A Long Time Coming

By Sam Hoare 04/03/2019 38comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 0 - 0 Liverpool

What a day! My first time at Goodison Park. Maybe the result wasn't quite what I had dreamed of. But the experience certainly was.

A little bit of background first at the request of Dave Abrahams. I'm not from Liverpool. I grew up in a pretty well-to-do family that moved around London and the home counties. My Dad moved out when I was fairly young and my Mum had no interest in football so there was no obvious allegiance for me. I was getting into football and the national team around the time that my mum started going out with a policeman from Liverpool.

Before too long, they got married and my earliest memory of Everton was watching the 1995 FA Cup Final on TV aged 13. I don't remember that I was necessarily cheering us on but he was and that was good enough. It looked like fun being an Everton fan (how wrong I was!).

It probably wasn't until I reached 19 or so that the obsession became more serious, reading every article I could find on newsnow.co.uk (which I still do) and watching us on TV at every opportunity. The obsession continued and took root with my discover of Toffeeweb around 2001 or so and I continued to follow all things Everton.

And yet for some reason, I never made it to Goodison. My stepdad didn't go anymore and I knew no other Everton fans. I watch us live in London 2-4 times a season but I'd never made it to the mother ship. My wife had a kid 6 years ago and that made it even more difficult and so this itch remained long unscratched. Till now.

I was in good favour with the wife. I'd acquired a few more Everton supporting pals. And it looked increasingly likely that we would not be at Goodison for ever. I managed to get 4 tickets. It was time.

I was woken up at 5 am by my toddler but for once I wasn't angry. I'd not been sleeping much anyway. Too excited. I took him downstairs to watch the old MOTD highlights of us beating Cardiff. Perfect. I got the kids up and made everyone breakfast. More brownie points. And then I set off to Euston to catch the 10:14.

I met my friends Padraic (Everton fan), Dave (Everton fan) and Joe (Man Utd fan who obviously hates the RS). Joe was hungover as usual while Dave and Padraic had the same mixture of excitement and terror that I did. The train up was fun, there were quite a few Everton shirts and we had a table full of beers, crisps and some chocolate rice snacks that Padraic fancied. We all reckoned that if the RS played to their best that it could be a rough day but that you never quite know. Padraic had been to one derby before and that was the last time we beat them so that was a good omen. And I had been having a very good week;) so that gave me cause for optimism.

We got to Lime Street and met up with a friend of Padraic's who was a local kopite who took us to a restaurant for some beers and lunch. I'm meant to be vegetarian this month and so was compelled to have goat's cheese tart. I love meat. But the beer was good. Padraic's mate said he never went to the derby because Liverpool always played crap when he did. I offered to buy him a ticket but no chance.

We got a taxi to the ground around 3 and got out to walk because of the traffic. The rain was pouring down but the moment I saw the Goodison letters my heart just exploded. How had I been an Everton fan so long without coming here?! Every step closer was a bit like a fairytale, like I was going to an adult Disneyland or something. My wife was looking at the pictures of me this morning and said "I've never seen you look so happy, not even on our wedding day!"

We popped our heads into Everton One, we took some photos with Dixie Dean and I collected our tickets. We went to The Winslow which was absolutely heaving but great fun. We had a few pints there and I bumped into Kevin Campbell on my way out and shook his hand. When we left, I walked straight into Speedo Mick and shook his hand too! It was like someone upstairs was laying on the whole Everton experience!

We headed into the Main stand and grabbed some fizzy Carling. Having spent most of my time watching Everton live at Stamford Bridge and the Emirates Goodison certainly felt like a step back in time but I loved it.

We were sitting pretty far back around the halfway line. Not the best seats perhaps but I was very happy. And very nervous. The atmosphere was superb and it warmed my heart to sing with my Toffee brothers and sisters (I've totally lost my voice today).

The match itself is something of a blur due to the excitement (and beer). My general feeling was that in the first half we competed well without really laying a finger on them. Two moments stood out. One when Schneiderlin gave the ball away and suddenly Salah was impossibly open, he steamed towards goal and time seemed to slow down as I waited for the net to inevitably bulge. Pickford came to the rescue with a great, vital save.

The second moment was a ball swung in (by Digne?) that went over Calvert-Lewin and found Walcott totally unmarked, except he wasn't expecting it and it bounced off him. This lack of anticipation and optimism seemed a hallmark of our play.

