I have been reading, with great interest, the developments over the last 18 months regarding a potential move away from Goodison Park, the sacred ground of everything that is good and Blue. In Trekky terms, we are told by our beloved leaders that the old ground ?just won?t take it anymore? and if we are to push on and join the ?elite four? (at the possible expense of our red neighbours?) then we must move to a new location with better facilities so that we can become more of a wealth-creating business as well as a potential top four club. (Better facilities = more profit = better players, etc, etc.)
Of course, moving to Kirby and thus outside the Liverpool City boundary is a somewhat controversial move and probably more so to those who have followed Everton far longer than I have as it could be seen as a dilution of our roots and history. As a traditionalist on most things in life I tend to share the same values and attitudes as those in the KEIOC camp, who would prefer to either stay at a re-developed Goodison Park or move to an alternative site within the City boundary like the Scotland Road proposal. However, after travelling from the West Midlands up to Goodison again last weekend for the home match against Manchester City, my opinions and beliefs have changed somewhat regarding our options. Although the order of my preferences has not changed, the urgency for change has. For something happened at this particular home game that I had not realized or experienced before on all my previous visits to Goodison over the last 22 years. I will explain.
Since 1985 I have averaged half a dozen home games a season at Goodison Park. As well as many away games every season at Aston Villa (my brother and father are die hard Villa fans), Birmingham City, Coventry City and WBA when they are/were in the same league. Also all away games at Chelsea as my brother-in-law is a member or that rare breed called genuine Chelsea fans, not glory hunters, as he was born and bred within spitting distance of Stamford Bridge.
For all our home games I have either been in the Lower Gladys Street end or the upper Main Stand (depending upon ticket availability). On one occasion I was also in the Upper Bullens Road and for a Leeds United game about 10 years ago in the Park End.
In all this time I had never been in the Lower Bullens Road, until last Saturday for the Man City game as they were the only tickets available to me at the time of purchasing off the Everton website. For this game I brought my two boys aged 5 and 6 who, like many boys of their age love football and just couldn?t wait to go to Goodison Park for the first time with their Dad to see the Blues. (We tried to get tickets for the family enclosure but unfortunately they were sold out). So for my boys this is their first season of Football and so far they have had trial runs at St Andrews (Birmingham v Wigan) and also Villa Park (Villa v Portsmouth).
They loved it but I assured them that it was nothing compared to what they would experience at Goodison Park when Phil Neville would lead the blue Boys onto the sacred turf to the infamous sounds of Z-cars. (You?ve seen the rest, now you?ll see the best I told them). They were up for it, boy they were up for it. All the way up the M6 and then onto the M62 in the car. Their excitement couldn?t be contained which was especially funny when we bumped into a crowd of prawn sandwich-eating Man U fans at Sandbach services who, when seeing their Royal blue shirts, weren?t too impressed with their child-like excitement, especially when my oldest told them that Ronaldo was 12 years old! Well that?s old to a 6 year old isn?t it?
Anyway, on arrival and after spending a small fortune in the club shop we walked over to the ground and went into the Lower Bullens Road. Our seating location, as identified upon the ticket and which is relevant to this article was LB3 Row ?R? and seats 0144 to 0146. Up to this point I had no idea where exactly in the Lower Bullens we would be and what the view would be like because as I said previously, in all the 22 years of coming to Goodison park I had never sat in this part of the ground.
At first the kids wanted to go down to the pitch side as they saw the players going through their pre-match warm up routines. When the likes of Lescott, Neville, Hibbert and Valente etc ran to the touch line they just loved it being so close to their heroes and when the Toffee Lady came around throwing them sweets they must have thought this was the nearest thing to heaven! For me I felt this was going to be a ?good day?. And when one of the very friendly stewards offered to take a picture of all three of us with my phone I thought it was going to be a ?very good day? (you wouldn?t get that at Villa Park I can assure you!).
But then when the same steward showed us to our seats I thought he was having a laugh. (Scouse humour and all that!). Unfortunately he wasn?t. For Row ?R? in the Lower Bullens is the very back row, as far back as you can get, right against the wall. Now this in itself is not necessarily a cause for concern, but combined with the gradient of the roof coming down meant that to say the view was restricted would be an understatement. For me as an adult I could manoeuvre myself around to an extent to see as much of the action as possible, though seeing the far touch line in front of the Main stand was certainly a challenge. When standing up it was impossible. At times, when the ball was in the air it was like a guessing game as to where it would re-appear. Unfortunately though, for the children it was a futile exercise trying to view the match. So unfortunately they got quite upset as they depended upon me for a basic commentary throughout. The pictures I have attached here show the extent of the viewing problem here.
