FFC columnist and lifelong Everton fan Joe Jennings captures the feelings of many Evertonians as he discusses the possibility of a move away from Goodison Park. Kirkby, or no Kirkby, the "Old Lady" will always be home.
There are so many stadiums, all shapes and sizes, yet Goodison Park remains incredibly unique. And we wonder why so many fans, (including us) tremble with anticipation when a new ground appears on the horizon.
Those feelings of excitement as you approach the "Old Lady" for the first time, walking calmly at first, but quickening as the turnstiles beckon – simply magical! And once up those stairs or through that corridor, there is always that wonderful elation at seeing the pitch, the towering stands and the faces spread out before your eyes.
The goose bumps you get as your heroes emerge from the tunnel to the tune of Z-Cars wells you with pride at the fact that Goodison Park is Everton's and Everton's only. The Z-Cars theme, the electric green grass, the blue shirt, the ashes scattered around the hallowed turf, the history – all combine to create an extraordinary inner feeling of sheer pride. Paying long term payments to a self-serving, evidently corrupt supermarket doesn't provide such feelings of "belonging", does it?
It's saddening that Evertonians are seemingly giving in and accepting this joke of a proposal. Let's not forget that we will be stuck with this decision for the rest of our lives. I can truly say, when I sent off my ballot paper I did the right thing. Now, I can understand why people voted yes, especially with the brochure provided, guilt bombs galore. No wonder the Board of Directors are going through with it; they know they can take advantage, regardless of how we feel, because they know we will keep supporting the club we love for life. I'm unsure what I will do if the club moves; I have pondered relinquishing my favourite past time.
Although I was yet to grace the Earth when the elementary plans for Everton moving to Stanley Park were rejected, I know enough to suggest it is hugely unjustified to now allow Liverpool to build a stadium there. People will argue it was a different council back then but the same principle should apply. The regeneration that has been promised to Liverpool in a park where Everton were strictly not allowed to touch is bizarre and despicable to say the least.
They claimed allowing a business to develop on public land was illegal. Roll forward the years and now the council lay out the red carpet for their beloved reds. The council has always held double standards, but this time it really does take the biscuit. In all seriousness, people have mentioned storming the town hall and I have to agree; it's a joke and one that won't be forgotten in a hurry. The council should be scorned for their ill treatment of Everton Football Club; after all they are selling one of the grandest businesses in the city down the river.
We were told there was "no alternative" and that Goodison would struggle to pass a safety certificate, utter tosh from a man (who I won't even name) who has no love or allegiance to the club whatsoever. The "lovable" bloke told his previous club's fan base that if they don't leave their particular ground they would be unable to host European fixtures. Again, utter tosh. The club in question still hosts European fixtures, this season in fact.
Quite simply, in full swing, Goodison Park is incomparable and my eternal love and allegiance to the place will never waiver. It genuinely pains me to say the modern game has gone from the smell of horse manure, worn down pubs and greasy takeaways to a corporate, merciless silver service approach. If people voted yes believing much of this will be improved at Kirkby then think again. No, the horses won't wear diapers and the catering staff will remain ditsy. How a club like ours can be prepared to move to a retail park is painstaking, boiling my blood would be a huge understatement. Deal of the century? More like crime of the century, wholesale slaughter of the club.
"Kirkby will be the best served stadium in the North West". Really? So a mere 1,000 car parking spaces for a stadium capacity of 55,000 and the others left with the unenviable position of having to walk 20-30 minutes to reach the "deal of the century, best served stadium in the North West?" Not looking so rosy now, is it? It would barely scrape the best stadium in Lancashire, let alone the North West.
The Everton board had an obligation to provide the fans with hard facts and their complete abuse of their position of influence and misinform has been nothing short of a disgrace. They have failed the fans miserably; each detrimental story that continues to arise only heightens this belief. As is (he who shall not be named)'s interpretation and comments that would lead you to believe that if we don't support this move Everton will fall from grace miserably, winding up in the amateur leagues. Again, you guessed it, utter nonsense.
Those of us who want to stay in Liverpool and preferably in a redeveloped Goodison Park are not being parochial or thinking with our hearts and not our heads. We are not in any way criticising the residents or the town of Kirkby. We are seemingly not unwilling to travel further to see the Toffees. We do, however, see it as imperative that the club that has been at the heart of a strong community for years, stays in Liverpool.
I will never forget Goodison. I love the place more than words do justice. Although off topic, I will always regret the missed opportunity with regards to moving to the waterfront Kings Dock proposal, I fear such regret will live with me forever. The memories I have (and hopefully continue to have) will never fade. Severe transport issues, situated in a lifeless retail park, long-term payments; is this "deal of the century" looking so rosy now?