In the second half the match was more open and as it went on I felt more and more like we looked most likely to score. But it's no coincidence they have only conceded 15 goals in 30 matches, they have a seriously good defence. The moment that excited me most was when Coleman found Richarlison who stormed down the wing and played inside for Bernard, again I expected the net to bulge but whether he missed it or Alexander-Arnold got a foot in I don't know but it wasn't to be.

As we walked back to Lime Street the feeling was one of gentle satisfaction; we'd given them a good game, we'd made sure they were no longer top of the table but we could have had a long-awaited victory if only for better execution and decision making in the final third. Padraic and Dave and I agreed that we'd have probably taken a draw before the match, even if it was a touch anti-climactic.

The train back was a less raucous affair as I had another cheese-based meal (grrr) and enjoyed watching the ballboy and Klopp videos whilst fuming at the BBC coverage which made it sound like it had been a one-sided affair. To me it looked like we gave as good as we got, at least in the second half.

Got home at midnight with a fuzzy head, a hoarse voice, a cheese-filled belly and mile-wide smile! What a day!! What a club!!!

Player Ratings:

Pickford- 7
Summed up where he is as a goalkeeper currently. One fantastic, crucial save. A mixed bag in the air and very erratic distribution.

Coleman -7
Did pretty well for the most part. Got up and down a lot and seemed effective with Richarlison. A few crucial tackles and a few needless giveaways.

Keane - 9
Best match yet? Hardly put a foot wrong from what I saw and made one superb last-ditch tackle. I've been a detractor of his but more performances like this will have me eating my words.

Zouma - 8
Almost as solid as Keane. His pace is vital and his distribution was decent.

Digne - 8
Player of the season? Consistent going forward and in defense with one or two crucial interceptions and worked hard to nullify Salah for the most part.

Schneiderlin - 6
Part of a defensive unit that got a clean sheet. That's about the best I can say. My biggest issue with him is that he doesn't show for the ball even when there is space and his teammates are in trouble. And he's very slow. Pickford saved his blushes with the Salah save.

Gueye - 8
I've always liked Gueye but he's stepped up a notch this season. Quick around the park and always seems to be there to get a foot in. Distribution is not his strong point but is not as bad as some say.

Sigurdsson -7
Worked hard but did not seem to influence the game creatively. Hard to do, I guess when we seemed unwilling to commit men forwards. Part of an attack that lacks cohesion.

Walcott - 5
Why does he keep playing? Maybe because chances keep coming to him? His pace/movement seems to bring opportunities his way but his shot in the first half are indicative of someone unlikely to take them.

Bernard - 7
I thought early doors that he might become one of my favourite players. He's got a long way to go but i remain hopeful. Great feet, great mind, sublime touch but he needs to shoot more and better. There's a top player in there, hoping we'll see him next season.

Calvert-Lewin - 7
Pretty thankless task against the best CB in the world. He battled manfully and held up the ball very well on occasion. I'd love him to prove the real deal for us and if he can add more goals to his game he will save us a fortune.

Richarlison - 7
Looked dangerous. Might him and Coleman be the solution to the right-hand side? Like Walcott his pace sometimes seems to make things happen even if by accident more than by design.

Gomes - 7
Had some nice touches. Obviously offers more going forwards than Schneiderlin. think most of us are a lot less keen on buying him now than we were two months ago. Needs to finish the season strongly.

Tosun - 6
Seemed inferior to Calvert-Lewin to my eyes but did not have a huge amount to work with. One chance that he couldn't strike cleanly. I thought he might score 15 goals this season. How wrong I was!

Reader Comments (38)

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John Keating
1 Posted 04/03/2019 at 21:31:49
Very apt title, Sam.

Made up you had a great day but probably too much ale to have that whatever it was again with the missus...

Bobby Mallon
2 Posted 04/03/2019 at 21:52:31
Great post!!!
Jay Harris
3 Posted 04/03/2019 at 22:09:24
I'm made up you made your first visit a derby and brought that good luck with you.

I said before the game, Pickford owes us a clean sheet after the Anfield debacle, and with Sam bringing his good luck with him, we will not lose to that shower.

You need to come more often now, Sam.

I used to live in Cambridge and drove home to every home game... mind you, they were the roaring '80s.

