With apologies to Mark Twain for (mis)appropriating the title of his classic novel, I’d like to regale you with the tale of my first trip to sacred Goodison Park, if you’ll indulge.

I had wanted to make my way to the Grand Old Lady for several years, and it was actually ToffeeWeb that is partially responsible for my eventual going. A few months ago I had noticed an item in the "miscellany" section about an Everton USA tour. Intrigued, I connected the organizer and discovered they were planning a 9-day trip, replete with many activities. Timing was such that I could’t make the whole trip, but was going to be in England for the latter part of it, and arranged to see the Swansea game on the 22nd.

Last Saturday morning of the 22nd, I boarded the train at London, where I had been for a few days, at 8:07 am, rife with anticipation. There was a Swansea fan sitting a few seats away from me reading When Saturday Comes, and already boozing it up this early in the day with two cans of Grolsch. I had never been anywhere in your country besides London, so I was excited to see "the real England." During the ride up, in addition to viewing the pastoral English countryside, I also got to pass through several towns I only knew from looking at the lower league tables, like Milton Keynes and Crewe.

Upon my arrival in Liverpool I made my way to the hotel the tour was staying at, The Malmaison, and arrived in my room to see a bag of Everton goodies, courtesy of the club. I didn’t realize this beforehand, but the tour organizer was in regular contact with the club and they actually provided several nice things for us traveling Americans, including an Everton tour led by Graeme Sharp that I sadly missed earlier in the week. Anyway, the bag contained several books, some pictures, a car sticker and other nice items. I should also say The Malmaison was very good as well; before arriving they sent us a welcome email that included this wonderful part:

"We cannot promise that each Malmaison staff member that you encounter is a Blue Nose though your on site contact will do his best to ensure that a) as many Kopite holidays back to Norway are approved during your stay and b) any remaining Kopites scheduled to work will bow down to you each day."

No kopite did bow down to me when I was there, oh well. Before the match we headed over to the Royal Oak on County Road, where I met several nice scousers, many of whom were surprised there were American Evertonians (there were in fact well over 20 people on this tour). I also talked to several older supporters who reminisced about following the team in the 60s and 70s; good conversation had by all. Evertonians are truly a friendly and likable bunch.

The match itself was a great experience, we sat in the Main Stand, fairly close to the field. I got to see one of the few penalties awarded Everton this year (and converted by Baines into the goal near us) and saw the Blues secure 3 points. One thing that surprised me was the quietness of the crowd in the first half, it seemed that the Swansea supporters were the only ones making noise. In the second half that changed and the crowd was much more involved. Is that normal? Or was it just that it was a match against an uninspiring opponent? Also, in the second half when Howard was minding the goal near us, our little group directed some "USA" and "New Jersey" chants at him after a couple fine saves, which he acknowledged.

The Monday after the match I also went on a Goodison stadium tour, and interestingly our tour guide kept talking about how the club needs a new stadium to compete and survive in the Premier League. If even the club’s employees are openly acknowledging it at this point, that surely means it must happen soon, right? They can’t be getting our hopes up for nothing.

On the cab ride back to Lime Street station at the end of my trip, the driver turned out to be an Evertonian and we talked about the club. He said Roberto was a real breath of fresh air after Moyes, and that the club’s supporters hadn’t been this optimistic in a while.

All-in-all, a fantastic experience and I’m very glad I went. The Everton USA group is planning annual such tours now, and I hope to go back again sometime soon. Liverpool was a very friendly place, and I have to say I love those Liver Birds perched atop the building, watching over the city. How did the RS manage to appropriate them as their own?

Postscript: The Sunday after the match, I was having a pint at the Pumphouse in the Albert Dock, and there was a man near me speaking broken English and talking to the bartender, asking him about Liverpool, what sights to see etc. The man said he was there to see Anfield and that he was a big fan of that other lot. When the bartender asked him where he was from, he replied, simply, "Norway." You can’t make this stuff up.

