A Pilgrimage: My Weekend Abroad to See an Everton Match

By Pat Finegan  ::  02/10/2012 My journey to Liverpool, England, began a few months ago. For the first time in my 5 years of supporting Everton from over here in America, I had the necessary funds to go to a match. I didnít have the kind of money to go spend a week overseas. I work for an hourly wage and I am also a full-time student. That wasnít going to stop me from capitalizing on the opportunity to make my Everton pilgrimage. I decided I would just go for a weekend.

It was never going to go off without a couple hitches, was it? The first hitch was my outbound flight. I got to my local airport in Lynchburg, Virginia to find that my flight to Charlotte, where I would get a connecting flight to Gatwick, was canceled. After having a few months worth of a countdown, I thought for a moment that maybe I wouldnít be going after all. It was just a momentary thought, though. I was put on a flight out of Roanoke, another airport about an hourís drive away. The airline, US Airways was even nice enough pay for a cab to get me there.

After making it to Charlotte just in time, my plan was to sleep on the overnight flight. Who was I kidding? Sleep didnít come and I arrived in London at 7:30am with a full day ahead of me, having already been awake for roughly 18 hours.

I wandered around London all day before heading to The Euro Lodge in Clapham (south London) around 8am. I walked in to find people complaining about how their reservation had been canceled without the hotel having notified them. While they were still going at it with the desk attendants, I spoke to another attendant only to find that I was in the same situation. I donít know how they screwed up so badly but they did. One employee made the excuse that my card had been declined, another told me that there was an issue when they updated the computer system. Either way, these incompetent morons offered me a room at their sister hotel in Peckham (I think thatís a dodgy part of London) for a 5 quid discount.

I still had to get myself there on the tube or the bus so I was really spending the same amount of money. After about a half an hour of going back and forth with them, I talked them down to a 20 quid discount. They didnít have a map of where the hotel in Peckham was and they were incapable of giving me directions. One Nigerian guy (who, separate of his being Nigerian, was the single least intelligent person I had ever come across) took a map I had of London. He pointed to a spot in the air about an inch below where the map ended and said ďitís right here, you canít miss it.Ē I told them to screw off. Their company wasnít getting any of my money and I really hope they go out of business. Believe it or not, I walked away from the hotel with a smile on my face. At this point, I had been awake for 29 hours. I was in a city I had never been to and I had nowhere to stay for the next 2 nights. Might sound dreadful to some but to me it had become the greatest adventure of my life.

I took the tube to Euston station. I figured I would just make sure I was close to Euston. I had to be there for my train to Lime St. at 7 the next morning. If I found a place to stay, that would be great. If not, I would sleep on a bench or in the station or something. I found a decent hostel with an open bed after going to 5 or 6 other places only to find that they were too expensive for me or fully booked for the night.

I woke up at 3:30 in the morning and thought ĎIím going to an Everton match today.í Adrenaline kicked in and all hope of any more sleep was gone. I laid there for about an hour before heading out a couple hours early and wandering around the city some more. I got to the station about an hour before my train left and met the first Evertonian of my trip there. I heard a think scouse accent say ďare you headed to the match?Ē The manís name was Paul. His nephew played Ďkeeper for the U-10s and he was going to the game with the lad. We separated before getting on the train and I didnít see him once I was on. I guess, in a way it worked out. As much as I would have loved to talk with the guy, the 2 hour nap I got instead helped me immensely for the day that was to come.

The train arrived at Lime Street at 9:20am. I walked from there to Albert dock and visited the Merseyside Maritime museum. I found it absolutely fascinating. The city of Liverpool has such an incredible history. I walked up the road to see the three graces which were quite astounding as well. There is a distinct difference between Liverpoolís architechture and that of London. Liverpoolís buildings look very industrial and, in a way, imposing whereas London looks at times royal and at other times modern.

It was then back to Lime Street to catch a bus to the ground. On the way to the station, I stopped at Everton Two to pick up a flag for my living room (the room now looks complete with the flag next to my autographed Coleman jersey and a scarf.)

I was surprised how few Liverpool kits I came across in the city. In fairness, they were away to Norwich but still, it was a matchday. ďThe peopleís clubĒ really doesnít seem like an empty claim.

Upon walking up to the stadium, if Iím honest, I was tearing up a bit. I had finally arrived on a journey 3 years in the making. I would always think I was going to get to go but then come up just a bit short. I would think I had enough money and start planning where I would stay and what I would do but then always ended up needing the money for something else. That was no more. I was there.

