Premier League ever-presents Everton are due to leave their current home, Goodison Park, in 2023 for a brand new state of the art stadium based at the Bramley-Moore Dock in Vauxhall, Liverpool. The new stadium, yet to be built, is planned to hold over 52,000 spectators which is a big upgrade on Goodison park's current maximum capacity of 39,414.
Whilst the vast majority of Evertonians were in favour of a move away from Goodison Park, the sheer amount of memories contained within the 128-year old stadium is bound to have an effect on those fans come moving day. A new stadium attracts new sponsors, better players and shows you are a forward-thinking club. Tottenham Hotspurs' new stadium is arguably the best in the country and will give the London club a platform to build on as they look to challenge the Premier League's elite, an ambition shared by the Everton hierarchy.
£3,000 Well Spent
Goodison Park opened its doors in 1892 and cost £3,000 to construct, immediately capturing the heart and minds of the locals. Built specifically for Everton Football Club, the Goodison was the first purpose-built football stadium in the country but north of the border Rangers had kicked things off when they opened Ibrox in 1887. Just 2-years after opening, Goodison Park played host to the FA Cup final between Notts County and Bolton in which 37,000 spectators made their way through the turnstiles.
By 1910, further work on Goodison Park meant that 69,000 fans packed the stadium watch the FA Cup final replay in which Newcastle locked horns with Barnsley. Following the war, Goodison enjoyed its highest ever attendance, 78,299, in a game that saw the Toffees take on arch-rivals Liverpool. Sadly, such huge attendances would become a thing of the past following the 1990 Taylor Report which required all top division stadiums to become all-seated, vastly limiting the number of spectators you could fit into the ground.
An International Stadium
Since it opened it's doors, Goodison Park has gone on to capture some amazing memories, and not just for Everton fans. In 1966 Goodison was chosen as one of the grounds to host the World Cup and during the group stage, Portugal, Brazil, Bulgaria and Hungary all played games at the stadium.
Portugal's Eusebio claimed the Golden Boot trophy during that tournament, scoring 6 of his 9 goals at Goodison Park, and would later describe the ground as “the best stadium in my life“. Goodison Park also hosted the World Cup semi-final between West Germany and the Soviet Union, and we all know who won that game and how the final played out against England.
Goodison Park has been used as the home of the England national team nine times over the years, first in 1895 against Scotland and most recently in 1973 against Northern Ireland, with the Three Lions avoiding defeat on each of those occasions. The last senior international football to be played at Goodison Park was back in 1995 when Brazil beat Japan 3-0 in the Umbro Cup.
Goodison Park has been used to host Rugby League matches, particularly the Kangaroo tour of Great Britain. In 1908 Northern Union XIII lost 10-9 to Australia in front of a crowd of 6,000, the following year England won 14-7 against Australia with just 4,500 in attendance, 1911 once again saw Northen League XIII lost but this time against Australasia and in 1921 Lancashire were thrashed 29-6 by the Australasians in front of 17,000.
In 2016 Goodison Park hosted the WBC Cruiserweight title bout which saw lifelong Evertonian Tony Bellew beat Llunga Makabu. Goodison was also used a year earlier to film the fictional boxing fight for the 2015 film Creed, which Tony Bellew was also involved in.
During WWII Goodison Park was commandeered by the military for use of the Balloon Barrage section and during that time a baseball game was played which earned money for the British Red Cross and St. John's Ambulance, which was enjoyed by an audience of 8,000.
Modern-day stadiums such as the Emirates and the Etihad have been accused of failing to recreate the atmosphere captured at their predecessors Highbury and Main Road, and when Goodison Park closes its doors another atmospheric stadium will be lost.
Fans create the atmosphere but they need the right tools in order to do so, whether that be the right acoustics formed by the stadium, their team's performance on the pitch, or the music that is played when their beloved team steps onto the field, perhaps a mixture of all three.
When Z-Cars plays in Goodison Park it signals the arrival of the teams onto the pitch, standing all hairs on end and evoking a roar and applause from the home faithful like nothing you have heard before. Night matches are often said to be one of the best times to experience Goodison Park, with many describing the physical movement you can feel in the stadium when the home side score and the fans celebrate. No atmosphere compares to the Merseyside Derby when it comes to games at Goodison, closely followed by matches against Manchester United and European night games.
Everton have a history of great strikers and an affinity with the famous number 9 shirt, and over the years Goodison Park has been treated to some spectacular and memorable goals. In the Premier League era alone Everton fans will fondly remember Duncan Ferguson's first goal for the club against Liverpool or when Wayne Rooney scored that goal against Arsenal and the atmosphere they produced around Goodison Park.
Everton have twice survived relegation on the final day of the season and those goals from Farrelly in 1998 and Stuart in 1994 helped create two of the most memorable atmosphere's Goodison Park has ever seen, heard and felt, in its history, despite there not being a trophy on the line. Everton are a club with a rich history that have won numerous league titles and FA Cups. However, no matter if the club is playing Bayern Munich in the semi-final of the Cup Winners' Cup or battling against relegation on the final day of the season against Wimbledon, Goodison Park never fails to produce one of the greatest atmospheres in English football.
As a stadium, Goodison Park is old fashioned now, with its pillars causing obstructed views for some fans, and doesn't measure up to the slick designs of modern stadia, with some sections still having uncomfortable wooden seats. However, what Goodison Park lacks in modern expectations of a stadium, it more than makes up for in charm, character and atmosphere, something the Toffees faithful will be hoping their new ground will also provide.