Only the Strong Survived: Remembering the Brutal Boys' Pen at Goodison Park in the 1960s

Thursday, 28 February, 2019 83comments  |  Jump to most recent
Paul McParlan recalls the rite of passage of "the traumatic near-life-threatening experience that was watching a match from the confines of the cavernous enclosure known to all as the Boys' Pen, located at the rear of the Gwladys Street terraces at Everton's Goodison Park".

» Read the full article at These Football Times

Reader Comments (83)

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Peter McKenzie
1 Posted 28/02/2019 at 08:35:51
I remember it all too well, Paul! My Dad, a canny Scotsman by heritage, would put me in there and then tell the steward he'd sent me through the wrong turnstile and get me back through the front gate!
Brian Denton
2 Posted 28/02/2019 at 08:46:53
My earliest games were watched from the Boys Pen, as it cost 1s/6d. As soon as my pocket money got me enough to spend four bob to go in the ground, I was out of there!

It was similar in spirit to the ABC Matinees, which old gits may also remember.

John G Davies
3 Posted 28/02/2019 at 08:54:34
Pay in the pen. Climb the steels at the back into the Street End.
Chris Hockenhull
4 Posted 28/02/2019 at 09:08:24
Fabulous article... anyone of the age this applies to please read.

My dad never allowed me there for which I should thank him for. We often went in the Park End stand I recall seeing endless streams of fireworks whizzing around the pen like the film of the May Blitz I was madly interested in seeing at the time.

Back in 1964 I knew that lads like me would never survive in that place such was it's reputation locally. Which begs the obvious question I thought of every time I read about those halcyon days from Boys Pen Bill fresh off Uncle Cyril's handlebars... romantic bollocks!!!

Dave Abrahams
5 Posted 28/02/2019 at 09:29:50
Chris (4), if Boys Pen Bill ever went into the Boys Pen it would have been at the back of Bullens Road right next to Gladys Street, a marvellous but murderous speck, great for growing up in those late forties and early fifty days.

Boys Pen Bill claims he was a very nervous boy growing up, so I doubt he ever went in the Boys Pen, nervous? He'd have been drove completely doo lally If he'd have gone in there.

Mind you, there was a snivelling little fella there, always on his own, tight little bastard, he could peel an orange without taking it out of his pocket... now that I think about it, could have been him.

Brian Harrison
6 Posted 28/02/2019 at 09:52:18
I paid my one and only visit to the Boys Pen in the late 50s, I told my Dad after the game I am not going in there again as it was just full of kids running round and not interested in the game. That was my last visit spent the next 10 to 15 years in the Gwladys Street, a far more pleasurable experience.
Clive Rogers
7 Posted 28/02/2019 at 10:00:52
It was part of the Gwladys St terrace in the corner area next to the Bullens Rd paddock. I went in a couple of times, but it was a frightening experience patrolled by older bullies and kids just looking for a fight. Junior season ticket after that.
Chris Hockenhull
8 Posted 28/02/2019 at 10:07:44
Dave (4) – my thoughts exactly... haha!! 😂
Tony Pemberton
9 Posted 28/02/2019 at 10:10:26
I may be mistaken but I seem to remember hearing our Eton Boating song belting out from there, late 60s or so?? Can anyone remember what our words went like?
Tony Marsh
10 Posted 28/02/2019 at 10:18:58
Great article and very true but the bit about Huyton being in rural Lancashire threw me a bit? The distance from the old Dovecott Baths on Liverpool Road to the town centre was about 3 miles in distance.

There are more Scousers in Huyton than there are in Liverpool City centre and always have been since the 1940s. Huyton families were mostly bombed out of the town centre, South end, China Town and Scotland Road areas of Liverpool during and just after WW2. Definitely not rural Lancashire.

The Boys Pen was still operating during the mid 1970s when we used to go in there. Not sure which year it closed but it was an horrendous experience for young lads who went in alone. You needed a few of you together in there to survive. Helped if you could fight as well. Anyone know when it was last open?

Steve Hogan
11 Posted 28/02/2019 at 10:40:49
The first time I went in on my own, in the 60s as a 9-year-old, I likened the experience to when Oliver was brought in to meet Fagin and his gang for the first time by the Artful Dodger. Not for the faint-hearted.

The kids in there, sang the same songs and chants as the adult crowd did, only in high pitched voices.

The main occupation for the whole 90 minutes was trying to bunk into the Gwladys St end. Happy days? I'm not so sure...

Don Alexander
12 Posted 28/02/2019 at 11:18:32
In the film The Deerhunter, they got the idea of the cage in the river from the Boys Pen.

'Nuff said.

Michael Lynch
13 Posted 28/02/2019 at 11:37:31
Brilliant piece – "they were trying to set fire to a policeman" had me in stitches.
Jay Wood

14 Posted 28/02/2019 at 12:02:42
Cracking read!

Like Michael @ 13, the line "they were trying to set fire to a policeman" was my favourite take from the piece also.

John Keating
15 Posted 28/02/2019 at 13:49:39
Paul, it's quite obvious you weren't a regular in the Boys Pen as what you described was mild, mellow and must have happened on a quiet day.

It really could be gruesome in there.

