Everton 3 - 2 WolvesSo you may or may not have seen my post before the Wolves match two weeks ago, announcing that I was en route to Liverpool for my very first visit to Goodison Park, but several kind folks – including Andy Crooks and Derek Knox – encouraged me to write about the experience… and even though I posted a few impressions in the immediate aftermath, I thought I’d provide a more detailed version of my ‘pilgrimage’.
First, a bit of background. I live in Los Angeles (yep – another Yank, like Mike Gaynes and Jamie Crowley) and my Mom wanted to take me to London for my birthday – neither of us had ever been before. Of course, an Everton match immediately topped my list of things to do, but unfortunately we had to start planning and making arrangements at the start of summer… so all I could do was cross my fingers and leave myself at the mercy of the scheduling Gods.
Worst case scenario, I could have tried to attend an away match (unless it involved dragging my butt all the way to Newcastle or something), but c’mon – there’s no substitute for Goodison Park. And assuming (god forbid) Bramley-Moore Dock actually progresses according to schedule, there will only be so many opportunities left to experience the Old Lady.
Thankfully, the gods were kind. Home against Wolves (great opponent!)… and even better, the match was moved to Sunday, which meant I wouldn’t have to take a train straight from the airport (which I was fully prepared to do, but would have left me tired and stressed, to say the least). I really can’t emphasize how perfectly everything fell into place – I should have taken it as a sign that I was in for something special (or a kick in the teeth).
So the big day arrives and, functioning on minimal sleep but fortified by a pasty from Euston Station, I hop on the train to Liverpool. Plenty of gents in Everton shirts on-board – no doubt rolling their eyes inwardly as I grin and tap the badge, as if to say “That’s right – I’m part of the tribe.”
My friend Nick, who lives in Lancaster, was nice enough to come down and meet me for the match – he’s a Derby County fan, and a pretty beaten-down one at that (I asked him if he was excited about Rooney’s impending arrival and he just sort of snorted). FYI, Liverpool seemed like a really cool city with a lot of character, and I wish I’d had time to actually explore it, if I hadn’t been on such a tight schedule.
I wish I could offer a more profound account of my impressions upon arrival and walking into Goodison Park for the first time, but it was all a bit overwhelming and surreal at that point. I was in the Lower Bullens (section LB6, to be precise) and was a little apprehensive, since I’d heard it’s not the best place to watch a match, particularly if you’re near the back… and yes, okay, I was seated directly behind a post, so I sort of had to crane my neck around any time there was action inside the box, and had to lean forward to actually see the game clock… but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Okay, maybe I would have swapped seats with that kid a few rows up who had an unrestricted view but spent the entire match with his nose glued to his Nintendo Switch, but otherwise I was pretty much a happy clam.
Of course I wanted Everton to win, but if you’d asked me my hopes for the experience, bare minimum, I would have said “We have to score. I have to hear Goodison erupt. I can’t leave empty-handed.” I thought back to that limp 1-0 home defeat we suffered against Leicester City after New Year’s and felt that would be an awfully depressing experience to take back home with me. So you can imagine my delight when, just five minutes into the match, Wolves botched the back pass and Richarlison was on hand to bury the deflection (and me in my Richarlison shirt no less). What a perfect start and what a fantastic feeling!
Of course, it was a pretty short-lived euphoria as Wolves leveled just minutes later (I thought to myself “Oh… it’s going to be one of *those* afternoons”). I kind of figured an agonized groan would pass through the crowd or something, but it was more of a withering silence (like “Oh, sod off, Everton!”). Thankfully, we answered in short order, with Sigurdsson and Iwobi hooking up on a great goal, and suddenly it felt like we’d packed more excitement into those first 15 minutes than we had in our previous three League matches combined.
Nick was also thoroughly baffled at this point, as my pre-match scouting report was basically “We struggle to score goals, but we’re quite sound defensively.” I probably shouldn’t have spent so much time bragging about how we hadn’t been breached at Goodison since, like, March, because of course we end up conceding the most Charmin-soft goal imaginable.
The match settles down from there, though we look extremely dodgy at the back and I’ll admit to having a heart attack virtually every time Wolves launched a remotely threatening attack… but we make it to halftime otherwise unscathed. Great.
