Being Blue — My first game
Lol Scragg's first impressions of Goodison Park remain indelible
MY FIRST GAME
|Tribal, feudal and clannish are just some of the adjectives used to
describe the behaviour of a football fan. True as they may be, a
passionate follower of the game knows that their support flows deeper than
anyone could imagine – football holds that special and intangible
“something” for all of us.
Since birth, my father indoctrinated me into the religion that is Everton Football Club. I remember “being” an Evertonian in my early years without knowing exactly what “being” one actual meant – this was soon to change in March 1977 when I first entered Goodison Park, commonly referred to as the “School of Science”.
First impressions are of the scale. For a wide-eyed seven-year-old, this was the largest place I had even been to. Enormous steel stands rose up around all sides of the stadium. Finding our wooden seats, we sat down as my father started describing the great games he had seen there – great names from the past came from his lips but exited my head as soon as I heard them as I could hear nothing but the roar.
For a roar it was. Unlike anything I had ever experienced, indeed it was even louder than the fire alarm at school! As my father continued to talk, I looked around at my fellow fans. Fathers sat proudly with their sons, men sat with their wives, grandmothers sat with their daughters. And each and every one of them wore the “uniform”, the blue sweater or tank top, the blue and white scarf and blue and white bobble hat. The ground was a sea of shifting blue and white as people reached their seats.
And then it happened. Then I realised what it meant to be part of this exclusive club. There was a drumroll and tune started played that, to this day, still sends shivers down my spine. I had no idea what the tune was, I didn’t recognise it, but I knew it meant something as everyone stood up as one. My spine started tingling and to the tune (later found out to be the theme from the 1960’s TV series Z-Cars), the players ran onto the pitch.
If the roar was loud before, it now reached a crescendo, amplified by the ampitheatre shape of the stadium it became more than a roar. It was a sound that took form, making every hair stand on end and resonating the most remote organ inside the body. This wasn’t a noise, it was an entity in its own right, and it was during the first few moments of hearing that sound that I knew my destiny – I had been chosen to follow this club.
The game that followed was an anticlimax, even though ‘my’ team beat Chelsea by six goals to nil with our star striker scoring a penalty to take the £10,000 prize money for scoring thirty league goals. It was, and still is, the experience of visiting the School of Science that pulls nearly forty-thousand people every fortnight, through the bedraggled and worn streets of Liverpool 4, towards their spiritual home.
19 November 2003