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The English Football Diary - E02: Everton - Crystal Palace

3,219,09 kilometers, 4 games, a British football diary

The English Football Diary - E02: Everton - Crystal Palace 3,219,09 kilometers, 4 games, a British football diary

Everton is the name of a district located in the north of Liverpool, where a park, Stanley Park, divides the Anfield stadium from Goodison Park. I wake up, it's 9 o'clock, it's 7 hours till the game. I tremble. The trip from Manchester was short and on the arrival to the house, the front door is blue. It means  that Aamir supports Everton, unlike his neighbor who supports Reds. While I wait, I take two steps downtown, a beer and a fish and chips in the port area of the Albert Dock help the hands of the clock to run. The sky is grey, it starts to rain and I wait for the coach for the stadium to shelter in front of a Tesco supermarket where you start to catch a glimpse of blue and white scarves. The bus however is late, my feet soaked with water and the hours that are missing at the beginning of the game are now 2. It is played at 16:00 and the fact of not being there yet two hours before the start whistle irritates me. The bus passes, I go down and walk for 10 minutes. It come to my mind I still have to pick up the ticket. Run. On the other side of the glass, Melanie, from the nameplate on her jacket, seems not to have that hurry that I have and it seems to take a century to find my ticket. I finally got it in my hand and I'm thrilled because "this savvy plays Everton, lad!"

People walk across Stanley Park and pours into the narrow streets surrounding Goodison. In addition to the  countless pubs, the stadium is surrounded by houses with a typical English façade and the air that you breathe has something familiar, as if everyone knew each other and to see their Everton they went with the classmate of elementary school. It is difficult to explain, it does not seem to be in a city from more than half a million inhabitants. Rather it seems to be in a small village, a way from the chaos of the metropolis and where even the language says a little about who you are. Here, if you come from these parts you are a Scouser and your accent makes me almost impossible to understand you. I ask directions on how to find the entrance marked on the ticket and to my face perplexed the steward responds "Oh Sorry, I speak Scouse." I walk among the giant posters of Kevin Sheedy, Peter Reid and Marouane Fellaini ("He's better than Steven G!", it sang a chorus a few years ago), I pass the turnstiles, between stone bricks and everything more anti-technological that there is. I do the few stairs that I need to be in the block FE2.

Goodison Park, I got the creeps.


Everton-Crystal Palace @Goodison Park

Half an hour before the match, the stadium is semi-empty, my BPM are going to exceed the limit allowed and I’m on the seventh heaven. Little more than 40,000 seats but the impression is to stay in the field where your mother was looking for you when you were not back at dinner time. Nothing futuristic, everything seems to have remained as when, in 1892, the stadium was inaugurated, to become the home of Toffees. "Mother Noblett's Toffee Shop" was the name of a sweet shop located near the stadium, which was also open on the day of the matches, from here, according to one of the two versions of the story, comes the nickname. According to the other version, it comes from the "Toffee lady" that before each match distributed on the stands the toffee, candy typical of Liverpool. 

The fans come in and the atmosphere is like I've never seen. It must be said that if you are in the first rows, stretching your hand, you can touch the lawn. This physical closeness also makes it closer to players who are not seen as extraterrestrials. People talk to them while they warm up and a steward passes the ball to the children in the stands so they can give it to the players. I feel at home, the anthem plays, we begin.  

My hearts full of pride and passion

For This team that we adore

And with all my family with me

We'll support you evermore


The home new idol is Richarlison, just purchased from Watford for 55 million euros, which together with Bernard form the Brazilian colony of Blues. Then Walcott and Sigurdsson shut down an offensive, respectable ward. In Crystal Palace there is Townsend in attack with Wilfried Zaha, left-handed with the purest talent that has never managed to make the leap of quality. The game is closed, the rhythm is low. An opportunity for the hosts to end first time and nothing more. The show is mostly among the fans who just jump up when their team passes the half line, to then snort and come back seated as soon as it is sent back.

The half time with meat pie and beer passes fast and also the first part of the second half. My feet are drying up and the clouds leave room for a shy sun. Minute '60, penalty for Crystal Palace. Pickford stops with his feet. "England's number 1" rises from Gwladys and starts another game. Marco Silva inserts Tosun and Calvert-Levin for André Gomes and Bernard and they score at ‘87 and ‘89. At first goal Toffees fans go crazy, to the second even more.

It's all super cool, I hope the time stops and this never ends. I want to fall asleep at Goodison Park, wake up at Goodison Park, breakfast, lunch and dinner at Goodison Park. I want to live in Goodison Park, go to the stadium with my forever friends and celebrate with my neighbor. Have a beer with the newsstand behind the house and return after the ‘90, crossing the park, with the white blue scarf around my neck and proud to support Everton.

I'm in Liverpool and I'm feeling at home.