I Got Down To Goodison Park

by   |   10/09/2022  3 Comments  [Jump to last]

I’m writing this primarily as a thank you to Lilly and Ronnie, our two guides on this morning’s Goodison Park stadium tour. I hope they read this, or else somebody who knows them reads this and passes on my gratitude. Given how clued-up on Everton, down-to-earth and decent they both were, l’d say it’s a given that somebody on here knows one of them. 

Having moved to Ireland a couple of years ago, trips to Goodison have become rare occurrences. Back home for the weekend with my two daughters and no home fixture to attend, I booked the next-best thing: the stadium tour. Done it a few times before, and I remember Lilly from the last time – what a legend, what knowledge – and what delivery... Some lady! 

I love Ireland but Everton is the thing I really miss, and when you’re away from it you really appreciate everything we are. We’re just different, aren’t we?

Lilly and Ronnie epitomised everything it means to be an Evertonian: proud yet humble, partisan yet respectful. Passionate and articulate. Good people. Proper people. Proper Blues. 

I took my daughters (their first time) and my mum and dad. It was very probably my last time in the inner sanctum of Goodison. The lump in my throat grew with every twist and turn of the tour – especially when I leaned in to my mum to remind her that the very place we were exploring with awe would be bulldozed to the ground in a couple of short years. Heartbreaking stuff.

I hope there’s a few more games for me yet. But it did strike me that, over the next couple of years, we’re all at some point going to be making our last visit to The Old Lady. And I know we all know it will hurt – but today was the first time I actually felt it.

Never more so than when Ronnie talked so viscerally about his memories, his speck in the Gwladys Street End where his heart will always belong, and his idea that our first game in the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock should be against Bolton Wanderers (as it was at Anfield and Goodison). Great shout, Ronnie. And what knowledge you had too. I could have listened to your insights and delivery all day. 

I’ve had the displeasure of having to take a group of pupils on a tour of Mordor, and I know from that experience that their tour guides are Slick Ricks playing the corporate up-sale game – treating their tourist customers like cash fodder, all arrogant and slimy. Proper American franchise stuff.

Please, Everton, sign up Lilly and Ronnie for tours of the stadium now. We all know we need to go and we all know the reasons why. But make sure we keep hold of Lilly, Ronnie and all the other good people that work for the club.

Then we’ll know for sure, no matter how fancy the new gaff, that we’ll remain who we are: proud yet humble, partisan yet respectful. Passionate and articulate. Good people. Proper people. Proper Blues.

Nice one, Lilly and Ronnie. Much obliged. 

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Reader Comments (3)

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Neil Copeland
1 Posted 11/09/2022 at 20:39:23
Jack, I enjoyed reading your post, thanks.

My daughter bought us both tickets for a Goodison Tour for Father's Day a couple of years ago. We loved it too. You are right about the tour guides.

I am lucky enough to be a season ticket holder so will see a fair bit of the Old Lady before she goes. I dread the day we leave too but also can't wait to move into BMD.

Evertonians are different and I agree we should play Bolton W in the first game at BMD.

I hope you get to Goodison a few times yet.

Danny O’Neill
2 Posted 12/09/2022 at 10:51:39
This probably got lost amidst the rantings on the Royal thread that also led to a few locking of friendly horns over Europe and other things Jack!

Having been a season ticket holder and also spent many years watching and following the blues from afar as well as now being able to attend as regularly as I can, I sympathise with your not getting to Goodison as often as you'd like. But you're always there in spirit right? I always have been and always will be.

I always sympathise with you having, out of professional obligation to have to take the tour on the other side.

Your article and your glowing reference to Lillie and Ronnie speaks volumes. Same City, different Worlds. Let's make sure we bottle that character and take it with us to Bramley Moore.

The City is Everton. The City is ours. And soon the world is going to know it.

Jack Convery
3 Posted 15/09/2022 at 17:57:57
Great article and two great recommendations. Keep Lilly and Ronnie and play Bolton Wanderers first at BMD.

Jack, can I ask did you retire to Ireland? It's something I'm considering as the UK is a joke right now.

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