Everton get fewer day-trippers and foreign visitors than their historically more successful rivals, leading fans in the blue half of the city to claim that they have a more hardcore Scouse support and thus represent ‘The People’s Club’, as a gigantic banner at Goodison Park proclaims. Much-adored boss David Moyes certainly didn’t do his popularity any harm by coining the phrase a few years back.
Whatever truth in the claim (and fans of the Reds would counter that they have just as many Liverpudlian fans), a visit to Everton certainly does have an authentically gritty feel to it, not least because of the uproarious atmosphere often generated at the rather creaky Goodison.
The underdog card may play well today, but it’s worth remembering that Everton have a very rich history. They’ve played in the top flight of the English league for all but four seasons since 1888, being crowned league champions nine times – more than anyone bar their neighbours, Manchester United and Arsenal and certainly a lot more than Chelsea, as they happily remind those other Blues when they visit Merseyside.
However, trophies have evaded these Blues since 1995 (when they clinched the FA Cup), and their last true period of success was the mid-1980s, when they bagged two league titles in three years, an FA Cup and the European Cup Winners' Cup.
Today, Evertonians take pride in the disciplined and talented side Moyes has assembled on a modest budget. Players like Tim Cahill, Marouane Felliani, Mikel Arteta, Louis Saha, Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka and Phil Neville may not quite be the superstars that you can see play on the other side of Stanley Park, but they work their socks off for each other and are arguably far more of a team than the men in Red. Those planning a football trip to the city, therefore, should certainly consider checking out the Blue side of town – or they’ll miss half the fun.
Goodison Park is feeling its age. One of the world's first purpose-built football grounds – interestingly, for financial reasons to save the club rent money – it bears the classic trademarks of renowned architect Archibald Leach. However, its 40,000 capacity has been accused of holding the club back (certainly it's regularly full) and Everton have been contemplating the possibility of a new stadium since the mid-1990s.
A proposed move to Kirkby was scuppered by the Government, and the Toffees are currently sniffing out potential new sites. However, the old-school stadium is matched with an old-school atmosphere, and the Gwladys Street Stand generates some ear-splitting volume. And if you’re feeling religious, pop into the church of St Luke the Evangelist for a pre-match pray. It's on the corner between the Gwladys Street end and the (main) Goodison Avenue stand.
From Liverpool Lime Street a taxi costs around £8, while regular buses run from Queen Square bus station nearby. On match days a Soccerbus service runs from Sandhills station – connected to via Liverpool Central. Goodison is well signposted from all directions. To get to the ground from the motorway, leave the M6 at Junction 23 and take the A580 under the M57. Turn left onto the A5058 towards Widnes. The ground is signposted from here – so head towards Stanley Park and start hunting for parking: you’re probably more likely to find some near Anfield.
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