Before I decided to go to Liverpool I met a friend of mine from Wallasey. He was an Everton fan and he highly recommended going on the stadium tour around Goodison Park. So when I booked a ticket to go to Liverpool I also immediately booked a ticket to tour Everton’s stadium.
I got the bus from Birkenhead to Liverpool city centre, then another bus to Walton where the stadium was. I ended up paying £4.40 for a day bus to anywhere I needed which turned out to be a bargain. I left two hours beforehand in case I got lost and/or on the wrong bus to Goodison Park.
Turns out it wasn’t a problem as I turned up over an hour early. I’m not an Everton fan, but I felt a wave of adrenaline and awe when I walked around the corner and saw the massive stadium at the end of the road.
I’d paid £15 for the standard tour, however there was a VIP tour for £99 where you get an ex Everton player give you the tour. Surprisingly the legend (Mark Higgins, check his wiki page…) was on site at the time, so he tagged along and gave us the tour for free which I thought was nice of him.
I felt bad because I had no idea who he was, but all the Everton fans on the tour were gushing over him so I assume he is a big deal locally. I shook his hand and told him that I had a few friends that were Everton fans, and they would be very jealous that I got to meet him. He smiled and said something Everton related…
There were ten of us on the tour, not including the tour guides. The lady (Lily) was Everton born and bred and seemingly had blue blood running through her veins. She seamlessly spouted facts about Everton’s history and answered any questions we had. The one thing I loved about the tour was even though they made jokes about Liverpool, it was clearly a friendly rivalry and deep down they liked them really. I hate it when people take rivalries like this seriously. Ultimately it is a friendly rivalry and beyond that they should stick together, which they do as we’ve seen in the past.
We went up the stairs and I saw a picture of a stocky looking guy with weird hair. I resisted the urge to ask who he was and it was a good job I did; as we soon went into the whole suite dedicated to the stocky fella…
“…And this is the Dixie Dean suite!” Lily said proudly as I sheepishly made my way to my seat, thankful that I didn’t make a joke about him before I walked in there…
In the Dixie Dean suite we were told stories about Dixie Dean, including that he is the only person to score 60 league goals in an English top flight season. One story was that at the start of the last game he had 57, so he needed a hat-trick to get 60. He got the hat-trick in the 88th minute, handed the ball to the referee, said “Thank you” to him and headed off down the tunnel…
He ran a pub nearby when he retired, then he died at Goodison Park aged 73 whilst watching Everton play Liverpool. Part of me thinks that it was quite poetic in a way, because if he loved Everton to the core, then if he had to choose a place to die then that would have been one of his top choices.
Also in the Dixie Dean Suite were commemorative trophies displayed in glass cabinets. Some of them were congratulatory trophies from other club for the fact that they were the first club to reach 100 years in top flight football (another interesting fact: they’ve never been relegated. Only two other clubs in the Premier League have never been relegated from the top flight. See if you can guess which two…) Then it was off to the stands.
We walked out in the private stand area and the view was breathtaking. Lily told us that a season ticket in this part of the stand was £6,500 a year, and each person had their own name under the seat. I sat on Martin Walker’s seat (Sorry Martin!) and listened to more facts about Everton. Soon we left and headed to the changing rooms.
The away changing room was a lot bigger but was a weird shape. To be fair you wouldn’t want to deliberately make it comfortable for the away team. They should be lucky they have hot water! The nice thing though was that they hung up all the shirts for the other Premier League teams. So I went straight to the Watford shirt and took a photo or seven…
Once the rest of the group teased me about Richarlison and Marco Silva we went into the home dressing room. The kit man was setting up the kit ready for the Spurs match that Sunday, so it was quite cool to get an insight into that. Then we went down the tunnel to the Z-Cars theme, touching the Everton badge above us as we went through the tunnel. Mark Higgins told us that even after all these years (he played for Everton in the eighties, including when they beat us 2-0 in the F.A. cup final) he still got goosebumps going through the tunnel hearing the music. I said that I wasn’t even an Everton fan but I got goosebumps as well!
“Hold on a minute!” The kit man said as he ran through the tunnel up onto the pitch where we were. Then he handed shirts, boots and football gloves to the three kids that were doing the tour. I smiled and told Lily that this was one of the reasons I chose to do the Everton tour over the Liverpool one. I always considered Everton to be a ‘family’ club and have always had a soft spot for them. That little moment cemented it.
The last part of the tour (apart from going down the road to the official shop) was the media room, where we took photos of a cut out of Marco Silva addressing the media. Finally Mark gave us all a signed photo each and said goodbye to us all.
I must say it was definitely worth the money. I loved the tour and the club had a real solidarity to it which was emphasised by the supporters that took the tour with me. I’d highly recommend it to anyone passing through Liverpool, and for Everton fans it is even better, as you get a 20% discount at the Everton shop after the tour. So if you want to get a shirt, keyrings, Everton pint glasses etc… You can essentially get the tour for free after the discounts on the items.
Finally I want to say thank you to Lily and Mark for doing such a great job showing us around the stadium and making us all feel welcome. And course the staff at Everton for letting a Watford fan through the door!!! If you are looking for something to do in Liverpool that is something different then I’d recommend this. I didn’t do the Liverpool F.C. tour so I can’t compare the two, however I enjoyed my time doing the tour, even as a non-Everton fan.