My conclusion to all this is;- Everton Football club need to make a decision on what we are going to do with Goodison or alternatively where we as a club are going to make our new home and they need to make that decision NOW as there is no time to lose. Kirkby for me is therefore now back on the agenda.
PS: It doesn?t appear to say anywhere on the tickets that viewing from this part of the ground was classified as restricted.
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1 Posted 20/01/2008 at 07:08:16
2 Posted 20/01/2008 at 09:27:55
Sorry, I thought that had been "proved" already.
Your story, more than anything clearly states to me the reason why we either need to move, or re-develop Goodison Park, If Goodison is re-developed, it needs to be able to be expanded to match our future growing ambitions (70,000 in years to come)
Kirby in terms of funding and the ability to expand the stadia in the future is ideal, which no other place in the City Boundaries can realistically match, or where we can get funding.
I?m just glad that we can now have a "realistic discussion" over Goodison Park or Kirkby, without Blue Herrings getting in the way.
3 Posted 20/01/2008 at 09:35:39
Having said that moving to Kirkby is not the answer for reasons that have been debated on here for the last twelve months. It makes me feel very sad that our fate seems to be in the hands of the project being called in due to objections or a rival bid by asda that dosn’t include a stadium.
If only the yes voters had the forsight to see a majority no vote would have forced Kenwright to look at other options.
My feelings are that Kenwright has been badly advised all the way, but at the end of the day it is his decision. I only wish he would come to his senses and stand up and put a stop to this nonsense.
Micheal hunt are you still pissed from last night?
4 Posted 20/01/2008 at 09:30:17
5 Posted 20/01/2008 at 10:14:43
6 Posted 20/01/2008 at 10:39:28
I cant see Kirkby ever dealing with 70k fans as I’ve been to Old Trafford recently with 70+k fans and better roads out, it still took over an hour to get back to the M60, shudder when I think of majority of 50k waiting like sheep for a bus in all weathers.
7 Posted 20/01/2008 at 11:00:03
These are hopeless views, and they should be half-price at most. Of course it stems from the fact that this is a converted terrace, cheap views for people who could move about and choose their spec to suit themselves. It’s a bit swings and roundabouts though since the supporting structure has afforded the patrons of the upper tier (certainly the first 10rows, if not themselves obstructed) some of the best views of a football pitch in the country, with viewing angles and distances better than anything at a similar height in say the emirates even. However it has to be said that the letterbox effect represents only a few hundred seats out of a total of 40,500, ie the rear 2-4 rows of the lower Bullens, rear 2-4 rows lower Gwladys and rear 4 rows of the mainstand at the church end of this structure. You will have noticed that by decending just a few rows things opened up quite quickly. Therefore by reprofiling the lower Bullens to combine with the paddock, and to end at the second row of supporting columns, the pathway at the rear of the paddock will be now occupied with totally unobstructed seats to compensate with the loss of capacity at the rear of this new lower tier. At the same time further rows could be added at the rear of an extended Upper Bullens with a new roof and extended concourse. There would then be no obstructions in the upper tier, and a greatly reduced number in the lower. This would be at a fraction of the cost of a new stand, with history and iconic Leitch balcony preserved. On the mainstand side an executive tier could be suspended beneath the top balcony, and the rearmost rows at the church end dispensed with, and the mainstand continued down to pitch level. Back of the Gwladys street lower, tickets for just £10, £5 for kids, to be sold on the day, or when all other tickets gone, I guarantee there will be people fighting for them. There are lots of solutions that negate the need to run to Kirkby where the viewing distances will be as big as they can be for the capacity, not to mention the bus queues, potential loss of identity and heritage.
8 Posted 20/01/2008 at 11:25:48
9 Posted 20/01/2008 at 11:48:27
The Lower Bullens and back of the Gwladys Street are a disgrace and it amazes me anyone every goes back there, it also amazes me that we get nearly 40,000 every game with these seats on offer, something has to be done.
Believe it or not, Chelsea’s redeveloped shed end has similar seats in the lower tier. I was there for the semi-final first leg and the views from the back 4 rows were just like the Lower Bullens, now that is unforgivable for a new stand but shows the kind of compromises that might have to be taken if Goodison were to be redeveloped and the capacity increased.
