Reading the excellent story posted by Jonathan Oppenheimer has prompted me to write about how I became a Blue and my memories of Goodison Park, which can never be taken from me by Moshiri and his Board of yes-men (and woman), no matter the outcome of their disastrous time at our club.

It was the 1950s and I was hardly a toddler, sitting in my grandfather's house along with my father. The radio was reporting on a football match and the word "Liverpool" was mentioned. It must have been a word I recognised so I shot up to my feet shouting "Yeah, Liverpool!" The stereophonic response from my grandfather and father, blue-blood Evertonians, was both frightening and to my young ears at a decibel never before experienced.

My father took up the story when he told me that almighty panic erupted. I was so frightened I ran out the house with my father hightailing it after me. My grandfather was shouting at the top of his voice not to let me run into the road. My father whilst chasing responded: "I'll jockin' strangle him first!"

My father caught me a moment before I stepped in front of an oncoming motorist. I have often thought if I was choosing to step in front of that car as a choice of death knell rather than going back into that house to face the music!

It was some time later when I was taken to my first match; but how come my father chose this game to introduce me to Goodison, he was never able to explain. It was a cup replay against Charlton and it was a night of dense fog. My father put me into the famous (or should that be infamous?) Boys Pen and told me to meet him in precisely the same spot he left me to go into the ground.

Coming out into a sea of faces, fathers looking for sons, it was chaotic. I couldn't see my father, so I went looking for him. It was some time before we connected, I was both relieved and excited to see him but, for some reason, he welcomed me with a barrage of swear words whilst he grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and dragged me along to the bus stop! 

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Just typing that story above, I seem to recall that my father's stock answer to any question I raised was "Don't be stupid!" – which was precisely the answer I got when I asked him if there was a Girls Pen?

Everybody's first impression of Goodison Park is memorable but mine was miserable. There wasn't anything to see as it was so foggy but at least I had attended, even if I didn't see my first game, even along with its ignominious ending.

I then recall reading the Football Echo and my mother asking why I was crying? "Everton are bottom of the league, played 6 and lost 6." She retorted that there were far more important things in life than football! I looked at my father for some support but he knew better!

Then, for the next game, one of my all-time heroes arrived, none other than Bobby Collins. At 5ft-3ins, he was by a mile, smaller than that other tiny hero of mine, Alan Ball. Neither of them were much bigger than the Duracell batteries they must have stuck up their rectums, as they never stopped running, with both packed out with a boxset of skills. I would have loved to have seen those two in the same team; nobody else would have hardly had a touch.

We all have our abiding memories of a game or a goal but my memory is of a single incident. My other hero was Alex Young. We were playing Burnley in a night match at Goodison and I think he grabbed a goal or two and, if memory serves me correctly, Alex's cousin was in goal for Burnley. (That just might be a trick of memory, I have no idea where that came from, it just came to mind as I was typing.)

At one point, a pass was sent out to Alex who was out on the touch-line. He pulled the ball out of the air but the linesman shot up his flag to say it had gone out. Alex still held the ball and lowered it onto the line to show it was still in play. A chap in front of me was in awe. He turned round and said whilst miming the tucking action, "If I get home tonight and find Alex Young in bed with my missus, I will tuck him in"!

I live too far away to attend Goodison these days but\ as The Old Lady passes on the baton to the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, I will sit with a glass of something alcoholic, enjoy my store of memories, and never will I allow these past truly forgettable Moshiri years ruin it for me. My one wish is that the younger generation get to build their own memories at the new stadium, with a decent set of directors pointing the club in the right direction.

Reader Comments (46)

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Dave Abrahams
1 Posted 23/01/2024 at 21:05:00
Ian, that fogbound Charlton game was attended by over 75,000 spectators. I think less than half saw most of it. That game was a replay following a 2-2 draw on the Saturday when we scored two late goals to snatch a draw. Everton had Dave Hickson sent off along with Willie Duff the Charlton ‘keeper, both played in the replay.