Share this article

Reader Comments (14)

Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer

Mike Gaynes
1 Posted 28/03/2014 at 01:12:12
Great post, Clarence. I'm green with envy -- or rather Blue -- because I'm a Yank who has dreamed of visiting Goodison for years and has yet to make it happen.

Glad you had such a good time. You're an inspiration.

Ajay Gopal
2 Posted 28/03/2014 at 04:20:21
Being a "never visited" Evertonian, it is nice to read about the experiences of the 1st time visitors to Goodison Park, thanks to ToffeeWeb.

Last year, we had a 1st timer from South Africa, I believe there was one more from USA and we read about the bitter-sweet experience of the Malaysian blue earlier this year.

I hope to be able to add my own "1st Time Experience" sooner rather than later. Nice read, Clarence! And thanks to LL&MK for providing a platform for these non-resident blues to share their experiences.

Jamie Crowley
3 Posted 28/03/2014 at 04:19:16
Excellent Clarence! I'm with Mike - blue with envy.

I need time to make my own trip as I'm scared to death of flying. Need to take a boat... and time is in short supply at this point in my life.

Loved to hear of your trip. Actually thought of you while watching the game as you mentioned you were hopping on a train in London on another post. Glad to hear it went well.

Hilarious comment about the Norwegian. A good friend of mine who plays striker on my old fart 8v8 team is a Shite fan. Yep, he's Norwegian.

You can't make that stuff up.

David Hallwood
5 Posted 28/03/2014 at 10:59:20
Great read Clarence, and thank de lord that you saw us win; next time why don't you announce it and we'll arrange a TW piss up, put a few faces to the names. Come back soon y'all.
Ray Roche
6 Posted 28/03/2014 at 14:12:11
Clarence, so glad you enjoyed your day. As for the atmosphere, it's strange, some matches the atmosphere is quite flat, as if we're waiting for the team to get us all going and other days, or particularly night games, there is no encouragement required.

It's similar with our away support, to hear the lads at Newcastle earlier this week out singing the barcodes was great. The away fans are usually the hard core fans and are way more up for it than you get at home. Still, I hope the city left a favourable impression on you and hopefully you and some of the other transatlantic blues can come over again soon.

David Ellis
7 Posted 28/03/2014 at 15:14:50
Yeah the away fans are always a noisy lot. The home fans need warming up. The atmosphere was much better when there was standing on the terraces. Hopefully they will permit this again soon.
Clarence Yurcan
8 Posted 28/03/2014 at 19:14:12
Thanks all! Mike you should definitely join the Everton USA Facebook group if haven't already. The organizer, David, is super nice and he said he plans to do trips every year. He said 29 joined this time, and his goal was to get 75 next year, hopeful you'll be one!

Jamie, that's too funny, I had to smile to myself wen I overheard the conversation.

Ray, David, I have heard that away fans are general louder as they are the "hardcore" fans, certainly when Everton games are on TV here and they play away you can hear them very loudly. Liverpool was a friendly city, London is probably most American's familiarity with England, obviously it's a lot different.

Andrew James
9 Posted 28/03/2014 at 23:17:41
Clarence - Goodison for some reason is always quiet on a Saturday afternoon. You want noise, go to the away games where the support are awesome or a night game at the Old Lady.

Good story though. What made you support us? For most of us we had it ingrained by birth! I still own the blue & white scarf my auntie got from the club shop in 1979 which my old man wrapped around me as a baby! I didn't have a chance...

Paul Ferry
10 Posted 28/03/2014 at 23:40:44
Clarence so glad that you had a great time. The Oak was a good call for pre-match bevvies. A shame though that the Old Lady was not rocking. This lack of singing, as others have pointed out, is common in lower-key games; next time, try and get to a night game under the floodlights.

I’m interested to hear what you thought about the stadium and the neighbourhood. I don’t know where you’re from in the States but those old English stadiums and neighbourhoods are a little different eh!