A quick note about English efficiency - I was pretty impressed that the park appeared half empty when I sat down 20 minutes before kickoff and yet, when the air raid siren went off, it was suddenly and magically at complete capacity. Likewise, at halftime, I had to go to the bathroom and Nick wanted to get something to eat and I thought to myself “This is crazy. Literally every person in the park is going to get up at once. We won’t be able to move. The line to the toilets will be halfway down the street.” And yet… we somehow took care of what we needed to, and were back in our seats moments before kickoff. It was bloody marvelous. The last NFL game I attended, I went to get food at halftime and ended up missing nearly the entire third quarter.
Not much to say about the second half other than, when the inevitable Wolves equalizer finally occurred, I threw up my hands and said “Welp… if a largely entertaining 2-2 draw is to be my inaugural Goodison experience, I think I can live with that.” And yet… I had a feeling we weren’t finished. My gut told me “Not today...”
I’ve watched Richarlison’s game winner countless times on replay and man was it a beauty… Digne somehow hooking a superb cross into the box before sprawling out of bounds and Richarlison rising up to meet it and just steering it past Patricio perfectly. The subsequent eruption/celebration was a very special moment that I’ll remember for a long, long time. And I was too busy losing my damn mind to really care that Richarlison ran to the *other* side of the pitch to celebrate – c’mon man, where’s the love??
Upon seeing out the last 10 minutes with a minimum of fuss to officially clinch victory (hooray!), it was off to the pro shop to pick up my new Moise Kean shirt, which I can’t wait to debut this Sunday for the Bournemouth match (Nick: “Where was this Moise Kean magic you promised me all afternoon?” My Mom, upon my return: “You bought ANOTHER jersey?!”).
The rest of the trip was pretty cool – Westminster Abbey, the Churchill War Rooms, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Charles Dickens Museum, Borough Market, a bit of theater in Piccadilly Circus (The Comedy About a Bank Robbery), Windsor Castle, Oxford University, Kensington Palace, Harrod’s, the National Gallery and much more… but nothing could top my Goodison pilgrimage.
On a side note – to the gentleman I was conversing with while in line for the buses, the self-proclaimed “Bitter Blue” who was at the match with his daughter, who’s going to be in LA in a few weeks for the film festival… I don’t suppose you’re a ToffeeWeb reader? She was really cool and we got swept onto the bus before I could even get her name!
Reader Comments (29)
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1 Posted 13/09/2019 at 13:01:01
2 Posted 13/09/2019 at 13:39:19
Thanks for taking the time to write about it.
3 Posted 13/09/2019 at 13:55:10
Made up you saw such a brill game - as you say everything was aligned for you that day.
4 Posted 13/09/2019 at 14:46:01
Love how, like, everything fell into place for you. Someone was watching out.
Then, after everything was so perfectly placed, and Rich scores the third goal, you're like, "Dude, run over to my side to celebrate!"
Interesting about the "English efficiency". You're right about NFL games at half. It's insane, and you never get back for the 3rd quarter kickoff. Seems the English have it figured out.
Great piece Bill. I lived vicariously through you for about 10 minutes. :0)
5 Posted 13/09/2019 at 15:11:33
6 Posted 13/09/2019 at 15:41:56
Now, come on, TW, let's see what we can do about getting that girl's name and phone number for Bill.
7 Posted 13/09/2019 at 15:50:39
It will stay with you forever, and like you so rightly mentioned, with the New Stadium well in advanced stages of being converted from pipe dreams, paper and architectural images to Bricks, Mortar and Steel, the chances of visiting the 'Old Lady' will indeed be limited.
I'm also glad that the result went with all the other good things, it would have been a bit of a sickener, after all that planning and travelling, to experience a repeat of last year's similar fixture. Let's hope also that it is one of many home and away victories to come.
8 Posted 13/09/2019 at 15:53:24
(One for the brits I'm afraid, Mike).
9 Posted 13/09/2019 at 16:10:49
I'm sure LA wouldn't be a problem for any of them, after they were released from quarantine that is.
10 Posted 13/09/2019 at 16:22:18
and as an expat in Florida I fully endorse the thrill of going to Goodison. It is, was and will always be a special place.
So glad you enjoyed the trip (And Result!!!).
I am looking forward to a "ToffeeWeb" private jet for all US Blues when we get to the Champions League final.
It is long overdue!!
