It may be slightly less well-known than its neighbour Anfield, but what Goodison Park lacks in international prestige, it more than makes up for in history. The home of Everton (and the Blue half of Liverpool’s footballing divide) ‘The Grand Old Lady’ is one of the world’s oldest purpose-built football stadiums and has hosted more top-flight games than anywhere else in England. With such an illustrious history, a trip here is a great way to sample some of Liverpool’s sporting heritage.
While it may not be as swish as some of today’s modern stadiums, what Goodison Park lacks in facilities, it more than makes up for in character.
It was the first major football stadium to be built in England, and Everton played their first game here way back in 1892. The stadium was developed in the early 20th century and was considered the best ground in Britain. It was held in such high esteem, it even played host to the 1966 World Cup semi-final between the Soviet Union and Germany.
Besides the ground, Everton FC itself has an illustrious sporting past. No other club can say that they were founding members of the football league in 1888, the Premier League in 1992 and have competed in top-flight English football for 108 seasons.
Even if you’re not exactly a die-hard Blue, a Goodison Park tour is still fascinating for lovers of the beautiful game. The tour guides will fill you in on the 120-year history of the place while you get to have a good nose behind the scenes. Peek into the dressing rooms, have a look at how Premiership footballers relax after the game and even walk down the tunnel onto the pitch to the Z-Cars Theme tune, the club’s anthem.
Everton Legends tours are also available, where you’re shown around the stadium by a former player. Refreshments are included, and you get to quiz sporting greats such as Graeme Sharp or Ian Snodin.
Normal stadium tours cost approximately £12 per adult, and £6 per child aged 15 or under.
Tours last an hour and a quarter and are available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11am and 1pm, and on Sundays at 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm. They don’t run on match days or the afternoon before a home fixture.
Everton Legends tours cost approximately £20 per adult and £15 per child and are held throughout the year. For both tours, you’ll need to book in advance at the stadium’s website, www.evertonfc.com or by calling the club on 0151 530 5212.
Goodison Park is about two and half miles north-east of Liverpool city centre, with Liverpool Lime Street as its nearest mainline station. It’s well-served by public transport and very close to Stanley Park which is beautiful, if you fancied a pre-match stroll
Sat nav users should punch in L4 4EL, but if you’re coming from the M62, carry on until the end of the motorway, then take the A5058 towards Liverpool. After three miles turn left onto Utting Avenue. Drive for a mile then turn right at the corner of Stanley Park into Priory Road. Goodison is at the end of this road.
When it comes to buses from the city centre to the ground, you’re spoiled for choice. From Liverpool ONE you can catch the 19, 20 or 21, or from the Thomas Street stand there’s the 350/351 and the 311. On match days, you can also hop on the Soccerbus that runs directly between Sandhills station and Goodison Park.
While Liverpool Lime Street is the nearest mainline station, the nearest Merseyrail station to Goodison Park is Kirkdale, at just under a mile away. To get even closer on match days, go to Sandhills Station where you can catch a Soccerbus bus directly to the ground.
Car parking is available in Stanley Road car park which is only half a mile from the ground. The entrance to the car park is in Priory Road and it’ll cost you around £8 to park for a match. But if you get to the ground early on match days, or if you’re just there for a stadium tour, there is street parking on Walton Lane.
This part of Liverpool is well set up for cyclists, offering a free, secure service called Cycle Hub. Available on match days, you’ll find this excellent facility in Stanley Park car park. Just ride to Cycle Hub and drop your bike off with an attendant, get a receipt then it’s a few minutes’ walk to the stadium.
Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport is 11 miles away. If you’ve flown into town for a match, jump on the 80A or 86A bus which will take you to Liverpool South Parkway, then take a Northern line train to Sandhills station to hook up with the Soccerbus service.
Did you know Goodison Park had a church in its grounds? It’s a unique feature that shouldn’t be missed, whether you’re on a tour or there for a match. Called St Luke’s Church, it sits just beyond the video screen and sells teas and snacks on match days.
Of course, the best way to experience Goodison Park is on a day when Everton are playing at home. With a capacity of just over 40,000, it may not be one of the largest stadiums, but fans make up for that by making a lot of noise! If you’re lucky enough to be visiting on match day, here’s all the information you need.
If you know in advance that you’re going to be in Liverpool on the day Everton are playing, you may be able to get some tickets. Although members take priority, any tickets not sold will go on general sale one calendar month before the game. Games generally sell out, but if you’re early enough you may well get lucky. To ensure a ticket, hospitality packages, which include a meal as well as tickets, are also available through the Everton FC website.
There are a limited number of disabled parking spaces at Goodison Park, but these are reserved for Everton members and handed out on a rotation basis. There is some Blue Badge parking around the ground, on Diana Street, Oxton Street and Eton Street. Inside Goodison Park there are eight accessible toilets situated near the seating areas, with stewards available to assist anyone who needs help.
If you’re not afraid of heights, a seat in the top balcony of the Main Stand is not to be missed. You’ll get a fantastic view of all the action on the pitch, but also across Stanley Park to Anfield. Be warned, though. It can get a bit chilly up there on colder days, so wrap up warm!
Soak up all the pre-match atmosphere at the Everton Fanzone in the Park End car park. There’s a stage where bands play and you can grab a bite to eat from the catering vans that serve everything from fish and chips to carvery food. And there’s a bar!
With the city centre less than three miles away from the ground, there are plenty of eating and drinking options available around town. Or you could eat at the stadium before and sample some of the club’s fantastic hospitality.
Besides the normal fast food concession stands within the ground, the club has some lovely lounges in which to enjoy some fine food. There’s the Dixie Dean Suite with its incredibly popular Sunday lunch options. Or, for a special treat, executive pitchside boxes can be hired for private dining and a fantastic view of the match.
There are plenty of pubs and burger vans outside the ground. But for something different, try the Segura Wine Bar and Bistro that serves Spanish and British food and has a great atmosphere. Other than that, the Lucky’s Blue Dragon Chinese restaurant is a chip shop that’s really popular among Everton fans.
Liverpool is one of England’s most cosmopolitan cities and was the 2008 European capital of culture. Whether you’re passing through, looking for heritage, pop culture and entertainment, checking out the universities, or planning a weekend break, there are plenty of reasons to book a hotel room in Liverpool. And with quaint fishing villages and market towns on its doorstep, there's so much to see and do in the surrounding area of Merseyside.