Date: 3rd February 2011 at 9:42pm
Written by:

Goodison Park – Everton

The trauma of the final day of the transfer window brought elation and optimism to most Pool fans and then, we had to play a home game.

Have we ever looked forward to an away game so much? IF we stay up this season, our travels on the road will be our saving grace.

It’s been 30 years since we last played at Goodison, the sweet lady still does the rounds and Z Cars will come over the tannoy system, let’s just hope the result tastes a bit better than last time we visited.

How To Get There
M55, M6 South then exit at junction 26 onto the M58 and continue until the end. At the gyratory, go left to join the M57 Junction 7. Exit the M57 at Junction 4 to turn right into East Lancashire Road (A580). Follow the road, across Queen’s Drive, into Walton Lane. Goodison Road is less than a mile along, on the right.

For the sat navvers – L4 4EL

For the Virgin Lovers amongst us – Liverpool Lime Street is over three miles from the ground. Head for Kirkdale station or jump in a taxi. From the bus station which is seven minutes walk away from Lime Street and is well signposted. Either the 19, 19a, 20, 21 or 311 will drop you right outside the ground at a cost of about a £1. The buses are run by Arriva and the journey takes about 15 to 25 minutes dependant on traffic.

For those flying Samm Airways – Liverpool John Lennon Airport is about 12 miles away.

The Ground
Goodison Park was the first major football stadium built in England.

Only Scotland had more advanced grounds; Rangers opened Ibrox in 1887, while Celtic Park was officially inaugurated at the same time as Goodison Park.

Everton’s ground-breaking development at Mere Green was to set the trend for football stadia throughout the country. The Blues initially spent up to £3000 on laying out the ground and building stands on three sides. Kelly Brothers of Walton built two uncovered stands each for 4000 people, and a covered stand seating 3000, at a total cost of £1,460.

Outside, hoardings cost a further £150, gates and sheds cost £132 10s and 12 turnstiles added another £7 15s to the bill.

The ground was dubbed Goodison Park and was opened on 24 August 1892, by Lord Kinnaird and Frederick Wall of the Football Association. Somewhat confusingly, the 12,000-strong crowd saw a short athletics meeting followed by a selection of music and a fireworks display.

Everton’s first game there was on 2 September 1892 when they beat Bolton 4-2.

Despite the revolutionary initial developments, it was not long before Goodison Park was improved even further. A new Bullens Road stand was built in 1895 at a cost of £3,407 and the open Goodison Road side was covered for £403, records show.

The Goodison Park of today really began to take shape after the turn of the century, beginning in 1907 with the building of a double-decker stand at the Park End, costing £13,000. In 1909, the large Main Stand on Goodison Road was built. Costing £28,000 it housed all the offices and players’ facilities, and survived until 1971.

At the same time another £12,000 was spent on concreting over the terracing and replacing the cinder running track. A reporter from ‘Athletic News’ wrote in the summer of 1909: ‘Visitors to Goodison Park will be astonished at the immensity of the new double-decker stand’. The architect was Archibold Leitch, and the front balcony bore his criss-cross trademark, which can still be seen on the Bullens Road stand opposite.

Having regained its status as the best equipped ground in the nation, Everton hosted the 1910 Cup Final replay between Newcastle and Barnsley. A massive 69,000 attended. Then on 13 July 1913, Goodison became the first league venue to be visited by a ruling monarch, when George V and Queen Mary came to visit local schoolchildren at the ground.

The next big change took place in 1926, when at a cost of £30,000 another double-decker, similar to the Main Stand, was built on the Bullens Road Side opposite. Again, Leitch was the architect.

In the 1930s, Everton borrowed an idea from Aberdeen, who they had visited for a friendly. Pittodrie was the home to what were reputedly the first ever dug-outs for coaching staff. From Pittodrie and Goodison Park the idea soon spread, and now the covered dug-out is a feature of almost every ground worldwide.

Goodison enjoyed another royal visit in 1938, when George VI and Queen Elizabeth, (the mother of current Queen Elizabeth II), came to Everton and saw the new Gwladys Street Stand, just completed for £50,000. Goodison Park thereby became the only ground in Britain to have four double-decker stands and was newly affirmed as the most advanced stadium in Britain.