That Burnley goalkeeper was Adam Blackwell (?) and he was indeed Alex Young's cousin.

John Raftery
2 Posted 23/01/2024 at 21:48:18
Dave (1) He was Alex Young’s cousin but his name was Harry Thompson. I think he took over from Adam Blacklaw who was Burnley’s keeper in the early sixties.
Mike Gaynes
3 Posted 24/01/2024 at 02:17:02
Beautifully written, Ian.

And I know exactly what your "something alcoholic" will be.

Paul Ferry
4 Posted 24/01/2024 at 02:37:01
Would it begin with G Mike?
Kieran Kinsella
5 Posted 24/01/2024 at 02:47:41

Great recollection mate. No disrespect to your Mum but a few may disagree about “more important things than football” including our rivals earstwhile manager. Anyway, an enjoyable and relatable read. I enjoyed it just as I did Jonathan Oppenheimers and those from John McFarlane before. I’m from a different era but the elements of conversion remain the same. Thanks for sharing mate.

Jonathan Oppenheimer
6 Posted 24/01/2024 at 03:11:47
Ian, loved reading your story and glad mine was a bit of inspiration. Would be neat to hear more from others, as the different eras and experiences are all so unique, especially the initiation stories, both in first becoming a fan and then that first trip to Goodison. Thanks for sharing.
Don Alexander
7 Posted 24/01/2024 at 03:40:38
23/11/63 for me. Us vs Stoke, "Us" being Rankin; Brown, Meagan; Harris, Heslop, Kay; Scott, Stevens, Young, Vernon, Temple - Stoke playing some owd gimmer called Matthews. I was 8. We won 2-0. My dad sat me on a crash barrier in the Goodison paddock, near the Park End.

From such little acorns eh?

Danny O’Neill
8 Posted 24/01/2024 at 06:18:05
Always great to read these recollections as to how Everton found each of us.

As I've often said, mine was simple, I've never knew different. I just was from as young an age as I can remember. No debate. No discussion.

I'm always pleased that people from around the country and around the globe attach to Everton and become as passionate as all of us that were born into it. We're all equals.

My ex-Army mate from Warwick who had no interest in Everton but became a passionate Evertonian at the age of 18 and has indoctrinated his son and daughter. My brother's friend who is as passionate as me and Ive attended matches with. Dave, a native of my now local area in west London who I bumped into walking his Spaniel and is an Evertonian. He fixed my roof. Even my neighbour, who follows Arsenal always asks me about Everton.

The people I've stood and sat next to from various parts of the country at matches.

I have to give a special mention to Andy Crooks, Mark Murphy, Martin and Derek. Not natives of the city but as big an Evertonian as any of us.

Everton family no matter where you come from. That isn't important. The passion of following Everton is.

Mark Murphy
9 Posted 24/01/2024 at 10:40:48
Great story Ian, your dad sounds scary!

I’ll take Danny’s cue and tell my story with trepidation!

I’m a “wool”, as you lot would have it, from a Rugby League family in St Helens. In 1968 I was being gently “groomed” by my uncle to support Man United and attended a couple of their games when they were the current European Champions. I met Georgie Best when my dad, the site manager for Laing, took me to the opening of his first boutique that he had with Mike Summerbee. So I saw Dennis law score a beauty v Burnley with Charlton, Best, Morgan Kidd et al on the pitch BUT, didn’t really “get it”, as I recall.

At the time I was playing under 11s football (I was a left half back) and the team was run by my best mates (Cliffy) dad, John Cliffe. He organised for the team to attend Goodison for a league cup tie v Derby County in October 1968. We were all sat in the back of the upper Bullens and from the moment I got to the top of the steps and saw the misty, vibrant green pitch in the floodlights I was absolutely smitten. I still remember it - it was more powerful than any love at first sight feeling I’ve had for any woman and it turned my stomach. In November that year my grandmother took me to Falmouth for a weeks holiday in the first anniversary of my Grandads death. On my return my dad had decorated my bedroom with a giant cut out picture of Georgie Best on my cupboard. It took weeks to tell him I was now a blue.

