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A different view...

By Chris Rudd :  16/04/2008 :  Comments (23) :
Very recently I took a stadium tour around Goodison. It's something I'd been meaning to do with my sons for years but never got round to. The first thing that struck me was that the leaflet stated we'd be doing the tour in the company of a Goodison legend - I know Dave Hickson used to take the fans round but presumably with his recent health problems he's taking a well earned break, so maybe it'd be Sharpey or Joe Parkinson?

Anyway I'm not sure what position this guide played but I don't remember her bestriding our famous pitch in the forty plus years I've been watching the Blues ? no disrespect meant to her of course. While I was being entertained with, it has to be said, a fairly thin string of anecdotes given the rich history of our fabulous club, I took in the surroundings of the inner sanctum of the Grand Old Lady (the ground not the guide!) with increasing despair.

Now don't get me wrong... I love this club of ours and it was still special, even at my age, to walk up the tunnel whilst Z cars played, to wander through the changing rooms and sit in the boardroom where so many of our heroes have put pen to paper and to examine some fine old memorabilia especially that relating to Dixie Dean...

As I walked round I tried to put myself in the shoes, or should that be boots, of a prospective employee of the club - in other words a player. A player who might have been shown round other Premiership or even European clubs. A player who hasn't got the almost lifelong connection to Everton that I have. A player that might not yet be excited just at the idea of pulling on that Royal Blue jersey. A player who's used to the very best of pretty much everything. It was a worrying thought.

Where is the trophy cabinet with the actual cups or at least full size replicas of the ones we've won over our long history? There isn't one. There are a couple of badly presented glass cases, everything crammed in, where the largest things on show are for winning some obscure 'friendly competition' in the Far East. There are some hidden gems in there, but that's the point... they are hidden. Our greatest moments are recognised by miniatures of trophies, no more than 7 or 8 inches tall. Not terribly impressive.

On to the far from luxurious or hi-tech changing rooms. To be honest I've got ready for amateur football matches in rooms not much worse than those. The lounge area for the players and their families looked like a doctor's waiting room complete with kids toys. The interview 'room' where Moyesey has his moan after the game was no more than an understairs cupboard. Now I understand why this is the case. Goodison was built long before players demanded lounges, jacuzzi baths and executive style dining facilities, long before Sky and the rest of them needed multi-media areas and we've been cramming this stuff in anywhere we can...

But that is what football is now and that is what footballers, rightly or wrongly, expect. Walking round the 'backstage areas' there is simply no 'wow' factor. Far from it. The views of all those fans who think the ground is, to put it politely, tired from their perspective (behind a stanchion for instance) will be reflected and then magnified ten fold by that star player we're trying to entice to the club.

The reason I bring this up is to give a slightly different perspective on that old chestnut - the stadium debate. Cards on table - I don't want to move. In particular I don't want to move to Kirkby even though it would be closer for me to travel to. I don't like retail park stadia. I like proper football grounds that reek of history. Unfortunately these days they also reek of any number of other, less pleasant things as well. So how do we entice these hugely waged prima donnas to our less than 21st century place of worship? (Some of you might say we don't want to, but if we want to progress on the pitch...)

The answer is we probably can't and that's why everyone within the club is towing the party line and promising our existing squad and any potential buys who may be listening, a state of the art edifice that will have all those bells and whistles that Goodison so clearly lacks. Today's players, in the main, probably care more about facilities, in the same way they would if they were booking a holiday hotel, than history and tradition. Unfortunately, one way or another it all comes down to money, doesn't it.

The fact is we simply have to change - whether it be at Goodison, at Kirkby or at another site. Something has to be done about the ground, internally as well as externally and the sooner the better. The 'Yes' and 'No' tribes can throw insults at each other as much as they like but I suspect a large percentage of the fanbase are like me, stuck almost silently, somewhere in the middle.

Trying desperately to rationalise the need for an improved facility with the deep desire not to move to yet another out of town shed. We surely all want a stunning stadium, the financing of which doesn't mean we have to watch a third rate team within it. The tour was quite an eye opener for me - I think it might be a deal breaker for a player. Yes, we know our history but these players don't want to play in the past. I only wish I had an answer.

Reader Comments

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Ravo Stanley
1   Posted 16/04/2008 at 15:04:00

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The trophy cabinet (and a cabinet is what it is!) is a disgrace. I saw it during a ’do’ at Goodison

Should be something akin to the Medici Chapel with full/near full size replica’s of league titles and FA Cup’s.

