The Everton Match

My wife and I are huge fans of the Premier League football team Everton, who are based out of Liverpool, England.

When Nancy and I moved to Annapolis, MD in December of 2011, I couldn’t tell you anything about association football, better known as soccer here in America.


It was one day in January of 2012 that I had a pregnant-like craving for an Irish Breakfast, so I googled “Irish Breakfast near me” and found out that there was a Fadó Irish Pub about nine miles from us.

Now, why would I have this craving? Well, there was a Fadó in D.C. that we would go to before Capitals games. That was our first experience with Fadó. I absolutely loved their Irish All Day Breakfast and would have it for dinner before a Caps hockey game.

Anywho, Nancy was upstairs folding clothes, so I yelled “NANCY! Get dressed! We’re going out for breakfast!”

The very first time we saddled up to the bar at Fadó, we met the regular morning bartender, Robin. To make sure everyone knows where I’m coming from when I write this, we had just moved from western Baltimore, where customer service was akin to “OMG…what?!”

Robin looked me straight in the eyes, smiled, reached out his hand, shook mine, and introduced himself.

“Hi, I’m Robin, what’s your name?” he asked.

This approach was completely different from where Nancy and I had come from. We were flabbergasted, but it was absolutely refreshing.

Fast forward about a year, and Robin had got us interested in football, and specifically in Everton, his favorite team since he was a boy. I could go on about why we picked Everton over teams like Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, or Tottenham, but let’s be honest: our favorite bartender was an Everton fan, and he’d have Everton matches on whenever they were on TV. I mean, there are a bunch of other reasons I wanted to root for Everton, but that’s for a different blog post (Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, etc).

Over the next few years, we learned that Everton was a team that would routinely hurt its fans by having shitty ownership, and even shittier management. As I said, we fell in love with something that hurt us.


Fast forward to around late 2018.

Robin had told us previously that if we ever got the chance to get across the pond, we should pick his brain about going to see an Everton match at Goodison Park (their home ground). Robin is from Dublin, and has been to Everton’s home ground quite a few times, so obviously we were going to get as much information from him as we could. We decided to meet up with Robin at the pub on a random slow Tuesday happy hour, and he gave us some great tips on going to a match at Goodison.

The 20th anniversary of our wedding was coming up in 2019, so Nancy and I decided we were going to Europe. She had always wanted to visit her step-sister Nichola in Ghent, Belgium, and I really wanted to do the same. The major problem at that time was that I still worked for the NSA. That meant that I had to fill out a ton of paperwork. I literally filled out 16 pages of paperwork to take this vacation.

So we booked two weeks for our Europe trip. We planned that the first seven days would be for Nancy and I, and the last seven days would be with Nichola and family.


When talking to Robin on that Tuesday, I told him our initial ideas of travel. We thought we’d fly from BWI to JFK to Heathrow. Then we’d spend a couple nights in London, and then take a train to Liverpool to catch the Everton match.

Robin’s first question was “What the fuck are you looking to do in London? It’s literally New York City with an accent.”.

I couldn’t argue with him. I’ve been to London while in the Navy, and honestly, if we were there for one or two days, it would be just like being in NYC, but with an accent. I sat there with my Guinness and thought “Yeah, there’s really no draw for me to go there….”

Robin suggested flying from the US to Dublin, and doing touristy things around Dublin for a few days, then taking a RyanAir flight from Dublin to Liverpool.

For you Yanks: RyanAir is the Irish version of SouthWest Airlines. The flight from Dublin to Liverpool is just shy of one hour if the winds are on your side. The price? Less than a hundred dollars.

What we were NOT anticipating was having to walk out onto the tarmac, then up a set of stairs into the airplane, like it was 1978.

So we had purchased tickets for the final home game of the 2018-19 season, which was against Burnley at Goodison Park. The match was to be played at 5pm UTC on Saturday, May 4th. We purchased the tickets via UK’s StubHub for $75 each a few months before we flew over. We were in the second row behind the keeper in the Gwladys Street End. We had never been to a football match, so we had no idea what we were in store for.

We just thought $75 a ticket was cheap!

We are members of an Everton Facebook group that helps American fans when they come over to watch a match. I was in contact with one of the members, and he had mentioned that there was a group that was going to be given a tour of the stadium. I kept in touch with them, and we very much wanted to get the tour.


A few weeks before we were to depart, the Premier League decided to flex the schedule and move the Everton/Burnley match from Saturday at 5pm to Friday at 8pm. This threw our schedule into a complete disarray!

So, here’s how it happened….basically in real time.

