Date: Saturday 14th March 2009, 3.00 pm
Match: Everton 3 Stoke City 1 HT: 2-0 Att: 36,396
Jo 18, Lescott 24, Fellaini 90 Shawcross 52
Goodison Park (Stadium) and Stanley Park (Park) in pictures
They are one of the big names in English football having won the league on nine occasions and finished runners-up on seven. They have won the FA Cup five times and been losing finalists seven times.
Goodison Park is also a famous footballing venue, bookending Stanley Public Park with Anfield, home to the other even more successful Liverpool side, Liverpool. Everton actually played at Anfield for seven years before moving to Goodison. Goodison was built in 1892 and was the first English ground to have a three tiered stand. This stand is the Main Stand, designed along with two other stands by the world renowned football ground architect, Archibald Leitch. His stands are becoming rarer with all the new builds going up, so Goodison is certainly the best place to go for his architecture. It is characterised by tiers sitting on top of one another with an overhang, supported by massive beams. It makes for a big capacity, set close to the pitch, for a good atmosphere.
Despite supporting Stoke for this game, I could only get a home ticket. With Stoke’s surprising promotion last year their tickets have become like gold dust and are snapped up by season ticket holders and regulars. I was quite pleased in a way, as not being my first team, I wouldn’t want to deprive a die-hard supporter a spot among their own fans.
I paid £35.50 for a ticket (£34 + £1.50 booking fee). This was for a fairly good seat in the Bullens Road Stand Upper Tier. The lower tier seats could be got for £28. I did consider driving, but had heard that parking near the ground was absurdly expensive (their ticket line quoted me £10). So I booked a train, utilising a £6 voucher I had been given for appalling service on my visit to Kenilworth Road (Luton) last year. It changed 3 times Stoke-Crewe-Liverpool South Parkway-Sandhills-Kirkdale, but only took just over two hours in total. On the way back it went Kirkdale-Moorfields-Liverpool Lime Street-Stafford-Stoke and again took just over two hours. All journeys were on time.
Kirkdale is about a twenty minute brisk walk from Goodison Park. A few minutes from the ground you come to the area of Walton and a main thoroughfare called County Road, that is brimming with supporters and full of a motley array of shops. There are innumerable fish and chip shops, a McDonalds, a Subway and various other eateries and cafés. had a meatball marinara sandwich in Subway. The atmsophere along this road was really good and something I reckon the Everton faithful would really miss if they go ahead with this new stadium they’re planning at Kirkby.
I loved the juxtaposition of one of the richest clubs in England being sat hemmed in on all sides by tightly packed terraced housing. The working class roots that football in this country emerged from still forms the hinterland to a now super rich world famous club .
Before entering the ground I wanted to see Stanley Park, the public park that famously separates the Liverpool rival’s two stadiums. It has undergone some regeneration over the past decade or so and from what I saw looked like a very attractive place, with a beautiful circle of trees at the entrance. It was characterised by many bridges and expanses of water.
The Bullens Road Stand is steep, with little leg room and a wooden floor. It is like sitting in a piece of football history or folklore. The atmsophere was great and this was the view.
Opposite was the three-tiered Main Stand. Stoke fans were further down the Bullens Road stand. The Gwladys Street stand was on the right.
Everton didn’t need to get out of first gear to easily be beating Stoke by the break. Stoke were abysmal, languidly hoofing balls into the middle of nowhere. It didn’t seem possible at half time, but after the break Stoke looked a different side and got one back from Ryan Shawcross off a corner. Stoke had a twenty minute spell of beating Everton to every ball and looking dangerously like equalising. They played some good football, too. No one would have bet Everton would be hanging perilously on after seeing the first half. However, a last minute deflected third goal gave Everton, on balance, their deserved three points.
I’m not sure it was worth the money, and at those prices the terrible guilt does hang over me, like a demon that taunts me every time a schoolboy mis-hit flies into the stands. It demands nothing less that perfection. I think a tipping point was crossed. However, I had always wanted to see Goodison before it goes and am pleased to have sat in a genuine still-standing Leitch masterpiece. I need to get back to my comfort zone, though, about 9 divisions below this one.
Goodison was ground 78/92.