LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Everton

Goodison farewell after longest stay in top tier

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

Everton echo longevity and tradition. Original founding members of the Football League in 1888, the Toffees have competed in the top flight for more seasons than any other club. These 100-plus campaigns have so far generated nine titles.

While a tenth seems a long way off, in February 2021 the club was given the green light to build a new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock. Two miles west of Goodison Park, the club’s venerable home since 1892, this waterfront development will cost an estimated £500 million, £100 million of it pledged by majority shareholder, Iranian billionaire Farhad Moshiri. 

Completion is slated for 2024 or 2025. Capacity will be 52,888, 13,000 more than Goodison. According to the promo video, one thing won’t change – Everton will still walk out to the theme from Z-Cars, the Beatles-era TV show. John and Paul themselves were Everton fans, attending the 1966 FA Cup Final while working on Revolver.

Having broken Preston’s grip on the Football League in 1891, Everton vacated Anfield for Goodison. Their nickname,  the Toffees, dates from this time, after a nearby sweet-shop owner used to throw them to the crowd. The store 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 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. 

A forward duo of Welsh international Roy Vernon and his Scottish strike partner Alex Young led the Toffees to the title in 1963, followed by an FA Cup win in 1966, Everton reversing a 2-0 deficit to overcome Sheffield Wednesday 3-2.

The defensive spine of goalkeeper Gordon West and centre-back captain Brian Labone, considered the greatest Evertonian alongside Dixie Dean, remained solid throughout the decade. In front of them, Catterick put together one of the greatest midfields in the post-war game. At 17, Howard Kendall had been the youngest player to grace an FA Cup final, on the losing side for Preston in 1964. 

A few months before, Colin Harvey had made his Everton debut at 18 – thrown into the lion’s den of the San Siro. Alan Ball staked his place on football’s biggest stage by his man-of-the-match performance for England at the 1966 World Cup Final. He was then 21, and soon moved from Blackpool to Everton.

This threesome, the so-called Holy Trinity, saw off an almighty challenge from Don Revie’s relentless Leeds machine to win a memorable title in 1969-70. Their statue now stands alongside Goodison. 

Fate then conspired against Everton piling up more silverware. A shock defeat on away goals to unfancied Panathinaikos ended hopes in the European Cup, before Alan Ball was inexplicably sold to Arsenal. Soon afterwards, Harry Catterick suffered a heart attack from which he never truly recovered.

Howard Kendall would return to Goodison in 1981, first as player-manager, his astute signings creating perhaps Everton’s greatest ever side. Welsh goalkeeper Neville Southall had impressed for Bury – in the Fourth Division. Tireless midfielder Peter Reid cost £60,000 from Bolton, winger Trevor Steven was a 19 year old from Burnley. Kendall nurtured home-grown Gary Stevens to be a full-back later to win 46 England caps. Add a brave Andy Gray up front, and Everton all but superseded all-conquering Liverpool. 

Two titles were won in three seasons as the Football League became a neck-and-neck race between the Merseyside rivals, also opponents in two FA Cup finals. European silverware in the shape of the Cup-Winners’ Cup also graced the Goodison trophy cabinet but the 3-1 win over Rapid Vienna came a fortnight before the fateful European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus. 

With English clubs banned from Europe post-Heysel, Kendall and his stars drifted away, the manager to Spain, Steven and Stevens to Scotland.

Everton trod water with occasional flourishes until 1970 old boy Joe Royle secured the status of bullish striker Duncan Ferguson, won an unexpected FA Cup in 1995 thanks to goalkeeping heroics by Neville Southall and brought in tricky winger Andrei Kanchelskis. Europe beckoned before a tightening of the purse strings discouraged Royle from building long-term. 

More poor decisions in the board room then ended Howard Kendall’s third sojourn at Goodison, and the early promise shown by Walter Smith.

When relegation threatened in 2002, David Moyes stepped in to steady the ship. The man who first managed Wayne Rooney took Everton to an FA Cup final, and brought good league form from the likes of Tim Cahill, Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini.

With theatre producer and life-long Evertonian Bill Kenwright now chairman, the future seemed bright at EFC, the Blues even overcoming the inevitable sale of Wayne Rooney to Manchester United. Four European campaigns were notched up in five seasons although, crucially, the Champions League group stage proved elusive.

Moyes having taken Everton as far as they could go as the richer clubs pulled away, he made the move to Manchester United, taking Fellaini with him. Roberto Martínez stepped in for 2013-14. High-scoring full-back Leighton Baines remained, as did young prodigy Ross Barkley. Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku. Everton’s 2-0 win over Moyes’ United led to their ex-manager to be sacked from Old Trafford.

Despite a new major shareholder in Farhad Moshiri, the return of Wayne Rooney and a string of promising managers – Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce, Marco Silva – Everton still failed to break into the top six by season’s end. Much was also expected from the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti in 2019 and World Cup star James Rodríguez in 2020 but European football still proved a rung too high. 

