The day the car got 'looked after' at Goodison Park - Carl Marston's Travels with Town
PUBLISHED: 07:11 06 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:46 06 September 2019
Football writer Carl Marston has visited 120 Football League grounds over the last 30 years, many of them reporting on Ipswich Town. Here he puts the spotlight on Goodison Park
I knew it was going to be an interesting day when, on parking the car down a side-street, a couple of local teenagers appeared from nowhere and offered to "look after" the vehicle for us while we were away.
The "us" referred to myself and the driver, Tony Garnett, the then-Ipswich Town correspondent for the 'East Anglian Daily Times.' I was the passenger, the quotes man (here to extract post-match quotes from managers and players), and most importantly the tea-boy.
The "here" of the previous paragraph was a narrow street not far from Goodison Park, the proud and long-standing home of Everton FC.
And the reason for our visit was to report on Ipswich's Premier League clash on Merseyside - in those days, Town mixed with the best clubs in the land.
Further details can be provided.
The exact date was almost 20 years ago, on September 30, 2000.
And the answer to the kind offer to look after our car was - 'yes, most certainly."
Mr Garnett gave one of the lads a note (probably a fiver, maybe a tenner), safe in the knowledge that the car would be safe for the duration of the afternoon.
If we had not coughed up, well ….. let's just say I may have feared for the health of one of the wing-mirrors.
Ground: Goodison Park (home since 1892)
Club: Everton FC (founded in 1878)
Town's first visit: 3-2 away defeat on January 10, 1953
Town's last visit: 2-1 away win on February 2, 2002
Town's overall record at Goodison Park: P 32 W5 D12 L15
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Goodison Park was the first major football stadium to be constructed in England, when it was opened in 1892. Everton moved into the new ground following a spell as tenants at nearby Anfield, until the rent increases became 'unacceptable' to the club. A new club, Liverpool FC, was founded shortly afterwards.
Goodison Park has many claims to fame, but here are a couple:
1 It has staged more top-flight games than any other ground in the UK.
2 It was the first ground in England to install under soil heating.
September 30, 2000: Everton 0 Ipswich Town 3.
A first-half opener from John McGreal (now the manager of Colchester United) and a second-half brace from Marcus Stewart saw Town 3-0 up by the hour mark.
They never looked back.
The inkling that I had, about this promising to be an 'interesting day,' proved spot on.
I remember my first experience of the Goodison Park press box, perched in the main-stand. I had never come across such a steep drop, from the stand to the pitch. If I had suffered from vertigo, then I doubt whether I would have made it through the afternoon.
On the pitch, Town were sublime, lethal, all-conquering, despite the presence of Paul Gascoigne in Everton's midfield.
And after the match, I had an absolute field day with quotes. Some days, no one wants to talk you; other days, they are queuing up to speak into my dictaphone!
Well, I spoke to Town boss George Burley, Everton manager Walter Smith, Town's double goalscorer Marcus Stewart, and Town's midfield maestro Jim Magilton, who had man-marked Gazza out of the game.
But pride of place went to Merseyside-born 28-year-old John McGreal, scorer of Town's opener. It was an extra special day for him.
McGreal managed to upset most of his mates who were watching in the stands, by scoring against their favourite team. The ex-Tranmere Rovers centre-half was and remains a life-long Liverpool fan, so to head home what was only the second goal of his career against the deadly enemy was extremely satisfying.
McGreal told me after the game: "It was a special goal, and a special feeling. I've been a Liverpool supporter all my life, although most of my mates are Everton fans. They were all watching today, so I suppose they will be a bit subdued now.
"I'm staying up here for the weekend, so I'm not sure what sort of reception I will get. Hopefully, they will forgive me," added McGreal.
And to cap a perfect day, when Mr Garnett and I returned to the car, later that evening, it was still in one piece. A fiver well spent, Mr Garnett!