10 Posted 20/01/2008 at 11:39:11
In all honesty Matthew when football started to move on with the launch of the Premier League, money etc most club?s moved with the time?s as well. Sadly our football club stood still and this Kirkby disaster has arisen purely because we have had a totally inept Board for the last 15 years and they have no other option but to take this handout off Tesco.
Everton?s current average gate in all competitions is around 36,500. This perceived wisdom within the Everton board that a ?new stadium affect? would add 15,000 to this figure is more in hope than fact. If this is the case then clearly the 55,000 seater stadium that HOK Sport confirms can be built on the Scotland Road Gateway is more than adequate for the present and future needs of Everton Football Club.
The dismissal of this opportunity and other options leaves open to question Mr Kenwright?s tenure as custodian of this great club. He must do everything in his power to ensure that Everton remain a Big Club in a Big City.
Never has the club entered into meaningful and transparent dialogue with all parties concerned bringing about a redeveloped Goodison Park or an iconic Scotland Road gateway stadium development, the finances behind which have never been explored just Wyness?s opinion that it is not possible. This man being the CEO of yet another set of disastrous annual accounts, for which he alone is responsible, and a massive increase in the clubs overdraft in August 2007.
For him now to use this "restricted views" (something they have been aware for decades) as part of this embarrassing spin of ?this is why we have to move? and the promotion of a truly atrocious stadium development and the leaving of the city of our birth, the European capital of culture and the home of Everton Football Club is the final straw for me.
I would gladly have a season ticket in the Lower Bullens for the next few years if it meant this Kirkby project was abandoned and we remained in the city. After following Everton for over 50 years never have I been so worried about the club?s future and leaving the city will divide the fanbase for ever.
Me, I?ll never set foot in that Kirkby stadium no matter how modern it is and how good the facilities are. It won?t be the same club anymore for me and speaking to other fan?s they feel the same as well.
11 Posted 20/01/2008 at 14:00:40
12 Posted 20/01/2008 at 16:05:01
13 Posted 20/01/2008 at 16:33:36
14 Posted 20/01/2008 at 16:42:22
15 Posted 20/01/2008 at 16:42:26
I?ve just read a brilliant post by Jay Campbell and yet another thoroughly sensible post from Tom Hughes.
I too, think that if we leave Liverpool we are giving up something we can never get back. It will haunt us as long as there is an Everton Football Club. I just cannot believe that we could even contemplate leaving this city and leave it to our bloody offspring.
Ideally, the Albert Dock site would have catapulted us onto the world stage and especially during the Capitol of Culture year.
Still, for one reason or another, we lost that opportunity but at least we are still in the city, for now!!
I can only blame one person for the decision to leave the city even though it was supposed to be a democratic decision by the fans.
We were left to make up our minds up on the basis of "Oh here?s a nice new stadium that Tesco will help us build and it?ll cost us hardly anything. Or we can stay at Goodison Park and watch it crumble round our heads because that nasty City council won?t give us anywhere else." Well the City council gave us the Kings Dock and it was only our club who buggered it up.
Even now there are alternatives but Mr Kenwright won?t listen.
So, I suppose each fan has to make his/her own mind up. I?m with Jay here, I won?t be going to Kirkby. Mr Kenwright has engineered a situation where the fans have felt there was no alternative. At the same time he has nicely absolved himself of the resposibility for moving out of this city. He can say "The fans have chosen." Total twaddle! and a total betrayal of all who made Everton great in the past.
16 Posted 20/01/2008 at 22:52:47
The original article quite succinctly puts to bed the NO arguments, ad why you may ask.. It?s because the youngsters who don?t have any deepseated love for GP like the rest of us will not put up with bad facilities (ergo we don?t ever sell out).. We have to move, the sooner the better.
17 Posted 20/01/2008 at 23:21:18
I don’t want to go to a retail park in Kirby, but what alot of people don’t seem to realise is that the actual stadium isnt going to be like Eastlands, JJB or Reebok with no attmosphere, its design is much better than them when it comes to attmosphere.
18 Posted 21/01/2008 at 00:14:33
The club themselves have said that this will cost us £80-100m. Where is that coming from? To get to the same capacity as Kirkby, a new 15,000 seater Parkend can be built for much less than our outlay for Kirkby. Much of the other failings of GP can be dealt with incrementally, and as we can afford it. Therefore if you advocate Kirkby for financial reasons, by definition you have to acknowledge the financial viability of staying....... and as I keep saying: also avoiding the various potential costs to identity, heritage, and all the transport uncertainties that Kirkby proposal entails.