I seem to remember paying a shilling. Wouldn't take even an extra halfpenny in with me as for sure I wouldn't be bringing it out!

My dad, me and the rest would either walk to the ground either along Great Homer Street or the top way along Netherfield Road.

Depending on how many ale houses they stopped at on the way – and there were loads – and how many planned on the way back, determined if my dad was flush enough to pay me in to Goodison Road with them, or skint enough to give me the bob for the pen!

If he was really pissed then I'd be in Goodison Road!! Used to keep my fingers crossed he was always pissed!!

It was crazy enough growing up around Everton but you were really brought on faster being a semi-regular in the pen !!

The regulars must have gone on to either be leaders of industry or regulars in Walton jail.

As regards Kenwright being a regular? Well, like most things that come out of his mouth — a load of shit.

Alan J Thompson
16 Posted 28/02/2019 at 15:13:46
I think my first half dozen games were in there before being spotted in the queue by my older brother who paid for me into the Ground and never went back. There used to be a railing that could be removed and you'd sneak into the Ground but usually a copper was placed there and I could never work out why they never fixed the railing.

Tony(#10), I had an aunt who lived in Huyton and when she was sent letters or Xmas cards it was always addressed Huyton near Liverpool.

Gerry Morrison
17 Posted 28/02/2019 at 15:39:33
What a wonderful read. It brought back some great memories. I went in the pen at Anfield a few seasons too. You didn't need a ticket for the pen, even for all-ticket games, so that was a last option if all else failed. I was more frightened in the pen at Goodison than I was surrounded by Kopites at Anfield.
Steve Ferns
18 Posted 28/02/2019 at 15:53:01
Chris #4, wasn't the Park End for away fans? I started going in the '80s and so can remember the old Park End and it was very much the away fans in there in those days. However, I was only 15 when the present Park End was opened and about 13 when the old one was demolished, so I could be mistaken.
Steve Ferns
19 Posted 28/02/2019 at 15:56:43
Alan, they're a strange bunch in Huyton, my mother referred to living in Huyton-With-Roby, whereas my Dad (who lived on the same estate) called it Huyton. Don't forget we all lived in Lancashire before they invented Merseyside. Like Tony Marsh, my family was displaced during the bombing of Scotland Road in world war 2.
Dave Ganley
20 Posted 28/02/2019 at 16:42:06
Steve yeah officially the park end was for away fans and when United and RS etc came to GP they packed the place. However when there weren't many away fans they used to let home fans in there separated from the away fans by a thin line of police. I used to get taken into the enclosure underneath the main stand near the park end and when the likes of Chelsea, Newcastle, Leeds etc came it was carnage in the park end. I was only a kid then but you spent as much time watching the park end as you did the game.

As far as the boys pen goes, I used to pester my dad to let me go in there as I wanted to stand and sing and he wouldn't go in the Gwladys as my dad wanted to be able to see the game properly. Looking back I'm so glad he wouldn't let me go in the pen, it would have been a meek lamb to the slaughter.

Brian Harrison
21 Posted 28/02/2019 at 16:59:12

I remember before segregation came in and you could watch Everton kick towards the Park End in the first half then walk round and watch the second half from Gwladys Street.

I used to love going to the away games with my Dad and Brother before segregation and you could mix with the opposing fans. Although fans were still passionate for their own team, there was always appreciation for the opposing players.

I remember going to Burnley and they had Blacklaw in goal Angus and Elder as full backs, Jimmy Adamson and Jimmy Mclroy and Ray Pointer some great players in their team. Funny hardly any fights and if someone did kick off fans from both sides would step in to stop it how things have changed.

Everything is so gladatorial now its them against us, and there is real bitterness towards the opponents these days, were in the past you spoke to opposing fans telling them how much you admired certain players in their team.

And yes, fans would also pick out the not so nice players in the opposition. Usually handshakes all round at the end, immaterial of the result.

Eddie Dunn
22 Posted 28/02/2019 at 17:05:25
There are many similar stories of the pen at Anfield, though ours was the first. I can remember hearing the high-pitched singing from the kids.
Jay Harris
23 Posted 28/02/2019 at 17:16:10
I went in the boys pen from when I was 10 but never really had any trouble but I guess I was a big lad for my age so nobody ever bothered me.

My overriding memory of the boys pen was an end of season game against Fulham when we won 4-1 (I think) to win the league and hundreds of us just climbed over the fence and ran onto the pitch with thousands more.

Shame you cant do that these days cos that made many a young kid deliriously happy.

As for the Park end it was always for the away support until developed by PJ when a number of "older" ex gladiators decided to go to that end.

I do believe they then used to compete singing with the Gladys St mob.

Nostalgia is a great thing but it would be nice to add some modern memories.

Brian Murray
24 Posted 28/02/2019 at 17:18:49
My first and only experience of The Kop Boys Pen was in 1969. Even though it was a comfortable win and the Anfield Road end was bouncing, me and my older brother were in no danger until Gordon West kept turning round goading the Kopites, even when the ball was in play. It started to get a bit scary then, I can tell you!!
Dave Ganley
25 Posted 28/02/2019 at 17:40:35
Brian, yeah I missed all that as my dad didn't start taking me to the game till the mid 70s. He did used to tell me things like that though, especially some of the opposition players he saw.

