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Ground Guide: Goodison Park

Goodison Park - Everton

22 years. 22 years. That's how long it's been since we last graced this round of the FA Cup. That year saw us take QPR to a 3rd game before a toss of the coin saw us play that game away from home and ultimately lose.

The FA Cup has changed so much since then. This year's no different, if anything it's a day out before the most important game of the season looms just 3 days later when the 'ammers come to Bloomfield Rd. Whilst it's always nice to have a fancy pudding to finish off a meal it's the bread and butter that mops up the gravy from the staple diet of the league.

How To Get There:

From the North & the South...

From the M6, 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.

Alternative Route from the North...

From the M6, exit at Junction 26 onto the M58 and continue to the end. At the gyratory system go a quarter way around, turning left onto the A59 Ormskirk Road. Continue along as the road becomes Rice Lane, and over the roundabout into County Road. Three quarters of a mile along County Road, turn left into Spellow Lane, and then left into Goodison Road. Goodison Park is on the right.

Alternative route from the South...

From the M6 exit at Junction 21a onto the M62 to Liverpool. Follow to the end of the motorway and turn right onto the A5058 Queen's Drive. After 4.5 miles, at the roundabout junction with the A59, turn left into County Road. Three quarters of a mile along County Road, turn left into Spellow Lane, and then left into Goodison Road. Goodison Park is on the right.

From the East...

From the M62, exit Junction 6 onto the M57, go to the end of the motorway and then left onto the A59 Ormskirk Road. Then follow the same route for north.

From the West...

From the M53, continue to Wallasey and follow Liverpool via the Kingsway Mersey Tunnel. Turn left at the end into Scotland Road, taking the right fork to the A58 Kirkdale Road. Follow the road round for two miles and Goodison will appear in front of you.

Sat Navvers - L4 4EL

By bus...

Services from Queen Square Bus Station in Liverpool city centre - 19/19A, 20, 21, 130*, 210*, 250*

Services from Paradise Street Interchange - 19/19A, 20, 21, 130*

Services from Thomas Street Stand EA - 350/351, 311, 210*, 250*

Other services which don't operate via the City Centre but serve Goodison Park include - 68/168 (Bootle - Aigburth Vale) and 62/162 (Crosby/Bootle - Penny Lane)

* - service operates evenings and Sundays only.

By train...

The closest rail station is Kirkdale on the Northern Line, which is approximately 1 mile from Goodison Park.

Soccerbus...

Soccerbus is a frequent shuttle bus service running directly between Sandhills station and Goodison Park, for all Everton home Premier League and cup matches.

If you're travelling in by train, ask for a ticket to 'Goodison Park' and for an add-on of just 1 you'll get a return trip on the Soccerbus. You can also pay as you board the bus - it's just 1.50 for a single or return ticket and it's FREE to those with valid Trio, Solo or Saveaway tickets or a Concessionary Travel Pass.

The Soccerbus service runs for two hours before each Everton match up to 15 minutes before kick off and for 50 minutes after the final whistle.



The Ground...

Goodison Park. I took Essex Snr last season, it was 30+ years since we last played there in the old League Cup and it was like time had stood still.

People commented on a 'proper ground' ala Villa Park - not so proper a view for a fair % of the travelling fans.

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.

The publications 'Out Of Doors', reported the following in October 1892:

'Behold Goodison Park! No single picture could take in the entire scene the ground presents, it is so magnificently large, for it rivals the greater American baseball pitches. On three sides of the field of play there are tall covered stands, and on the fourth side the ground has been so well banked up with thousands of loads of cinders that a complete view of the game can be had from any portion.

'It appears to be one of the finest and most complete grounds in the kingdom, and it is hoped that the public will liberally support the promoters.'

A year after moving, in 1883, Everton were FA Cup finalists. They were then runners up again in the First Division in 1895. The ground hosted its first FA Cup final in 1894 when Notts County beat Bolton, watched by a crowd of 37,000. At this time, Everton were the richest club in the country, and regular league gates such as the 30,000 which attended in February 1893 were still regarded as enormous.

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.

Meanwhile competition in the city was reaching peak levels. Everton were again runners up in both the league and FA Cup, while across Stanley Park, Liverpool won their first championship in 1901.

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.

It certainly wasn't just football that took place at Goodison though! During the First World War it was used by the Territorial Army for drill practice. Soon after, the US baseball teams Chicago White Sox and New York Giants played an exhibition match at the ground. One player reportedly managed to hit a ball right over the Main Stand.

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.

The 1960s, like the 1930s, saw Everton win the Championship twice and the FA Cup once, and 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 next development was the conversion of Goodison to an all seater stadium, following the Taylor Report, in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster.

This required the conversion of the paddock, enclosure and Gwladys Street terracing into seated accommodation. The Park End terracing remained temporarily but was only opened for big games. The reason for this was the intended redevelopment of the Park End. This came to fruition in the early part of 1994.

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 are in the Bullens Road Stand. Nearly 6000 will be wearing tangerine.



Where To Drink...

The city centre isn't a million miles away. About a 15 minute walk away from the visiting supporters entrance, is the Thomas Frost pub on Walton Road - a Wetherspoons. Bradleys Wine Bar is just further down and across the road.

Pubs on Walton Lane or The Spellow and Wilnslow Hotel outside Goodison are recommended. Last season we frequented a 'local' social club, we'll be doing the same again this time round. Ale is on sale inside the ground.

Plod & Stewards

Largish police presence outside the ground last year, with a few scuffles on show. Stewards were relatively low key from memory.

Fear Factor rating - 3. Strangely enough there was more trouble outside the ground than most games last season.

A welcome distraction? Normally yes. Squad rotation - check. Travelling faithful in large numbers - check, strongest starting 11, erghh we'll have to check the team sheet after 2pm. The magic of the cup will never die, but this season with our current league position and fixtures looming come 5pm I think we can all say abracadabra and hope the distraction disappears with our pride intact and some confidence for the London boys next Tuesday.

Onwards + Upwards




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The journalist

Writer: Eamonn Moore  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday February 16 2012

Time: 10:31PM

 

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