However, I think it would be the same at Kirkby as its a lack of imagination, vision and class on the part of the club.
Joe McMahon
2   Posted 16/04/2008 at 15:45:04

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Things are going tits up aren?t they.

Everything concerned with Everton at the moment is "Bad News"

I?m in the monority I do want to move to Kirby. However, we deepdown know that we will still be playing at the same Goodison Park with wooden seats in 4 years time , with still no concreate plans.

Personally (and don?t crucify me) the way I look at it is, would Sunderland , Deby and Boro fans want to move back to Roker Park, the Baseball Ground and Ayresome Park?
Andy Loyden
3   Posted 16/04/2008 at 15:59:44

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A redeveloped Park End with all that extra space, could easily incorparate the facilities the modern day game needs. I don’t think it would bother many people that the players entered the pitch from that stand either.
John Lloyd
4   Posted 16/04/2008 at 17:29:31

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I don't think anyone disagree?s we need ?something? but the debate usually centres around Kirkby or not. Even with the old girl looking and feeling like it does. I?d still stay here rather than a new dump.

Why can't Goodison be re-developed, no one has answered that with any real argument yet. Even Yes voters are now cottoning onto Kirkby?s ?Deal of the century? it's gonna cost & cost big. So wherever that money is coming from (NOT TESCO?s INPUT) put it into Goodison. I?d rather spend 7 years restoring something we love than 2 years throwing up a cheap pile of shite Kirkby.
Mike Allison
5   Posted 16/04/2008 at 17:55:19

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Middlesbrough fans have given up going to the Riverside, their attendances are awful. This should be taken as a warning that location is all important. Will moving to Kirkby mean people stop going?

My main problem is not with the move away from Goodison, nor even the location, but the fact that the stadium design is so, so bad. It is featureless, generic and bland. I’ve been to the Ricoh in Coventry and The Walkers in Leicester, there’s nothing ’wrong’ with them, but there’s not much ’right’ with them either. Any new stadium needs character, good design and interesting features. At the very least an Everton stadium should incorporate the tower from the club’s badge. I’d quite like a church in the corner as well.
Jim Hourigan
6   Posted 16/04/2008 at 19:30:34

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John Lloyd, your question has been addressed. In very simple terms almost any building could be rebuilt and a number of contributors will give you long and extensive plans for how to do it. However a number of fundamental issues are never answered satisfactorily.

Firstly and most significantly none of the proposals address the recent H&S and Building regs in any detail, aspects that it my opinion render a new building of adequate size ie 50,000 completely untenable within the present environs of Goodison. Equally the existing properties and school make any major building work infinitely more difficult - but not impossible. However the cost to overcome these aspects put the project beyond the bounds of reasonable costs for the returns.

Secondly funding for a rebuild would have to come from within the club and apparently we have no money to speak of. Investment is already at an absolute minimum so quite where this money will actually come from seems to be pie in the sky.

Thirdly the rebuild would have to be phased in with significant reductions in revenue at the exact time when more money is needed for the build. One of two things could then happen, firstly the club could run out of money with a half built stadium as a direct result of less income because money is being ploughed into a stadium. Or the footballing side could nose dive because of a lack of investment on the playing staff for the same reasons. Then we become the new Leeds but with a half built shack

Finally, and perhaps most contentiously the area around Goodison ie Walton has passed its sell by date to house a modern 21st Century stadium. The infrastructure is rubbish, the facilities are outdated and inadequate and the general ambiance will never attract the investment and support the club will need to compete with even the next tier of clubs let alone the sky 4.

Let me stress that it is always theoretically possible to rebuild, and whilst the heart strings would pull us all towards that desire, the only way it will happen is if every single supporter put up a considerable sum of money with absolutely no likelihood of a return. The reality is that this is the only way it could happen because hard nosed businessmen would be highly unlikely to invest in such a scheme, which would serve the purposes of the committed fan but give them nothing back in return. Businessmen keep their money they don?t give it away.

Ned Hamblett
7   Posted 16/04/2008 at 20:34:28

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WTF cares about ?facilities? when they are getting offered £40k a week to play for Everton? Not AJ, not the Yak and believe me none of the lesser paid players. They know nor care anything for our history and they certainly don?t shiver when they hear the Z-Cars dirge. It?s money they?re after and that?s the only thing that sells our shithole club, Thank goodness!
Ed Fitzgerald
8   Posted 16/04/2008 at 20:40:22

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Jim
Are you making a case for Kirkby here on the basis of infrastructure? I'm not sure what you are saying?