Jim Bennings
4 Posted 04/03/2019 at 22:15:57
I'm glad you enjoyed the game, Sam.

I personally thought it was a really good game, not one for the purists or neutral maybe but it was a good battle and typical Merseyside derby. The game reminded me of derbies in years gone by in the '80s and '90s when you couldn't slide a razor blade between the two sides on the pitch, a far cry from some of recent years hammerings at Anfield.

I'm more than satisfied with a respectable point and being only the third team to stop them scoring.

I believe we are getting closer to beating them; with that tad more quality in attack, I think it can happen next season.

When all is said and done, Liverpool themselves have spawned one lucky win at Goodison in the last 8 years.

Jerome Shields
5 Posted 04/03/2019 at 22:17:07
A wonderful description of your trip to Goodison and thank you for the insightful analysis of players. Very interesting.
Andy Crooks
6 Posted 04/03/2019 at 22:18:46
Top stuff, Sam. Being there is so different from TV. I am glad you had a great day. Some day, someone will be in your shoes reporting on a victory. Next season?
Mike Gaynes
7 Posted 04/03/2019 at 22:21:39
Sam, great to see you post on your virgin visit to Goodison Park. So glad you shared the experience. And it sounded like you were a part of the noisiest home crowd of the year, or maybe it was just you. Well done, sir.
Dave Williams
8 Posted 04/03/2019 at 22:41:40
Lovely post, Sam. I can feel your excitement and so pleased for you that the game and result didn't spoil it.

I think you've got your marks spot-on too.

Jamie Crowley
9 Posted 04/03/2019 at 23:35:01
Very, very happy for you Sam. While watching and on the Live Forum, I thought of you a few times.

What a game to see for your first trip to Goodison! The place, on tv over here, and others have agreed who were at the game, was absolutely on fire. The crowd was just fantastic - and you were a part of it. And I, like Jim Bennings, thought it was a great game of football. Very intense despite the lack of goal scoring opportunities.

Great stuff man. Happy for you.

Shaking Speedo Mick's hand – has to be a highlight. ;0)

Better late than never, Sam. Cross one off the bucket list.

The fact you ended up an Evertonian, hailing from a well-to-do section of London, and not some plastic Chelsea fan, speaks volumes. Character, loyalty, and passion, Sam, that's the ticket. Respect.

Derek Thomas
10 Posted 04/03/2019 at 23:56:45
Well done, Sam, if it blew you away at your age, imagine what it did to me at 8.
Jim Wilson
11 Posted 05/03/2019 at 00:18:17
The supporters' pre-match rendition of 'It's a Grand Old Team' was spine-tingling. Right around the ground while the 'glory hunters' just stood in silence (which they did for most of the game – worst away supporters ever).

The atmosphere was brilliant. Goodison can't be matched when the supporters and team are up for it and I think Silva has suddenly realised what this club is about – as did Klopp!

Well done, Sam!

Frank Wade
12 Posted 05/03/2019 at 00:31:59
Great story, Sam, that will stay with you forever. Always appreciate the passion and knowledge in your posts. Hope your little one gave you a lie-in past 5 am this morning. Won't be long 'til he's singing away with his Dad, hopefully in Bramley-Moore Dock. He's been chosen.
Geoffrey Williams
13 Posted 05/03/2019 at 09:36:12
The longer the game went on, the more sure I was that we wouldn't lose. I thought this was a real team performance and proof that we have been short-changed by the players so far this season.
Sam Hoare
14 Posted 05/03/2019 at 09:42:26
Thanks all. Was a truly special day. Time to make it an annual pilgrimage.
Andy Meighan
15 Posted 05/03/2019 at 10:15:34
19 August 1967, 8 years of age: Man Utd at home. Your story, walking up to the ground, Sam, brought it all back to me...

A 3-1 win for us. I couldn't wait to get in the ground and still remember like it was yesterday...

Yes, you're right, Sam: the Old Lady is still outdated but she's ours! I just hope I don't fall off the perch before the Bramley-Moore Dock stadium is open. Imagine all the old fans in there, we won't know ourselves.

Brilliant story, that — I really enjoyed it and glad you had a boss day!