Him and his mates occasionally used to go to Old Trafford to watch the United team of the 60s: Best, Charlton Law etc, they just went to see great players on show. There used to be a lot of that going on then, just going to see great players. You would never get that these days. >

Towards the late 70s early 80s my dad wouldn't let me go away as there was too much trouble so we occasionally used to go across the park with some red mates to watch them, it actually used to go on a lot then and the reds used to come to Goodison Park when they were away. It wasn't being a turncoat because you never support them but it was just about watching football.

Now the bitterness and hatred means you can't even go to the derby with your mates, red or blue as the loons make sure that doesn't happen. It's a shame as seeing blues in the Kop and reds in the Gwladys was what I grew up on, made us different from the rest of the country as little or no trouble happened.

John Cook
26 Posted 28/02/2019 at 17:49:01
Jay Harris that game against Fulham when we won the league was the first and only time I was in the Boys Pen going there with my brother. Funny how it happened. We moved to Kirkby in 1957 from Fountains Road but went to school in Norris Green, Ramworth Square a bus as laid on every day. I remember on the Friday the Headmaster in assembly held a load of tickets in the air asking do any kid want a free ticket to watch Liverpool. For some stupid reason I threw my hand up and he gave me a couple of tickets.

When I got home, I showed them to my dad who said "What the fuck do you want them for?" He ripped them up and said he would take me to see the blues the following week. We got to Goodison when he dropped me and our kid off at the Boys Pen and said he would see me after the match!

I remember trying to climb over the top like Jay and someone grabbing my coat pulling me back. As I turned around, this big bastard threw the head in and I ended up with a five stitcher across the left eyebrow. Met my dad outside and he said it was the last time he was taking me to the match as I was always getting in trouble!

Never did go back in. Got a job on the milk and a paper round and paid to go in the Gwladys Street after that. My dad stuck to his word and I never went to the match with him ever again. Even the aarl fellers were bastards them days.

Dave Abrahams
27 Posted 28/02/2019 at 18:23:57
Dave (25), I think in the fifties and sixties literally thousands of reds and blues fans went to Anfield and Goodison if they didn’t follow their team away, Imwas one of them and went regularly to watch Liverpool at Anfield with my red mates and they came to Goodison to watch the blues.

In fact from 1951 to 1954 I had to go to Anfield to watch first division football and the red fans from 1954 to 1962 had to go to Goodison to do the same.

As you say times and attitudes have changed with the way we react to each other: Everton and Liverpool fans.

Tony Abrahams
28 Posted 28/02/2019 at 18:53:25
My first thought was about the man who tells lies, and then my second thought was that I'd fuckin hate to go on a 3-mile run with Tony M!
Brent Stephens
29 Posted 28/02/2019 at 18:56:22
Tony #9 "I may be mistaken but I seem to remember hearing our Eton Boating song belting out from there, late 60s".

It was the boaters that impressed me. Much better than flat caps.

Darren Hind
30 Posted 28/02/2019 at 18:57:52
HaHa Dave A #5

Billy boy would not have survived the Boys Pen as an adult let alone as a schoolboy.... He'd have been eaten alive.

Funny enough a group of us once sat behind Tory boy Philip Carter at Main Road. Somebody spotted him, I don't know if it was the ale or not, but everyone decided to take the piss out of him. He got murdered. It all started when somebody said "imagine that cunt in the Boys Pen?"

Carter would have lasted about as long as Kenwright.

Tony Abrahams
31 Posted 28/02/2019 at 19:04:05
I've said it before, Darren, but I reckon Martin Atkinson, must have had the same treatment off some funny Evertonians, and he's been getting us back ever since.

Just one time, is all we want, Martin, it's never too late to change, please!

John McFarlane Snr
32 Posted 28/02/2019 at 19:04:57
Hi Dave [27] I think you and I are in the minority, our memories are from when the Boys Pen was situated in the 'Lower Bullens' area, which (for the information of younger supporters) was at that time, part of the Paddock.

Like yourself, I too attended matches at Anfield, their Boys Pen, as you will readily recall, was at the back of the Kop. Football in the city was enjoyable in those days, a rivalry without the apparent hatred that prevails today, and will no doubt be in evidence on Sunday.

Dave Abrahams
33 Posted 28/02/2019 at 19:11:48
Eddie (22), When I started going to the game, Liverpool's Boys Pen was at the back of the Kop and Everton's was at the back of The Lower Bullens Road paddock.

You are correct, they were both as rough as each other, which wasn't all that surprising as we were all young Scouse kids and just took the rough with the smooth.

The only difference I noticed was that the men went to the toilet at Goodison and on the Kop they pissed where they stood.

Stephen Meighan
34 Posted 28/02/2019 at 19:16:04
The Boys Pen. What a horrible place that was for any young lad growing up watching their beloved blues. I only went in there a few times.

I remember being in there against Fulham 1968, I was only 7 with my older brother and my older cousins; some bully robbed my Everton scarf but my cousin retrieved it after a little altercation.

The worse thing about the Boys Pen was not so much the bullying but you couldn't see fuck all in there. So, after a few experiences in there, I made sure I was out of that shithole. I would beg borrow or steal to make sure I would not be going back in there.

