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The Everton Experience

By Tony Marsh :  19/03/2009 :  Comments (44) :
There are many of us who are quick to have a pop at the club we support when the shit hits the fan and things fall apart. Ticketing fiascoes, poor communication, hospitality fuck-ups etc etc. Well, let me tell you about my day at Goodison last Saturday when Stoke City were the visitors.

A good pal of mine was the Matchday Sponsor for the Stoke game so of course all the lads had the invite and it was an early start 11:45am. The meeting place was the main reception on Goodison Road where, on arrival, 16 of us were shown to the Sponsor's Lounge.

Now it starts to get good. We are greeted by Everton legend Graeme Sharp who is our host for the day and the champagne bottles are already popping. Once all the lads are there, a mini-stadium tour with Sharpy doing the honours begins. Also present is a photographer, who snaps away all through the day and who makes copies for everyone who wants them at a later date. Free, of course.

First off, we go down to the Everton home changing room where all the kits and boots are laid out ahead of the game... and it's here we find out about Fellaini's new hairdo. After a brief look around, we are led down the tunnel and on to the pitch. BRILLIANT, this bit, as I got my mate to ring my mobile phone so the Z-Cars theme was playing as I walked out of the tunnel.

Now I have been on the pitch a few times before but this was always in an unofficial capacity. You know... after the staying-up games against Wimbledon and Coventry. This time, though, I had the chance to take it all in with out being legged by a Bizzie.

Let me say now that if you have ever stood in the middle of Goodison Park looking up at the main stand you will know what an AWSOME feeling it is. It's a must for any serious Everton fan and a 'must do before I die' thingy.

The place looks huge when you are out there in the middle and I was thinking to myself, How can we call this place a dump? ? It's a shrine to me! "This is the Mecca of football", I was shouting, "Do you know how lucky I am right now? Ha Ha!" What a scream.... It must be an amazing feeling playing in front of so much noise, passion and history as a player at Everton FC. What lucky bastards they are.

By now, it's 12:30pm and the five-course meal starts with more wine, champers, beer etc in full flow. The food is top-notch and far better than the crap they serve up in the Joe Mercer lounge. While you are seated in the lounge, your every need is taken care of. Even betting slips and pens are brought in for those who want a flutter on the game. Absolutely spot on service all round.

By now it's 2:50pm and we are taken to the Directors' Box where we are seated in Row A in the big leather seats. Honestly, these are the best seats in the house and watching the match from this area of the stand is a pure pleasure. Not an obstructed view in sight and a perfect position to watch the game.

Part of the sponsor's duty is the Man of the Match award, for which I was out-voted with about 5 minutes remaining. My pick was Joleon Lescott but Jagz won it so he came down to the lounge for the presentation. Phil was first class and took time out to talk with everyone and have his photo took with all the lads. Great guy.

Also joining Jagielka was Ian Snodin, Derek Mountfield and Old Davey Hickson, along with the FA Cup, the original Rotterdam 1985 Cup Winners Cup and the Premier League Trophy. So here we are with all these famous trophies and a room full of Everton legends ? a gang of mad Evertonians who are by now all well sozzled and you can imagine the carry-on. FANTASTIC!!!

We all took away some cracking photos and some wonderful memories from the day and I must say EFC did us proud. I don't think another football club in the country would have bettered the day we had on Saturday. From start to finish, it was perfect and what a guy Sharpy is. A real gent and a great laugh as well. Everton FC really was the People's Club on the day and I can't stress enough how much of a good job they did on this cracking day.

For once, it's not bad news or a horror story where I am concerned and I hope many of you lot out there get the chance for the type of Goodison experience we had last Saturday... BRILLIANT!!!

As for Saturday's pathetic kick off time at Pompey... WTF's going on??? Surely a low key match of this sort cant come under police procedure or overseas TV rights can it? We are leaving at 6:30pm and driving down. There's a boozer on the top road directly behind the away end, about 5 minutes walk where most Evertonians who want a bevy meet.

It's a mixture of fans but is mainly our lot. No trouble and not bad Grub either. I can't remember the name but you won't miss it and it's easy to find for those making the horrible journey to Pompey for the first time. See you there then... COYBs.

