Ground No. 29
Visited - Sunday 6th April 2008
Result - Everton 1-0 Derby County
Competition - Barclays Premier League
Attendance - 36,017
My last visit to Goodison had been a true nightmare, not arriving until half time after a 6 hour train journey between Wolverhampton and Liverpool (usual journey time about 90 minutes) and only just about catching the second half after a mad taxi dash from Lime Street station. We lost 2-0 that day and I hadn’t even seen either of the goals! So with that in mind, I was really looking to get back to the ground and get to see it in a little more relaxed manner, and perhaps see at least more than half the game this time!
With Wolves perennially stuck in the Championship, then it was going to be a neutral match that would be my best chance for a revisit, and looking down the fixtures, Everton’s game with Derby stood out, moved to the Sunday, not for TV but for the Grand National which was held the previous day it looked a good opportunity to visit the ground whilst leaving the Saturday free for other games.
The journey started off well enough, going by train and leaving Wolverhampton station on time, it was then that the train, not even having left the city, stopped and turned around due to problems with a train further up the track. “here we go again” I thought, surely not twice for the same ground! As it was, the delay was for no more than 15 minutes and by the time we reached Liverpool it had made up some time and I arrived in plenty of time just before midday.
After having a quick walk around the city centre, I eventually made my way up to the ground by bus (much easier than the train to Kirkdale like last time) and once at Goodison went round taking pictures before going in what has to be the worst laid out club shop in the country (you couldn’t move in there with the way the crowd was designed to flow), before eventually coming out and just getting a badge from a street seller prior to going in.
I’d chosen to sit in the Park End, which was slightly more expensive than the other parts of the ground, but gave by far the best view. Built in 1994, it is a modern single tiered stand with facilities you’d expect from a stand of its age, although I did think the rake of the seating was slightly shallow compared to other similar stands (the South Bank at Wolves for instance) and it was obvious that cramming as many seats in as possible was a design criteria with it feeling slightly packed when everyone was sitting down. To our left was the Main Stand, a huge three tier structure with the third tier overhanging the two below, although a number of supporting pillars restricted the view here, despite the stand being relatively new, built in the 1970’s. The two older stands were opposite, the Gwladys Street End, and to our right, the Bullens Road Stand. Both dating back to the 1920’s and designed by Archibald Leith they were connected in the far corner, and featured two tiers of seating, with the Bullens Rd lower tier split into two levels with the upper section underneath the overhang of the second tier. This was where I’d sat on my previous visit, and the view from the upper tier is pretty poor to say the least, thanks partly to the roof support which is a truss crossbar that sits below the top row of seats giving the feel of looking through a letterbox at the pitch.
Having taken a few pictures, I spent most of the time before the game downstairs having a drink and reading the programme before it was eventually time for the game to kick off.
Derby were bottom of the league by quite some distance, relegated the previous week and well on their way to going down as the worst team in Premier League history, and with Everton on form, sitting 5th in the table then an easy victory for the home side was promised, or at least should have been the case. Despite what should have been though, it was Derby who did most of the early running forcing a couple of saves from Tim Howard in the home goal before halfway through the first half Yakubu missed a golden chance to put Everton in front, blasting over from just a few yards out when it looked easier to score. The rest of the half was played out with Derby looking the brighter of the two teams, keeping the scores at 0-0 when the whistle was blown at half time much to the discontent of Evertonians whose side had never really got going.
The second half was a little more even, Derby threatening early on, before the inevitable happened and Leon Osman opened the scoring for Everton on 54 minutes. After good work by Manuel Fernandes on the left hand side, he crossed into the box for Leon Osman to blast home from near the penalty spot in front of the Gwladys Street End and a notable sigh of relief went around the crowd after a nervy opening period seemed to have come to an end. Osman had the chance to make it 2-0 soon after, but it wasn’t to come and despite Andy Johnson doing his best to win a penalty all afternoon (he really is a diving cheat of a player), then the scores remained as they were, and Everton took all three points thanks to Osman’s second half strike, sending a boisterous, if slightly poor (1200?) turnout from Derby home empty handed.
After the game I made my way across Stanley Park to take a few pics outside Everton’s former home, Anfield, before gong home with no problems. Overall, it had been a good day out. Goodison really is a classic ground, with the tightly packed streets surrounding the stadium and the classic design inside then it is a marvellous affront to the modern arenas like at Leicester, Coventry or Reading sitting in the middle of retail parks. Everton do have plans to move out in the near future, which will be a real shame. You can understand why, but when they do, then English football will be worse for it, losing one of its truly great, traditional grounds.
Welcome to Goodison Park!
Rear of the Park End Stand
The Club Shop
The Dixie Dean Statue
Mural on a nearby house
Rear of the Main Stand
Rear of the Gwladys Street End
Rear of the Bullens Road Stand
The Bullens Road Stand
The Gwladys Street End
The Main Stand
The Main Stand
The Gwladys Street End
The Bullens Road Stand
Goodison Park Panoramic