Then I progressed to the Gwladys Street... Park End... Paddock.... Enclosure. The rest is history.

Dave Abrahams
35 Posted 28/02/2019 at 19:19:30
John (32),

I just noticed your post after I had posted mine, yes those far away days were much more friendly than what goes on today, mores the pity.

They started it though!!!

Peter Mills
36 Posted 28/02/2019 at 19:23:06
A few years ago, I sat down with my Dad, his great pal Dick White (father of Terry of this parish), my nephew James Corbett, and a bottle of fine Scotch. James was carrying out research for his “Faith of our Families (Everton FC: An Oral History 1878-2018)” book.

After a while, Dick, an excellent raconteur, told his tale of how he had seen W R Dean score his 60th goal in 1928. He had pestered his dad all week about the match, but his father, though retired from the force, “still had that majestic, slow policeman’s gait”, and they arrived at Goodison late. The old boys pen was on Bullens Road, just around the corner of Gwladys Street.

Arrangements were made for Dick, clutching his four pence, to go in the boys pen and meet his father after the match. “When I was within five boys of the front of the queue, disaster struck. The gates shut. I was distraught - this was history in the making. Tears streamed down my face. Then this gentleman was walking along and stopped, looked at me. ‘What’s the matter with you?’ he asked. So I unburdened my sorry tale on him. ‘How much money have you got?’ he replied. ‘Fourpence’ I said. ‘Well, you need a shilling to get in’ - and he gave me eight pence! I don’t think I even thanked him. I legged it to the nearest turnstile, paid my shilling, and fought my way through this mass of people behind the Gwladys St goal. After the match I told my dad my story, and for weeks after he’d show me to people and tell the story, and he’d always end it with: ‘And this unknown man gave him eight pence’ “.

Martin Mason
37 Posted 28/02/2019 at 20:01:19
I can relate to this very well. My Dad was a kopite but my Grandad and Uncle used to take me and my brother to the Everton games. We'd wait outside the pub while they had a quick one and then they'd drop us off at the Boys Pen.

It certainly was very tough in there and we'd often cop a punch but only once did we get involved in a real boys punch up. Can't remember what it was over but we were always a bit vulnerable having accents that were more Manc than Scouse.

My brother was badly asthmatic then though and we were spared the wonders of the Boys Pen from then on.

Paul Swan
38 Posted 28/02/2019 at 20:37:53
I remember gong in the boys pen a few times but seem to recall it was right at the back of the Gwladys Street in the corner by the Paddock. Horrible metal cage and railings and not much depth on the terracing from my memory which made the view dreadful for shortarses like me.

More regularly, I would then go to the Gwladys Street and get down to the front with a little wooden stool my grandad made for me to stand on. You would even see kids in there with milk crates to stand on.

Neil Copeland
39 Posted 28/02/2019 at 20:41:07
I had a lucky escape.

My brother, Dave, is 4 years older than me and dad therefore took him to the match first. Same sketch as the report I.e. dad would stop at the pub on the way. He would then deposit Dave in the boys pen whilst he went in the paddock. He didn’t have to because he earned enough to pay for 2 adults but he did (character building obviously!).

Dave could handle himself well for an 11 year old but hated the boys pen that much that after a few visits refused to go again. He blamed dad entirely and decided to defect to the dark side where he went in the Kop with his mates - to teach dad a lesson!

So, dad was that shocked and did not want to lose both sons to the dark side. Needless to say I went in the Paddock accompanied by a stool which was smuggled under the turnstiles for be to stand on.

Tony Heron
40 Posted 28/02/2019 at 22:04:19
Well maybe it's just me but I can't recall having any bother in the Boys Pen. My 1st game was in '60 or '61. It was against Arsenal who had Jack Kelsey in goal, with the Blues featuring Bobby Collins, Roy Vernon and Alex Young.

My Dad would give me half a crown. The bus fare was 6d each way, a shilling to get into the pen, a programme cost me 4d and I'd get a Footy Echo with the remaining 2d. Living in Huyton I would get the "footy" bus from Page Moss direct to the ground. Happy days.

Christine Foster
41 Posted 28/02/2019 at 22:58:15
"Without question, they could trace their lineage back to the Witches from Macbeth as they delivered a series of curses and threats that delivered a dagger of fear into our hearts. With a series of hideous cackles, they added to our torment."

I have to say I spent many a match in the Boys Pen as "adolescent youth" but confess I did have a couple of bouncers with me! But in truth I never found the pen as horrific as some say, indeed I do remember the chanting, the abuse, all in high pitch.. they would often aim to get adults chanting, and were often successful... I used to sit on the barriers in my jeans, bobble hat and scarf, I was so small it was a hell of a drop when the crowd surged or a goal scored..

The gates used to open about 20 mins from the end, I used to leave the pen and go into the Street End or up into the stands, but if I remember rightly they used to have stewards who didn't like you going up in the stands...

It wasn't all nasty, lots of laughs and good humour too... you had to give as good as you got and were, in the main respected for it. I don't recall being a relative of the witches of MacBeth, but I probably was... time does that to you. :-)

Brian Wilkinson
42 Posted 28/02/2019 at 23:12:34
There are two photos of the old Boys Pen, if you type in Everton boys pen on Google and click on images above the google instead of all, it will just bring images up, the first two are the Boys Pen.

