The Arsenal Magical Mystery Tour: Goodison Park

Alex Livesey

Goodison Park, and how it came about, is one of the more intriguing stories in English football history

I'm going to take a different approach to things regarding this particular tour. In the past, I've covered - for the most part - the history of the ground as it took on different shapes and sizes to become the stadium we see presently. I'll discuss the normal topics, like the stands and area the ground resides in, however I believe that what is more interesting in Goodison Park's case isn't the ground itself, but how the ground, and Everton F.C., transformed the football landscape in one of the sports' most historical cities in the world.

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via upload.wikimedia.org

Everton F.C. was formed in 1878 as St Domingo's, which allowed parish members of St. Domingo's Methodist Church in the Liverpool ward of Everton to play the sport. After gaining a following of supporters and the recruitment of players outside the parish walls the club changed their name, a year after their initial formation, to Everton F.C. This change took place at nearby Queens Head Hotel, which was located very close to Prince Rupert's Tower in the Rupert Lane Recreation Ground. The tower, especially the location of it, displays to all the true roots of the club today as it's proudly displayed on the club's crest.

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via upload.wikimedia.org

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via upload.wikimedia.org

The club initially played its matches out at Stanley Park, using makeshift goal posts and roughed-in pitch lines, until they moved down the street to a field off of Priory Road (I can't seem to find the exact location of this field that was located on Priory Road, but I'm assuming it was located further south of Stanley Park, since the north edge of the park is bordered by the road itself), where they enjoyed nicer amenities such as dressing rooms and a makeshift grandstand. However, the owner of this land didn't think much of the supporters who frequented the matches and so the club moved to a piece of land located on Anfield Road. Yes, that Anfield.

John Houlding, an Everton F.C. member, had a friend who owned some land on Anfield Road who charged the club rent in exchange for use of the grounds. However, many disputes started to escalate between Houlding and the club over such matters as the purchase price of the land, the doubling of rent charged to the club for use of the facilities immediately following its 1891 Championship win, exclusivity beer sales during matches for his brewery products during all home matches and the continuation of the spot for the dressing facilities the players used (he had a public house that is still in existence, The Sandon, that the players used while at Anfield; the club thought he was trying to earn additional money off of them through this arraignment. The bar is located on the intersection of Houlding St. and Oakfield Rd. in that link to give you an approximation of distance to his pub from Anfield).

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via upload.wikimedia.org

Tensions grew between Houlding and the club to the point where St. Domingo's church organist George Mahon purchased some land on the northwest corner of Stanley Park, not too far from their Anfield location, in the event that relations between them and their Chairman were irreparable. As he foresaw, Houlding expelled the club from the grounds, which left Everton with a clear exit strategy and plans to construct England's first purpose-built football stadium. Houlding, left with an empty stadium, immediately formed Liverpool F.C., which began a rivalry that is now one of the most famous in the world. After some help from their club director in the form of an interest-free loan of £1000, the club broke ground on the stadium and, on Thursday August 7, 1892, Goodison Park hosted its first match and hasn't looked back (or south) ever since.

Stands:

Goodison Road Stand

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via upload.wikimedia.org

Bullens Road

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via upload.wikimedia.org

Gwladys Street Stand

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via upload.wikimedia.org

The Park End

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via upload.wikimedia.org

A Couple of Interesting Quirks:

  • Goodison Park sits on an asymmetrical plot of land; the Goodison Road Stand suffers as a result with Goodison Road slicing the amount of seating in the southwest part of the stand (this is visible in the first picture within the post, if you look closely)
  • The ground is located within a half-mile from their city rival, Liverpool F.C. While two two grounds aren't nearly as close as the two grounds for Dundee FC and Dundee United, or Racing Club and Independiente , it's one of the "closest rivalries" you'll come across in the sport.

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via upload.wikimedia.org

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via upload.wikimedia.org

(the club's motto is shown above, which is Latin for "Nothing but the best is good enough")

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