Reader Comments

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Will Leaf
1   Posted 20/03/2009 at 05:22:10

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Cheers for that, Tony, lovely story. I don’t think I’d be alone in the shouts of "wish I could have been there" or the definite "You Lucky Bastard!"
Keith Edmunds
2   Posted 20/03/2009 at 05:55:06

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Great story Tony. Any chance of posting some pictures?
Arthur Jones
3   Posted 20/03/2009 at 06:17:54

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Hi Tony, I?ve have had the experience of the ?Alex Young? suite a couple of times... fantastic. I got to meet and talk to Duncan McKenzie who is a legend to me and Alan Whittle who scored twice v Arsenal in my first ever game at Goodison in 1969. I?m 50 in May and I?m hoping the many hints I?ve dropped to my family will be heeded and maybe I?ll be there for the West Ham game!
Brian Williams
4   Posted 20/03/2009 at 06:51:28

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Fooks sake this can’t be THE Tony Marsh can it? *L*........
Giles Larkman
5   Posted 20/03/2009 at 07:34:12

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Great piece Tony (dare I say feel-good!), massively jealous about your whole experience. I can only assume that you are now back at home drinking gin and listening to Joy Division.
Steven NIkolovski
6   Posted 20/03/2009 at 07:52:57

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The sentiments about standing in the middle at Goodison are true Tony, I did the stadium tour and ran out in the middle while the lovely Marie went to turn Z Cars off, you can find a pic of me in the middle on http://www.evertonfc.com.au/photo_gallery.html
I’m about 3/4 down.
Tony Kelly
7   Posted 20/03/2009 at 08:29:33

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What a ground Goodison Park is. Full of great memories and history, but some soft cunt (I can't remember his name) want?s to move us lock, stock and barrel to a small town. I say redevelop the Old Lady. And before the usual suspects come on and say, "We can't, we've got to move to progress," I say bollocks to you all. We are not subservient to Philip Green or Tesco ? we are EVERTON.
Alan Khan
8   Posted 20/03/2009 at 08:21:11

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Great read Tony.

I did the Goodison Experience in 2005 and it was the highlight of my trip to Liverpool. Being a South African Everton fan, trips to Goodison are few and whilst I?ve been lucky to attend a some games at the historic ground, the Goodison Experience Tour with Dave Hickson was by far the best memory.

It was the day the IOC announced that London would host the 2012 Olympics and we watched that announcement with Dave, on the telly, in the players lounge. Bill certainly has a great seat in the Directors Box.... COYB!!!
Anthony Dyer
9   Posted 20/03/2009 at 09:58:01

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Tony, you should send that letter to the Club to use as PR. It made my hair stand on end just thinking about it. Am I jealous? ? you bet I am.

Enjoy your trip tomorrow and come back with more feel-good factor stories.

Gary Hegarty
10   Posted 20/03/2009 at 09:59:52

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I have to say that this is the part of Everton Football Club that they seem to do well - I remember doing to the stadium tour and it was just me and Davie Hickson. Very surreal being sat in the players lounge whilst a true Everton great was making the brews and getting the biscuits, I’m pretty sure you don’t get that anywhere else!!!

I was also fortunate to be a shirt sponsor for the first few years of Moyes reign and met some true legends and real gents - particularly Dave Watson, Joe Royle, Big Nev and Mr Moyes himself. Good to see that at some level they recognise the fans as being crucial in a world where football is less sport and more business.

Enjoy Pompey Tony.....least they have a roof on now!!!!
Eamonn Turner
11   Posted 20/03/2009 at 09:53:28

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Great article Tony. I don?t always find myself in agreement with your posts but enjoy them, this read in particular.

The Old Lady certainly is a special place. And though I don?t get there as often as I like due to living in Australia, it still gives me goosebumps every time I do visit.

I was fortunate enough to be on the Goodison Turf in 1988 on an "unoffical" tour of the ground when one of the staff announced Everton had just broke the British transfer record by signing Tony Cottee. Feel good times back then too. COYB!

Kevin Sparke
12   Posted 20/03/2009 at 10:08:20

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Jeez Tony, seemed like you had a fantastic day. I’ve only been on the pitch once. When I was late from work and couldn’t be arsed queuing and went into the Park end with the away supporters (Leeds) before the Park End stand was built.... it got a bit hairy when we scored and I had to leap the fence and walk around the pitch to get to my mates in the Paddock.

Just a couple of questions....

