nicest stewards in the country!

We were sat on row 4, which due to the awful weather had become a tributary into The River Mersey. There were two Aussie women sat behind Zack and I with 4 pies going on about how good the seats were. I then explained to them that they wouldn’t be saying that when it starts raining again!

Of course. As I said that it began to rain and everybody moved back a few rows. This is when my other mate Matty walked in. Matty is a true Wigan fan and attends most home matches! My total respect goes out to him. Paying Dave Whelans’ ridiculous prices week in, week out.

Now occasionally my childish side comes out at football matches, and I like to have a cheeky picture with the club mascot. How could I possibly turn down a picture with Evertons’ ‘Changy the Elephant’? I held on to his trunk and smiled. Zack then also had his picture with Changy, asking “Changy mate! Can I have a picture?” – Mate?! Since when have you been ‘mates’ with an Elephant called Changy?

The pre-match entertainment then continued when a young girl – dressed as a maid – walked around the perimeter of the pitch handing out free Everton Mints. They were lovely! And helped the Wigan fans finally strive towards better personal hygiene.

Kick off approached, and we went back to our seats on the 2nd row as it had stopped raining. Within 30 seconds of kick off we decided the view was appalling, so we decided to move back. See, that is the brilliant thing about away trips with Wigan… they hardly ever sell out, meaning you can sit/do what you wish.

To our left stood the modern looking Park End Stand. Built in 1994 it holds 5,922 home supporters. On inspection it appears to be quite far away from the pitch, with a pit of blue coloured stones sitting directly behind the goalposts. I do not have a clue why? It looks like a children’s play area!

Directly in front stood the peculiar looking Goodison Road Stand. I can’t describe just how strange this stand is, with its inwards bend and 2 tiers stacked directly on top of each other. It’s a strange, traditional, spectacular looking stand which has a capacity of 12,664. If Everton had of constructed all 4 stands exactly the same as that, it would have been a very intimidating atmosphere to play in front of, and an architectural masterpiece.

To our right was The Gwladys Street Stand. The two tiered structure is home to the more vocal Everton supporters, however they must have been having the day off when I visited. The stand is supported by 4 supporting pillars which will cause an obstructed view to a small number of the 10,788 which the stand is capable of holding.

As the game approached kick off, we took to our seats. It had stopped raining, however our seats were soaked… so we took advice off the steward and hit the seat repeatedly. I obviously didn’t have the correct technique, and the seat was still soaked.

After around 30 seconds of the match we decided that there wasn’t much point in being cramped, and straining for a view, so we moved further back into the stand. The view was actually quite good for an away match, contrary to what many of my friends had told me before hand. DISCLAIMER: I was on an away trip with Wigan. We can sit where we want. You’ll probably end up standing behind a post if you go with any other club.

It was my first Wigan match of the season, and it gave me a chance to see new players such as Albert Crusat – From Almeria, Shaun Maloney – From Celtic, Patrick Van Aanholt – From Chelsea, and Adrian Lopez – From Deportivo La Coruna. The stand out player for Wigan was Van Aanholt, and I expect to see him involved at Chelsea sometime in the near future.

I wasn’t impressed with Franco Di Santos’ performance, but as happens so often within football… you slag a player off, and then he scores! Yes, his shot took a deflection to beat Tim Howard, but Di Santos’ desire to shrug off Tony Hibbert was deserving of a goal.

However, after singing chants of ♫ ONE NIL TO THE WIGANERS – for a matter of seconds, Everton equalised. Leon Osman who is ironically from Wigan, swung in a corner where it was slammed against the bar by Tim Cahill. Phil Jagielka then headed in the rebound to send the Goodison Park faithful delirious…

Halftime arrived and the teams went in level at the break. Everton had probably just shaded it in the first half, but Wigan fans seemed more than happy with their teams performance, and rightly so. Zack and I went for a walk, and found 3 very old disused turnstiles underneath a staircase. No idea why Everton still had ancient turnstiles on the concourses, but it added a nice traditional touch.

After walking around the away end, we went back to find some seats. We decided to stand up in the wooden seating section. There were no other fans within about 20 metres of us and it was pretty relaxing standing there by ourselves.

Wigan took control of the second half and played fast flowing, passing football. Much like the Wigan I grew up watching. However, football is a game where you will get punished if you don’t take your chances.

Wigans’ best chance of the second half came when Patrick Van Aanholt fired just over the bar after cutting inside the Everton defence.

David Moyes brought on two relatively unknown players in Royston Drenthe and Apostolos Vellios. Both players who have been brought in during the summer. Drenthe from Real Madrid and Vellios from Iraklis in Greece.

Ironically, it was the two substitutes that came on a took the wind out of Wigans sails. The tiring Latics defence couldn’t cope with a fresh injection of pace and height, and it was the height of Vellios which gave Everton the lead. Tony Hibbert hit a pinpoint cross before being met by the head of Vellios on his home debut. 2-1 Everton – 85 minutes played.

In true Wigan fashion, a goal woke them up – momentarily at least. Summer signing Dave Jones found an opening in the Everton defence and was unlucky to equalise just a minute after Everton had taken the lead.

Royston Drenthe then secured the 3 points for Everton after he finished well past Ali Al-Habsi in the Wigan goal.

Overall, Zack and I had really enjoyed our trip to Everton. We may have been soaked down to our underwear, a bit cold, and disheartened after losing in the last 5 minutes… but we still left the stadium with smiles upon our faces. I can see why Everton have considered moving to a new stadium, but it’s a nice traditional place, with heritage and a strange kind of warmth to it… which is hard to find in The Premierleague these days.

  • DISTANCE TRAVELLED TO GROUND: 24 miles
  • ADMISSION: £17 as a junior
  • PROGRAMME PRICE: £3
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