Going to the Match
Although I'm a lifelong Evertonian, my visits to Goodison Park have been rare. Apart from a few games in 1980-81 with my Dad, I've just followed my team through the radio, TV, papers and web.
For some it seems that the team you follow is built into your DNA, but for me, even at the age of three, there was a conscious act of selection. Having four elder siblings who between them had already chosen Chelsea, Man U, Man City and Liverpool a path had been set around difference rather than tribal loyalty. The fact that Everton were champions in the season I made my choice, 69-70, will have had some influence, but they were a local choice too, with Goodison only 15 miles away (as the crow flies, over two estuaries) from where I grew up.
Yesterday's visit came about as our footballing family hero, nephew Adam, was one of the subs for the opposing team, Blackburn. This meant that I ended up with the Rovers fans in the away section, which gave a different experience of the match. Although Adam didn't get called on, it was great to see him warming up on the pitch that has hosted so many important moments for me over the years. I should also drop in some Goodison lore here, perhaps reminding you that this is the only club ground in Britain to have hosted a World Cup semi-final. If you know your history...
A draw was probably a fair result, and meant that competing family loyalties weren't compromised. The only slightly awkward moment was when Rovers equalised and I realised I was the only person in the away section not standing up, but I don't think anyone noticed in the excitement.
It was great to be back at Goodison Park. The 'Grand Old Lady' of football grounds has been here since 1892. A stadium is a tangible place for football supporters, one that gets made and remade through time. From my seat in the Bullens Road, I could look along and see where I'd sat with my Dad. Although economics may eventually rule otherwise, it's hard to imagine Everton in a stadium anywhere else. I won't be leaving it another thirty years before I return.
going to the match