Have you visited the proposed site or heard the laughable transport plans for the ground? If the infrastructure is so poor in North Liverpool why are the reds planning to build their new ground a stones throw away from Goodison rather than move to the mecca that is Kirkby with its attendant superb transport and leisure provision. Perhaps its because the Texan cowboys realise that is would be commercial suicide to move LFC out of the City or are they just soppy old traditionalists?
Jay Harris
9   Posted 16/04/2008 at 22:22:30

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Jim a well written tome but totally wrong.

If you?ve read previous threads on redeveloping GP you will see from well qualified engineeers with stadium experience that GP can be redeveloped ecenomically over a few years (the time it will take to get planning and build Kirkby) in the close season with little loss of income.

GP already has a bigger footprint than St James Park and with surrounding areas bigger than the Emirates.

I would ask Tom Hughes if he is looking in to post his excellent article on redeveloping GP or Can ToffeeWeb dig it out of the archives?
Jon Guy
10   Posted 16/04/2008 at 23:03:44

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Goodison will not be redeveloped.

End of discussion.

Anybody who seriously believes that a built-up residential area can be turned into a building site for the five years it would take to complete the project is naive at best or just plain ill-informed.
You want proof of the difficulties involved then look to the other side of the Park. They have had to move because of the objections of a couple of old women.
The redevelopment of Edge Lane, a project economically viable to the growth of the City and agreed to by all political sides is currently on hold because of a few objections.
Redevelopment of Goodison would not be just another tier on the Park End therefore adding a few new seats. Corporate facilities and directors boxes must be built to get us to an acceptable level. Both Aston Villa and Tottenham have four times as many boxes as we do.
Some may point to the failure of the Marquis as proof we do not need corporate facilities and there is no demand for them at Everton. That is incorrect. There is a demand but what is on offer at Goodison is just not good enough.
I?m sorry ladies and gentlemen, but if you don?t want Kirkby then you better pack up your troubles and get ready to share your seat with a Red every other week, because the Blues will be going to Stanley Park.
David Thompson
11   Posted 16/04/2008 at 23:30:02

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Jon Guy...

Welcome to the 21st Century. The women who held up the development of Anfield were moved out about 15 years ago when they built the Centenary Stand. Liverpool are moving because they have 46,000 on their season ticket waiting list, and can fill a 70,000 seater very week.

FYI Tottenham currently have over 100 boxes - about 3 times more than Kirkby will have. However, given that even for some of our biggest games of the season, we couldn?t sell our existing corporate facilities, I don?t think it?s an issue.

In case you missed it, we?re promised a mid-level stadium. Why do you think coporate clients will flock to one of them, in a retail park outside the city?

Even if they would, where are Everton going to find the £78M they currently need to build the monstrosity?

Redevelopment of Goodison is the ONLY viable option on the table at present.
Steve Pendleton
12   Posted 17/04/2008 at 04:23:15

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Whether you’re pro Kirkby or against, something needs to be done and fast!!

I live in Perth, WA and came across for the Christmas and New Year period for a few games (bloody unreal) and couldn’t get my head around how ancient the stadium looks. I know it’s steeped in history and is sacred ground but we need to evolve as a club or risk being left further behind.

We even paid 120 pounds at the Man City game to have a feed and be entertained in the Marquee and I could not believe the state of it. Over here our Aussie Rules footballers are spoilt with world class facilities and so are the supporters but the government assists in their development and operation.



I know it’s different out your way but like Chris highlights, if a player has no emotional attachment to a club and sees the facilities between a Spurs and Us, it would be safe to say that the former would be chosen if they were to receive the same wage, given the facilities.
Denis Byrne
13   Posted 17/04/2008 at 08:57:07

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A fascinating, insightful and ulimately, depressing post about the shambles that is the ’behind the scenes’ situation at Goodison park. Thanks Chris and the point is well made. I find it difficult to comprehend the incompetency of whoever it is who is responsible for these things. I live in Brighton now and my son’s team (under 9’s) were shown around the Withdean stadium before a game recently. There was tremendous pride in the (tiny) trophy cabinet which had pride of place in the (tiny and temporary) hospitality room. We were even allowed into the (tiny)changing room as the players were coming in and going through pre match rituals! But what seeped out of every corner and member of staff was a love for the club who have worked miracles to make a (tiny) athletics stadium theirfooty ground, and a group of people passionate about showing off the club. It was very humbling and a powerful comparison to a Premier league club with a rich heritage who are unable (based on Chris’ experience and our current experience of the board) to match this demonstration of pride.
Also, depressing that the post merely served to ingnite yet another weary debate about the ground move. Its not going to happen, save your breath.