Sorry for not being able to add a link as I could not get the option, when I selected images on Google.

Anyone with a bit more tech knowledge than me might be able to find them and put a link on here.

Andy McGuffog
43 Posted 28/02/2019 at 23:40:25
John Cook. I suspect 'Pop' McKay introduced more kids to the joys(?) of being an Evertonian than any other person. As Secretary of Liverpool Schools FA, he was a great source of tickets, but never, as far as I remember, for Anfield.
Malcolm Dixon
44 Posted 01/03/2019 at 09:06:59
I only watched one game from the Boys Pen, early '70s, can't remember much about it. In my mind, I think it's all gotten mixed up with the pen they keep the captives in, in The Deer Hunter before making them play Russian Roulette:

"You wanna play games?"

Similar vibe.

Derek Thomas
45 Posted 01/03/2019 at 10:04:10
You could always tell when the ground was really rocking as the high pitched sound of 'the monkey house' would flow in over the top of the deeper adult roar.

I went in there once, I came out bruised and poorer.

Alan J Thompson
46 Posted 01/03/2019 at 10:08:37
Steve (#19); What it has to do with the Boys Pen, I don't know – nor how true it is or isn't but – as a youngster, my Aunt, who lived off Alt Road which was at the back of the cricket ground and down the hill from the church end of Huyton village, the road before Blue Bell Lane, used to say that Huyton-with-Roby was that part around Bowring Park.

Liverpool City, Huyton, Runcorn, Harold Wilson, Peter Reid, some of these series of villages that became Liverpool certainly have a history of their own.

Eddie Dunn
47 Posted 01/03/2019 at 11:46:16
Dave Abrahams, I Googled "Boys Pen Anfield" and there are plenty of tales of similar ilk of kids getting robbed etc. Their pen started off in the paddock too and later was put in the Kop.

There was a memorable story of the Kop watching kids trying to climb out of it and every time one managed it (out of the paddock) there would be a huge cheers from the crowd, as the offending tyke would disappear into the Kop to the fury of the old Bill. I noticed some comments too that suggested our pen, which the poster admitted was older than theirs, but couldn't have been as rough.

Dave Abrahams
48 Posted 01/03/2019 at 12:29:37
Eddie (47), yes just googled that about the Anfield boys pen, it was rough and ready just like at Goodison. To be honest, I was always with a few lads, most of them older than me.

I was seven when I first started going to both grounds. We'd walk along Greaty (Great Homer Street) and up the Valley (Everton Valley), turn left to go to Goodison and carry on to go to Anfield.

I was always well looked after, one lad, didn't know him, even picked me and put me on his shoulders in Liverpool's boys pen, Liverpool v Blackpool, late kick-off on a Saturday afternoon, I think it was a Grand National day, hence the late kick off.

Another time, it was pure bedlam in there (Anfield boys pen), Liverpool Boys v Stockport Boys, final of the English Schoolboys Cup, over 40,000 in the ground with the pen packed jam tight. It was on a Bank Holiday Monday, Whit I think... You couldn't move and it was a roasting hot day. I think it went to extra time. I loved football but I was glad when the game was over and got out and to get some fresh air.

Happy days? Well mostly, do I wish I was back there then? Most definitely, I go back to that place very often as I guarantee every one does, as Nilsson sang “Yesterday, that's a place from long ago”.

Steve Ferns
49 Posted 01/03/2019 at 12:35:46
Dave, like you I used to frequent Anfield as a kid. It was preferable to staying in my nan's with all the girls, so I went with my uncles to watch the reds.

When I got a bit older I was allowed to go and watch my dad play instead. But there was a period between 6 and 10 when I was quite often, and sometimes whilst wearing my Everton shirt (coat firmly zipped up!) This was the height of the glorious '80s and seems completely different times.

Brian Harrison
50 Posted 01/03/2019 at 12:49:53
I, like many, went with my friends to watch Liverpool quite often, they all went on the Kop so I had no choice, but to be fair they came to Goodison Park and had to stand with me in the Gwladys Street.

I remember when I was olde,r I went to watch them play Leeds, and as usual I was standing in the Kop. But I couldn't contain myself when Billy Bremner scored a screamer from outside of the box. I jumped up with both arms in the air shouting "Yes!!" Just as well I was there with a friend who used to box in the 6-8 rounds contests at the Stadium, otherwise I might have been in bother. I think that was the only goal of the game.