11 Posted 13/09/2019 at 16:57:36
12 Posted 13/09/2019 at 17:09:27
Re: the girl, I feel like the Football Gods really were trying to give me the perfect day and they were looking down, face-palming, like "Wow, dude. Really? You sure botched that one." In my defense, I was too punch-drunk from the victory. I wasn't thinking clearly. I was too preoccupied with getting to the train, so I could start reading the post-match comments on ToffeeWeb.
13 Posted 13/09/2019 at 17:26:30
Re: the girl, I bet shes thinking the same as you, ‘ why didnt I get that lads name and shes cried herself to sleep every night since the Wolves game.
14 Posted 13/09/2019 at 17:40:30
Shame about the girl, but Ive heard so many stories about the yanks being “over-paid, over here and over-sexed” that its reassuring to know they cant pull all the time.
15 Posted 13/09/2019 at 18:11:08
Now, about that girl...
16 Posted 13/09/2019 at 18:32:21
I'm currently in Dubai, flying home on Saturday morning, due back into Manchester around 19:00 Saturday night. I'm on the coach to Bournemouth at 6:00 am Sunday morning. I wouldn't miss a game for the world, so I can just well imagine how you must have felt making your first appearance at Goodison Park. You must have been absolutely ecstatic to see Goodison in all its glory and savour that Goodison atmosphere.
As Andy Crooks says, you need to let us know when you're next over and get to meet and enjoy a TW get together.
17 Posted 13/09/2019 at 18:57:46
18 Posted 13/09/2019 at 18:59:02
19 Posted 13/09/2019 at 19:40:58
Also forgot to mention that I had dinner with a friend of my brother's and he told me he could hook me up with free tickets to Wembley to see the England/Bulgaria match... unfortunately, I was flying back to the US that day. Oh well.
20 Posted 13/09/2019 at 19:43:54
Guess we still need to work on your finishing, fellow Yank. Not only did ya swing and miss on the girl, you missed eight goals at Wembley for the price of a change fee and an extra night at the hotel.
Gotta convert those opportunities.
21 Posted 13/09/2019 at 19:49:22
You wrote this well and the emotion/passion came through in your words.
My wife, Irene (from Newcastle-on -Tyne???) and I live in Adelaide, Australia. I was born in Moreton, Wirral (1948) and my dad worked on the Birkenhead docks for a company named Smith Coggins (if I recall correctly).
I've been a Blue since I was 5 years old. I'm just retiring and we're on our way through USA, Iceland & Cobh in county Cork catching up with relatives and friends. Then on to home ground and the Everton vs Man City game.
I hope we have the same result as you had watching the game vs Wolves!!!!!!! This would be another story.
Thanks again and well done!
22 Posted 13/09/2019 at 20:05:38
Bob - ooooo, that'll be a good one. Have fun! A 3-2 win over City would do very nicely, methinks.
23 Posted 14/09/2019 at 02:59:48
You probably don't realise this, but you've been taken to the heights of ecstasy and the depths of despair in the space of ninety minutes at Goodison, and then back up to the heavens of Toffeetastic delight.
And you were sat behind a post!! You are now a fully fledged Evertonian!!
24 Posted 14/09/2019 at 14:20:55
Thats an impressive sight-seeing list for London. You did well to steer clear of the Houses of Parliament. The residents would have given you a very negative impression of the country.
25 Posted 14/09/2019 at 14:29:45
Now for Bournemouth.
26 Posted 15/09/2019 at 20:35:48
Mine was 1-3 to Nottm Forest, the one and only year they ever won the league back in 1977-78. Turned out to be one of the best Everton teams I can remember. Just not as good as Forest. If we had signed Shilton.... then maybe?
27 Posted 16/09/2019 at 18:46:08
Glad you took in the Borough Market in Southwark, by the way, it is one of my favourite bits of London on a busy foodie day.
28 Posted 16/09/2019 at 20:43:08
Yeah, so the performance was, er, crap-ish, but I was able to watch the Blues live for the first time in decades as in not on TV or via legit or dodgy streams. Saw the players afterwards, shook hands and spoke with an unimpressed but diplomatic Moshiri (nice car Farhad, and no, it's fine, I was happy to walk to the station). And the train journey back to Wales was just as bad as the trip down.
But when I head back to New Zealand on Thursday night, I'll remember I got to watch Everton, my team for 48 years, for better, for worse, forever.
29 Posted 17/09/2019 at 20:10:29
I hope you have a good journey home on Thursday and better luck if you come over again. Try and make it a home game if you do; much better chance of seeing us win.
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