19 Posted 21/01/2008 at 11:25:43
If you were sitting down when you took those photos, Matthew, then you must, must surely make a concerted complaint to the Club (I’m assuming you haven’t already done so because you would have said so), for those "views", as most have said, are shocking.
Not only that, though, I think that, in terms of the "products" you purchased for that game v City (i.e. match tickets, at full price, to "see" the game) the club is in direct breach of Trading Standards.
Therefore, you simply must complain in writing to EFC, copying-in Trading Standards, enclosing your images and your ticket stubs.
For if this was the seated view that you and your boys had, then the club has no defence and is obliged to offer you a full refund.
No question about it.
Moreover, the club must also then reassess its policy on obstructed views for it is clearly failing.
I may be wrong, but I thought that all Premier League clubs were duty bound to mark all obstructed view tickets with words to that effect.
Further, I was of the impression that the term "obstructed view" (certainly as far as EFC is concerned) refers specifically to patrons’ sightlines of each or either of the two goals (it doesn’t take into account not being able to see part of the mid-pitch due to a stanchion).
Specifically, I thought a seat (key word) had to be marked as "obstructed view" if any portion of either of the goals could not be seen.
I was under the impression - after having asked this question of EFC repeatedly over the last 12 years and having also seen a "map" of all of Goodison’s "OV" seats - that every seat in the ground had been assessed carefully in this regard.
It would appear that they have failed woefully in this regard concerning LB3, Row R, Seats 144-6; for it would appear that it would not even be enough to mark those tickets as "obstructed view", or even offer them half-price.
Because in your bottom photo you can’t even see any of the Park End goal. You also can’t see a good 30pc of the Street End goal. Not only that you can’t even see beyond the centre circle in either of the photos and I think you are being generous when you say it was a "challenge" trying to see the far touch line on Goodison Road.
For I would say that, from your seated evidence, it would be impossible, not just a "challenge", to see the far touch line.
I think you’re being even more understated when you say that, on standing, it’s "impossible" to see the far touch line; for if this is what your view was like whilst you were seated then I suspect it would impossible, upon standing, to see the NEARSIDE touchline, let alone the far one.
In fact, it’s surprising that you say you had to provide your boys with a running commentary of the game for I would have suspected, from their lower vantage point, they’d have been better placed to provide you with such because it’s plainly obvious that you wouldn’t have been able to see any aspect of Lescott’s winner - not even the corner routine and then cross from Arteta to Neville back to Arteta (although, I note, you didn’t actually say that you couldn’t see the goal, though).
Frankly, that’s just not good enough to pay so much money to witness a game that ends in a 1.0 result and you can’t even the structure into which the solitary goal is scored.
Therefore I implore you to complain vehemently to the club and I would go further and would hope that you make Toffeewebbers privy to the letter of complaint that you submit to the club (and presumably the profuse apology you will undoubtedly receive, along with, I’d hope, a full refund and perhaps three complimentaries for a future game - can but hope!).
I hope you will agree to that request, Matthew.
As an arch "no" voter (however one, I would hope, who has proven on this forum that he has respect for opposing views) I am acutely aware that I could be shooting myself in the foot by asking you to complain vociferously to the club.
For undoubtedly the club can use such evidence to support its view that EFC must leave Goodison Park (surprised it hasn’t done so).
However, as much as I am a "no" man to the very core of my being and all too aware of how (I believe) the club has manipulated, spun and distorted the whole emotive subject of the putative ground move, this is no time for polemics.
Because the views you have shown from your seat (sic) are beyond distortion and even if the club were wont to manipulate matters, these photos speak for themselves and frankly they should never have been sold to you (you should have supplied the photos of the "standing" view too so as we could all have had a laugh at the extent of the stroke the club has obviously been trying to pull in selling such tickets - "scouse humour and all that!").
What is more worrying, though, is that, to my thinking anyway (but maybe more expert minds than mine on the subject, like Tom Hughes, can clarify things) it can’t just be seats 144-6 in Row R of the LB that are affected.
For I’m incredibly well versed with the Lower Bullens having held a season ticket there (in several areas) for many years in the late 70s, early 80s and then the early 90s up to 1994 before the Park End stand was built.