Eddie Dunn
51 Posted 01/03/2019 at 13:23:32
Brian, it was common even in the '70s and '80s that you could glean a ticket for the derby at Anfield. I stood in the paddock at one game and there were lots of blues in there with me, scarves and all, and it used to be a common sight to see blue and white on the Kop and red in the Gwladys Street End. The days before so many season tickets. It will never be the same.
Steve Ferns
52 Posted 01/03/2019 at 14:48:38
As a matter of interest, when did season tickets become a thing? I have seen others go on about having them in the '80s, but the reality was that back then the ground never sold out, and you could buy entry at the turnstyle for every game. I got my first season ticket at 16, in 1995.
Brent Stephens
53 Posted 01/03/2019 at 14:53:12
Steve, my first season ticket was in the early sixties. Small, light-blue, hard-back booklet with tear-out coupons. Used to sleep with it under my pillow!
Dave Abrahams
55 Posted 01/03/2019 at 15:26:19
I got my first season ticket for The Lower Bullens Stand the season we won the league in 1969-70, never used to bother before that, but season tickets for the stands were going long before that. I don't when they started for the ground, I've never had one.
James Flynn
56 Posted 01/03/2019 at 16:11:31

Heard the Boys' Pen referred to so many times on here. Is this a picture of it?

Terry White
57 Posted 01/03/2019 at 16:47:56
I think this is a "later" version of the pen, James, #56, 1974. But definitely the "pen".
Terry White
58 Posted 01/03/2019 at 16:50:10
Thank you, Peter, #36, for bringing back fond memories of our Dads. Wise men, indeed.
Ray Robinson
59 Posted 01/03/2019 at 17:20:37
Never stood in the Boys Pen thank God as I'd never have survived. However, I have been impacted by it - standing on the Gwladys Street terrace in front of it, you'd quite often find your coat covered in spit.

Like others on here, I used to go to Anfield in the sixties with my dad when his mate couldn't use his season ticket in the Kemlyn Road stand. Everyone there knew I was an Evertonian but I never got any grief – just good-natured banter. However, on the Kop one Saturday with a schoolmate, I forgot that the rest of the ground wasn't as forgiving and cheered ecstatically when Newcastle scored. Needless to say, I had to rapidly change position after that – as you could those days on open terracing.

And since we're indulging in nostalgia, in those days before the internet, big screens and even local radio, you had to rely on those alphabet signs to get the half-time scores! Remember those?

Alan Bodell
60 Posted 01/03/2019 at 17:57:36
My first ever game at Goodison, 67-68 season, Stoke and a 3-0 win. Boys Pen for me as I went into the brilliant program shop on Goodison Road (they had programmes from every club in Europe), and came out with no money to get in. To this day, I like to think it fell out of my pocket but anyhow I went to the Boys Pen and some kind old guy paid me in. It was okay in there and I never felt threatened.
Jay Harris
61 Posted 01/03/2019 at 18:40:17
I had forgotten those score cards.

When you look back it seems so archaic for a guy to walk up and down laying scorecards against the billboards.

Dave Ganley
62 Posted 01/03/2019 at 19:10:22
Yes Ray I also remember the alphabet half time scores, the match program had a list of what letter corresponded to what game if I rightly recall.

As far as season tickets go, I never had one in the 70s and 80s as first off my dad couldn't go to every game in the 70s and when I started going on my own in the 80s I started playing a lot myself on a Saturday morning so if we were away then I never got back in time so wasn't worth it. In those days though you could always get in the ground apart the derby games which were all ticket. For cup games like semis and finals you used to be able to collect vouchers from the match program so collect enough and it was happy days. I didn't get a season ticket until the 90s when the ground capacity got smaller and it got next to impossible to get tickets for the big games so season ticket was inevitable really. Id also stopped playing by then so I could go to every game.

It's great how so many people used to go to anfield and vice versa to Goodison. Would never happen now.

Chris Hockenhull
63 Posted 01/03/2019 at 19:20:43 the 60's the two blokes who used to go all around the sides.of the pitch with that massive board advertising the Golden Goal / Supporters Club development stuff etc..looked to weigh a ton!!!
Eddie Dunn
64 Posted 01/03/2019 at 19:31:26
Looking back it was great tohave the whole division playing at 3pm on Saturday. I would jump on the bus at Goodison, getting off in town to get the train across to hamilton square, and then run down to the bus station at Woodside to get a bus back to Eastham. The first thing I would do would be go to the paper shop for the Pink Echo to read the match report and look properly at all of the other scores and the new positions on the tables. It was incredible that they could produce a paper so quickly(most of the photos would be first half) and get it type-faced and printed and get it all over the place so quickly.
What marvellous times they were, the excited talk at the ground when someone had a little radio to their ear and would convey if Liverpool were losing. The cheers as we walked out of the ground when a few results were read out over the tannoy.
Jumpers for goals eh? Isn't it?
Paul McGinty
65 Posted 01/03/2019 at 19:39:53
Paid a shilling to get into the Goodison Derby, the one shown on big screens live at Anfield, where Bally got us the win. Remember the line to get in at the Pen, average age about 45 !!! No other way to get in for the desperate. I would be about 12 years old, pretty regular attendee because it cost one quarter of the price to get in the pen compared to the Ground, a 4 shilling expense. Had a couple of years selling programs in the late 60s and could get rid of my supply in about 5 minutes selling to the line waiting to get in at the Gwaldys Street.

Brent Stephens
66 Posted 01/03/2019 at 19:42:25
And the brass band! Playing Souza etc? With one of our current chants a Souza derivative?
Jim Gore
67 Posted 01/03/2019 at 20:11:19
I first went in there during the 59-60 season. Early memories were, it was 9d (old pence) to get in, programme was 3d, bus fare was 6d each way on the 81 from Woolton.