Everton - consistantly depressing, and like an unrequited lover, we keep coming back, slobbering and pleading for our love to be reciprocated. How pathetic are we?
Chris Rudd
14   Posted 17/04/2008 at 09:16:51

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Ned: "WTF cares about ?facilities? when they are getting offered £40k a week to play for Everton? Not AJ, not the Yak and believe me none of the lesser paid players."



Exactly - the players that we have now. Do we not want to progress on the field? To do this we need better players - players that will be offered just as much money AND better facilities elsewhere as Steve mentions. In those circumstances they’re going to go to Spurs, or City or Newcastle etc etc and we’re going to be left fuming on sites like this about how ’dithering Dave’ (not my view) has screwed up again when it might be things well beyond his control.
Tom Hughes
15   Posted 17/04/2008 at 09:53:28

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Jon Guy,
Funny how you mention Tottenham and Villa, they have done precisesly what you say is not possible..... redeveloped in situ. And have created stadia with the facilities we supposedly need...... not to mention the vast majority of the rest too.
Jim Hourigan
16   Posted 17/04/2008 at 09:51:18

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Ed
Forgive me if I?m wrong but aren?t Liverpool building on the edge of the park without all the terraced streets hemming them in? Does that not fundamentally affect the infrastructure, amenities and options?. For you public transport is more critical but for many personal transport and the complete lack of adequate access and egress and no facilities is just as important. The 21st Century is not about the traditions of the past stopping progress, its about learning from the past and moving forward. If forward is Kirkby, then so be it, but standing still is no longer an option and all the rhetoric of other sites are worth little more than empty promises and empty words. The choice before us is move now or wither slowly. Mistruths abound on either side of the argument but the sad fact is we have one feasible plan supported by the management of the club and some ?pie in the sky? ideas. Both sides peddle arguments to support their view and none of us now the full truth- and we never will its not a democratically run fan club its a business.

Jay
I have read Tom?s article and like I said anything is possible if you have the money. However all his arguments assume that planning approval and regulations adherence can be met at the drop of a hat. His ideas are fantastic but ultimately flawed in the present climate of regulations and planning procedures in the sense that the additional costs to ensure the plans could be realised make the whole plan a complete non starter. For anyone involved in recent major building work, and I don?t mean personal property, they will tell you that costs can be increased by anything from 20% at the lower end to well over 100% to meet planning, H&S and new building regs. Its no good having these wonderful plans if the costs are so exorbitant that to rebuild becomes financial suicide, and that sadly is what his plans are.
Greg Murphy
17   Posted 17/04/2008 at 10:57:34

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Joe McMahon - It?s just not analogous to compare our situation now with those of Boro, Sunderland and Derby in the last years of Ayresome, Roker and the Baseball.

The first two of those stadiums were decommissioned because they didn?t have a hope in hell of complying with the Taylor Report (Goodison had no problems) and indeed both grounds suffered the ignominy of having at least one part completely closed.

The Baseball Ground actually had one stand that didn?t even face the pitch square on!

Ayresome?s capacity was reduced to 24,000 in its final days, Roker was around 28,000 and the Baseball was just 18,000.

In short, all three of them - like Burnden Park, Bolton, which even had a supermarket in the middle of the away terrace in its final years - were total dumps. Very characteristic ones, though (well maybe not Burnden).

To compare Goodison, with a capacity still in excess of 40,000 (with one very easy option to increase that to 46,000 with the introduction of a 2nd tier on the Park End) with those other three (four) is highly skewed.

We really are in danger of developing a self-fulfilling prophecy mindset about Goodison these days: if we think it?s a dump then we?ll only see it as a dump.

