Everton 2 - 0 Chelsea

How the British transport network seems to conspire against you when you dare to cross the country from one side to the other. On Friday evening, after 6 hours on a train and some difficulties finding our dubious accommodation, we arrived in Liverpool for the first time in our lives. The trip had been organised by my 17-year-old son, who used his scrupulously saved pocket money to surprise me for my 50th birthday… he's going to struggle to top that.

I was chosen in 1989 after watching the FA Cup Final at boarding school – we didn’t play football. I realised that everyone I couldn’t stand was supporting Liverpool, proving instantly that kopites are gobshites everywhere. I sat with the one dude with a blue shirt on and that was the start of my life as an Evertonian.

My son took a while, but boy, he got bitten hard when it happened. He grew up in Africa, and we lived in places where getting the internet would mean driving up a hill and balancing a laptop on a rock, so he didn’t have much to go on.

It was Richarlison who did it for him after Covid forced us into rejoining the world of TV and the internet, about the only good thing to come from that. Now he is like a mini HITC sevens podcast, with his obscure knowledge of the lower leagues and a passion for all things Blue. He is not institutionally angry yet, but I am working on it, 15 years of reading ToffeeWeb will not go to waste.

We woke the following morning early, determined to make the most of the day. Set off to the Albert Dock to have a look around then walked up to Bramley-Moore Dock along the river. How awesome to walk up past that Tobacco Warehouse area, imagining the scenes that will unfold here in days to come. Fairly wet and cold by now, we called an Uber and headed to the ground.

Asked security about the team bus, and the two guys, convinced we were Chelsea fans, told us it wasn’t a special game, so no bus, and then repeated the directions to where the Chelsea team bus would come in, just in case.

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Had an early Guinness in the Winslow and walked through the surrounding area in a bit of a daze taking it in. Met two cheeky buggers in the park suggesting we were photographing the wrong stadium, thus we promptly informed a camera-laden tourist that he too was doing the same when asking for directions to Mordor, 1-1.

It was bloody freezing, so we went to the Gwladys Street entrance, where we blissfully spent an hour in the wrong seats, with fantastic views, watching the lads come out, my lad looking out in childish wonder.  A lovely chap turned up to point out our seats were actually in Row NN.

My boy, obviously crestfallen: he paid £180 for “unrestricted views” on the seemingly official resale site. Having watched a bit of Vanarama and League Two football though, we enjoy the back of the chicken shed atmosphere with the lads, and I would have sat on the roof if needed. 

Scrappy first half, Chelsea didn't look that threatening to me after those early shots, interesting how different the highlights look. I only saw one of the Pickford saves, but a great one too, I think from Palmer. How he has come on from a couple of years ago – I am starting to really like him.

The crowd was flat, the Chelsea fans making all the noise, and whilst I thought we looked okay, if understandably leggy, we didn’t look that threatening either. Then in the second half, we started to get into the groove all of a sudden, McNeil drawing an excellent save from the keeper, after the Harrison miss which finally got the crowd going. We could feel it coming.

Then Dom hits it straight at the keeper, shades of Newcastle, groans turn to a roar in an instant. A snooker shot from Doucoucré, boy has he improved his technique and movement. Absolute mayhem. My boy hugging everyone around him, face shining, undoubtedly one of the moments of the day. With Young going off, I felt a little better, he looked a bit suspect, again. 7 minutes injury time, really? 

After a couple of Mudryk runs, I thought we looked fairly in control. Mykolenko outstanding again (who knew) and our season changed the moment we brought Branthwaite in, I hope we can keep him. Great to see Onana back, hope he can bring consistency to his game.

It looked like we might just see this out at that, with Chelsea offering little, when we got the corner and it fell for Dobbin to sweep it in. It set up so nicely for him, what a great finish, could so easily have snatched at it, great slide. Nice chant for Beto at the end too, got an affinity for him and really hope he is given a chance.

We stayed on a good half an hour at the end, got to sing ourselves hoarse, then finally exited into the dark, elated. Walked down to Lime Street and hung around the Christmas Fair for a bit, but we were finished by then. I have to say, if the game, the day, had been scripted by me, I don’t think I could have got the story much better. 

We have completed the pilgrimage, hopefully the first of many to come, and for the first time in a few years, I am bonding again with the team. The Benitez and Lampard era was some of the most soul-destroying football I have ever seen, I was worried that this might continue under Dyche. How glad I am to see him prove me wrong, a superb job so far, Man of the Match.

Reader Comments (14)

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Andy McNabb
1 Posted 12/12/2023 at 22:23:21
A great read, Derek, and so pleased you and your son had a win to celebrate.

There's nothing quite like it, is there? Apart from family, of course, the Old Lady is one of my chief yearnings from the other side of the world. Sadly, I doubt I will attend another game there before the big move.