Did you call Moyes a coward to his face (If you met him) and tell him you’d once asked Steve Copple to be manager of Everton?
Tony Ateman
13   Posted 20/03/2009 at 10:12:30

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Brilliant Tony. Your best ever post! Loved it.
Alan Kirwin
14   Posted 20/03/2009 at 10:33:26

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Almost welling up reading it Tony.

Sounds almost like a perfect day. The only two things that could possibly have improved it would have been beating Liverpool 5 - 0 on the day (to win the league) and receiving a blow job from Scarlett Johanssen under the table.

Great stuff, very jealous and already planning my turn with my little boy. Now, for Portsmouth...
Nick Entwistle
15   Posted 20/03/2009 at 11:21:00

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So now we know where the man of the match award comes from. Some boozed up corporate types!

For a laugh, even though he stayed on the bench, you should have voted for Shandy!

Adam Drewery
16   Posted 20/03/2009 at 12:06:27

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Great piece Tony.

My Uncle used to be a good friend of Brian Labone and we got a behind the scene tour before a match with Man City about 10-11 years ago. I met Neville Southall who took the piss out of my hair! To be fair it was dreadful (the hair, not the tour!)

COYB
Kevin Quinn
17   Posted 20/03/2009 at 13:04:16

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What is going on Tony? I was reading this and just waiting on it going horribley wrong but no it just kept getting better. Nice piece but you had to get a moan in about the kick off time ;-) wouldn't be a Tony Marsh piece without a rant!
Damian Wilde
18   Posted 20/03/2009 at 14:10:29

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Great read that Tony, it sounded like a great day - ?The Everton Way?!!

I?ve been around the stadium, pitch, etc. - Dave Hickson took us round, great Fella.
Peter MacFarlane
19   Posted 20/03/2009 at 14:21:47

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"There are many of us who are quick to have a pop at the club we support when the shit hits the fan and things fall apart."
Well il be expecting the usual rant and pessimism from you tomorrow if we dont get 3 points! Did make a nice change to be honest you writing an article that didnt try to convince us our team are shite, so thanks for that, hope you enjoy tomorrow and that its another 2 weeks before you post another article because it would mean we’ve got a decent result! COYB
Joeynkoo Ludden
20   Posted 20/03/2009 at 14:47:08

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We should all chip in and buy Doddsie a stadium tour!
Stewart Littler
21   Posted 20/03/2009 at 14:42:50

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Nice read Tony, I?ve sometimes read some of your pieces in shock, and admit that once or twice I?ve considered the possibility you might hail from the dark side(!) ? not any longer! Your post oozed BLUE and I hope you can convert your positivity in this post into some positive energy for tomorrow ? maybe see you down there...
Mike Smith
22   Posted 20/03/2009 at 16:28:53

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Impostor!
Paul Niklas
23   Posted 20/03/2009 at 16:52:37

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I sit very close to where you all sat in the stand for the game and noticed that most of you where not interested in the match, most of you went back to the lounge 10 minutes before the end of the first half and were back late for the start.

Throughout the game you were all up and down to the loo, no doubt too much free drink.

Glad you enjoyed it but no accounting for rudeness and lack of consideration for those who want to watch the match and not have to keep getting up and down for people more interested in the free drink.

There are a lot of people in corporate in the section you sat including the directors and Dixie Dean lounge and nobody, once the game starts, gets up to go anywhere, except for the different people who are involved in a one-off sponsorship for a game who have not a clue nor care about any etiquette what so ever.

Sure this won't matter, rant over.!!!!!!!!
Tony Marsh
24   Posted 20/03/2009 at 17:08:35

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Paul Niklas your right mate,none of us
were interested in the match.We just went there to annoy you.maybe the lack of interest in football is why nearly every one of us that went Saturday will be making the trip south to Pompey this weekend.<

I am sorry Paul but I have been a Joe Mercer lounge member since 1994 so I am used to protocol in these parts of the ground.For your information people are up and down in the Joe Mercer and the rest of the ground like Blue Arse flies
throughout the match but what can you do?

Its a mans game,men like to drink and when they drink the need a pee.

Hope the cheering when the goals went in didnt hurt your ear drums mate as that justwouldnt do.Lets face it rowdy noisey types in a football ground WHAT EVER NEXT????
Paul Niklas
25   Posted 20/03/2009 at 17:27:03

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Tony, I was in the Joe for many years, I am now in the Dixie.

