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No Country for Old Men

By Larry Boner :  30/10/2009 :  Comments (25) :

It was about 50 years ago that my dad took me to my first Everton game, I think it was a Floodlit Cup match against Liverpool, 1958 or 59 — the only way then, apart from FA cup, we could have a derby game as Liverpool were in the 2nd Division (how times have changed).

I can't remember the score but entering the ground was unforgettable; I can still see the blazing floodlights bathing the pitch, the cold night air warmed by the glow, the noise of the crowd, so close to the pitch, players you could reach out and touch.

I have often wondered why I became such a committed Evertonian, it was not because I watched them winning trophies on TV, we had never been on TV, we had not won a trophy since 1933! It was because of my Dad and nights like these, a meaningless game that meant everything to a 9-year-old kid.

It was a few seasons before I was allowed to go to an away game, Burnley in the FA Cup I think 1962, we lost 3-1, Burnley were a top side then and had recently won the League Championship. Away games were then a regular for my Dad and me with lots of Lancashire clubs in the top division, Blackpool, Burnley, Blackburn, Bolton etc.

The team itself were becoming a major force and in 1962-63 were joined in the top division by Liverpool and the first league derby for many years was at Goodison early that season, 72,488 attendance, with the teams drawing 2-2— the most exciting game I had been to up until then, my cousin and myself clinging to the stanchions of the raised paddock for the whole game.

There were to be many more games for us, some of them unforgettable, the first European Cup game v Internazionale, the 1966 Cup Final, Rotterdam, Bayern Munich, the World Cup at Goodison Park, including a semi-final, signifying Goodison as the top ground outside of Wembley.

It was at the World Cup I witnessed one of the greatest games I had ever seen at Goodison, Hungary v Brazil, with Florian Albert, taking on the mantle of my favourite player Alex Young, leading the Magyar team to a 3-1 win, Farkas scoring the goal of the tournament.

We won the FA Cup that year, Liverpool were League Champions and England World Cup winners, the Charity Shield was held at Goodison and the three trophies paraded round the pitch before kick off, Labone with the FA Cup, Yeats with the League trophy and Wilson and Hunt with the Jules Rimet World Cup, surely something that will never happen again in this city certainly, but probably never in this country.

The above are just a few of my experiences following Everton, I am still a season ticket holder, as is my Dad who is 90 and my 16-year-old son. The club is still a major part of our lives and you can trace your path through life with the games you attended.

My Dad regales us with stories of Dixie, Hickson, Eglington etc the best forward line he ever saw —  Geldard, Dunne, Dean Johnston, Stein. My son now building up his own catalogue of memories, hopefully one day to bring through the next generation of Evertonians.

It is a fairly long lead-in to the point of this article, but I hope you will see the significance as I go on.

We went to see the Everton Collection at the library in William Brown St a couple of weeks ago and, although only a small part of the vast archive is on view, there was an immediate connection for us when you see artefacts relating to periods of your life and the history of this wonderful club.

I would recommend anyone who has not been to this exhibition, especially Liverpool supporters, as it is immediately apparent how innovative this club was, how the city of Liverpool and its people owe the founders of this club a great debt for the fame and fortune it has brought to the city.

As we walked through the exhibition, we were among people of all generations, women, granddads and grandmas with grandchildren all speaking in hushed tones as each item initiated an anecdote, “I was there, I shook Dixie’s, hand” ... “ I was at that game, Bally scored 4”.

The early history of LFC is also touched upon, something I don’t think present day supporters fully understand... that, but for a minor rent dispute, there would be no LFC. When you speak to some supporters of other clubs about Everton's history, they think you are referring to trophies won when you actually mean the history of the club itself and its journey through the world of football with you tagging along; the winning of trophies just an added bonus.

Early November this year the decision on the Kirby development will be reached and with it the whole future path of this most local of clubs. A decision in favour of Tesco and Everton will see the club move from its roots in the heart of Liverpool to a new home and a new beginning in Kirkby.

For some people they say this only entails a few miles away from Everton's spiritual home at Goodison Park and it is the only option open to the club. These views may be valid but they do not appeal to me as a good enough reason to abandon 130-odd years of history; the club was founded in this city, is part of the folklore and glory of this city.