Jack Convery
16 Posted 05/03/2019 at 10:25:15
Great post. Glad it went so well for you. A rockin' Goodison is the only place to be – nothing else like it anywhere else.
Mark Burton [THA]
17 Posted 05/03/2019 at 10:26:14
Great post, Sam! I'm glad you enjoyed the day (and the result!). Struck a chord with me as a fellow southerner without a club who fell in love with Everton in the 1995 FA Cup Final as a 7-year-old.

I only ever used to see us in London as my mates were Hammers fans. I have vague recollections of Big Dunc and the lesser spotted Mickael Madar looking like a fearsome strike force at Upton Park.

I managed to get to Goodison a couple of times as a teenager to watch us get trounced by Arsenal and draw with Middlesbrough but, like you say, the experience of Goodison the first time is incredible, regardless of the game itself!

Michael Lynch
18 Posted 05/03/2019 at 10:28:27
Great story, Sam, and I'm really pleased you made your debut when the place was rocking like that. It sent tingles down my spine on Sunday, and I made my debut as a nipper in 1968, so I've been a fair few times!

Dave Abrahams
19 Posted 05/03/2019 at 13:20:36
Great post Sam, amazing how you became a Toffee from really no encouragement from anyone but yourself, a self-made Blue, brilliant.

So glad you enjoyed the day, pity we didn't get the win but a great atmosphere and you've got some great ever-lasting memories of your first visit to Everton.

Finally, what a great constitution you've got, all that ale consumed and you never mentioned going to the toilet once!!!!

Sam Hoare
20 Posted 05/03/2019 at 13:36:21
Dave, Ha! There were copious trips to the gents, happily none during the match though.
Jay Wood

21 Posted 05/03/2019 at 13:44:55
Great tale, Sam.

In one way though, I'm sorry you got out alive!

I mean that in the nicest possible way because, if we had scored the winner in that bear pit of an arena, the walls and roof would surely have come tumbling down!

Tony Abrahams
22 Posted 05/03/2019 at 14:00:54
Glad you had a great day Sam, and you also got to see a really pumped up Goodison Park. It might have seen better days.

I can't wait for us to go to Bramley-Moore Dock but, if I'm still alive when we move, then I'm also dreading the day that this happens because I've a thousand memories of this very special place and I just hope her final years can have loads of games with an atmosphere like Sundays.

Steve Ferns
23 Posted 05/03/2019 at 14:10:32
Great Article Sam. Glad you enjoyed your Goodison experience and a great game. I hope next time we can meet up, it'd be great to discuss the blues with you in person sometime.
Tony Waring
29 Posted 05/03/2019 at 17:07:28
Great day for you Sam. I can hardly reember m y first time there in 1947 or was it 48. When I could afford it from the 60s onwards I never missed a game. What a place it iswhen the crowd is up for it .that semi final against Bayern, the place was almost in melt-down. One thing you didn't mention was the taste of the meat pies but then you are in Lent Mode at present so you actually haven't missed much ! Next time get a Satterthwaites pork pie you'll be getting them mail order once you have tasted! Hope you have plenty more matches at Goodison and soon Bramley Moor.
Jay Wood

30 Posted 05/03/2019 at 18:19:05
Tony @ 29.

Now that's just cruel to us exiled Blues, mentioning Satterthwaites bakery. Needs an insert of a drooling Homer Simpson here.

Forget mail orders. Me mam once tried to send me a tin of her homemade mince pies. Didn't make it through Brazilian customs: their xray machine thought they were plastic explosives!

A Satterthwaites pork pie would probably suffer the same fate, more's the pity.

Stephen Brown
31 Posted 05/03/2019 at 18:31:09
I know that Goodison feeling Sam! It’s great!

I go to about 4/5 games a season from South Wales. I leave at 7am to make sure I’m there by 12. Park on Bradewell (?) street, call for meat and potato pie and chips, spend 30 minutes upstairs in St Luke’s, walk around the stadium reading every board even though I’ve done it about 30 times, call in the fanzone for the quiz, try to chat to any random blue, occasionally treat myself to a pint in the Winslow, visit Everton 1 buy a programme, keep an eye out for famous blue for a photo, in the ground for the warm up, read the programme and z cars comes on ( hairs on back of neck stand up), chat to the person next to me about the game, after the game give the ‘scally’ 2 quid for minding the car and off I go! Normally home by 10 for MOTD. Only watch it if we win though !!!