It’s pretty ironic now as, when the scousers hear my accent at away games I’m often asked why not man yoo, or in one case recently by a pisshead and his funny little monkey, told to fcuk off and support man United. It’s never even crossed my mind, despite their dominance up to recently.

I’m a blue and as blue as any scouser, except maybe Danny - he’s fcuking barmy!

Dave Abrahams
10 Posted 24/01/2024 at 10:53:19
John (2), Thanks for correcting me about the name of Alex Young’s cousin, I’ve made this mistake before but this time I even got the name of the goalie I thought it was wrong!!

Thanks again John.

Alan McGuffog
11 Posted 24/01/2024 at 11:42:26
Mark...I dislike the term "wool" as much as I dislike the word "scouser".

I worked for over 20 years for St Helens education authority, with many lovely people. I always had the feeling that the culture of the town, allowing for egg chasing, leant towards Liverpool.

Then again, there are the Yickers

Dave Abrahams
12 Posted 24/01/2024 at 12:09:53
Mark (9), Mark it looks like your first game was the one in which Dave McKay made that tackle on Jimmy Husband.

I remember on of your first posts on here, it might have been your first post where you introduced yourself and told us your were a ‘ wool’.

You took the piss out of yourself unmercifully and I told you that no matter where you were from you were definitely one of us because you never took yourself seriously, glad to say you’ve stayed that way.

I now officially name you “ Mark the St. Helens Scouser”with apologies to Alan @ (11)!!

Sean Mitchell
13 Posted 24/01/2024 at 12:45:59
I've grown used to the word 'wool'.

Both sides of the family are from Liverpool but moved to Winsford during the overspill.

Never been a fan of the word and would have rather been born in Liverpool.

Such is life. But it doesn't stop the blood from running blue.

Ian Burns
14 Posted 24/01/2024 at 12:52:46
Thanks for the posts guys - Mike and Paul - I recently had my gin collection valued and whereas any sale wouldn’t buy us a half decent striker, it might stretch to a hairy arsed centre back from the National League (which might come in handy the way we are heading)!
James Hughes
15 Posted 24/01/2024 at 13:17:33
Ian, it's good to know you are still kicking about, you used to be good fun on LF

Bombay Saphirre and prosecco was your choice, if I recall. Hope you can still partake

Mark Murphy
16 Posted 24/01/2024 at 13:23:37
Half my family (the proddies from my mams side) are yickers, Alan.
It always amazes me how different their accent is to ours given that were the same town. Even more amazing is Connor Coadys convincing transition to full blown scouser - a trick ive yet to learn (see below re Lime Street greetings)

Dave, perhaps it was - I honestly can't remember that much (i was nearly 10) except I think it was the "best" 0-0 ive ever attended and we lost the replay.
My next game was Leeds home when we won the title with my koppite Uncle Eddie, RIP. After that it was every home game with Mtr Cliffe and hios son, the two of us standing on stools made by my dad so we could see over the Bullens wall (where the HT scorecards were. My favourite memory was being thrown into the air by a total stranger when Alan Ball scored against Colchester.

And thanks (I think..) for the "honour" but i'm just not scouse. I don't mind scousers at all, theyre all right in general, but Ive never wished to be one, nor pretended that I am one, nor wished I'd been born in Liverpool (except maybe during the Beatles heyday and on the odd occasion I was greeted by scallies at Lime Street under that massive big fcuk off clock asking me what time is it lah??)