We are inexorably moving towards a pivotal point in Everton's future and people with no connection to the club will make the decision. If the nod is given, then, in a year or two, a lot of people who have been through the experiences my family have will be alienated from the club and their active participation in the club will cease.

Why did I become an Evertonian?  Not because of Sky or the BBC or peer pressure but the tales of matches and players, away trips, told to me by my Dad, uncles, cousins and my first time walking across Stanley Park, the four massive floodlight pylons coming in to view, lighting the night sky...

I sincerely hope that the imminent decision is a negative one for the ground move, but if it is not then I want the club to be successful and move forward... although they will have to do it without me, my dad, my son and thousands of other committed Blues.

It is not an attachment to Goodison that makes me think this way; it is the club's connection to the city of Liverpool that will be lost forever. The club will never return to its roots but will languish in a retail park in Kirkby, the ground named after whoever will pay the most money for naming rights. Goodison Park and all its history razed to the ground.

I dread the day when the last game is played on the hallowed turf of Goodison, when I walk out of those gates for the last time, up County Road and away... what memories we will leave behind; what ghosts will continue to cheer and play long gone famous games?

I feel that the club is near to its end as a local dad-and-lad, family-type club; the Board's pursuit of wealth overtaking the supporters’ love of the club. Maybe I am wrong and Everton will emerge as a force again, but I don’t think so... not at Kirkby, not with a second-rate stadium in a small town.

These are my sincere views and disagree with them if you want, but there are thousands of people like me not so much worried about 3 points on Saturday, but where will the next few weeks leave the club’s future.

Reader Comments

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John Keating
1   Posted 31/10/2009 at 19:00:59

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Excellent piece Larry. Could have been me writing it.

First game in 1963 Championship season for me. No telly. Just family passion and an inbred loyalty that has spanned the years and is now under threat.

I was lucky being born and brought up in Everton so didn’t have far to go to see the team. It’s not the thought of travelling to Kirkby — short distance as it is. It’s the whole "experience"... Like you my last game will be with the last game at Goodison — if it happens.

Call me what you want — Neandrethal, Luddite, whatever — leaving this city would be the biggest and most costly mistake the club will ever make.

Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
2   Posted 31/10/2009 at 19:06:57

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Fantastic statement, Larry, from the heart.

Great memories... damp-eye poignancy, and deep sadness at the prospect. Every word must carry tremendous resonance for a massive generation or five of home-grown Evertonians.

Watched Arsenal in HD before today’s game... Incredible stadium. Yet for us the nightmare approaches. Sad indeed.
Craig Wilson
3   Posted 31/10/2009 at 21:29:07

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The only people to blame for this, I am afraid, are the people who voted Yes and the thousands who didn’t even bother to vote!!! Just wish maybe some of them could've read this article earlier.
Ken Buckley
4   Posted 31/10/2009 at 23:04:29

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Great article, Larry. I have the feeling that many of us would rather stick with our lifetime roots and enjoy with our sons, grandsons and even great grandsons/daughters our matchday experience gained over lifetimes and strive to be the best we can where we are rather than move those few traffic-snarled miles to neverland with a promise of maybe better times and fortunes.

There again, perhaps I am not a visionary but just a fan who thinks Everton home matches should be at home.

Rob Hollis
5   Posted 01/11/2009 at 00:24:14

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My own introduction was similar though in the late sixties and I completely understand your point. However, I don’t think clinging to the ground alters the fact that the club along with the game has been sacrificed to Sky TV and its worldwide audience. Fans who attend the ground are just background noise for a TV show.

TV decides when we kick off, produces pressure for rule changes to provide more goals, destroys the art of defending and lauds cheats like Drogba and Ronaldo as superstars instead of the disgrace to the game they are.

Goodison will never bring back the past and is not really fit for the future. We need a new ground and it will be a new ground even if it is built in the same place.

Derek Thomas
6   Posted 01/11/2009 at 05:37:37

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Nick Entwistle eat your heart out! Now that’s what we all call writing... zeitgeist my fuckin arse!
Karl Masters
7   Posted 01/11/2009 at 11:59:02

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I live 250 miles away in Kent, but I totally agree.

I have brought all my children to Goodison and they have loved it, even the one who has ended up supporting Chelsea (you can’t win ’em all!), who admits the atmosphere is special compared to Stamford Bridge.

I am only mentioning this as I believe that there are people behind this move who think it’s only local fans who are against the move. They should ask themselves why I wish to drive 500 miles in a day to watch a game. It’s because Goodison and the City of Liverpool have something magical about them. It’s called history, it’s called heritage... whether it be the Bullens Road stand or the three Graces or the odd feeling you get as you go through Everton up Scotland Road where you look around and think of all the houses that used to be there, all the people, all the the things that make Liverpool unique.

Visiting an identikit Retail Park on the outskirts, in a small New Town with nothing of any real historical note, and a second-rate stadium design won’t do it for me. I’d try it out, but I can’t see that I’ll be attending more than once a season eventually — and that would just be out of a sense of duty.
Karl Masters
8   Posted 01/11/2009 at 12:24:17

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I note that we’ve not heard any more about the mythical ’M62 corridor’ full of latent potential supporters that Wyness kept on about.

4 MILLION or so people wasn’t it?

Leaving aside the other football and Rugby clubs who all have a hat in the ring for people living in those areas, that has to be right up there with the 1000 fans will cycle to DK bollox that was used to sell DK to all the Yes voters.

It clearly misunderstands that famiies don’t just suddenly all support a team because it’s easy (supposedly) to drive to. If they did, they would also presumably lose interest after a few bad performances and move on to another family activity like visiting the zoo or the cinema.

The part that the tradition of taking your kids to the match and the baton being handed on is dismissed as some quaint old fashioned ritual, when it is the way you get real loyalty from fans.
Phil Bellis
9   Posted 01/11/2009 at 12:37:58

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Thanks Larry, for putting many of my feelings into words. < I, too, remember the days of ’local’ away trips to Blackpool, Burnley, Stoke etc ("Let the lad go, love, he’s with a good set of mates.")

That Sunday in the City in ’66 was the greatest day I’ve ever experienced; my dad said it was the biggest street party in Liverpool since V-E Day

We must have stood near each other on occasion — the cinder terracing at Leeds; the 2nd Man City replay at Molyneux; North Korea, 3-0 up, Ferenc Bene tearing the arse out of Brazil...

I’ve got good, match-going friends now who I’ve know since the 60s; we grew up together, we were Scousers, boys from the Mersybeat era... our bond was Everton and our shared joys and devastations in following the Blues still maintain and enhance that bond.

In our group of arl gits, most say they will never go to Kirkby; some will pick matches... others will keep an eye on results. We will remain Evertonians, whatever the post-Sky fans may think, but we won’t join the Checkout End with the Boys from the Banks of the Alt.

Thanks again, Larry, I’m with you in believing we are a City of Liverpool Club and all that entails; those who can’t understand, fair enough... just don’t tell me ’get real’, ’end of’, ’live with it’ and the other newspeak triteness.

Tony I'Anson
10   Posted 01/11/2009 at 15:52:41

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Michael Kenrick - how many subscribers are there on TW? Why don’t you run the vote again for all subscribers and see what the results are?
Albert Dock
11   Posted 01/11/2009 at 16:20:25

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’It was about 50 years ago that my dad took me to my first Everton game, I think it was a Floodlit Cup match against Liverpool, 1958 or 59 — the only way then, apart from FA cup, we could have a derby game as Liverpool were in the 2nd Division’

Probably the Liverpool Senior Cup.
Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
12   Posted 01/11/2009 at 16:17:53

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Tony, I can consult with the wiz, Mr Lyndon, and see if this can be done; however, I have to question what credence you can place in such an internet vote as being representative of the Great and the Good.

We would not restrict it just to subscribers, which I believe make up a relatively small proportion of the average number of individuals accessing this site on a regular basis.

Whatever the outcome, I fear it would be very easy for anyone to dismiss the vote as unrepresentative.

Far more effective, I believe, would be a mass demonstration at Goodison, following a positive decision for Destination Kirkby. The challenges facing the organisers of such a demonstration are immense (not least the infamous apathy of the ’silent majority’, and the inevitable in-fighting, back-biting and agenda-pushing that seems to bedevil such efforts). However, I think it might be the only way to get their attention.

We would, of course, provide the services of ToffeeWeb to publicise and support such efforts.
Keith Glazzard
13   Posted 01/11/2009 at 16:10:09

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Larry, my first time at Goodison was floodlit. My brother, already a season ticket holder, took me into the Park End as Brazil were playing Bulgaria. I was stunned. Before that, I had only known Ellesmere Port Town’s ground (saw Dave Hickson playing there, Happy Birthday lad) and Prenton Park where we went from school on a Friday night.

And Farkas’s goal against Brazil was the best that anyone can ever score — never shown in any ’best of’ because it had little to do with England’s '66 victory. Eusebio vs North Korea — 3pm kick-off — was a magical day in itself.

Been an Evertonian ever since. And the GP experience helped a lot. Particularly, the well informed supporters who surrounded me, appreciating good football played by either team. Being brought up on Ball, Kendall and Harvey helped a bit.

The last time dad, brother and me watched a match together was at Wembley, 1984. Dad had feared for his life just getting out of Goodison a year or two before. The day of triumph came close to carrying him off. He loved it of course.

Pre-war, he had a mate who used to take him to watch the games from the Director’s Box. My mother, from dockside Birkenhead, grew up with Dixie Dean. Dad was at school with Joe Mercer. I could go on...

There is nobody in his right mind who would argue that Everton’s new stadium — because one is needed — should be far from where it is now. That GP has not been redeveloped during the last 30 years or more cannot be the fault of the present owners. So what to do?

KEIOC — means what? Our city? The battle is already lost. The "L" word cannot be mentioned. And anyone not from ’our city’ is what? A second class supporter? Go to all those coaches lined up from North Wales every game and tell them that...

And, I stress to add, I’m not getting at you, Larry, that anyone who objects to EFC doing a deal with Tesco should look at their shopping baskets. An old (deceased) mate of mine was outside himself with rage when Murdoch’s Sky bought the TV rights. He paid Murdoch every day to do that when he bought The Sun.

That is how the world works.

Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
14   Posted 01/11/2009 at 17:30:54

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Albert, it was not the Liverpool Senior Cup.

According to Toffee Pages, the incredible compendium of Post-War Everton Matchday Programmes complied by a certain Dr David France, the inaugural game of Liverpool Floodlight Challenge Cup took place on 9 October 1957 to celebrate the installation of four massive floodlight towers at Goodison Park. Each was 60 metres high (that would be 200 feet in old measure) and featured 54 1500-Watt lights.

Liverpool hosted Everton at Anfield Road a few weeks later to celebrate their far less majestic illuminations. The competition ran through the 1961-62 season.

Ste Traverse
15   Posted 02/11/2009 at 01:09:30

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If this JOKE move is given the nod, one of the things I'm dreading the most is in the build-up to our last ever Goodison game. Billy Bullshit all over the media, again hogging the limelight, but with his crocodile tears telling everyone how devastated he is at Goodison’s demise. It will be truely sickening.
Micheal Hunt
16   Posted 02/11/2009 at 09:35:08

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Larry, Great article!

As a younger incarnation of toffee I can only look up on the likes of youtube to see some of the magic of the days of earlier halycon days. Such a huge pity to consider how far behind we’ve fallen since the days of 1966 when GP was the pinacle of all English Club grounds.

Re the 1966 goals mentioned, in case you’ve not seen these on youtube, Farkas and Ferenc’s 1966 magic at GP can re relived in part through these video clips:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WljSX3UE-MU&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FlX1kAerP8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpNqqj6EM4k

As an eternal hopeless optimist at times, I now pray for something unlikely to happen like this:

1) DK gets knocked back 100% so plan B has to be found.

2) A proper plan B is found, commited to and worked to a successful conclusion ASAP e.g. such as Tom Hughes is able to talk some sense into Blue Bill and the finances and council leeway are found to make a proper redevelopment of GP the plan Plan B that works.

3) The red shite go into financial meltdown and beg us to groundshare, which is met by a firm rebuttal, unless it makes financial sense with them being our tenants ;-)

Meanwhile, on the playing front: All the injured key players return ASAP like Arteta, Jags, Pienaar, Yak and we go on a great run to win the Europa League while stuffing the likes on Man City, the Red Shite, Spurs, Villa and Sunderland on route to a Champions League berth at the expense of the shite.

4) I don’t wake up because it is not all a romantic optimist’s dream!

COYB!!!
Phil Bellis
17   Posted 02/11/2009 at 10:20:25

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Keith, I’ve no problem saying I’m from Liverpool or that Everton are a Liverpool club; proud to proclaim both, personally
Take your point about our historic and loyal North Wales support but, to my knowledge, we’ve never paraded the FA Cup through the streets of Llandudno
Eugene Ruane
18   Posted 02/11/2009 at 10:37:42

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Absolutely terrific piece Larry.

It seems to be something people ’get’ or...not

Keith Glazzard - you say..

"anyone who objects to EFC doing a deal with Tesco should look at their shopping baskets"

Er...WHAT?

Maybe it’s just the way you’ve expressed that ’point’, but I have NO bleeding idea what you’re talking about.

NB: People don’t object to Everton ’doing a deal with Tesco’, they object to them doing THIS deal.

You continue...

"An old (deceased) mate of mine was outside himself with rage when Murdoch’s Sky bought the TV rights. He paid Murdoch every day to do that when he bought The Sun. That is how the world works".

Again - EH!?.

Sorry but your ’argument’ only stands up, if everyone judges things by your (pretty miserable) standards.

Personally, I’ve got a list as long as your arm of companies, publications, shops etc who don’t (and never will) get a bean from me, for one reason or another (including the fucking Sun!)

And your ’point’ about North Wales Blues is the old Kilfoyle red herring — ie: don’t talk about where Everton FC should be, talk about where Everton supporters are. It’ll help murky the waters and confuse the issue.

Let’s get this straight.

Where Everton supporters live does NOT matter and has of NO relevance to the issue of Kirkby, at all, (or to anything else).

Where Everton Football Club lives however, IS important and IS relevant.

There is a world of difference.

Like Karl Masters, all home games for me, over the past almost 30 years, have meant a lot of travel.

By train from London for more than 20 years and for the last seven, flights from Dublin (I hate to think of the time spent and I REALLY hate to think of the money)

In this time I have missed very few games and obviously, I have not done this because I’m hooked on the rush of winning trophies or watching Brazil-70 type football.

So....what then?

Well something that is VERY difficult to articulate.

A kind of illogical mix of Goodison, Walton, Everton, The Supper Bar, Priory Rd, History, My Dad, My Grandad, My Mates, Smells, Shouts, Laughs, Anger, Hoolies, The Hermitage, Liverpool, Bayern, Ball, Latch, Sharp, Duncan... a different illogical mix for each person.

I Know that we can’t just leave Goodison as it is, but it CAN be redeveloped and anyone still denying this has, in my opinion, other motives.

However (just to show I’m not a ’luddite’) I decided if we moved to Kings Dock, I WOULD continue to go and try to accept it as ’progress’

Kirkby, however - that’ll be me finished.

I’ll instantly become someone who doesn’t go to the game anymore.

I’ll probably do a bit of shopping instead

And here’s a thought, with the money I save, when I look in my basket, I WON’T see a load of Tesco tat. I’ll see all kinds of good stuff from the M&S food-hall.
Dave Brierley
19   Posted 02/11/2009 at 13:32:06

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Thanks Larry I mirror your history and really enjoyed the article which was beautifully written and brought back a lot of memories.

Like Eugene and others I have to travel a fair distance to home games, in my case from the South East and these days, unthinkable in the past, I sometimes hesitate mainly because of the quality of football on offer but also the cost. I still don’t know if I’ll attend any less if Kirkby happens, I suppose like some I’ll give it a go out of loyalty. I think I might feel I’m throwing away 50 years of my history if I don’t go anymore yet the thought of the retail park leaves me cold. However I fully understand and respect your views and all others who will call it a day if Kirkby gets the nod.
Tony I'Anson
20   Posted 02/11/2009 at 20:53:23

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Michael, it’s not the numbers who vote that matter, but the fact that each voter can be identified and the percentage that the results represent, for or against DK.

This will give the vote credibility as identified by the person's e.mail address so that they can only vote once. If you did do this, it will "force" the silent majority to register on this site so that they can have a say. They may not make comments like the rest of us, but on such an emotive issue, I think many would register in order to have a vote (season ticket holder or not).

Such qualified results can then be published on TW and in the local media, given that the decision is imminent anyway. Everton may also look at the results and pay them some attention.

Tony.

PS. My voice is still hoarse from Saturday’s match. If anyone has a programme, turn to page 33 to see an article about Stirling in Scotland, with a big photo of me with my dog Google. I even got on the pitch, into the dressing room and wished Dave Hickson a Happy Birthday.
Kevin Mitchell
21   Posted 02/11/2009 at 23:37:34

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In the same boat as you Larry.

If Kirkby goes ahead then that's another family of lifelong Evertonians lost.

Me, I’ll probably join a golf club with the money spent on three season tickets every year.

It’s very sad that the people who voted for it and try to justify it on here use only the information given to them by the club to give us an argument.
Larry Boner
22   Posted 03/11/2009 at 10:37:03

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Sunday night my son, his mate and myself went to a show at the Echo Arena. We parked about a mile away from the arena and walked down towards it from town. As we approached you could see the spotlights from the arena lighting the sky, reflecting off the clouds, we got near to the Albert Dock entrance and the arena came into view, it looked fantastic.

It was the first time I had seen it lit up at night, ironically bathed in blue and white light, we stopped on the bridge and I said to my son that this should have been where Evertons new stadium was built and this is what it would have looked like, albeit a bit bigger.

The location of a state of the art sports stadium at this part of one of the most famous cities on earth would have been second to none anywhere in the world.
the Albert Dock, Three Graces, the two cathedrals clearly in view and the Royal blue Mersey would surely have made it a Mecca for football supporters worldwide, rivalling Nou Camp, Maracana etc as grounds to visit and placing Evertons reputation miles ahead of any team including Man Utd and especially Liverpool irrespective of the success on the field, which would surely have followed.

Imagine a match day with ferries queueing up to drop supporters at the purpose built landing stage, the cruise ship passengers visiting the city with the Kings Dock arena high on the list of places to visit, iconic photos of ferries, liners with the stadium the Liver Buildings, the Cathedral backdrops going all over the world.

Rock concerts, European finals, internationals, you name it, all bringing fame and wealth to the city of Liverpool and Everton.
The above did not happen and probably never will happen, certainly not at Kirby, but though it may have been fanciful, it was exactly what the founders of Everton did all those years ago, at the forefront of innovation in football and stadia, moving the club ahead of any other club in Britain.

I dont know the real reasons why the developement did not go ahead, but it is heart breaking that we will become a laughing stock if we go from Kings Dock to Kirby where the only backdrop to the stadium will be a supermarket, the City no longer home to two cathedrals and two football clubs.
Patty Beesley
23   Posted 03/11/2009 at 12:13:37

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading this very well written and full of sentiment article. It summed up the feelings of a lot of Evertonians who have been supporters for more years than they care to remember, I have supported EFC since I was 6 [taken by my Dad to my first match] and am now, I hope, a youthful and "with it" 69-year-old. I’ve given my allegiance to this wonderful Club for so many, many years and, next to my family, they remain my first love.
Ste Traverse
24   Posted 03/11/2009 at 19:31:57

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Larry, I too always think what might have been every time I drive past the Echo Arena. And we know who is to blame for missing this great opportunity — A truely inept man who still gets 100% backing off his cronies in the local media.
Steve Higham
25   Posted 03/11/2009 at 20:05:57

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Great post, Larry, and a very moving article. This will give all Evertonians a chance to think about our past history and what the future may hold if we have to go to the Tescodome.

I think a poll via Toffeeweb would be a great idea. Now that we all know the true facts about Kirkby, I am sure the majority of fans would be against a move.

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