Manchopper in….Everton

Everton_FC_logo.svg Mcfc

Result: Everton 2-1 Manchester City (Capital One (League) Cup)

Venue: Goodison Park (Wednesday 6th January 2016, 8pm)

Att: 35,314 apparently. Cheers to “Tom Foolery”!

Another day, another Premier League ground. Living the high life of late aren’t I? This fine Wednesday evening saw me heading off to Goodison Park (following a visit to Old Trafford the previous Saturday), but due to getting a lift of City fan Ashley, I was avoiding the usual pre-match ventures and heading straight to Goodison itself.

A couple of weeks prior, Ashley had contacted me and asked if I was interested in going. Of course I was, but there was a condition. I had to go in the away end. After much internal battling, I eventually decided to tke the plunge and head into the other side. Such is life, such is groundhopping.

So, at just after six, my lift pulled up and we were soon rattling along the motorway and into Liverpool after a surprisingly easy and traffic free journey, despite the Fiat 500 we encountered at the end of the highway that seemed determined to be smashed in the rear by someone. But, our traffic free journey wasn’t to last too long, as we soon found ourselves crawling along Queen’s Road towards Walton.

Eventually Ashley found a spot to just about pull into and 10 minutes walk later and with a programme in tow we arrived at Goodison Park and headed down Gwladys Road and off into the away end in the Bullens Road End. This goes without mentioning the fact we went past the “Liverpool Taxi Drivers Sports & Social Club”. What a place that sounds!

After heading past the club shop which gets a good shout for being named as the Toffee Shop(!) and a second good pat down in four days I was eventually in though the turnstile did seem a little against the idea and I actually had to be let in manually but nonetheless I was into Goodison Park!

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What a place this sounds!

Heading down Gwladys Road

Heading down Gwladys Road

Goodison Park

Goodison Park

So we were into the pretty overcrowded away concourse under the Bullens Road stand and it was something of a relief to actually get out of the area. Our tickets had us six rows from the front and, to my mind, the closest I’ve been to a game at such a level.

Goodison Park is a good old ground, with the Main Stand towering over the other stands. The Gwladys End is where most of the noise resonates from and opposite this is the Park End Stand with its stantions to the front. The Bullens Road stand sits opposite the Main Stand, with the away end located to the Gwladys side.

10 minutes after we ventured into the stand itself, the players made their way to the field from under the main stand to the famed strains of Z-Cars, or what is apparently a traditional Liverpool song about a love spurned sailor. And carrying on the historic theme…

History Lesson:

Everton FC was founded in 1878 as St Domingo’s so people from the parish of the church of the same name had sport to play all year round. As people outside the parish wished to play, the name change was undertaken a year later to become Everton. Originally playing at Priory Lane and then Anfield, the club left the ground in 1892 after a row over rent, with John Houlding splitting with the club and attempting to gain full control. Failing to do so, he tried to take the Everton name, which too was denied and he eventually formed the club that would go on to be the Toffees’ bitter rivals, Liverpool.

A founding member of the Football League in 1888, Everton won their first championship in 1891 before winning their first FA Cup in 1906, before winning the league title for a second time in 1915. In 1925, Everton signed Dixie Dean from Tranmere Rovers and he set the record for goals in a season in 1928: 60 in 39 and aided Everton in their quest to a third title. 1930 saw the club relegated to the Second Division but they returned two years later to the top flight as Division 2 winners and won a fourth title in their first season back. 1933 saw the Toffees win a second FA Cup, before they became champions in 1939, meaning that Everton were champions on both occasions when World Wars broke out.

Upon resumption of football after WWII, Everton weren’t the side they were and were relegated in 1951, spending three years in the second tier before achieving promotion again. Ever since this 1953-’54 season, the club have competed in the top flight in its differing guises.

Lining up pre-game

Lining up pre-game

1963 saw another title arrive at Goodison Park and a further FA Cup joined the trophy cabinet in ’66. 1970 was another championship winning season but this was their last silverware until 1984 when, under the late Howard Kendall, Everton lifted the 1984 FA Cup, the 1985 European Cup Winners’ Cup and two further titles in 1985 & ’87. The club then became founder members of the Premier League in 1992 and won their fifth FA Cup in 1994.

Under David Moyes, Everton reached the Champions’ League in 2004-’05 but the club are yet to win any further silverware since their ’94 Cup triumph, though they did finish in a highly respectable 5th place last seasons under the stewardship of Roberto Martinez who amassed the club’s best points tally for over a quarter of a century.

The first 15-20 minutes or so was poor and it wasn’t any surprise that we both agreed on this! But then something clicked and both sides really started going for it and despite City dominating the ball and most of the play, it was Everton that had the ball in the net on two occasions, only to be denied by the offside flag on both occasions. But it was to be third time lucky for the Toffees as a left wing corner fell to Ross Barkley whose powerful drive was wonderfully saved by Willy Caballero, only for his parry to find Ramiro Funes Mori to fire in on the turn. Right on half-time, 1-0.

Cabellero makes the save...

Cabellero makes the save…

...but can't deny Funes Mori

…but can’t deny Funes Mori (26)

Match Action

Match Action

Nothing of note at half-time and so it’s straight onto the second period, but I think there needs to be a shout here for City’s “Sheikh Mansour went to Spain” song. It’s so wonderfully shit it’s brilliant. On the basis of this song along, Manuel Pellegrini should never leave. Ever.

The second half began at as good a pace as the first ended and it was Everton, rather than City, who continued to create the better chances. Both Mohamed Besic and Gerard Deulofeu went close but it was City who were next to score. Soon after Kevin De Bruyne had seen a low shot somehow tipped wide by Joel Robles, a swift counter from an Everton corner saw sub Jesus Navas released inside left and he placed his shot past Robles and into the far corner to spark scenes of mayhem in the away end and continue the fun and games between the two sets of supporters.

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

Match Action

But it was the Toffees’ fans who were to have the last laugh just minutes later as a hobbling Romelu Lukaku found a second wind to sprint onto the end of Gareth Barry’s left wing cross and nod in from close range. That was to be the Belgian’s last contribution as he was immediately replaced by Arouna Kone.

Despite ending the game with 10 men after Seamus Coleman went off injured in the last couple of minutes, Everton comfortably held on to ensure they head into the second leg with a one-goal advantage to take with them to the Etihad.

So, Ashley and I quickly departed Goodison and headed back through the night but not before I paid him in a shady suburban street in what must have looked like a dodgy deal. Certainly Ashley thought as much! But, we returned without further alarm, though I did manage to leave my phone in his car and drag him back round to me. Sorry pal!

Two out of three Premier League grounds done this week then, with just the Boleyn to go on Saturday to complete the trio. Until then…..

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RATINGS:

Game: 7- Slow burner, but exploded eventually.

Ground: 7- Nice old ground, concourse a bit shit though.

Fans: 8- Created a good atmosphere throughout the game.

Programme: 7- What seems to be the standard at Prem Level.

Food: N/A

Value For Money: 7- Cheaper ticket than usual and for a good game and ground. All in all, a good evening.

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