Alan McGuffog
17 Posted 24/01/2024 at 13:52:55
Mark...I'd been working in St Helens for a good few years before I dared ask someone what a Yicker was. That was after driving past an offie called "The Thirsty Yicker" for ages. Wonder if its still there?
Stephen Vincent
18 Posted 24/01/2024 at 14:11:29
My Goodison memories go back to 19th September 1959 we played Sheffield Wednesday at home and I was treated to a speck on the old Goodison Road terracing with my Dad and a milk crate. I say memory, I can't actually remember anything about it (I was 4). My carefully preserved programme from the game tells me that we won 2-1 and that Alan Shackleton scored both goals. My Dad's spidery script tells me that this was the only time I actually saw his favourite player of all time, Dave Hickson in the flesh.

That was the first of, to date, 1,268 competitive games I have seen at Goodison and the end will leave me in pieces.

I wondered if anyone knew anything about Alan Shackleton, he should be one of my Goodison heroes but I know nothing about him. Dave A, John Snr?

John McFarlane Snr
19 Posted 24/01/2024 at 16:11:12
Hi Stephen [18],

Alan Shackleton joined Everton from Leeds United in September 1959 and made his debut against Nottingham Forest. I was demobbed from the Army in August, and you and I, both saw him for the first time.

He played 27 times for Everton scoring 10 goals and if memory serves me right, one of his goals, a header, was described as worthy of comparison to any Dixie Dean effort.

Dave Abrahams
20 Posted 24/01/2024 at 16:12:09

Yes. Alan Shackleton, we signed him from Burnley, he was of slight build for a striker but he was used as a left winger as well, I don't think he stayed very long at Everton.

Your dad like me might have took a dislike to Alan because if I'm not mistaken not long after he came Dave Hickson was sold to Liverpool, Davie was also my idol from a young age and many of us were sad to see him leave Everton especially for Liverpool.

Oh and on Alan Shackleton he was married to a beauty queen but it didn't make him a better player. I remember him scoring now and again but would rate him as an average footballer, not sure where he went after Everton.

Dave Abrahams
21 Posted 24/01/2024 at 16:18:42
Stephen (18) Stephen take John Macs version it is the correct one, Burnley sold him to Leeds before we got him. I rely on my memory, it’s not what it used to be.

The rest of my post is okay.

Stephen Vincent
22 Posted 24/01/2024 at 16:23:38
Thanks guys a bit of knowledge always helps, just wish I could picture him.
Stephen Vincent
23 Posted 24/01/2024 at 16:30:53
Ian, I enjoyed your post very much. I know the History Boys have done their video and there is an excellent book by Steve Zocek call Goodison Memories but reading Ian's and Jonathan's pieces, we should compile a ToffeeWeb 'Leaving of Goodison' book before that dreadful day arrives.
Danny O’Neill
24 Posted 24/01/2024 at 16:52:09
Stephen @23, stop it or you'll have me off about leaving Goodison. I know it's what we need but I try not to think about it. Until I see her lit up in blue at a night match forgetting how Im going to get home.

That is going to be a very tough day, whether we get in the ground or not. I don't think the supporters will leave. Or they will stay for a very long time in and outside the Grand Old Lady.

I've been in Gloucester all day and have a train ride home. I will try and avoid emotional Goodison posts. Too soon.

John McFarlane Snr
25 Posted 24/01/2024 at 16:58:48
Hi Dave [20], according to the Who's Who Of Everton, Shackleton was an amateur with Bolton Wanderers in June 1949, and Burnley August 1951. Turning professional in May 1954.

Joining Leeds United for £8,000 October 1958. Everton September 1959, Nelson May 1960, Oldham Athletic (£1,200) August 1961, and retired through injury, June 1962.
A tidy marksman throughout his career, Alan Shackleton's League return was a good one, 51 goals in 97 games.

Never a regular with any of his clubs, his best figures came at Turf Moor (18 strikes in 31 starts) He played alongside Don Revie in the Leeds forward-line, and scored seven times in ten outings for Oldham, including a hat-trick against Hartlepool in August 1961.