Goodison Park suffered quite badly during the Second World War, because of its proximity to Liverpool’s docks, and the club received £5,000 for repairs from the War Damage Commission. Shortly after the work was completed, Everton enjoyed their highest ever attendance, 78,299 for the visit of Liverpool in Division One, on 18 September 1948.

Another familiar footballing adornment arrived at Everton in October 1957. The Goodison Park floodlights were switched on for an Everton v Liverpool friendly on 9 October.

A year later the club made another revolutionary move, spending £16,000 installing 20 miles of electric wire underneath the pitch. The system melted frost and ice most effectively, but the drains could not handle the extra quantities of water, so in 1960 the pitch was dug up and new drainage pipes laid.

In 1966 Goodison Park staged five games in the World Cup, including that memorable quarter final between North Korea and Portugal. No other English venue apart from Wembley staged so many World Cup games.

The next ground development took place in 1971, when the 1909 double-decker Main Stand on Goodison Road was demolished to make way for a massive new three-tiered Main Stand. The old stand had cost £28,000 and was then considered immense. The new stand cost a huge £1 million and was nearly twice the size, and was the largest in Britain until 1974, when Chelsea opened their mammoth East Stand.

Because the Goodison Road Stand is so tall, the floodlight pylons were taken down and lamps put on gantries along the roof. The old-fashioned Bullens Road pitched roof was replaced by a much flatter modern roof and similar gantries installed there also.

When the Safety of Sports Grounds Act came into effect in 1977, Goodison Park’s capacity was greatly reduced from 56,000 to 35,000, mainly due to outdated entrances and exits. As a consequence, Everton had to part with £250,000 in order to boost capacity back up to 52,800. The 1986 figure stood at 53,419, of which 24,419 were seated.

In the early 1980’s the original corrugated roofing of the Gwladys Street Stand was replaced by blue cladding, giving the roof a rich colourful look. Then, in 1987, the pitched roof was replaced by an upturned sloping roof extending out over the terracing below, which joined the roof of the Bullens Road, creating a continuous roof on two sides of the ground.

The last time spectators stood on the terrace was on 19th January at the FA Cup 3rd Round replay against Bolton. The old stand was pulled down during February, with construction beginning soon after. The new Stanley Park End stand is a single tier cantilever stand with a capacity of 6,000. The stand was opened on Saturday 17 September 1994 by David Hunt MP. A contribution of £1.3M was also given by the Football Trust.

The completion of the Park End brought Goodison Park’s capacity up to 40,100, a figure exceeded at the time by only the projected capacities of Old Trafford and Anfield, neither of which were in such a confined area as Goodison Park.

During the Premier League years there have been only superficial changes to the ground. The Club’s focus has been on securing a new permanent home, with plans for a ground on the city’s King’s Dock in the late 1990s eventually falling foul of spiralling development costs.

A painstaking search for an alternative culminated with plans submitted as part of a three-way partnership with Knowsley Borough Council, Tesco and the Club for a retail and ground development in the Kirkby area of Merseyside.

In 2009, following an extensive review process, the plans were rejected by government.

Goodison remains largely unchanged since the development of the Park End stand – although terraced housing behind the new stand was purchased and demolished in the late 1990s to accomodate additional parking and the erection of a marquee that provides additional matchday hospitality facilities. The ground capacity is now 40,157.

We’ll be sat in one corner of the two tiered, Bullens Road Stand, around 3000 travelling tangerines will be present.

Plod & Stewards
Our last visit to Merseyside was a pleasant day out, I expect the same sort of experience again this weekend.

Where To Drink
If you’re not drinking in the town centre then a 15 minute walk away from the away entrance, is the Thomas Frost (Wetherspoons) pub on Walton Road. Bradleys Wine Bar, is just further down and across the road.

Pubs on Walton Lane or The Spellow and Wilnslow Hotel outside Goodison are also OK.

Fear Factor Rating – 3

The business end of the season is coming faster than we’d like. 2011 has not been the best of years for the Mighty so far and Everton away on paper looks a tough one.

West Brom and Newcastle have already won there, here’s hoping come 5pm that the Pool have made it a hat trick for the new boys and we’re 3 points and a bucketful of confidence nearer to retaining our safety in the promised land.

Onwards + Upwards