A family affair by Tracy Stent!
It’s been around 3 years since I last attended an away match (Reading back in the Championship) so going to Goodison Park for such an important game was almost surreal! But let’s rewind a bit before going on to talk about the game.
We decided to go to this particular game a while ago as it meant the 3 of us Stent’s left in London (me, hubby Leon and daughter Emma) could take the opportunity to meet up with Sarah (younger daughter) who is currently staying up in Scouseland while attending the Liverpool Performing Arts Drama School. So we booked ourselves a nice cheap room at a Premier Inn up there and departed at midday on Friday the day before. The journey up was horrendous, with the rain causing driving conditions to stop, start virtually all the way up the M6. We eventually reached the Inn at 5pm, a mere five hours after setting off!
With Sarah not finishing her lecture until 8pm we decided to go and have a bit to eat in the Beefeater restaurant next to the Inn. Blooming lovely it was too..a big helping of fish chips and peas for a fiver. No complaints from any of us. Then once we’d dropped Emma off at Sarah’s us two old fogeys decided we were too tired to go out in town and went back to our room for a few drinks and a good old telly watch! We found out the next day the girls had gone off into town to some club enjoying themselves into the early hours. Oh to be young again!
The next morning it was time for a nice big hearty breakfast at the nearby Toby (£3.99 for all you can eat) to set us up for the day, then off to pick the girls up and make our way to Goodison Park. We’d already decided to park in Stanley Park as it had been recommended and though it was £8 to park it was worth it knowing that his nib’s beast was safe and secure whilst we enjoyed ourselves during the afternoon. The stewards in the car park were spot on when we asked them if there were a decent pub we could go in as we were directed to a pub called The Arkles which is the other side of the park (near the Anfield side). What a pleasant surprise it was. Nice and spacious, large screens showing the Scottish football, and cheap beer. What more could we ask for to set us up for the afternoon?
An added bonus also was with meeting up with my cousin Wendy who with her hubby Steve, were also staying up in Liverpool for the weekend. They’d also decided to make a weekend of it to allow Wendy to take in the game despite her hubby being a Gooner! With the Gooner wishing us luck it was time for us to make our way across Stanley Park to Goodison. On the way we passed Anfield and took a couple of photos whilst me and hubby reminisced about our meeting up there back in the mid 80’s following our 3-0 stuffing even though we were top of the league back then!
So, into the ground we went and the most important part was upon us….a visit to the ladies!! It was lovely to see so many familiar faces in the concourse area with quick hellos and hugs, and then off to find our seats. Thankfully we were down the front (can’t bear being at the back as I like to concentrate on every kick of the ball which is often difficult to do when you’re among the more “stand up if you love Rangers” element, bless them) and it was time for some quick snaps before the teams emerged from the tunnel. The Toffees play a funny little ditty about being better than the Reds along with their usual Z Cars theme to come out to (have never understood where that came from) and then it was time for the line ups etc before the announcement of a minute’s silence in remembrance of the Hillsborough victims, the anniversary which will be on Monday. It was impeccably respected and then time for the kick off.
To be honest, I thought our starting team a bit negative…4-5-1…when it was a game that we needed to go out and win if we were to have any chance of giving ourselves that final lifeline in a bid to stave off relegation. We started off brightly enough and within 7 minutes had a close shot on goal down the other end courtesy of Junior Hoilett, but after that the first half developed into a bit of a scrappy affair. Neither team could take the game by the scruff of the neck though midway through the half it did look as though we were lucky not to have given away a penalty when it seemed that Clint Hill might have made a bit of a clumsy lash bringing their flank player down but the ref thankfully waved play on. It wasn’t long after that Loic Remy brought off a good save from Tim Howard down the other end and with half an hour gone, although it was quite scrappy, at that time both teams had had a couple of chances but unable to capitalize on them. It seemed that Everton were going ahead especially when the ever hard working Baines for them whipped over a cross with the resulting shot on goal looking goalbound but it thankfully took a deflection from one of their players to send it wide. It was looking good for a goalless first half when disaster struck with just 5 minutes to the break. A shot from Gibson within our area took a nasty deflection off the boot of Clint Hill and as the ball hit the net it was that familiar sinking feeling in our stomachs that us R’s fans felt as the home fans around us celebrated. It was just typical Rangers, and typical of our luck because up until that moment the game had been quite even.
The ref blew up for half time and me and Emma were saying how changes were needed asap at the start of the second half as a lone Remy was never going to be able to hold the line and break through the home side defence on his own. As Wendy came to join us at the start of the second half due to there being seats free where we were, the four of us Rangers girls were up for the game saying we could do this and it looked as though we might be proved right with our bit of frankly crazy optimism as Remy broke free firing off a shot which brought off a good save from Howard. Sadly, this was to be one of our very last chances in that half as shortly afterwards the home side decided it was time for them to take the game to us with a flurry of corners and attacks, one shot which resulted in being hit against the woodwork, and just as we were saying we so needed to weather the storm, the Toffees went 2-0 up. Anichebe was able to take advantage of what looked like more dodgy defending from us, rising up to head in and effectively make it game over even though there was still over half an hour of the game left.
I say this because not only was the defending ropey but we were looking more and more powder puff out there. The start of the second half had not brought about any changes and when that second goal went in it seemed as though players and fans gave up. For Everton, the game from then on was like a training match with us purely going through the motions on the pitch, whereas off the pitch those of us in the stand decided to cheer ourselves up by singing “Que sera whatever will be we’re going to Barnsley”, “next year we’ll be champions” and renditions of some of our old favourite songs. Adel came on for Park, and then a short while later the ineffective Granero was replaced by Diakite. Though there were a couple of late surges, including a shot from Onuoha of all people, there was an inevitability about the whole thing during that second half and we jokingly remarked to Sarah at one point that we bet she’d been missing all this with Rangers.
The final whistle was blown, most R’s fans had stayed til the bitter end but it was a tad disappointing that not many players bothered to give the travelling faithful much of a clap but that’s something that always used to irritate me years ago and I promised myself a while back I wouldn’t let myself get irate over Rangers anymore! As we filed out of the ground into the pouring rain to make our way across the park I have to admit in giving Goodison a little look at as it will probably be a while now before we visit there again.
Just a little word on Everton FC. Goodison Park is a grand old ground and has been redeveloped over the years making it a fine one to visit these days. The stewards were fine and we enjoyed a little chat with a few of them. One of the female stewards actually held the inside door of the ladies open for us after the game, remarking how the queue is not normally like this. Well we have got a long way home we quipped in reply.
Their fans were quiet, and only seemed to wake up after their second goal went in. Maybe they were nervous we would equalize but any R’s fan in our stand could have told them to not be so stupid.
So, all in all, a disappointing performance from our lads. As I said at the start of this report, if we were to give ourselves any chance at all of survival we so needed to win this one but it didn’t happen. Perhaps what had happened against Wigan last week had truly knocked the stuffing out of them? Or maybe some of them just don’t care? All I know is the fans most certainly do care and deserved a bit more than the performance from yesterday. As for motm I couldn’t really say, though Andros Townsend showed his class and what he is capable of in snatches in the first half.
Next week it’s back to Loftus Road for us in a clash which sees us take on a rapidly sliding downhill Stoke side. Whether the players turn up for this one is anyone’s guess. But what I do know is that the fans will be there come what may. RTID.