I have no problem with cheering, noise whatever else, but their is nothing more annoying than someone who constantly gets up to go to the loo or is late back from half time or indeed for the start of the game.

The match is the most important to me and it does not take much to be there for the start of the game and to expect people to sit for 45 minutes without constantly getting up.

I actually think those that are regular in corporate or lounge like yourself know the score and in the main dont do this, unfortunatley its a new experience for most people in the sponsors section and they are in the main oblivious to etiquette due to ignorance or drink because its free for the day they indulge, fair enough and I am glad they enjoy it but it still pisses me off or it would if it happened near me which it does not.

By the way, nobody and I mean nobody does hopsitality better than Everton thats a fact.
George Bozman
26   Posted 20/03/2009 at 17:24:10

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Standing in the centre of the pitch at Goodison looking around at those huge stands that have been packed with ghosts of Evertonians roaring on Dean, Lawton Young Vernon Collins etc. absolutely awesome. I wish I could have been there. Memories. will they go or be diluted and maybe forgotten when Goodisin is no more. I just don?t want to leave the place, it's a temple thats part mine.... HELP!
Dennis Stevens
27   Posted 20/03/2009 at 18:47:04

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A great read, Tony. Wish it could have been me!
I presume the pub you mention is the Brewer’s Arms, it certainly fits the description. Methinks there’ll be a mighty queue of Evertonians outside at opening time!
Tony Marsh
28   Posted 20/03/2009 at 19:05:53

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Thats the one Dennis big car park in front. Paul Niklas thanks for the reply mate.I understand what you are saying about the going back and forwards but it happens all over the ground.Some of our lads were so cold due to the fact it was asuit and tie job when usually at the match in that weather its about 3 skins and a big coat.

Hope the rabble didnt spoil your day
but I think most of them were so hyped up because of the occasion.A few of those with us had never been in a lounge before so its a bit harsh to be critical.There was no malice intended maybe just a little to much alcohol and high spirits.

Adam Carey
29   Posted 20/03/2009 at 19:55:10

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Great read Tony. Brought back memories of doing the Goodison Experience a few years back.
I’m sure anyone who’s been on it will agree there is nothing quite like walking out of the tunnel to Z-cars?!
Tom Owen
30   Posted 20/03/2009 at 20:08:05

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I can remember back in the days I was mascot and I had one brilliant day. They gave me a free Everton kit, took me in to the dressing rooms got all signatures and pictures, just brilliant. Running on to the pitch with David Weir. I will never forget.

Good read by the way.
Lee Aitch
31   Posted 20/03/2009 at 21:09:20

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I did the Matchday sponsor thing some years ago. Great occasion as it was Boxing Day and against United - Nistleroy, Keane and Becks all in their pomp. They tonked us 2-0.
Said hello to Rhino down in the changing room and Kevin Campbell and Big Dunc were there in their suits as they were both injured at the time. During the game, sat a few seats along from Kenwright. The Grand Old Lady, eh? Oh yeah, Goodison was pretty grand too...
Dennis Stevens
32   Posted 20/03/2009 at 22:14:55

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The pub you refer to is The Good Companion, Tony - the car park gave it away as Portsea Island is too crowded for many pubs to have such a luxury. If I remember correctly, they serve rather large portions of food.
Tony Marsh
33   Posted 20/03/2009 at 22:33:01

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Cheers Dennis we know where it is so we will be ok.Its info for our fellow
travellers that matters .Thanks Mate
Lorcan Walsh
34   Posted 20/03/2009 at 23:13:54

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I’m gobsmacked I am - Mr Marsh positivity Himself... long may it last.

Seriously though Tony, your account has inspired me to get my act together and make a serious effort to visit the Old Lady with my brother and my nephew before it’s too late (when everyone jumps on the bandwagon of our upcoming CL place and FA Cup win!).

As a footnote, a mate of mine who played for UCD in the Cup Winners Cup tie back in 1984 (when they were a crossbar away from knocking us out in the 1st round) speaks very highly of Graeme Sharp - he made a special effort to look after them after the match with pints and geting them into discos etc... good man Graeme!
Lee Rogers
35   Posted 20/03/2009 at 23:34:05

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See, Tony ? all you posh people in the lounges get up for a pee... the clampet bloke that sat next to me in the Lower Gwladys just pissed himself ? now I call that dedication to our team not wanting to miss a minute of the match.
Jason Broome
36   Posted 21/03/2009 at 01:10:40

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Tony Marsh... wow!