Love it !!

Mike Doyle
32 Posted 05/03/2019 at 18:50:24
Great story Sam. I live in London too and in recent years most live games I've attended have been our London games – mainly Chelsea.

However, as a native of Old Swan (Google it), my first time at Goodison 1969-70 was a 0-0 draw with Coventry. A long time ago but still not forgotten and a Goodison experience beaten only by Moenchengladbach (first tie decided by a penalty shootout) and the Bayern Munich semi.

If it's any consolation, I've attended approx 15 derbies over the years – and never seen us beat Liverpool in person. Hope you don't repeat that particular experience.

Paul Birmingham
33 Posted 05/03/2019 at 21:06:26
Well done Sam, made up for you and hopefully plenty more days like that soon.

Epic day all around for Evertonians with the bonus of the U23s, turning them over last night. 2-0, could easily have had at least 5.

It's the bond that can't be broken in life and lasts for ever.

Now for the Barcodes and the same effort and team work, now and the end of this season.

Keith Dempsey
34 Posted 05/03/2019 at 21:18:50
Although it was great to hear that everybody was pleased Sam enjoyed his day, there always has to be somebody highlighting Pickford's mistake at Anfield whether it's relevant to the post or not .I remember how much stick we gave their fans for hanging Karius out to dry after the Champions League Final... and yet we seem to be no better when it suits.
Andy Crooks
35 Posted 05/03/2019 at 21:29:23
Also, Steve, what did you think of Billy Bingham? He was, in my view, the most innovative coach of his generation. My brother worked with him and said that he had it all. Man management, tactical nous that was years ahead of it's time and an understanding of every level of the club.
David Pearl
36 Posted 05/03/2019 at 23:08:59
Great read, Sam, enjoyed the comments too.

Did you miss the Digne giveaways? I think people are waiting for Schneiderlin to slip up, not many caught the couple of crucial interventions.

I've noticed he isn't sitting as far back as he has been which affords Gana more freedom. Gomes needed a break though I expect him back for the next game. And Richarlison did look to work very well with Coleman; let's see if he plays on the right and Bernard keeps his place. We might finally see Silva work out his best 11.

Sam, you certainly picked the best game of the season for atmosphere.

Sam Hoare
37 Posted 06/03/2019 at 09:06:46
Thanks all.

Steve @23, sounds good to me.

Terry Underwood
38 Posted 06/03/2019 at 09:31:34
Sam, I live near Portsmouth and used to travel with ESCLA (Everton Supporters Club London Area). All the blue shirts you saw on the train may well have been them. Next time you go to Goodison Park, ask if that is the case. They arrange cheap travel to both home and away games. So glad you had a positive experience on your first visit. Hope it will not be the last.


Martin Nicholls
39 Posted 06/03/2019 at 09:41:00
Mike Doyle #32 - straying off topic for a moment, that Coventry game wasn't the most memorable for obvious reasons but it sticks in my mind for the "battle" between Big Joe Royle and the Coventry centre half (not centre back!), George Curtis. Curtis was a big bruiser with a crew cut who had the young Joe in his pocket.

I seem to remember him putting his arm round Joe at the end and imagined him saying something like "You'll learn from that, son!" – if he did, then Joe most certainly did! Funny how these random and relatively insignificant moments stick in the memory bank for so long!

Back on topic, great post, Sam, and I echo comments of fellow Blues on here about your experience. If you're going to the Fulham game, maybe we could meet up for a pint?

Martin Mason
40 Posted 06/03/2019 at 10:20:05
Good post, Sam, I feel a bit guilty about not coming up from Horsham more often. The problem is not going to games like Sunday's but doing 8-10 hours travelling and seeing the type of performance that they normally lay on.
Mark Murphy
41 Posted 06/03/2019 at 10:51:08
Martin, I'm keen to get to a home game soon if you want to share the driving??

I've got another Blue mate in Horsham that's also keen to go up to Goodison – we've been a few aways recently.

Martin Mason
42 Posted 06/03/2019 at 13:56:48
Mark, would be glad to. Perhaps you could drop me a line on masonmart@aol.com and we'll go for it.
Mike Morris
43 Posted 08/03/2019 at 12:03:59
You do realise, Sam, that you'll now have to move house much closer to holy ground?

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