He made his debut for Everton against Nottingham Forest in September 1959 and was first choice until February 1960, when changes were made to the front-line, Roy Vernon coming in at inside-left to partner Jimmy Harris.

Les Callan
26 Posted 24/01/2024 at 17:13:56
Alan @ 11. I must endorse that the about St Helens folk.
Les Callan
27 Posted 24/01/2024 at 17:18:18
Sadly Alan, I don’t think that the thirsty yicker is still open.
Les Callan
28 Posted 24/01/2024 at 17:22:19
Dave @ 20. That’s how I remember Alan Shackleton. He replaced my idol, Davie Hickson, so I couldn’t stand him !
Mark Murphy
29 Posted 24/01/2024 at 17:30:37
You're right, Les, new houses all along there now. It was on Penny Lane. (No, not that one!)
Dave Abrahams
30 Posted 24/01/2024 at 17:59:58
John (25),

Thanks for that. Like I said, he didn't last long at Everton, three months then left for non league Nelson before going to Oldham where I presume he finished his career.

Mark Murphy
31 Posted 24/01/2024 at 18:29:36
10 goals in 27 games and he went straight to non league…
Seems a bit harsh that…

Dom is currently on 4 from 22… Accrington Stanley beckons??

Len Hawkins
32 Posted 24/01/2024 at 18:31:30
Talking about Blacklaw and Shackleton and Burnley when I started coming to Everton in 1965, the bloke that picked me up in Southport lived near Preston and he picked me and a couple more up in Southport.

Occasionally, a bloke that worked with him at Leyland Motors used to come. His name was Pilkington and his brother played for Burnley. I think it was Brian Pilkington and I couldn't weigh up why someone from East Lancs whose brother played for his local 1st Division club came to Everton?

But as I got to know him, he was dead keen and I remember him coming with us to Villa Park for the FA Cup Semi Final against West Ham. If my memory is still working, wasn't it Lampard that scored to send us home sulking?

Dave Abrahams
33 Posted 24/01/2024 at 20:17:35
Len (32), That Burnley player, Brian Pilkington, was very good, he played in Burnley's Championship team and I think he might have played for England.

Len, Lampard's dad scored the winner in the replay at Elland Road after Latchford had sent us into raptures with the equaliser not long before West Ham snatched the winner.

Steve Hogan
34 Posted 24/01/2024 at 22:59:03
Dave (33),

I was at Elland Road that night v West Ham. If I recall, a tall skinny lad called Alan Devonshire tore us to shreds that night playing for West Ham.

Am I right?

Dave Abrahams
35 Posted 25/01/2024 at 10:32:11
Steve (34),

You're not wrong. I think Alan Devonshire tore many teams to shreds in his time playing from midfield, an excellent footballer and team player.

Peter Mills
36 Posted 25/01/2024 at 16:10:34
I remember Alex Young scoring twice in the FA Cup 3rd round replay v Burnley in 1967 - sounds like it could be that game, Ian.
Nicholas Ryan
37 Posted 26/01/2024 at 11:13:48
Alan [11] "... I dislike the word Scouser'. Interestingly Alan, my late Mother, who spent all of her 88 years in Liverpool, said that she did not hear the words Scouse or Scouser, until she was in her mid-60's.
Danny O’Neill
38 Posted 26/01/2024 at 11:26:41

I don't mind Scouser. It's historical.

What I do dislike and politely correct people on is when they call me a Liverpudlian.

No. Just absolutely no.

I'm a scouser and Evertonian.

I believe the more suitable term is Liverpolitan.

Just do never call me a Liverpudlian. Ever.

Frank Fearns
39 Posted 26/01/2024 at 20:39:58
Ian – I was at that match against Charlton. I was with a couple of mates behind the goal in the Gwladys Street terrace. It was very foggy with 75,000 plus rammed into Goodison Park. The terraces were heaving. I was 13.

