When you talk about the biggest rivalries in Europe you’ll hear things like Manchester vs Liverpool or Barcelona vs Real Madrid. These are special for many reasons, but usually because of the history of hatred that these fans and sometimes players have for each other. Today we were going to an arch rival of Liverpool. It’s well known if your a football crazy fan like myself, but many others won’t think of the significance. We were going to the old stadium Goodison park, home of Everton FC. To paint a picture so that everyone will realize the significance of these kinds of rivalries in Europe. They really make the league what it is today. Competitive. For those of you that don’t know, the home of Liverpool FC and home of Everton FC you can see across Stanley park. Now picture a heated rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool. When one team or another wins either Liverpool fans will gloat to the fans all the way to the train station and it will be very heated but after that it’s basically done. It’s almost the same between Toronto and Montreal rivalries there’s a 6 hour train ride separating each other so you don’t get to brag endlessly till they play you again because there to far which takes away from some of the fun. Now to describe the significance between an intercity rivalry. It’s called the Merseyside derby here because that’s where it’s located. Now picture everyone your friends with, work with, drink with is either a red (Liverpool) or blue (Everton). So when you lose you can guarantee that your mate won’t let you hear the end of it until 2 or 3 months later when you play each other again. It’s also the same when you don’t play each other and your team loses they still won’t let you forget it for the rest of the week but ill go into a bit more details with that a bit later.
We were off to Everton vs West Brom the first home game of the season for Everton. And with its first new coach in 10 years after David Moyes left to coach Manchester United.
Like I said previously Goodison Park is a very old stadium and that was apparent the minute we walked to our seats. Eric had already known about the pillars in front of us partially blocking are view. I just knew something was going to be blocking our view because of what it said on our tickets. See the pictures to get a real idea at what I’m talking about. What we were really surprised with was at every stadium we’ve been too the floor of the stands has been made of cement, but this one was wood and that was really cool because it gave that feel of an old stadium. It really added to the ground for me as some of the stadiums in England and Europe have tried to keep up to date with the modern game by renovating it every 5-10 years which is great but the Evertonians and Goodison Park have stayed to their roots and have embraced the history of the stadium. The game itself wasn’t all that exciting giving us our first draw 0-0 that we have seen. But it did give us an experience of a normal match day for many of these supporters I realized that not every game can be Manchester United vs Liverpool. It also gave us a winning perspective from a fan point of view. It’s that desire from fans to get the 3 points from every game. I don’t know if we’ll experience a loss on this trip, but if we don’t this will be as close as we come. Coming out from the stadium you could hear a world of complaints from everyone about what they should have done better. It wasn’t like they had lost the game but they played poorly. If they had been playing a team like Real Madrid and had lost fair and square I think a lot more people would just be like ok we just got beat. You would always have an ambitious supporter who would complain and moan. However, my point is that today they lost 3 precious points in this extremely competitive league and they now have to have that feeling all week during school and at work where they know they played badly and it’s not like the Liverpool supporters will let them forget it.
The post game had to be the best part of the day for me as you saw rival teams taking the piss out of each other. Everton was expected to win so it was even sweeter to Liverpool fans to rub in their face. We went to a local pub to watch this unfold as we were also there to see Liverpool away vs Aston Villa.
We both had to go to the bathroom and I’m not going to give you details but this is an essential part of the story. I went into the stall and two guys walked in and they shouted at Eric “Red or Blue?” Eric said Red and they gave him a whole bunch of shit so Eric quickly said we were just at the Everton game! So he let him pass. I had already known he was a blue by hearing it in the stall and I don’t know why I did it but when they asked me the famous question Red or Blue? I said neither. The guy then said “who the fuck are you a supporter of then?” I wasn’t about to tell a blue supporter that I was a fan of the team that just took there hero of a coach (Manchester United) so thinking on the spot I told him I was a PSV fan and he took that to mean that I was Dutch and I was ok with this. Technically I am so I wasn’t fully lying to the lad I just didn’t exactly live there like he thought. He started to really like me and believe me I don’t sound the least like I’m Dutch but the amount of vodka this man had taken he wasn’t going to notice. He really started to like me talking about how he really wanted to visit “my country” and about drugs and other stuff. I left as quick as I could and went to go find Eric at the bar. I thought that was going to be the last time we saw them so I figured I’d tell Eric after they left what happened, but they stumbled over and started to talk to me again. So I quickly messaged Eric on my phone and told him what’s up he laughed and just played along… A little later after talking to them for the majority of the first half Eric told them he was also from Eindhoven and they had completely forgotten that he was a red. They truly bought the whole thing and then Eric told him my true last name, (van Bommel who for those of you that don’t know is a famous PSV legend and Netherlands captain) which the one hardcore blue went mental over. Apparently this was his favorite player (Mark van Bommel) and I was his new best friend and Eric told him his last name was van hdtuhsyf can’t exactly remember but the guy was like oh he doesn’t play for the national team! The whole time everything was a bit on edge cuz if he made us and stopped believing we were really from the Netherlands we’d be in trouble also we didn’t know if Eric’s cousin was going to be making the last bit of the game. He told us he’d try so we didn’t want him to walk in and ruin our little secret. It was intense but things turned out for the best and we just had a really cool story to tell.
To conclude, every stadium is unique in any other stadium I would have complained about the restricted view, but its an old stadium. Back then this was normal we were in the fans supporters end cheering on the blue of Everton with some fans that would remember the good old days where the places we sat may have been terraces. We came to explore football supporter culture and we got an average day for an Englishmen or family. If this is an average day then sign me up!