Indeed, like your boys, one of my very first visits to Goodison - and certainly my first FA Cup tie - was in the Lower Bullens for a 5th Rd tie versus Tottenham on Feb 26th 1972 (just too late for Bally!) when 50,511 saw Alan Gilzean and Martin Peters dump us out of the competition.
Despite the result, I have to say that I absolutely loved the occasion and was mesmerised by every aspect of the heaving Lower Bullens stand which seemed to capture and contain (pretty literally given its dimensions) every morsel of the atmosphere that day.
I appreciate, though, that kids of yesteryear were all too easily pleased and no apologies should be made for the more discerning younger customers of today (hey, I even fell hook-line-and-sinker for my father’s cleverly spun blow-softening line that I shouldn’t be too upset at losing because Martin Peters even "scored in a World Cup Final" - how easily kids could be fobbed-off then, hey!).
All told, I sat in three different season ticketed areas of the LB over the years and watched many a game from the very back row (including some of my greatest EFC memories such as the Eamonn O’Keefe, Southampton night in 1981 - and the heart-sapping 4-4 draw with Liverpool in 1991) and I only left it in 1994 after witnessing the Wimbledon relegation nail-biter from there in 1994 for two reasons: a clean break on a purely superstitious basis (because I actually hadn’t sat in the LB during the glory years of the mid-80s and we only started to go down the pan again when I moved back there...stupid, I know, but even when I moved to the Park End we immediately went and won the cup; and secondly because, shall we say, the aromas around the rear of the stand had become a little too "leafy" for my liking!
So, I know that stand well. And if your photo evidence of the seated view from the rear of the stand circa 144-46 is as irrefutable as it seems, then I can’t see how the situation could be any better anywhere along the back row (or even the rows in front).
It’s strange that I don’t recall not being able to see none of the Park End goal and indeed only parts of the Street End goal (but memories do play tricks - although I clearly recall being able to see Graham Stuart convert that crucial Park End penalty versus Wimbledon in 1994).
So it would seem that Everton are currently selling at least one whole row (the entire length of Row R in the LB) under false pretences and perhaps even two or three more rows in much the same way.
I’d even go as far to say that it’s illegal to do so without at least warning patrons.
It’s odd that no-one since circa 1968 when the Lower Bullens became a seated area (Tom Hughes will clarify that, though) has brought this problem to the club’s attention and even more indefensible that the club failed to spot these obstructed (nay, obliterated) views when it assessed every seat in the ground for that criterion.
However, like declaring the Emperor is naked, it only takes one person to finally dare to tell the truth and I think it should be you, Matthew.
I’m glad, actually, that you’ve brought it to our attention in the accurate way you that have and that you have not sought to distort the evidence in order to conveniently hang a pro-move, Goodison-bashing argument from it.
So, how about keeping us posted, Matthew and keeping us abreast of your complaint to the Club and its (hopefully contrite) response?
Keep coming to Goodison, though, and don’t be deterred (the lads will be mesmerised by the Top Balcony!)
And if you ever wish to meet up (always good to make new Blue acquaintances) you can always find me in the Spellow pre-game (always near to the Bobby Moore 1966 picture). Just ask around (anyway I should be easy to spot because I’ve variously been described by my unreconstructed friends as looking like someone you wouldn’t buy a car off or that I should be wandering the desert in a caravan looking for the nearest bazaar from which to sell dodgy rugs - not exactly North European in appearance).
Good luck, Matthew.
20 Posted 21/01/2008 at 11:27:47
I’m no expert, just a concerned blue like yourself. I did a sightline study of the whole ground, I didn’t look at vertical clearance on this side though. It seems amazing that a former terrace wouldn’t afford views to people while standing though. Having taken a further look at the pics, Matthew is clearly standing, and it would appear quite elevated compared to those ahead of him. The other thing is you can see the supports for the old balcony front TV gantry on the underside of the upper tier. This runs for a few meters either side of the half way line where matthew is photographing from. However, it looks a good foot or so lower than the actual upper stands lowest edge. This is critical as it greatly reduces the viewing window for those towards the rear of the lower Bullens. The TV gantry or the rear rows in this vicinity need to be removed if the actual view is as shown. Or the wholesale changes I mentioned above would completely avert these problems and the area at the back used for improved toilets/concessions etc. Personally, I love the fabric of these old stands. My dad’s first job was apprentice riveter/fitter on this stand, and it’s the first place he took me. It’s a Leitch classic.
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