On the road with Tottenham: Everton

There is something special about travelling the country watching Spurs, it gives you a sense of pride and togetherness that is difficult to match anywhere else. The only better feeling than the excitement on the morning of an away game is the excitement on the morning of the opening day of the new season. On Saturday, with my brain in overdrive thinking about the possibility of another glorious Spurs away day and what the coming season could bring, it was difficult to get much sleep and as expected I woke up earlier than my alarm which was set at 8am. Come 9am, with a sausage sandwich lining our stomachs, Chaz and Dave blaring and the blue and white scarfs hanging out the window, we were ready to hit the road for the first away day of the season.

Travel

The rail links from London to Liverpool are pretty good, albeit a little expensive. For an away day, there is not many better ways to experience it than by getting the train with your fellow fans. Listening to the different songs of the various Football clubs at London’s main stations is a surprisingly wonderful experience and instantly gives you the buzz of playing away.  On this occasion however, we decided to take the car because of the last experience we had of getting the train to Liverpool (where the seat booking system was down which led to us standing the whole way back to London…).

Loaded with craft beer from some of the finest micro-breweries London has to offer (including the wonderful 40ft beer as shown below) we were on our way. Four hours later, we arrived in Liverpool.

Parking wasn’t a problem having found the car park we had previously used when playing Everton last season which is just a short walk across Stanley Park from Goodison Park. Liverpool is one of the most unique Footballing cities in the country, having two stadiums in such close proximity to one another, and I must say it is magnificent sight having the stadiums of two Premier League greats so close to each other only separated by the very scenic Stanley Park.

Inside the ground

With an hour until kick off we entered the ground and made our way up the upper tier where we were sitting. Everton is one of the oldest grounds in the league, and it definitely feels like it when walking through the turnstiles. It was particularly amusing to see two stewards baffled by the new automatic ticketing system that was put in place for the 2016/17 season. The concourse is nice and spacious, although, again, the oldness does show. It is also rather annoying that there isn’t an in-stadium bookies for a pre-game flutter. With no signal on my phone, how am I supposed to place my 1-0 Danny Rose bet?

Food & Drink

Goodison Park is one of my favourite Premier League grounds in terms of the catering it has to offer. It may be one of the more dated grounds in the league, but it’s way ahead of many in the food and drink department and there’s only one real place to start – the scouse pie. Scouse (stew to us southerners) is a delicacy in Merseyside, and both clubs are famous for their scouse pies. If you weren’t fortunate enough to try the pie on Saturday, it’s essentially a beef stew surrounded by pastry – a delightful combination.

As a football-ground-pie-enthusiast, there aren’t many Premier League clubs that stand out (a special mention to Bournemouth here who offer a wonderful homemade pie) so I was very impressed with Everton for this one. Another category that Everton are at the top of is the beer that they have on offer. As football fans, we have come to accept a £5 bottle of warm Carlsberg is probably the best we are going to get, so Everton’s Chang lager (four for £12) makes for a pleasant change. I love the traditional relationship between beer and football, so I have a lot of time for Chang keeping this up by being the only lager (and alcoholic brand at that) club sponsor in the Premier League, and as well as that actually selling it within the ground (the sounds like it would be a given, but at the Carling Cup final the beer on offer was Carlsberg…).

Atmosphere

Now into the ground and onto the football. As mentioned earlier we were sat in the upper tier of the Bullens Road Stand – which believe it or not still has wooden flooring and up until a few years ago still had wooden seats. The atmosphere in the section I was sat in was a bit like Tottenham’s first half on the pitch - flat, anxious & somewhat dull. Having travelled away with Spurs for a number of years, I can confidently say that our travelling support is one of the finest in the country, but I was left slightly disappointed with the atmosphere on Saturday. It was the first away game I can remember where rows of people were actually sitting down for the majority of the game. Having expressed my opinion on Twitter after the game, I did receive a lot of comments from people disagreeing, especially those in the bottom tier. So I would assume it was just a problem with the upper tier, or maybe just the area I was in. It’s worth pointing out the atmosphere was much better once we levelled and were pushing for the win.

Verdict - 6.5/10

There are many things wrong with modern football, but watching your club away from home brings you back to the core of English football and why we all love it so much, and Goodison Park specifically is a pleasant reminder of what’s great about our country’s Football.

The result and first half performance obviously weren't ideal, but all things considered for the day, I am going to give this away day a 6.5/10. I will definitely be returning to Merseyside in the future but hopefully next time coming home with all three points!

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