The pen in those days went all the way down to the front, and there always seemed to be plenty of space, hence a season or two later they reduced it to halfway back, allowing a lot more full paying fans in the Gwladys Street.

Apart from it being rough, there was always an escape committee, whose sole aim was to escape into the Street End. This happened a few times by removing a couple of wooden posts out of the dividing fence. A handful would escape but the coppers were usually alerted within minutes.

We always escaped legally, as the gates were opened about 20 minutes before the end, and we would leg it round the corner into the empty seats at the top of the old Goodison Road Stand, no stewards on the gates then!
Happy days...-ish

Brian Wilkinson
68 Posted 02/03/2019 at 01:22:28
Chris@63 yeah I remember them, thought I would throw one into the mix, the bloke outside the Gwladys Street with his Jesus message placard and rambling and reciting something like Genesis 8 Chapter one to a few sniggering in the queue and a couple of old guys telling him where to shove it.
Brian Wilkinson
69 Posted 02/03/2019 at 01:34:18
Brent, I always remember getting back to our coach in Priory road, with the radio blasting out music ba rump ba ba, ba rump ba ba, da da da da da da, followed by "Here are the classified results" – a big hush followed by a roar if Liverpool got beat and a sing song.

Remember in the later years mid-nineties when we beat Wolves I think 4-1 in the League Cup, sure Beagrie scored. We got to Priory Road, coach driver parked behind around 12 Wolves coaches, when we got back, there were about another 18 coaches parked behind us, all Wolves.

We was stuck there, having our coach rocked, spat on, until finally we got a gap to set off past Walton Lane police station, only to be bricked by our own fans just under the bridge, then a sorry shrug of their shoulders, when they realised we were Everton.

Brian Wilkinson
70 Posted 02/03/2019 at 01:45:07
For the younger generation, the song to Sports Report was called Out Of The Blue by Hubert Bath, long before score updates on your mobile phone or the screens at Goodison Park.

Getting misty-eyed just hearing the music followed by "Here are the classified results" read out full of a coach load of Evertonians waiting the fate of our neighbours.

Paul Tran
71 Posted 02/03/2019 at 09:16:50
What a great article. 'The Pen' was a godsend for some of us in the early 70s, getting deposited in there and paying 15p to get in.

It was rough, though, with many a good argument and scrap. One day I was at the front, scarf tied round my wrist and someone in the Street End thought it would be a great idea to pull my scarf, wrist, arm and shoulder so hard I thought I was going to lose the lot!

There was nothing better than hearing the shout, 'The gates are open!' and legging it into the Street End to join the adults.

Can't remember the game, but one day there was the fabulous, high-pitched chant


Great days that made me even more grateful when my Dad had a rare Saturday off and took me to the match in the stand!

Geoff Lambert
72 Posted 02/03/2019 at 18:14:32
I used to pay my sixpence for the Boys Pen in the late sixties. First few times was a "get to know who could look after themselves" sort of thing. Once they knew you would give it back, you were okay.

My Mum was born on Andrew Street so only a short walk for me. If I didn't have sixpence that week, you had to wait outside for the gates to open, then rush in to the Gwladys St end and climb on the front of the barrier and tie yourself on with a scarf. Great days indeed.

Peter Howard
73 Posted 02/03/2019 at 18:34:56
Although the Boys Pen used to be quite rough, I don't recall it being as bad as some have made out — and I went in there for quite a few years from 1964 until about 1968.

I remember calling in at the sweet shop in Gwladys Street (just next to the school) and buying 'Kali Lumps'.

Me and my brother would get really pissed off if they started singing 'Show them the way to go home' as it usually led to the opposition scoring!

Steve Carse
74 Posted 03/03/2019 at 13:45:30
Peter, often it was a case of knowing what was a strong possibility of happening than actually being the victim.

I probably watched a couple of dozen games from The Pen in the 60s and was petrified for all of them, even though the worst that ever happened to me was being relieved of any possessions I might have been carrying, be that money, sweets or, on one occasion, my rattle.

On a matter of detail, with regards to 'escaping' into the main Gwladys Street terracing: rather than climbing over the front fencing, wasn't it also practice to climb up onto the iron cross joists that ran (and still run) the whole length of the terracing to support the Upper Gwladys St Stand and so scramble out above everyone's heads?

One final lovely nostalgic reference in the piece – the Jubbly. Frozen nectar. Can anyone though recall the strawberry equivalent of the Jubbly – the Mambo?

Peter Fearon
75 Posted 03/03/2019 at 16:04:59
Ah yes, the Boys Pen. My Dad used to go in there when he was a boy and while he would never talk about what went on in there he absolutely forbade me to go in and he usually gave me the money – 3s/6d as it was then – to go into the Park End first half, Goodison Road second half depending on the toss-up. (In those days, you could walk around.)

I never did find out what happened to him in the Boys Pen.

Charles Brewer
76 Posted 03/03/2019 at 18:42:14
My father was also more than happy to give me the entrance fee for Gladwys Street rather than go in the Pen. One detail I do remember was that there was always an empty quarter circle in front of and at the side of the Pen.

The distance from the pen to the first Gladwys Street supporters was about 6 inches more than the inhabitants of the Pen could spit.