Anyway, about being ?crucified?: I wouldn?t ever worry about that. You?ve got your views and they?re just as valid as everyone else?s. Walk confidently amidst the bullets, Blue!
Tom Hughes
18   Posted 17/04/2008 at 13:33:15

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Jim,
Members of the the planning Department have seen the full plans (including the planning officer for GP and Anfield) not the edited snippets on the website. There are a few variations on the theme, not just the single scheme shown, and nothing is prohibitive in them. Trevor Skempton, the architect involved in the development of St James’ Park and Grosvenor development in Liverpool is also involved. There is a lot of potential at GP, and there are already 40,000 "historic" seats in place. To Lose the obstructions and add some more will be less painfull and less expensive than what Kirkby represents.
Paul McCann
19   Posted 17/04/2008 at 13:29:45

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Ed and Jay,

From my reading Jim isn’t saying that Goodison can’t be redeveloped, in fact, quite the opposite. Nor is he saying that Kirkby is the most suitable location for a new stadium [we all know it isn’t].

What Jim is saying is that it would be prohibitively expensive to redevelop Goodison, especially considering the financial situation at the club, whereas Kirkby appears to deliverable due to favourable conditions being offered by big business. That’s the bottom line.

Tom,

The difference between Spurs and Villa and ourselves is money. Spurs have huge wads of it [mainly due to high ticket prices], which they regularly waste on shite players. Villa have [or did until recently] a huge property portfolio in Birmingham. It’s no wonder that both clubs have been able to upgrade facilities over the last 5-15 years [at 5-15 years ago prices, incidentally].
Steve Ashton
20   Posted 17/04/2008 at 14:13:22

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I read the obit. for Brian Harris in the Guardian and thought it is amazing how players who turn out for the Blues long term never loose their love for the club and the grand old lady.

Is this because money was not as prevalent in the game in days gone by and players played because they had an affinity with the game. Tony Kay’s arrival meant Brian Harris spent a season and a half in the reserves, following Kay’s downfall he came back and just got on with it.

His memorial service was at St. Lukes. In 40 years time who will we be having a memorial service for at St Terrys in Kirkby?

I find the whole thing really sad. Chris, I know GP isn’t the perfect home but its our home has been for over 100 years and we should defend our right to remain there to the end. I don’t like Slyness, he does not understand our club and he never will, he needs to go now before he does irrepairable damage.
Tom Hughes
21   Posted 17/04/2008 at 15:33:09

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Paul McCann,.

"The difference between Spurs and Villa and ourselves is money. Spurs have huge wads of it [mainly due to high ticket prices], "

What about the vast majority of clubs who have redeveloped ahead of relocating, some at equally restrictive sites. Until recently we had a sizeable portfolio of property including some around GP itself.

" It?s no wonder that both clubs have been able to upgrade facilities over the last 5-15 years [at 5-15 years ago prices, incidentally]."

I assume the cost ratio between redevelopment and relocating was just the same then, therefore rendering the decision equivalent to now. Jim made reference to prohibitive planning constraints concerning the immediate environs which I agree are changing continually, but the point remains.... expansion at GP can be achieved at the Park end alone to achieve 46-50,000 capacity, or on the Bullens side too with a small land grab to add a further 4-5,000, with only 2 streets abutting it, and part of a school car park which may be being moved in anycase the disturbance factor is by comparison minimal. To put this into perspective, at Kirkby at least 50 homes are being demolished a care home and an entire school are going...... not to mention the disturbance to our history/heritage/identity/accessibility and the cavernous split in the fanbase

Alan Willo
22   Posted 17/04/2008 at 17:45:44

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One note against Spurs, they are looking at moving away from White Heart Lane and possibly building a new stadium. Sorry, but they too are looking at other sites. Villa is different they had land either side of the goals allowing them to have two large ends. GP is a none starter so i dont understand why we are all talking about it, new build is a better commercial option that is FACT, its has and will only be the location that is the problem. Best debate so far, please keep it that way as we all want the same no matter how we voted in the ballot. COYB
Tom Hughes
23   Posted 17/04/2008 at 18:19:21

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Alan,
It’s possible Spurs may move, since they have very expensive plots all around (which we haven’t) and their capacity is 4,000 less than ours and they have a waiting list. There is also a good site in the locality. By "better commercial option" I assume you mean Kirkby will be cheaper. We will be paying for something like 3 of the 4 stands at Kirkby. We only need one completely new stand at GP and possibly an extension of the Bullens, re-roofing of the remaining stands to reduce the obstructions dramatically to meet the same/similar criteria. This will not cost anything like as much as Kirkby and will have the commercial benefits of the superior location in terms of accessibility/history/identity. Even if it was the Millenium stadium we were getting (which we’re not) it would still be imperative that it is easier for us to get there for it to be successfull..... location, location, location etc!

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