Everton v Queens Park Rangers
Saturday 20th August 2011, 3pm
By Ben Buckingham
1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):..
This was QPR’s first away day back in the Premier League since 1996. An entire generation of QPR fans including myself have not attended a Premier League away game for a very long time so it was a great feeling to be there on merit and not via a cup draw. I have travelled to over 55 league clubs following QPR and this was also a new one for me after enduring the same Championship grounds year after year. This was an old-fashioned proper football ground and we were all excited to be doing Everton for the first time.
2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?
We set off from West Ruislip area (Middlesex) at 8.30am after collecting my cousin Mark and his (Evertonian friend Dan) and big Chris from the station, stocked up on supplies from a Tesco (this included 8 fosters for Chris which he drank all by himself!). We arrived in Liverpool at 12.15pm which we laughed at being there so early. The M6 toll proved to work its wonders again! We parked up in a lovely place called the Isla Gladstone Foundation which looked like a very plush building at one end of Stanley Park. This cost £8 and we were the first to park up and had no worries about the car whatsoever. The ground was literally a short walk through the park and you could see it so probably 250 yards from where we had parked.
3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?
We decided to walk down to the stadium to buy a few programmes so we could flick through them when we found a pub. We took the advice of the guide and walked up to the Walton Road and had the choice of the Wetherspoons or Bradleys Wine Bar. We opted for Bradleys (which is not a wine bar) but a very friendly old-fashioned pub. As it was very early, there was about 5 locals in there but we decided to stay. 4 beers were under £10 and they were lovely freezing cold San Miguel and Fosters. We sat down and chilled out for an hour until the Arsenal v Liverpool game started. We got chatting to lots of friendly Everton fans who made us feel very welcome and even got given some cake (designed as a football pitch) by one of the local ladies. They cooked burgers, pies and chips all for £1 each – and they incredibly were really nice. After a great time in the pub we left just before the end of the tv game, Liverpool got their second and sealed the points (to the delight of 2 very odd and angry looking Liverpool fans) in amongst the Evertonians and we made our way to the ground at half two. One thing we did think was very odd was we didn’t see 1 other QPR fan anywhere until we got to outside away end (no idea where our fans were drinking!!). We went one way and our Evertonian friend went the other.
4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?
The Main Stand towers above the rest of the ground and was easily visible in the surrounding area. We went straight into the away section and it wasn’t overly impressive. It looked very cramped and dated as you enter the turnstiles with very little room to move around. I didn’t actually queue for any food or drink in the stadium but the other guys didn’t seem to be waiting too long although we didn’t try the Scouse Pie!. The away seating is on wooden blue seats that are all connected in a row and in good condition for wooden seats. Ideally if you’re in the lower tier you need to be in front of the columns which we weren’t. This did slightly restrict our view at the Gwladys end. The Main Stand opposite did look impressive either, although it makes the stadium seem bigger than it probably is. The Park End looked tidy and we had a good view of the scoreboards. I liked the sign at the Gwladys End – ‘Evertonians are born not manufactured’.
5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..
To the surprise of many, QPR won 1-0 and it was a fantastic result. Everton had the better of the chances in the first half. Tim Cahill should have scored from close range but headed wide from 4 yards out. Leighton Baines hit the bar with a great free-kick which Paddy Kenny didn’t even move for. QPR took the look in the 32nd minute with a lovely turn and strike from Tommy Smith sending the Rs faithful into delirium and there was plenty of jumping around. This goal made the Everton fans go very quiet and the QPR fans louder. As the game went on the home fans got increasingly frustrated and booed their side off at the full-time whistle. It was a strange day really with QPR announcing a new takeover 2 days before and Everton owner announcing no money would be spent on new players. The stewarding was fine no hassle between rival fans too. I didn’t venture into the toilets or concourse area so I have no comment on those! I think the official attendance was 35,000 with 1500 being the QPR support.
6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
We left Liverpool at half 5 and were back on the motorway very easily. Only a small delay getting onto the main roads for ten minutes tops. We did look at all the other scores in the country via the internet and listening out for England V India 4th test updates to hear how England were getting closer to a 4-0 series win. Big Chris had backed 5 home wins earlier in the day and all but 1 team (Sheffield United) let him down. So we were winding him up as we went through the scores which was good fun. Took 3 ½ hours to get Mark to Ickenham and Chris to Shepherds Bush – and 4 hours for me back to West Drayton after dropping everyone off first.
7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out
One of the best away days I have done in a long time. Everton fans were friendly and let us mix with them in the pub. The beers were freezing and very cheap. QPR won 1-0 their first game in premier league since 1996 and the journeys both way only took 3 ½ hours with stops. It was a new club to visit and a decent sized stadium that had a proper feel about the place. The fans (although a bit quiet and fed up) were genuine and not a ‘prawn sandwich’ brigade which also was good to see. Will definitely want to come back to Goodison Park and would recommend it to any visiting fan if you haven’t been!
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