The hiring of former Liverpool boss Rafa Benítez in 2022 ruffled a few feathers, the naysayers vindicated by a dreadful run that autumn and his subsequent replacement by Frank Lampard. Relegation loomed before an epic second-half turnaround against Crystal Palace transformed a 0-2 scoreline into a lifesaving 3-2 win and a frenzied pitch invasion.

Ground Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

A stage for the 1966 World Cup of Eusébio lore, Goodison Park is a venue of many firsts. Most notably, this 39,000-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 will also soon be consigned to history after 124 years, Everton moving to Bramley-Moore Dock in 2024-25. For the time being, though, Evertonians still 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.

getting there

Going to the ground – tips and timings

Goodison is served by a frequent Soccerbus service that operates from Sandhills station, two stops on the Merseyrail Northern Line from Liverpool Central.

From Liverpool Lime Street, it’s one stop on the Wirral Line to Liverpool Central, then change. When buying any rail ticket into Liverpool, a Soccerbus pass can be added for £1.90/single, £3.30/return (kids £1/£1.80). Otherwise, the Soccerbus is £2 single, £3.50 return (kids £1/£1.50). The service is also included in the various day pass tickets on sale in the main Queen Square bus terminus.

With long queues after the game, you might want to walk down to Kirkland station, via Spellow Lane, past the Royal Oak pub, down Barlow Lane and straight down Westminster Road. Allow 15mins. It’s one stop beyond Sandhills, so three from Liverpool Central.

Stagecoach runs the match-day 919 from stand 10 on St John’s Lane across from Lime Street station to Goodison. Regular city buses leave from Queen Square opposite, including the 19 (stand 6) to Bullens Road right by Goodison, the 20 and 21 (stand 7) to Ludlow Street – from there, cross the road and head down Eton Street or Winslow Street.

The sat nav code for Goodison is L4 4EL. There is limited parking the other side of Stanley Park, at the corner of Priory Road/Utting Avenue (L4 7UR). Alternatively, there are two council-run Lifestyles sports centres reasonably close, Alsop in Walton Village (L4 6RW) and Walton on Walton Hall Avenue (L4 9XP), with 19 and 170 parking spaces respectively. Each is about a 10-15min walk from Goodison.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

With average attendances close to capacity and 31,000+ season-ticket holders, availability is invariably an issue at Everton. The club’s membership scheme (£30) offers priority for the season-ticket waiting list but not for match tickets. The first port of call should be online sales. Season-ticket holders also use the StubHub ticket exchange for games they cannot attend. Note that the club’s hospitality packages also have a waiting list.

The ticket office (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, 0151 556 1878) is opposite the Wilmslow Hotel on Goodison Road, and distributes during the week of the match if there is availability for less attractive league fixtures and earlier rounds of either cup. 

Matches are divided into two categories, A and B, prices ranging from £40-£50 between the cheapest Howard Kendall Gwladys Street End and Main Stand. Seniors (over-65s) pay around £25-£30, under-16s £20-£25. Away fans in the upper tier of the Bullens Stand pay £30, over-65s £21, under-18s £16.

For details on availability, contact the club by email (servicedesk@evertonfc.com) and through the website.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

Everton One (Mon-Fri 9am-5.30pm, Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-4pm, 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 Everton toffees in branded jars and models of Goodison. Second-choice tops for 2021-22 are black with a Peru-style red diagonal band.

City-centre Everton Two (11 South John Street) has longer opening hours of Mon-Fri 10am-8pm, Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 11am-5pm.

stadium tours

Explore the ground inside and out

Stadium tours (£15, over-65s/16-21s £10, 4-15s £5, under-4s free) can be booked through the club website – check for available slots on 0151 556 1878. Tours last around 60-80mins and take in all areas of Goodison – you even walk out down the tunnel to the tune of Z-Cars

There is no club museum as such, but the permanent football exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool at Pier Head near the city centre should provide plenty of background on the enduring and endearing city rivalry with Liverpool.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

Along Wilton Road, pubs generally welcome home and away fans, the biggest being The Thomas Frost, a spacious Wetherspoons with all the usual drinks promotions and meal deals. Alongside, The Clock is pretty basic but usually quiet, St Hilda the friendly bar of a handy B&B. On the corner of Spellow Lane, The Royal Oak displays Everton history around the walls of a revered local. 

Goodison Road and Park stand at the other end of Spellow Lane, where The Winslow Hotel is steeped in Everton history. Opened in 1886 before EFC set up at Goodison, this large establishment was overhauled by a team of Blues fans and now only opens on match days and for special functions. 

Further down Goodison Road, The Spellow has also been revived, 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. For eats, a few buildings along, the Goodison Cafe serves standard favourites.

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