Neil Tyrrell
2 Posted 13/12/2023 at 02:27:31
Great stuff, Derek, so glad you and your son made it there and for a win to boot! That's some lad you've got – best birthday present ever!!
Danny O’Neill
3 Posted 13/12/2023 at 09:06:54
I'm glad you and your lad had a great day out, Derek.

Interesting you say the crowd was flat. I couldn't hear the Chelsea supporters from where I was sat.

I think at Goodison, we are a more observing crowd than when we are away.

Dave Cashen
4 Posted 13/12/2023 at 09:25:03
I was hoping you would come back, Derek. Great story.

Anyone who realises Kopites are gobshites at his first game is destined to become an Evertonian. It usually takes two games for everyone else

Dave Abrahams
5 Posted 13/12/2023 at 13:12:02
Glad your son made this a very special day for you, you've got a brilliant boy there Derek.

Yes, the crowd was flat in the first half, there was little entertainment on view from both teams really.

The second half picked up and the early goal helped. The 7 minutes added on was a sickener but turned out to be a bonus of non-stop chanting and cheering once Dobbin had hoofed the ball brilliantly into the net.

What an awesome week we had with three victories and clean sheets and 9 priceless points.

Danny O’Neill
6 Posted 13/12/2023 at 13:18:48
I forgot to mention the 7 added on minutes on another post, Dave. I seem to have a habit of being next to adherent clock watchers. After what felt like 10 minutes I turned to the person next to me and said surely that's it.

He looked at his watch and told me there was 5½ minutes still to go!

Alan McGuffog
7 Posted 13/12/2023 at 13:34:31
It's a wee bit like remembering where we all were when JFK died. I rarely attend these days but I'll never forget my first sighting of the pitch from the Boys Pen on a sunny late summer day in 1961.

Battered 4 - 0 by Sheffield Wednesday. I was hooked.

Tony Abrahams
8 Posted 13/12/2023 at 14:09:17
I really enjoyed that story, Derek, and I'm glad the crowd woke up in the end.

A special day, seeing the genuinely happy smiling faces at the end, with different songs getting shouted out by different groups of people all the way along Gwladys Street after the game, was heartwarming for me, so it must have really been extra special for you and your young son, mate.💙

Completely off the record, but I took a picture along the side of the Tabacco Warehouse that has already begun to house tenants and, with the old tram tracks still on the floor, it instinctively took me back to one of my all-time favourite movies and the scene just before the little kid gets shot, in Once Upon A Time In America.

I have always thought the streets around Goodison have always been paved with character and, when I look towards our new home, I think that bringing this character with us is going to be so important because Everton Football Club has always been built on character and this is one of the main reasons for our exceptional longevity.

Dale Self
9 Posted 13/12/2023 at 14:26:50
Fantastic stuff, Derek. Your writing style is very ‘pleasing'. These kinds of stories give quite a lift to those of us who have not made it there yet.

We are all hoping your son gets an easier ride on the Everton-o-whirl than we did. That is indeed looking very likely, good times ahead.

Jon Harding
10 Posted 13/12/2023 at 16:01:12
Thanks for sharing, Derek, and you won't have to worry about obstructed views when you attend the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.
Derek Turner
11 Posted 14/12/2023 at 10:02:22
Thanks to all of you for the lovely comments, what a weekend. Didn't tell my son that TW posted this (thank you gents), told him on his way out the door to college, I am sure he will enjoy the responses.

With the crowd noise, Danny, we were three rows from the top in the right-hand corner, I had to bend down to see the scoreboard, but we could hear them clearly for the first 25 minutes or so.

Alan, I too got hooked after watching us lose, but I remember that game and atmosphere clearly to this day. What a privilege to have seen some of the players and teams you must have done since then.

Tony, yeah, that area down by the docks is special. Walking along there in the swirling misty rain was like walking through one of those mad Russian arctic bases in a Cold War movie. What a walk that will be on match day.

And Dale, you are right, many overseas Evertonians out there never or rarely get the opportunity to see us play, but we all dream of it, and what a game to have seen after all these years.

Nicholas Ryan
12 Posted 14/12/2023 at 12:12:26
Is that £180 for 2 tickets! Anyone who sells for more than face value on the resale site should be taken out and shot!

Those tickets come from season-ticket holders – if the holder's name was published next to the price, it might lead to a reduction!!

Danny O’Neill
13 Posted 14/12/2023 at 12:32:26
Once Upon A Time In America is a great film, Tony.

I will not deal with anyone who tries that on, Nicholas. Someone was trying to sell a Wolves away ticket last season for £300.

Everyone I get tickets off transfers them through the club officially or passes them on, often for free. I often do the same.

There is a difference between mates and family helping each other out… and touts.

Allen Rodgers
14 Posted 14/12/2023 at 13:14:06
Nicholas @ 12,

The price on the official resale platform is set by the club at normal matchday price. The STH is refunded to their account pro-rata.

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