I like those Malmaison hotels. Recently stayed in the one at Oxford which is in the old Oxford prison/castle.

Glad that you had a great time mate!

Clarence Yurcan
11 Posted 29/03/2014 at 15:10:32
Andrew, I actually wrote a lengthy fan column maybe 2 years ago for TW describing how I came to Everton, in short it was initially because of Tim Howard (and Donovan was there on loan at the time, '09 I believe) and after reading more about the tam, fell in love with the history, and the fact they didn't buy success ala Chelsea/City.

Paul, I'm from NY, yes Goodison is unlike many US stadiums. Here they are either in the suburbs or in downtown/city centers, generally not in residential neighborhoods like Goodison. Though some are. In fact, the location around Goodison reminded very much of Wrigley Field where the Chicago Cubs play, which is also surrounded by pubs and residential housing. Theres certainly no equivalent here in NY, as our (American) football teams play in the suburbs of NJ, and Knicks play in midtown Manhattan and the Mets and Yankees play in, how can I put this nicely, somewhat dumpy neighborhoods.

Tim Greeley
12 Posted 31/03/2014 at 15:22:23
Right on Clarence!
Im your neighbor to the south a bit here in NJ (down thaaaaa Shore). Cannot lie your writeup makes me a bit envious but glad for you, sounds like an excellent experience - and a. WIN. Cant freakin stop winning!

Ive been busy with the early 30s 'kids/house/responsibility thing' the past few years but one day I will make it there. Barkley might be as grey as Ossie by then but I will be there!!

Also - are you implying that the Bronx is "somewhat dumpy" !?!?

Albert Crocker
13 Posted 31/03/2014 at 16:45:18
Cla La (to use a Liverpudlian form of address) when you mention how quiet in can sometimes be inside Goodison you have to remember this is arguably one one the most informed & analytical football crowds you will ever get.

I could turn up for every home game steaming drunk, waving pom poms and singing Take Me Down To the Ballpark but what could I contribute to any discussion of the game later? Did a certain player play well, did another not, what was our formation, did we stick to it, how did we look after conceding a soft goal early on - heads up or down?

The human brain is capable of many amazing things (imagining CL next year for example) but jumping up and down every ten seconds does not lend itself well to clear thought & a good appraisment of the game.

Liked your comment on the Norwegian but give him a break. How would you like to live in nine months of winter, eating raw herrings & only having the RS on TV every night? No wonder they all commit suicide.

Christopher Arellano
14 Posted 01/04/2014 at 19:25:50
I too am American who has been following Everton since 1997. I am not sure there were any Americans on that team and they were not as successful then as they are now. (Of course, someone will point out they were much more successful before 1997.)

I will see Everton sometime between Dec. 21 and Jan. 1, hopefully at Goodison Park. The schedules have not been released so it may be I see them on the road.

I am going with my wife and two kids, one of whom was nicknamed "Little Dunc" because he was born in an era when the Scottish striker was playing for EFC. We had to schedule our trip around his Christmas vacation from high school.

I am so excited to go. I am glad you went. I am glad other American fans have gone before.

I anxiously await my turn. It will be a blast.

Jim Potter
15 Posted 02/04/2014 at 15:35:44
Hi Clarence. Really pleased that your tour went well.

I work abroad and only get to see the occasional game per season when coming back to see family. I was also at the Swansea game and was struck by the lack of atmosphere in the first half. Luckily it picked up a bit in the second and I was able to leave the ground with a croaky voice. (Always a sign for me that I've had my money's worth).

I'm always amazed and pleasantly surprised that so many guys from far off shores get this 'Blue bug'- especially as there are easier things to do in life than endure all our heartaches at Goodison. It may not be as universally contagious as catching 'the red shites' - but I always think it's quality not quantity that counts.

Whatever the reasons - the Brotherhood welcome you all with open arms!


Add Your Comments

In order to post a comment, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.

» Log in now

Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and Talking Points submissions across the site.

About these ads

© ToffeeWeb