Our flight left Dublin at 3pm on Friday, and landed just before 4pm in Liverpool. We then ran to get our luggage, and then hailed a taxi. Our hotel was in Liverpool City Centre, only 9.3 miles away, but in Friday afternoon traffic, it took about 45 minutes to get to there.

We got to the Hilton just before 5pm, and the woman behind the desk was absolutely fantastic. She asked how we were doing, and I said “We’re from the States, and we’re trying to make the Everton match”. She said “Oh, let me get you to your room ASAP!”

As she was checking us in, while typing, she said, “Can I call you a cab? It can be waiting for you out front while you get changed.”

SIDENOTE: Back in the states, we were told that we should NOT wear our kits (jerseys) on the way to the match. We’re still not sure why, but hey, when someone from Liverpool says something, we tended to believe it.

So we ran up to our room, changed into new t-shirts, put our kits into Nancy’s huge purse, and ran back downstairs. The receptionist walked over to us and pointed out our cab at the curb, and wished us luck.

Again, she was awesome. I cannot explain how amazing she was.

As we’re getting into our cab, I noticed it had suicide doors opening on its driver and passenger sides. The cab had a two benches for seating, one where you would normally see a cab’s bench, but another mounted just behind the driver’s chair, facing backwards.

As the cabbie got us situated, he leaned in and asked “You two are going to Goodison, would you mind if another couple split your fare? They’re going to the match as well.” We had no problem, mainly because we were in a foreign land and we didn’t want to rock any boats.

The couple got in and sat in front of us, and I jokingly said “I’m cool sharing a fare as long as they’re not fucking Reds!” (Reds = Liverpool fans, our archnemesis).

The couple and the cabbie laughed, and the husband said “Oh, no, believe me, I’m a Blue!” (Blue = Everton fan). He introduced himself as Andy, and he demurely said he was a reporter for a local newspaper.

We started chatting on the way up to Goodison and they were genuinely pleased that we had flown all the way over to watch an Everton match. Andy said that this was their honeymoon, and they always went to an Everton match to celebrate their wedding.

At one point, Andy laid his head down on his wife’s lap and pointed out the front windshield and said “Don’t look now, but there’s the enemy.” He was pointing to Anfield, the home pitch to our arch rivals Liverpool. We could see it across Stanley Park.

For those not in the know: Our arch rivals are LITERALLY 0.9 miles away from us. It’s like the Ravens/Steelers rivalry if meth and handguns were introduced.

As we were talking, Nancy said something about how we were told that we shouldn’t wear our kits on our way to the match. This made the three Liverpool folks cackle in laughter, and then the cabbie said, “Ma’am, I’m a Red…PUT ON YOUR FUCKIN’ KIT!”

Which we immediately did…after laughing.

Once we get to Goodison and get out of the cab, Andy said “Let me get some pictures of you two!” Well, ok.

Us getting out of the cab outside Goodison

I’m not going to lie and say that I wasn’t awestruck. I sort of stood there for a couple seconds, taking it all in.

Andy then used my camera to take these pictures in front of the Dixie Dean memorial

At this point, Andy and his wife needed to go to where they were meeting their friends, but Andy said to us “Hold on a minute, I’ll be right back!” He walked a few steps away and darted into a MEDIA ONLY door. I looked at Nancy, and we were like….WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK.

He came back a minute later with two game day programs, and said “I hope you all have a great time! These are on me.”

We didn’t realize until we got back to the states but it turns out that Andy is Andy Hunter of The Guardian & The Observer. He was literally the main reporter for Everton in Liverpool. I never got a picture with him, but I have this tweet conversation 😀


Once we were near the stadium, we needed to meet up with the folks that had told us about getting a tour of Goodison. We were to meet up at The Winslow Hotel. I cannot express to Americans how close this pub is to the stadium. It is literally…LITERALLY…across a two lane street to the stadium. You could literally throw a french fry from the pub’s door to the stadium’s wall.

You don’t see that in the US.

So I’m in The Winslow and I get a DM on Facebook saying I missed the tour.

I’m devastated.

Like, my entire trip is ruined…

I then get another DM saying that I should just go to the front gate and ask for a tour. He said that I should explain that I’m a Yank and flew over and missed the tour and see what would happen.

At this point, I’m thinking “What are they going to say, but no?” I killed my pint of Guinness, and we walked over to the front door of Goodison as if I were on a mission. I opened the door to the main entrance and a woman kindly greeted me, asking how she could help.