I walked around the ground once before heading in to the Winslow to watch the Arsenal/Chelsea match and take part in the pre-match festivities. While in there I met a couple guys named Lee, Charlie (I think thatís what he said) and Callum. We chatted a bit before going our separate ways into the ground. (Side note: Lee told me he was a recording artist. I told him I was going to check his music out. I forgot his last name so if anyone knows this lad, help me out here.)

I went in to my seat about 20 minutes early and just stood there in shock that I was actually inside Goodison Park. The first row of the Gwladys St end nonetheless. To my right was a man named Mark, there with his son who was probably between the ages of 3 and 6. I hope thatís what I do with my kids one day, an afternoon at Goodison in the street end. To my left was a younger guy whose name I didnít get. He was probably around 18 years old, persistently getting on the players for hoofing or not making the right pass. What I picture when I wonder what people on Toffeeweb are like in real life.

Everton unusually defended the park end in the first half. The game started in dismal fashion with Everton unable to get going and conceding early. It looked as if Howard was at fault for not getting out to the cross but the man was unmarked so I doubt Tim was completely to blame.

It wasnít long before we were back to playing quality football, though. Our efforts paid off when Ossie netted from close range. I went nuts. Jumping, screaming, the whole 9 yards. That was the climax of the trip. It made it worth the 1200 dollars I spent, putting up with the idiots at the Euro Lodge in Clapham (I want all of Toffeeweb to know never to stay at that crap hole) the hours I spent getting there, and the exhaustion that I would end up feeling once I got back.

Not long after Ossieís goal, Mirallas played a lovely through ball to Jelavic who calmly slotted away his first of 2. The build-up play was tremendous. We were playing on the deck, passing football. We looked like a side that belonged at the top of the table.

Jelavicís second was as magical for me as the other 2 we scored. Seamus Coleman, who was back to his best, used his blinding speed to beat 2 defenders and get a perfect cross in. We had the game under control and there was a feeling of relief.

The second half wasnít much to talk about. At one point, Howard was taking his time on a goal kick before being berated by a fan. ďHurry up, Tim. We want f***ing 6!Ē he said. Tim replied by turning his walk to the 6 yard line into a slow jog and everyone had a laugh.

It was becoming clear that we were going to take all 3 points. Lee Probert blew the whistle to end the match to the applause of all who were left in attendance. We were in second and would remain there with Man United losing to Tottenham.

After the match, on the advice of everyoneís favorite, Eugene Ruane, I visited the Goodison supper bar for chips and curry before heading back to Lime Street to catch my train back to London. It had been the single most memorable day of my life.

Saturday night was spent wandering the streets of London, not sleeping. I didnít travel half way around the world to take a nap. Everything was closed so I couldnít buy food. That sounds like a bad thing but it wasnít. London is like Disney World without roller coasters. Itís awesome but so unbelievably expensive. I spent 9 quid on fish and chips. 9 QUID! Thatís 9 pounds sterling. They wanted 30p to use the bathroom at Euston. For 30p someone ought to be in there wiping my butt for me.... but Iíve digressed.

Later that morning, I headed out to Gatwick for my flight home. Over the course of 72 hours I slept for 6 and a half. I went balls to the wall for the duration of my trip. Iím still physically exhausted as I write this on Monday night but was one hundred percent worth it.

In this piece, Iíve mentioned people and places by name. The purpose of that is, if any of them are ever on Toffeeweb, to say a massive thank you (or in the case of The Euro Lodge in Clapham, a massive no thank you) for making this weekend the most memorable experience of my life. I hope to see you all again sometime, hopefully sooner rather than later.

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David Chait
485 Posted 02/10/2012 at 17:48:46
Dude.. awesome experience.. but one major error... one night in Liverpool dude!!! I've made one game (way back when Rooney scored the winner against Portsmouth) and got to have a night out in Liverpool..... the best night I've had anywhere!
Clarence Yurcan
506 Posted 02/10/2012 at 22:46:47
Sounds like you had a great time Pat, I hope to do the same sometime soon.
Jamie Sweet
507 Posted 02/10/2012 at 22:42:43
Great story Pat, and I'm glad the Blues put on a top notch performace (in parts) to make your trip all the more worthwhile.

People can say what they like about Goodison, but there is something quite magical about the Old Lady which I'm sure you would have felt.

Would be interesting to know what made you join the family five years ago. Welcome anyway buddy, and respect to you for making that trip.

Dick Fearon
509 Posted 02/10/2012 at 22:30:11
Pat, before immigrating to Australia I spent the best part of 30 years travelling the length and breadth of England to support the Blues. It was 10 years before making my first pilgrimage back to my home town. Every foot of the journey to the 'old lady' had me tingling with excitement.

Our team was emerging from a bit of a slump and I was able to catch 3 wonderful games. The 1-0 win at Anfield was the third of them and a brilliant icing on the cake.

I also noticed and wondered at the Blue kits to be seen around the city greatly outnumbering Red ones. This was even more remarkable as I discovered Everton kits were pounds more expensive.

Glen Anderson
517 Posted 02/10/2012 at 23:46:12
A wonderful story and what a fantastic adventure you had. The feeling, atmosphere and sheer noise in Goodison as those goals flew in must have had your hairs on end. I agree with David though, a night out in Liverpool will live long in the memory. Maybe next time...
David Pearl
521 Posted 03/10/2012 at 00:02:33
A few things made me laugh but my favourite bit "What I picture when I wonder what people on ToffeeWeb are like in real life"

Glad you got to go to Goodison Park.

COYBU

Peter Bourke
524 Posted 03/10/2012 at 01:07:25
WOW, fantastic story Pat.

Especially interesting for me because next year my son and I will be making our first ever trip to Goodison. We will be celebrating my 50th and his 21st so to read how you welled up as you approached Goodison had me tearing up just thinking about my own trip.

I am an Aussie that was chosen by Everton in 1986 and we never ever miss a game on Foxtel. Visiting Goodison will be a dream come true for my son and I and I can't wait.
Martin Mason
532 Posted 03/10/2012 at 03:39:03
Pat

That is a fantastic pilgrimage and you should go down in Everton supporter's legend for coming over from America for 3 days to see a game especially being so cash strapped. When I was young I often set off for away games with just about enough money to get in and hitch hiked, starved and slept on floors and benches but I can't touch what you did.

Simon Lloyd
540 Posted 03/10/2012 at 09:03:00
Would that Charlotte be the same one Chuck Berry stopped in before by-passing Rock Hill on his own trip to the "Promised Land"?

Great story Pat. I don't think I'll complain anymore about my hour and a half drive to the ground!

James Morgan
550 Posted 03/10/2012 at 09:53:37
Awesome story!
Barry Rathbone
555 Posted 03/10/2012 at 10:43:04
Well done mate the only thing you got wrong was saying you've supported the mighty blues for 5 years.

You were chosen at birth you just didn't know till 5 years ago, welcome aboard son.

Eugene Ruane
562 Posted 03/10/2012 at 11:25:04
Pat, great write-up and very pleased your effort was rewarded with a win.

Oh and one particular paragraph (below) made me think the future of Everton's support is in very good hands.

"To my left was a younger guy whose name I didnít get. He was probably around 18 years old, persistently getting on the players for hoofing or not making the right pass".

Col Wills
563 Posted 03/10/2012 at 11:20:12
Pat- well done with the effort you put in to get to the old lady, next time, make it over christmas and you could get a couple of games in. Also, let the club know, and you never know, they might roll out something special
Eugene Ruane
564 Posted 03/10/2012 at 11:39:20
Col - you mean like Southall?
John Crook
575 Posted 03/10/2012 at 12:42:11
Excellent story, Pat. You're welcome back anytime. Next time try and organise your UK flights to land in Manchester. (As far as I know, no US to UK flights land at Liverpool.) Then you won't have your London problems and your train ride will be not even an hour.
Patrick Murphy
607 Posted 03/10/2012 at 16:32:49
Well done, Pat ó that was some journey!

I travel over from Ireland and do feel a bit jaded after it... but Ė win, lose or draw Ė it's always worth it.
Nick Entwistle
609 Posted 03/10/2012 at 16:53:40
I took a flight to Pisa on a day trip. Beat that! Didn't see any football though..
Kev Johnson
611 Posted 03/10/2012 at 17:04:23
No one can beat that, Nick - it's unbeatable!
Dave McCoy
628 Posted 03/10/2012 at 17:41:34
Well done, Pat, some trip alone.
Frank McGregor
646 Posted 03/10/2012 at 19:00:35
Pat, That journey was something else... I am glad you at least saw a good game with Everton winning. I was over in the spring and also met Seamus Coleman.

It really was a pity you did not make enquires through Toffeeweb on the best way to get over to England. The way I found most economic and less stressful is as follows: I fly from Detroit to a connecting flight in Chicago and fly direct to Manchester on American Airlines. On arrival at Manchester Airport, I then take a train direct to Lime Street Station in Liverpool. When I get to Lime Street Station, I come out of the station and cross over the road to I believe it is St John's Market wehre you can get a good cheap breakfast in a small cafe they have there.

With regards to accommodation, I stay at the Premier Inn at the airport, I stayed once at the Travel Lodge and thought it was very poor. The taxi fare from the airport to the hotel is about 6 pounds. By the way, if you get the train at the airport after 9:00am it is cheaper.
Mike Allison
733 Posted 04/10/2012 at 08:17:27
Pat that was brilliant, thanks for sharing.

Nick, I've done Auschwitz on a day trip, does that beat it? Again, no football though.

Nick Entwistle
736 Posted 04/10/2012 at 08:38:42
I'm not sure who gets the kudos there Mike. But I went to Auschwitz for my 32nd birthday! Auschwitz 1 and Berkenau!

Deep snows and we had the whole place to our selves. Couldn't see the ditch that ran next to the railway line in Berkenau due to the whiteness of it all - and fell in. Oh how we laughed!

Maybe other ToffeeWebbers would also like to share their fun stories of Auschwitz!

Kev Johnson
742 Posted 04/10/2012 at 09:30:59
Nick and Mike - I've been to Dauchau, just outside Munich - is that any good?

It wasn't a day trip and there wasn't exactly a lot of football going on.

Chris Hockenhull
746 Posted 04/10/2012 at 09:52:32
Mike/Nick and Kev...hey done em all....Dauchau in 1996 ..just after Euro games. Met great Chech barman who had been here the weeks before for the footy and worked in Munich (where I stayed when doing the Dauchau run). He had a boss Liverpool accent and waxed lyrical about Smithdown Road I kid you not. Auschwitz and Berkenau I did in 2003 with my to be wife. Incredible experience...the killing fields of Berkenau massive beyond belief. Found the Oskar Schindler factory in Krakow and on a wall on the way to it (it's in a manky run down part of town) was written "'Tommy'The King' Graveson.!!!!!"Am returning there in November...that will be fun in that weather
Dave Lawley
749 Posted 04/10/2012 at 10:34:44
Pat, your a legend son.
Steve King
757 Posted 04/10/2012 at 11:02:33
Mike/Nick,

I regularly went to the Rhyl Sun Centre as a kid............I think that place had a similar atmosphere?

Steve King
759 Posted 04/10/2012 at 11:04:37
Oh and Pat,

Nice story fella, proud to have you as a fellow Evertonian! I live in SW London and shall make it my mission to raise awareness of the Euro Lodge's incompetence!

Kev Johnson
762 Posted 04/10/2012 at 11:11:15
Steve - I don't know the Sun Centre, but Rhyl Pleasure Beach... oh yes! Spent a couple of holidays in the Pontins holiday camp in Prestatyn, just down the road. Good times were had by all - and if they weren't, those bloody bluecoats wanted to know why! (BTW, I used to live in SW London myself - Clapham.)
Brian Williams
792 Posted 04/10/2012 at 13:11:39
I take my hat off to you Pat. That's what I call dedication to the cause.

Some of the more "negative" of TW'ers should read Pat's story and.........well just read it!!

Kris Boner
872 Posted 04/10/2012 at 17:24:20
Not exactly a holiday but I met a girl from Rotterdam born in '85...
Jamie Crowley
004 Posted 04/10/2012 at 23:34:24
Pat -

Just a fantastic story. My jealousy is off the charts. I simply can't afford, with 5 sons and a wife, to make that trip at this time in my life. Someday...

If a doctor ever finds anything terminal with me, the first (and I seriously mean this) thing I'll do is buy tickets and flights for the entire family, crossing off #1 on "things to do before the Big Guy rings the bell."

Your description of welling up approaching Goodison hit home Ė I imagine when I finally make that trip I'll have a very similar reaction. Also Osman's goal and your reaction Ė just priceless. That's what I dream of.

What a story and experience! Well done man, well done. Way to take life by the horns!

I just lived vicariously through you I think... in a past-tense kinda way.

Protik Roychowdhury
106 Posted 05/10/2012 at 14:59:29
I think I'm the only Everton fan in India and I've been Blue since 2003. Don't ask me why I support Everton, I just do... and your story is something I hope to emulate someday!
David Price
167 Posted 05/10/2012 at 19:58:26
Great account Pat. Really felt the love for Everton there mate, All the best fella..
Matt Traynor
257 Posted 06/10/2012 at 06:12:49
Nice story Pat, seems there was a few making their pilgrimage that game. Met a couple from Toronto in The Dark House who were making the trip as their 40th anniversary present. Glad they were able to win, and put on (first half at least) a bit of a show.
Paul Wharton
488 Posted 14/10/2012 at 14:35:34
Pat
Well done, you are a great blue.
Gerry Quinn
492 Posted 14/10/2012 at 17:07:15
John Crook #575 nailed it, Pat.- and anyone else flying to the UK from the USA. I fly my kids back and forth here to Houston via Newark from either Glasgow or Edinburgh (both live in Scotland). However, Manchester would be the best place to get across the Atlantic for a match - shorter, and certainly not as expensive as Lahndahn.

Great story, well done.

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