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Thursday, 3 November 2011

The History Of The Stadium

Where Did Everton First Play?
Everton originally played on an open pitch in the south-east corner of the newly laid out Stanley Park, which is the site for the proposed new Liverpool F.C. stadium.

Everton's First Match
The first official match took place in 1879. In 1882, a Mr J. Cruit donated land at Priory Road with the necessary facilities required for professional clubs. Cruit asked the club to leave his land after two years because the crowds became far too large and noisy.

Moving To Anfield Before Liverpool
Everton moved to nearby Anfield, where proper covered stands were built. Everton played at Anfield from 1884 until 1892. During this time the club turned professional and entered teams in the FA Cup. They became founding members of the Football League and won their first championship at the ground in 1890–91.

Everton First With The Nets
Anfield's capacity grew to over 20,000 and the club hosted an international match between England and Ireland. During their time at Anfield, Everton became the first club to introduce goal-nets to professional football.

Leaving Anfield
In the 1890s, a dispute about how the club was to be owned and run emerged with John Houlding, Anfield's majority owner and Everton's Chairman, at the forefront. Houlding and the club's committee initially disagreed about the full purchase of the land at Anfield from minor land owner Mr Orrell and escalated into a principled disagreement of how the club was run.

Start Of The Fall Out
Two such disagreements included Houlding wanting Everton to sell only his brewery produce during an event and for the Everton players to use his public house The Sandon as changing room facilities.

The Leaving Of Anfield
The most famous of the disagreements concerns the level of rent Everton were asked to pay. In 1884, Everton paid £100 to Houlding in rent and by the 1889-90 season he was charging Everton £250. Everton left Anfield and Houlding formed Liverpool F.C. to play at the newly vacant ground. The clubs themselves have differing versions of events of why it occurred.

The Birth of Goodison Park
Make Way For Goodison Park
On 15 September 1891, a general meeting took place at Royal Street Hall, near Everton Valley.

John Houlding proposed that a limited liability company (LLC) be formed and that the company should purchase his land and local brewer Joseph Orrel's land for a combined £9,237.

A club run by an LLC was unusual for the time as football clubs were usually run as “sports clubs” with members paying an annual fee.

The proposal was supported by William Barclay, the club secretary and a close friend of Houlding.

George Mahon — The Father of Goodison Park George Mahon arranged for Everton to move to Goodison Park.

Liberal Party politician and Everton board member George Mahon fought the proposal and put forward his own amendment which was carried by the Everton board. At the time Everton's board contained both Conservative and Liberal Party councillors. Houlding and Mahon had previously clashed during local elections.

Both men agreed that Everton should operate as an LLC; however, they had different ideas about share ownership. Houlding suggested that 12,000 shares be created with each Everton board member given one share and the other shares sold to the public or Everton board members.

Mahon disagreed and proposed that 500 shares be created with no member carrying more than 10 shares and board members being given "7 or 8" shares. Mahon reasoned "we would rather have a large number of individual applications so that there will be more supporters of the club."

A special general meeting was convened at the former Liverpool College building on Shaw Street on 25 January 1982.

John Houlding's proposal was defeated once more and George Mahon suggested that Everton relocate to another site. A heckler shouted, "You can't find one!" Mahon responded "I have one in my pocket" and he revealed an option to lease Mere Green field, in Walton, Lancashire, the site of what is today known as Goodison Park.

The Liverpool press were partisan. The proposal was deemed to be a positive move for the club by the Liberal-leaning Liverpool Daily Post which described Houlding's ousting as "having shaken off the incubus." 

The Tory-supporting Liverpool Courier and Liverpool Evening Express—owned by Conservative MP for Everton, John A. Willox, a Trustee of the Licensed Victuallers’ and Brewers’ Association—took Houlding's side.

The Courier published letters regularly criticising Mahon's supporters—many of which were anonymous. Philanthropist William Hartley, a jam manufacturer and Robert William Hudson, a prominent soap-manufacturer supported Mahon.

The Name Goodison Park
The stadium was named Goodison Park because the length of it was built against Goodison Road. The road was named after a civil engineer called George Goodison who provided a sewage report to the Walton Local Board in the mid 1800s and later became a local land owner.

The Mere Green field was owned by Christopher Leyland and Everton rented it until they were in a position to buy it outright. Initially, the field needed work as parts of the site had to be excavated, the field was levelled, a drainage system was installed and turf was laid.

This work was considered to be a 'formidable initial expenditure' and a local contractor Mr Barton was contracted to work on the 29,471 square yards (25,000 m2) site at 4½d per square yard—a total cost of £552. A J. Prescott was brought in as an architectural advisor and surveyor.

Walton-based building firm Kelly brothers were instructed to erect two uncovered stands that could each accommodate 4,000 spectators. A third covered stand accommodating 3,000 spectators was also requested.

The combined cost of these stands was £1,640 and Everton inserted a penalty clause into the contract in case the work was not completed by its 31 July deadline.

Everton officials were impressed with the builder's workmanship and agreed two further contracts: exterior hoardings were constructed at a cost of £150 and 12 turnstiles were installed at a cost of £7 each. In 1894, Benjamin Kelly of Kelly Brothers was appointed as a director of Everton.

Dr. James Baxter of the Everton committee donated a £1,000 interest-free loan to build Goodison Park. The stadium was England's first purpose-built football ground, with stands on three sides. Goodison Park was officially opened on the 24th August 1892 by Lord Kinnaird and Frederick

Wall of the Football Association. No football was played; instead the 12,000 crowd watched a short athletics event followed by music and a fireworks display.

Goodison Opens The Same Day As Celtic's Parkhead!
Upon its completion the stadium was the first purpose-built football stadium in England, and was only preceded in the United Kingdom by the Scottish club Rangers' Ibrox Stadium, inaugurated in 1887. Celtic's Parkhead ground was inaugurated on the same day as Goodison.

The first match at Goodison Park was on 2 September 1892 between Everton and Bolton Wanderers. Everton wore its new club colours of salmon and dark blue stripes and won the exhibition game 4–2. The first league game at Goodison Park took place on 3 September 1892 against Nottingham Forest; the game ended in a 2–2 draw.

The stadium's first competitive goal was scored by Forest’s Horace Pike and the first Everton goal came from Fred Geary. Everton's first league victory at their new ground came in the next home game with a 6–0 defeat of Newton Heath in front of an estimated 10,000 spectators.

It was announced at a general meeting on 22 March 1895 that the club could finally afford to buy Goodison Park. Mahon revealed that Everton were buying Goodison Park for £650 less than the price of Anfield three years earlier, and Goodison Park had more land and had 25% larger capacity.

The motion to purchase Goodison Park was passed unanimously. Dr. Baxter also lent the club £5,000 to pay the mortgage early at a rate of 3½%. By this time the redrawing of political boundaries meant that Walton, and hence Goodison Park, were within the City of Liverpool.

In 1999, The Independent newspaper journalist David Conn unexpectedly coined the nickname "The Grand Old Lady" for the stadium when he wrote "Another potential suitor has apparently thought better of Everton, walking away on Tuesday from the sagging Grand Old Lady of English football, leaving her still in desperate need of a makeover."

Structural Developments
The Goodison Park structure was built in stages. In 1906, the Goodison Avenue Stand was built behind the goal at the south end of the ground.

It was designed by Liverpool architect Henry Hartley who went on to chair the Liverpool Architectural Society a year later. The club minutes from the time show that Hartley was unhappy with certain aspects of the stand and the poor sightlines meant that the goal line had to be moved seven metres north, towards Gwladys Street.

In January 1908, he complained that his fees had not been paid and the bill for the stand was near £13,000. There were 2,657 seats on its upper tier with a terrace below.

The Goodison Road Stand was constructed in 1909. In September that year Ernest Edwards, the Liverpool Echo journalist who christened the terrace at Anfield the "Spion Kop", wrote of the newly built stand, "The building as one looks at it, suggests the side of Mauretania at once."

 The stand was occasionally referred to as the "Mauretania Stand", in reference to the Liverpool-registered RMS Mauretania, then the world's largest ship, which had recently docked in the Port of Liverpool.

The two-tier steel frame and wooden floor Bullens Road Stand, designed by Archibald Leitch, was completed in 1926. The upper tier was seated, with terracing below, a part of the ground called The Paddock.

The original Bullens Road Stand was replaced by a new one in 1895 with the open Goodison Road side covered, giving cover on all four sides of the ground. Few changes were made until 1963 when the rear of the Paddock was seated and an overhanging roof was added.

The stand is known for Archibald Leitch's highly distinctive balcony trusses which also act as handrails for the front row of seats in the Upper Bullens stand. Goodison Park is the only stadium with two complete trusses designed by Leitch. Of the 17 created, only Goodison Park, Ibrox and Fratton Park retain these trusses.

Everton constructed covered dugouts in 1931. The idea was inspired by a visit to Pittodrie to play a friendly against Aberdeen, where such dugouts had been constructed at the behest of the Dons' trainer Donald Coleman. The Goodison Park dugouts were the first in England.

The ground become an entirely two-tiered affair in 1938 when the Gwladys Street Stand was completed at a cost of £50,000. Architect Leitch and Everton Chairman Will Cuff became so close over the years that Cuff was appointed as Leitch's accountant and Leitch moved to nearby Formby.

In 1940, during the Second World War, the Gwladys Street Stand suffered bomb damage.

The bomb had landed directly in Gwladys Street and caused serious injury to nearby residents. The bomb splinter damage to the bricks on the stand is still noticeable. The cost of repair was £5,000 and was paid for by the War Damage Commission.

The Director's minutes read: "It was decided also that Messrs A. Leitch be instructed to value the cost of complete renewal of damaged properties and that a claim should be forwarded to the War Damage Claims department within the prescribed 30 days.

"The damage referred to included the demolition of a wide section of the new stand outer wall in Gwladys St, destruction of all glass in this stand, damage to every door, canteen, water and electricity pipe and all lead fittings: perforate roof in hundreds of places.

"On Bullens Road side, a bomb dropped in the school yard had badly damaged the exterior wall of this stand and the roof was badly perforated here also. A third bomb outside the practice ground had demolished the surrounding hoarding and had badly damaged glass in the Goodison Ave and Walton Lane property."

The first floodlit match at Goodison Park took place when Everton hosted Liverpool on 9 October 1957 in front of 58,771 spectators. Four pylons 185 feet (56 m) each with 36 lamps installed were installed behind each corner of the pitch, at the time they were tallest in the country.

There was capacity for 18 more lamps per pylon if it was felt the brightness was insufficient for the game. Each bulb was a 1,500 watt tungsten bulb 15 inches in diameter and cost 25 shillings. It was recommended that the club made a habit of changing them after three to four seasons to save the club performing intermittent repairs. MANWEB installed a transformer sub-station to cope with the 6,000 volt-load.

The first undersoil heating system in English football was installed at Goodison Park in 1958, with 20 miles (30 km) of electric wire laid beneath the playing surface at a cost of £16,000.

The system was more effective than anticipated and the drainage system could not cope with the quantity of water produced from the melting of frost and snow. As a consequence the pitch had to be relaid in 1960 to allow a more suitable drainage system to be installed.

The Everton chairman Sir John Moores who presided over the club between 1960 and 1973 provided finances for the club in the form of loans to become involved in large-scale redevelopment projects and compete with other clubs for the best players, for a period of time under his stewardship Everton were known as 'The Mersey Millionaires'.

Goodison Park featured in the filming of The Golden Vision, a BBC film made for television. The matches featured in the film were Division One games against Manchester City on 4 November 1967 (1–1 draw) and 18 November 1967 versus Sheffield United (1–0 win)—the scorer of the winner that day was Alex Young, also known as The Golden Vision or Golden Ghost after whom the film was named.

Everton were the first club to have a scoreboard installed in England. On 20 November 1971 Everton beat Southampton 8–0 with Joe Royle scoring four, David Johnson three and Alan Ball one. The scoreboard did not have enough room to display the goal scorer's names and simply read "7 9 7 9 8 9 9 7" as it displayed the goal scorers' shirt numbers instead.

The Goodison Road Stand was partially demolished and rebuilt during the 1969–70 season with striking images of both old and new stands side by side.

The new stand opened 1971, at a cost of £1 million.

The new stand housed the 500 and 300 members clubs and an escalator to the tallest stand in the ground—the Top Balcony. However, not everyone thought that the upgrade was necessary at the time.

Journalist Geoffrey Green of The Times wrote "Goodison Park has always been a handsome fashionable stage for football, a living thing full of atmospherics-like a theatre. And now it has stepped into the demanding seventies with a facelift it scarcely seemed to need compared with some of us I know. New giant stands in place of the old; the latest in dazzling floodlight systems that cast not a shadow. A cathedral of a place indeed, fit for the gods of the game."

The Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 saw the Bullens Road Stand extensively fireproofed with widened aisles, which entailed closure of parts of the stand. Because of the closure, Anfield was chosen over first choice Goodison Park for a Wales vs. Scotland World Cup qualifying tie.

Following Moores' exit from Everton's hierarchy, minimum changes have been made to Goodison Park's structure due to costs, two British Government Acts; the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 and Football Spectators Act 1989 have forced the club's hand into improving the facilities. Upon Moore's death the club was sold to Peter Johnson.

Everton legends William Ralph 'Dixie' Dean and former manager Harry Catterick both died at Goodison Park. Dean suffered from a heart attacked aged 73 in 1980 whilst Catterick died five years later also suffering a heart attack aged 65.

Everton F.C. celebrated the centenary of Goodison Park with a game against German club side Borussia Monchengladbach in August 1992. In addition, 200 limited edition medals were created and Liverpool based author and journalist Ken Rogers wrote a book "One Hundred Years Of Goodison Glory" to commemorate the occasion.

Post-Taylor Report
 Following the publication of the 1990 Taylor Report, in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster, top-flight English football grounds had to become all-seated.

At the time three of the four sides of the ground had standing areas. The Enclosure, fronting the main stand, had already been made all-seated in time for the 1987–88 season and was given the new name of Family Enclosure.

The Paddock, the Park End terrace and the Gwladys Street terrace, known as 'the Ground', were standing and had to be replaced.

The Everton match versus Luton Town in May 1991 was the final time that Gwladys Street allowed standing spectators, 'crash barriers' (a blockade to prevent fans running onto the pitch) were also removed from the front of the stand. Seats were installed in the Paddock, while the Lower Gwladys Street was later completely rebuilt to accommodate seating with new concrete steps.

Everton opted to demolish the entire Park End stand in 1994 and replace it with a single-tier cantilever stand, with the assistance of a grant of £1.3 million from the Football Trust.

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