Sunday 30 June 2013
Premierleague.com profiles all 20 Premier League venues, continuing with Everton's home ground, Goodison Park.
Year built: 1892
First League match: Everton 2-2 Nottingham Forest, 3 September 1892
Before they were even known as Everton, St Domingo – a Sunday School football team – first started playing in a corner of Stanley Park, very close to where Goodison Park now stands. After changing their name Everton were moved from one pitch to another, and even spent eight years playing at Anfield, but in 1892 their own ground was built. Goodison Park was the country’s first purpose-built football stadium and has remained the home of the Toffees for the last 117 years.
The new ground generated such revenue that the club was able to enjoy funds for better facilities and, more importantly, players. Before long Everton were attracting gates of up to 30,000, hosting the 1894 FA Cup final between Notts County and Bolton Wanderers and holding a baseball game between the New York Giants and Chicago White Sox during the First World War.
In 1926, a double-decker stand similar to the Main Stand went up on the Bullens Road Side for £30,000, just in time for Blues fans to watch Dixie Dean in his pomp. In 1938 George VI and Queen Elizabeth came to see the newly built Gwladys Street Stand, which had been built for £50,000 making Goodison Park or ‘Toffeeopolis’ the only ground in Britain to have four double-decker stands.
Over the 20th century the club continued to redevelop Goodison Park, which, having survived bombing during the Second World War, enjoyed its highest-ever attendance of 78,299 against Liverpool in September 1948 and hosted five matches during the 1966 World Cup. In 1971, the two-tier Main Stand on Goodison Road was demolished and replaced by a £1m three-tiered Main Stand, which was nearly twice the size of its predecessor, and the largest stand in Britain at the time.
Goodison Park has staged more top-flight football matches than any other club in England, eight more seasons than second-placed Aston Villa, thanks to a ground that remains one of the oldest and most recognisable in England. Hemmed in by houses and situated next to the church of St Luke the Evangelist, it is a reminder of a club, and a city, rich in footballing heritage.
21 Nov 1994: Everton 2-0 Liverpool
With Everton rooted to the bottom of the Barclays Premier League and Liverpool flying high in fourth this was a baptism of fire for former Goodison hero Joe Royle in his first match in charge of a club in the throes of their worst start to a season. But when Duncan Ferguson rose to head in his first goal for the club, from an Andy Hinchcliffe corner, and caused mayhem in the Liverpool box as a prelude to Paul Rideout's 89th-minute second, a Goodison legend was born.
This derby win set the tone for the rest of the campaign, where a great run in the league eliminated the threat of relegation and Royle’s resurgent team beat Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United to go on to lift the FA Cup. It was also significant for being the start of Ferguson's own love affair with the club he would return to a second time after his premature departure in 1997.
19 Oct 2002: Everton 2-1 Arsenal
In David Moyes's first full season in charge the Blues went into the 2002/03 campaign full of optimism. The team's positive approach came to fruition this autumn afternoon against an Arsenal side unbeaten in 30 Barclays Premier League matches. Everton overcame the setback of an early Freddie Ljungberg goal to hit back at the other end with a storming strike from Tomasz Radzinski. An enthralling contest ensued, and with the scores still 1-1 entering the last 10 minutes, the stage was set for a little-known 16-year-old to announce himself to the football world.
Wayne Rooney brought down a Thomas Gravesen pass with great skill, before advancing towards the Arsenal goal and unleashing a shot that came to ground via the underside of David Seaman's crossbar. It was a historic occasion and felt it at the time, not just for local lad Rooney's sensational first League goal for the Blues, or for the fact that the champions had been beaten at last, but also because it marked a new dawn for the club. Goodison went wild and Blues fans now began to believe that a reborn Everton were on to a good thing with Moyes; that the team were back competing at the right end of the table.
20 Apr 2005: Everton 1-0 Manchester United
This match sticks in the memory of many Everton fans as it was a victory that strengthened the Blues’ bid for a fourth-place finish. It also featured another winning goal from the head of Duncan Ferguson – this time from Mikel Arteta's second-half free-kick. Under the Goodison floodlights Ferguson rolled back the years by beating future Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard, battering the United defence into submission and overcoming a side with Rooney now in opposition.
Team and crowd were united in a common mission to get Everton over the line and edge closer to UEFA Champions League qualification. The incendiary atmosphere meant that Gary Neville and Paul Scholes both lost their discipline to leave United with nine men at the final whistle. Everton went on to finish above Liverpool for the first time in 18 years.
“I knew in the run-in we were going to have to win a big game if we were going to make the Champions League. We came to the Man United game, it was probably one of our finest nights, probably one of the best atmospheres I’ve ever had at Goodison. Phil Neville tells me that, he was part of the [Man United] team… there was me and Sir Alex having a chinwag on the side of the pitch as well.
"Everton were fighting for everything that night. I remember the ball went in and Duncan scoring the header and swinging away in celebration, and it was probably fitting that Duncan scored us the goal… big players turn up on the big nights. Goodison was rocking that night and one of the best nights we’ve ever had.”
David Moyes on Everton's 1995 victory over Manchester United
For a 3D tour of Goodison Park and a video profiling Everton and their home ground, click here >>