That was an enjoyable read. Sometimes as fans we forget that.
at every level Everton Football Club is incredible.

One thing no-one on this site can question is your sincerity. After that endorsement I for one will be looking to enjoy that experience.
Michael Docherty
37   Posted 21/03/2009 at 11:08:51

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Tony Marsh... Quality stuff ? sounds like a truly memorable day. Good on the Goodison staff for making it happen. I hope I get chance to walk out on that pitch sometime...
Jeff Spiers
38   Posted 21/03/2009 at 11:24:39

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My brother?s wedding was at Goodison and, about midnight, we asked could we see the pitch. We went out onto the main stand and stood in awe at the empty stadium. The guy told us that on many a night he swears he can hear old players out on the pitch. That did make the hairs stand up! This is what EFC & GP is all about. I fucking love us.
Ed Casey
39   Posted 21/03/2009 at 12:44:45

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Thanks Tony - good read!

I don?t always agree with a lot that you have to say but don?t doubt you?re a true Evertonian! Would love to have that experience one day!

Let's hope we keep the push on for the CL place today at Pompey! COYB!
Guy McEvoy
40   Posted 21/03/2009 at 17:11:39

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Not what I was expecting Tony. I usually read your stuff out of some kind of sado masachistic urge when I?m feeling like I need a kick in the nads. Instead, of angst and anger I get a positive, inspiring, happy, upbeat, positive, praiseworthy story. Whatever next?

I?ve actually read that after the pompy loss and it cheered me up. Will await your observations on Pompey with baited breath...

Steve Cavanagh
41   Posted 22/03/2009 at 11:13:42

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After the loss against Pompey I too was feeling a bit down - especially after having got up at 1.45am NZ time to watch the game! However, two things have cheered me up and put things into their right context.

The first was the link to Big Dunc at the Hall of Fame dinner ? fantastic speech from the heart. The second was reading this piece by Tony Marsh ? the new ?happy? Tony Marsh?! Again, great bit of ?from the heart? writing Tony and I especially related to the sneaky visits onto the hallowed turf. I?ve still got the pic from the back of the Echo with me on the pitch at the end of the Coventry game.

Pompey were the better side today but we?ll still be in Europe again next season and we?re still improving. As Dunc would say... "Once A Blue, Always A Blue".

David Clark
42   Posted 25/03/2009 at 00:05:45

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Tony, a great read thanks. Also at the Stoke game, I took my son to the Marquee for his 12th birthday prezzie, along with his granddad too. Three generations of mad Blues at our spiritual home. Alan Whittle was our host and he was just brilliant on the day as were all the waiting staff to be fair. When I introduced him to my lad, Harry C, he raised a smile and made a right fuss of him & telling a few stories, even after the match calling him out to make the prize draw, pity we didn?t win the signed ball though.

We had the pleasure of meeting many of the legends too and Harry?s really chuffed to have met a World Cup winner now. Ray Wilson was also real gent, and Harry is so happy to have one over all his mates. We live 125 miles away so most of them support any team but our local ones.

Not being backward, he also got his hands on all the cups before the rest of the guests got anywhere near them.

No booze for me ?cos of the drive home and Harry had a plate of chicken, chips and beans rather than the posh nosh for the grown ups. We stayed behind to meet the players and all were happy to pose for a picture before driving off (Jags in a Mini!).

Great day, great memories and we?ve plenty of terrific photos of the day.

We?ll just have to do it all again!

Steve Brown
43   Posted 28/03/2009 at 19:30:02

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My niece was mascot for the 1-1 draw with Man Utd this season and I can only agree with everything that Tony said. The whole experience was great but a couple of honourable mentions for me in addition to Sharpie. Duncan McKenzie is a great host while I can honestly saw the highlight for my old man was to meet his absolutet hero Dave Hickson.
Chad Schofield
44   Posted 31/03/2009 at 21:52:26

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Wow, great article - and how refreshing to hear such positivety Tony! Went on the stadium tour after the Villa game at the end of last season... it was fantastic! Clearly not as good as your experience sounds, but brilliant none-the-less.


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