“Uh…well…We’re from the States and we were told via the Everton USA Facebook group that we could get a tour of the pitch, but for some reason we missed the tour. I was hoping you could help us out”, I said.

She typed something on her computer and said “I’m sorry, but we don’t have anything today under Everton USA. Let me see if I can do anything for you, though”. She backed away from her desk and walked over to a gentleman and whispered in his ear. At this point, I figured we were going to get kicked out of the stadium and possibly get banned…because that’s how US teams would handle things like this.

The gentleman in question, wearing an exquisite three piece suit, walked over to Nancy and I and introduced himself as Darren Griffiths. He thanked us for flying over to watch a match, and while he couldn’t do anything for us right NOW, he would be available at 6:25pm at…

… would think I’d remember where he’d be available, right? For the life of me, I cannot remember where he told us to meet.

So we walked around Goodison Park…

We’re freaking out. Around 6pm, the club’s buses show up and drop the players off. That was freaking amazing. You’ll never see something that in America.

So, I’m freaking out and not remembering where to go at 6:25, I just walked up to a door where some folks were walking into. I figured I’d just tell them what I was told, and worst case scenario? They’d tell me to go to the front door…

They said “Oh, please have a seat here, we’ll be with you in a minute”. I looked at Nancy and said “We’re totally getting arrested…”

Turns out, we had walked into the VIP entrance, where all the player’s wives and former players would come through. As we’re sitting there, Darren walked up to us and said “Dan and Nancy?” with his hand out. We stood up, half expecting to have the time of of our lives, and half expecting to be put into cuffs.

Darren leads us through the VIP area and I met Leon Osman. Nancy is too far in front of me to see the meeting, but I’m in awe.

I scurry up to meet with Nancy and Darren and we start through the kitchen. Racks of lamb are being chargrilled, and it smells amazing. I’m thinking “There’s nothing in the NFL that would come CLOSE to this!”

Darren leads us further down a tunnel.

THE tunnel. Yes, we walked down the tunnel that our team walks down before every game.

You can see from Nancy’s smile how happy we were here 😀

Yes, Darren is taking pictures FOR US.

After this, Darren walked us down to the pitch. Yes, we got to go onto the field before the match. This was such a big deal for us…I cannot express how amazing this was.

Darren said that we should NOT step over the white line on the pitch, because the crew would come out and fight us…well, we weren’t ones to challenge that! 😀

There we were…on the pitch of Goodison Park. Our Holy Grail of sports….and Darren is taking pics FOR US.

Holy shit.

Now, here’s where it gets funny! Darren looks at us and asks “Hey, did you two split a fare with another couple from the Hilton to here?”

I said “Yeah, a guy named Andy and his wife…”

Darren literally leaned back and laughed…pulled out his phone and said “That’s my best mate, Andy!!!! I need to get a selfie with YOU TWO!! Andy’s not going to believe this!!”

So Darren took a pic of the three of us, texted Andy, and waited for a response. Andy replied with something like “LOL YES! Those are the Yanks!”


Ok, time to go to our seats…but…BEER FIRST!! 

Beers were pushed up from the bottom, with a magnetic stop at the bottom. Friggin BRILLIANT!

Ok, I’m not gonna lie, this view was both awesome and HOLY SHIT! How close were we to the pitch? Ooohh…just a scooootch….

We were literally in the second row behind the keeper’s net 😀

When Jordan Pickford screams from here, we can hear what he says 😉

BTW, if you’re an Everton fan, you know he screams a lot 😀

So I thought I was a fan…turns this dude is much more of a fan 😀

We won 2-0, and it is my best sports memory of all time….

And I say this after the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup in 2018.

To experience a match at Goodison is greater than seeing a Stanley Cup Final win game in DC. I know that’ll piss off some of my friends, but so be it.

Look at Nancy’s smile..

We were leaving the match, and Nancy is talking to the policewoman that we had chatted with about an hour or so prior about meat pies (the pies were fucking amazing). The policewoman remembered us and wanted to make sure we were having a good time 😀


You will not get this type of experience at ANY American sport. I don’t care if it is the NFL, NHL, MLB, NHL, PGA, WNBA, or any major American sport.

American sports are there for the money.

European sports are there for the fans. You cannot convince me different.

I love the Capitals, the Ravens, and the Orioles, but there is absolutely NO FUCKING WAY they would allow a foreigner to just walk up and ask “Hey, can I go on the field?” and they say “Oh, sure!”.

This is why our trip to Everton’s Goodison Park is my #1 sports memory over the Washington Capitals winning the Stanley Cup.

, , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *