Everton echo longevity and tradition. Original founding members of the Football League in 1888, The Toffees have competed in the top flight longer than any other club. These 100-plus seasons have so far generated nine titles.
A promising side created by David Moyes failed to make it a tenth but punched well above their weight. His replacement, Roberto Martínez, achieved a rare European place in 2014 but league form proved inconsistent. The initially bright start under Ronald Koeman waned in 2017-18, when Sam Allardyce arrived to bring in clean sheets and stability. Now Marco Silva may even deliver some excitement, too, judging by his signing of young Brazilian striker Richarlison, a favourite of his at Watford. Outstanding World Cup performances by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford should also spread confidence in an ageing defence.
Off the pitch, a controversial £280 million loan from Liverpool City Council was announced in January 2018, shoring up the estimated £500 million estimated cost for Everton’s new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock. Due to open in 2022, it will replace Goodison Park, the club’s venerable home since 1892.
Everton FC, ‘The Toffees’, were founding members of the Football League in 1888, winning a first title in 1891.
The Toffees nickname stuck after a sweet-shop owner near Goodison – Everton having vacated their previous home of Anfield – used to throw toffees to the crowd. The shop has gone but the ritual remains. Even Everton mints are linked to Victorian-era football, their colour matching the club’s original black-and-white before the switch to blue soon afterwards.
On the pitch, the first real hero was Dixie Dean, a prolific striker from Tranmere, who set a league record 60 title-winning goals in 1928. His statue stands outside the ground. Pre-war, the Blues notched five championships, but would not win a sixth until Harry Catterick took over as manager in the 1960s. The decade-ending seventh, featuring a dynamic midfield of Alan Ball and Howard Kendall, is most warmly remembered.
Under Kendall, perhaps the greatest Everton side emerged in the mid 1980s, with Neville Southall in goal and brave Andy Gray up front. Two titles, an FA Cup and, in 1985, and a Cup-Winners’ Cup (over Rapid Vienna, 3-1) all graced the Goodison trophy cabinet. Post-Heysel, lack of European football discouraged Kendall and his stars to stay.
Everton trod water, with flourishes until 1970 old boy Joe Royle. When relegation threatened in 2002, David Moyes stepped in to steady the ship. The man who first managed Wayne Rooney has taken Everton to an FA Cup Final, and brought good league form from the likes of Tim Cahill, Steven Pienaar and, most recently, Marouane Fellaini.
Moyes having replaced Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Roberto Martínez stepped in for 2013-14. Although Moyes persuaded Fellaini to come with him, high-scoring full-back Leighton Baines remained, as did young prodigy Ross Barkley. Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku starred among the arrivals when Everton beat Moyes’ United 2-0 in April – leading their ex-manager to be sacked from Old Trafford.
With a new major shareholder in Farhad Moshiri and the arrival of ex-Ajax and Benfica coach Ronald Koeman, the future seemed much brighter at Everton in 2016-17, with European qualification assured. But, despite the return of Wayne Rooney, 2017-18 proved to be a huge disappointment, with embarrassing defeats to Atalanta, violence shown by an Everton fan towards a Lyon player and poor league form. Koeman made way for results-focused Sam Allardyce, before Rooney headed for America.
A stage for the 1966 World Cup of Eusébio lore, Goodison Park is a venue of many firsts. Most notably, this 40,000-capacity ground was England’s first purpose-built football stadium of any size. It was also the first to be tiered, and the first to install under-soil heating. It has also, perhaps more remarkably, hosted more top-flight league games than any other ground.
And it has also been the subject of much debate about a change of venue after 120 years. For the time being, Evertonians gather here, in the shadow of signature St Luke’s Church on one corner of the Main Stand.
Facing it on the other sideline is the Bullens Road Stand, where away fans are allocated a section abutting the Park End Stand behind one goal. The home end is Gwladys Street, the stand squeezed in by a primary school of the same name and a row of terraced houses dating back to the club’s foundation. The club offices are in the Park End Stand.
Buses 19, 19A, 20 and 21 from the Queen Square terminus in the city centre drop off along Walton Lane. Goodison Park is directly in front of you, with Stanley Park on the right.
Goodison is also served by the Soccerbus matchday shuttle service from Sandhills station. This service runs for two hours before each home match up to 15 minutes before kick off and for 50 minutes after the final whistle.
The ticket office is at the bottom of the Park End stand. Enter the main gates at the corner of Goodison Road (opposite the Everton One club store) and cross the club car park. Although there are four categories (A-D) of match-day prices, prices don’t vary much from £40, around half-price for under-16s. For more details, see the club website.
‘Everton One’ (Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 11am-5pm, extended hours on match days) is opposite the stadium at the corner of Walton and Spellow Lanes. Alongside the customary team strip and training-kit options, are novelty items such as officially branded EFC dartboards, monopoly board games and, of course, Everton mints and toffees. City-centre ‘Everton Two’ (11 South John Street) has longer opening hours of Mon-Fri 9.30am-8pm, Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 11am-5pm.
Although there is no museum as such, ‘The Everton Collection is a selection of memorabilia and trophies housed in the Museum of Liverpool at Albert Dock in the city centre. Right the way round the ground, the full story of the club from foundation to the present day is exhibited at street level.
The Evertonian spot is The Winslow Hotel (31 Goodison Road), a large establishment spread across three rooms, directly behind Goodison’s main stand. Ex-players down the generations still pop into the bar. The poignant portrait here of 1970 title-winner Brian Labone is no coincidence: the former Everton captain collapsed and died outside the pub in 2006 after attending an awards dinner.
Just further down Goodison Road at No.79 is The Spellow, another dyed-in-the-wool Blues boozer with a range of framed prints and stories from down the ages on display around its back room.
The Thomas Frost at 177-187 Walton Road is a spacious Wetherspoons pub with all the usual drinks promotions and meal deals. Streams of fans move past the long front window on match days. At the top of Walton Lane, with Goodison on the horizon, jump off the No.17 bus a stop early to grab a drink in the cosy surroundings of The Abbey (153 Walton Lane). This is the only pub along this busy approach road and in a licensed premises dating back to the 1860s.