Everybody remembers their first time. Yup, the first time with that special love. The love you know will always be with you, and always hold a dear place in your soul, after this most amorous and binding of communions. Ah, the nerves, the anticipation, the fumbling about, the new noises and strange smells, the mass of boisterous men bellowing and shouting obscenities…erm, the hidden sexual analogy duly ends there.
Indeed, we’re talking about that first game experience, not carnal debuts.
With the World Cup entering maturity and Premier League season drawing slowly closer, there will be many youngsters attending their first games and savouring the atmosphere. So, it’s time to take a quick trip down memory lane and, as an Everton fan, recall that first Goodison game.
Well, having bleated on about how you never forgot your first time, I actually can’t remember mine very well. I think it was against Arsenal in 1994, and ended 1-1, but I was only seven and it’s not lodged too firmly in my head. The first game I properly remember at Goodsion came a year later on a cold December against Leeds. Like most people, I went with my dad; the blue blood consistently passed down through the generations…yes, a little like a crippling genetic disease.
Park up at about 10-15 minutes away – ‘can I mind your car please mate?’ – and wander down, as a few comrades gradually swell into an army of Evertonians. I think I probably had my full Everton kit on – as most kids seem to – even though it was December and was properly, properly, cold (but that’s the little tit of a kid I was). Down a few streets, past a wall with painted goalposts adorning the bricks, past a burly looking pub, and soon you’d turn a corner a see a grand and grandiose Goodison. At that age it seems like a colossal structure of unimaginable proportions, not quite like that now but it was, nevertheless, humble Goodison. Shuffle through the crowds, which also seem amplified as millions upon millions of bodies swarm around you, and find the turnstile. I also remember the whole atmosphere stank of some untraceable odour, and the air was punctuated by a strange noise – this being the strong scouse accents, undecipherable to my young Yorkshire dwelling ears.
Savouring the match-day programme was, of course, vital. I’ve still got it; for you fact fans, it’s got a picture of Paul Rideout jumping for a header in that white DANKA away kit with grey scribbles and shades down the sides.
But the best bit, or mine at least, is when you finally get into the ground (Gwladys Street end) and walk out to find your seats; the noise and mass of people is intoxicating, enthralling and overwhelming to a young lad.
I can’t remember much about the actual game really, think it might have been a low scoring draw (if someone can remember, let me know – Leeds 30th December 1995), and to be honest I probably quite wanted to go home midway through the second half because it was so chilly (I know I keep repeating this, but I was just so f**kin’ cold), but that’s not the important thing about your first game; it’s the atmosphere, who you go with, the shouting, the chants assembling around you, a floodlit Goodison, and the first taste of proper football.
So anyway, it was f**kin’ freezing (not sure if I’ve mentioned that), it was a dull game from what I vaguely recollect, and it smelt…Ah, good old football, and good old Goodison.
Your first Goodison game…?
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