We scored at the Park End and the only way we knew was the roar from that end and then Chinese whispers along the terraces of Bullens Road and Goodison Road – no big signage then.

Such was the crowd that I lost my mates. With a few minutes left, I decided to leave as had to get the football bus and another bus back to Huyton. Got home and my dad said "Good win then, 4-1!" – Charlton scored in the last minute!!!! Extra time and we won. Never left a match early since.

Ian – Alex Young still my hero. Best player I've ever seen for Everton. Just brilliant – he never ran, just glided over the turf.

My first match was at Anfield about 1954. A Liverton team v Lancashire 11 – think Bert Trautman in goal I think. Came away and only saw blue from then.

Jim Lloyd
40 Posted 27/01/2024 at 09:02:43
Well done Ian, for a great read. I'll try and do something similar when I can put my memories down in some order., because it was sometime in the 50's that me Dad took me to the match for the first time. He took me in the Park End. I remember very little, (except sitting on his shoulders as a kid)' except all the wood around where we were in the Park End, and the Blue and White crosses round the stands and the beautiful green under the lights.

I started going the boys pen when I was 11 or so, after meeting some lads in secondary school who were Blues like me. We graduated from the Pen and I can remember paying 2/- to get in. I went with those lads for decades!, including the '66 Final (got a Final ticket 3/4 days before the game and we went down on the overnight train from Lime St.) Magic memories, with some of the greatest football I'd ever seen played until Howard's mid 80/'s team came along.

As for that Burnley match, I remember Alex that game as well. He was a true artist with the ball our Alex. He nearly always stood near the front post for corners and flick the ball over is head to the back of the goal. That game he stood in his usual place, and his cousin knew what was coming so he come out to the rear of his goal in anticipation.

Only Alex saw him and just flicked the ball into the empty net! That was the only time time I heard more laughs than cheers round me!

PS! Frank! I totally agree. What a privilege to see Alex in his prime. The best player I've ever seen in a Blue Artist.

Ian Burns
41 Posted 27/01/2024 at 11:30:57
Many thanks for comments posted and thanks to Jonathan Oppenheimer once again for the inspiration. Reading some posts (David, Kieran, Mark, James, Stephen, Danny, Frank and Jim), it begs the question of Lyndon/Michael now that Goodison is handing over the reigns to BMD, if a special link could be opened for others to recall their first memories of GP as the Old Lady deserves such memories to be recorded for posterity.
Jim Lloyd
42 Posted 27/01/2024 at 12:40:32
Good idea Ian! I'm sure they will go for that, sometime in our last season in the Park
Dave Abrahams
43 Posted 29/01/2024 at 16:41:17
Frank (39),

That game you saw at Anfield in 1954 would have been a benefit game for Eddie Spicer, the Liverpool left-back, who broke his leg in a game v Man Utd and never played again.

I was at that game and I think Stanley Mathews was supposed to play in the game but not sure if he turned up or he only played in the first half.

John McFarlane Snr
44 Posted 29/01/2024 at 17:09:27
Hi Dave [43],

I too was at that benefit game for Eddie Spicer, Stanley Matthews didn't play, and if my memory is correct I think that Liverpool's Roy Saunders replaced him.

Frank Fearns
45 Posted 30/01/2024 at 15:15:02
Thanks Dave and John - I'm glad your memories are better than mine. I do recall that Mathews was meant to play and being dissapointed when he didn't.

Best wishes to you both.

Dave Abrahams
46 Posted 30/01/2024 at 15:45:46
John (44) John, Roy Saunders definitely came on at the start of the second half to play on the wing for the Lancashire team, that’s why I wasn’t sure if Mathews played or not.

I read about it a few years ago and I think more turned out for this game than they did for Billy Liddell’s benefit match a few years later which surprised me, thinking of the way Liddell was idolised by Liverpool fans.

I was at this game as well when Liddell turned out for the opposition and Johnnie Morrissey played for the Reds.

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