Charles Brewer
77 Posted 03/03/2019 at 18:44:59
I've just noticed that my spellchecker has corrected "Gwladys" to "Gladwys", twice. Is that an alternative spelling?
Bill Watson
78 Posted 04/03/2019 at 09:48:41
Tony # 10

I emigrated to Huyton in the 1970s and they're definitely plazzies. The accent is a little softer... rural even! Dovecot baths may only have been a couple of couple of miles from Huyton town centre but go another couple of miles and you start seeing rugby posts in the school playing fields and lots of sheep!!

I made my one and only excursion into the Boy's Pen on a foggy night in January 1959. It was an FA Cup replay against Charlton Athletic and they shut the gates with over 70,000 in the ground. The only gate still open was the dreaded Pen.

It cost me 9d and it was a real scary experience. Next game I was back in Gwladys Street @ 2/-.

Bob Butchard
79 Posted 05/03/2019 at 02:23:32
My recollections begin in season 1950-51, the season we were relegated. I became quite a regular to the Boys Pen with a couple of mates who were a year older than me. I was 10 when I first went.

I don't remember any horror stories of bullying or the like. My transition to standing in the Goodison Road terraces near the church corner came two years later when we got promotion.

I vividly remember the last home game of the season v Birmingham City, I remember Gilbert Merrick in goal for the visitors, the then England custodian. We won 1-0 and went on to beat Oldham midweek away to clinch promotion.

I recently asked about the old Boys Pen on a trip back to Liverpool from here in Brisbane. Happy memories for some... not all?

Tony Pemberton
80 Posted 05/03/2019 at 09:32:34
Bob Butchard – you wouldn't remember us singing something to the tune of "Ready and Strong, marching along, like the boys of the old brigade" back then, would you?
Jim Marray
81 Posted 15/03/2019 at 20:00:36
My one and only trip to the Boys Pen was for a derby game in 1970. One of the lads where I lived agree to take me even though I was only 9. I just remember standing towards the back and being able to see the goal at the Gwladys Street end, while surrounded by howling boys and thinking how great it was.

4 years later, I got a paper round and started going to every home game, starting in the Park End with my dad and moving to the Gwladys Street when I realised he could hear me swearing at the ref while he was stood with my mum.

As for Huyton, my dad's family where from there and my mum from Page Moss; both would have had something to say if you said they weren't real scousers.

Ray Short
82 Posted 17/03/2019 at 09:24:47
Read this and laughed out loud.

Worried that I must have been a bit of a brute because when we went from our "leafy" estate in Ford (all the families had been bombed out of Bootle, moved to Huyton and then back to Bootle in the early 50s) to the game in the late 50s. I can only ever remember the sheer excitement of the Boys Pen. We were the best supporters in the ground and proud of the high-pitched noise we made. I know I wasn't a bully, nor did I rob anyone, but we never got picked on, so we must've been scruffs!! Ha Ha.

I now sit in the comfort of the Park End. COYB

Jim Williams
83 Posted 18/03/2019 at 17:36:44
I remember watching us win the league in 62-63 from the Pen. I could see my Dad and Uncle in The Paddock from my spec. I survived there for 4 years so it really wasn't THAT bad!

I remember the Pen starting the chants encouraging the crowd to join in, the pork pies with scalding juices that always caught me out, watching the bigger lads scaling the railings during the match then disappearing into the ground and the way in which the Pen cleared at 3/4 time.

I had some wonderful times there watching the greats... there was always someone in every team worth watching – Jimmy Greaves, Johnny Haynes, Denis Law – legends and they were appreciated but most of all was the thrill of winning that title and the collective spirit within the Pen that day. Unforgettable.

Phil Lewis
84 Posted 27/03/2019 at 00:45:43
I vividly remember being in 'The Pen' to witness Vernon's 'hat-trick' when we lifted the title against Fulham in '63. I was 10 years old. I remember being nervous beforehand because Gordon West was injured and we had the uninspiring Albert Dunlop in goal. The atmosphere was brilliant that day, nothing was going to stop us.I agree, it could be a daunting place sometimes for a young kid, but by comparison to the sickening violence in today's world, the odd thump around the ear-hole from bigger rougher kids, was generally survivable. The secret I quickly learned from my elder cousin was not to let them think you were scared, even if you were terrified. The scallies could smell your fear a mile away!

Growing up in Kirkdale, my Saturday ritual consisted of Westminister Road swimming baths in the morning and the Boys Pen in the afternoon. A bag of chips and The Valiant comic in between. 2 shillings (10p?!!) would cover the lot. So I'd still have change out of the proceeds from my paper round. Gloriously innocent happy childhood days. My best mate was a Liverpudlian and occasionally I would join him in their Boys Pen. I recall that although ours left a lot to be desired, it was still a much better view than theirs.

My brother was 11 years older than me. I was overjoyed when he finally allowed me to join him and his mates as a fully fledged Gladwys Street Gladiator. He would sit me on the barrier in our regular spec, halfway between the goal and the church. I would gaze over to the pen now and then, relieved to be transported to this new world and reveling in my new found status. I was truly in heaven! Years later I would sit my own little boy on the same barrier in the same spec. Halcyon days!

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