Date: 15th September 2007
Match: Everton vs United, Premier League
Venue: Goodison Park
Edwin van der Sar
Mikael Silvestre *
Ryan Giggs **
Louis Saha (62) **
Luis Nani *** (40) *
Phil Neville *
Leon Osman **
Yakubu Aiyegbeni ***
Steven Pienaar (72) **
Victor Anichebe (73) ***
James McFadden (84) *
43 mins- Paul Scholes
68 mins- Philip Neville
71 mins- Cristiano Ronaldo
82 mins- Steven Pienaar
Final score: Everton 0-1 United
Happily after the international break, we were back to the business of Premiership football today. Amazing the void that it leaves when there's a blank weekend! This time, we were making the short journey over to Liverpool, to play Everton.
We were not too impressed with the midday kick off however. Thankfully, it wasn't a long journey so it didn't mean too much of an early start but it was still irritating to have our game moved pointlessly like that. Still no 3pm kick off in sight for us so far this season.In the car, we put on a local radio station (Key 103 Manchester) and a newsflash came on for United fans travelling to Everton to be aware that the M62 had been closed both ways because of a 'suspicious package'. The closure was right at the point in which it gets into Liverpool so we quickly had to rethink our plans and go down the traditional way of the East Lancs instead!
We soon arrived on Merseyside and parked in a car park about 10 mins walk away and we were immediately struck with how quiet it was, especially as it was only an hour and a half before kick off. On our way, we saw the United team coach approach with its blacked out windows and police escort, so we stopped and applauded as it went past! Around the ground it was like a ghost town, which was rather unnerving! We had a wander around there for a bit, to try and kill time, and we went past one of the pubs next to the ground. It had a sign hanging outside which said, "Say no to Kirkby" which maybe shows that not everyone wants to leave history and tradition behind in favour of going somewhere brand new. Strangely enough, Everton away is one of the away games I really looking forward to going to. Now this may have something to do with our recent excellent record there but it always feels like a proper, real match. The ground has seen better days and it has the obvious drawback of being full of scousers but it has character, and the atmosphere is always sparky and edgy. I think that sometimes tradition and character is too easily dismissed in football nowadays. Anyway, on our way around to our turnstile, we bumped into European away guy. We asked him if he was going on the club trip to Lisbon and it was no surprise to hear him say yes, as we always see him on them. He asked us if we were doing any of the others and we said no. He said he was debating about Kiev but he definitely wasn't going to Roma which so far takes it up to 4 people I know that went to Roma last season that are refusing to go this season (not just us then!). We then had a bit more of a chat (he told us he had just moved house to nearby us) and then he told us that he was in the Everton end for the match as he'd been knocked back in the ballot by United but had seen the Everton ticket office had tickets on general sale for the game all week! It made me wonder if the saturation point is coming: stupid kick off times + higher ticket prices = less fans. We went past the ticket office on our way to the turnstiles and it had a sign up for prices in various parts of the ground. There was a small asterik at the bottom of the sign and it said in tiny lettering that £4 should be added on for games against Liverpool and United! Not Chelsea. Not Arsenal. Just us and Liverpool. I found that really weird- are they obsessed with us or something? I know there is a Manchester/Liverpool rivalry but I wouldn't have really said there was a particular United/Everton one! We got to our turnstile and people had started to congregate outside so I was hopeful that the motorway closure wasn't going to affect our fans too much, and nothing like a kick off delay would have to happen.
I went through my lucky left hand turnstile as usual, and scanned my ticket barcode in the same kind of machine as we now have at Old Trafford. Once inside, we headed up the stairs and into the Upper Bullens Stand. I must have been to Goodison Park almost a dozen times now and I have only ever been in the Lower Bullens once, although I can't complain about which match that was for- the last game of the 2002/2003 season where I had a perfect view of the lads lifting the Premiership trophy! We grabbed a sausage roll for lunch (which I have to say was a lot better than the ones at Old Trafford) before going into our seats. We saw lots of familiar faces as usual- Away coach guy, England Fan, the people from Stafford, Bolton Paul (who I was REALLY happy to see. At least I know he still goes to games- maybe he's relocated at Old Trafford?) and one of Keith, our program guy's mates, who shouted halfway across the stand to ask us if we were going to Lisbon on Wednesday. We shouted back, "Yes" and he gave us a thumbs up! Before we knew it, the United squad had come out to warm up and there was a bit of disappointment that Rooney was nowhere to be seen. This was tempered however, by the sight of Ronaldo back after his suspension. Everton's pre-match entertainment in terms of music wasn't bad- lots of recent chart music and little talking by the stadium announcer. What they were showing on the big screens however, left a lot to be desired! They were basically showing highlights of games where Everton had beaten us but they only showed 3 and they had to go back pretty far! I was just hoping that we wouldn't be giving them any highlights in this match to show next season!
The teams then ran out of the tunnel to their usual 'Z Cars' theme tune and strangely, United were attacking the Park End first, as opposed to the Gwladys Street End which is very rare. I hoped that wasn't going to be a bad omen! The game kicked off to a huge roar and I could tell straight away that the atmosphere in the United end was going to be special. The songs never stopped from beginning to end and they were sung with such passion and fervour. The Everton fans started off quite lively, but soon dropped off dramatically after the first 10 mins or so. The first half was a bit of a struggle, but the United fans never paused for breath. The usual anti-Scouse songs were trotted out, as were the usual United songs including a new addition, 'Follow Follow Follow, Cos United are going to Moscow' and also a few throwbacks to older ones ('Georgie Best World', 'Eric the King', 'Ooh Aah Cantona' and amusingly, 'Yip Jaap Stam'!). There was also support for players who, for one reason or another, weren't present in a United shirt ('Park, Park, Wherever you may be', 'You are my Solskjaer' and even a brief 'Phil will tear you apart'!). The one that really wound the Everton fans up though was 'I saw my mate, the other day...'. You can imagine how happy they were to hear that! The only time any kind of hush descended was when Silvestre was stretchered off injured which was disappointing although his replacement in Nani was met with encouraging cheers from the travelling reds.
The half time whistle soon came and there was barely time to do anything before the second half kicked off. Everton started very strongly and put us under considerable pressure, but this didn't deter the United fans for a second- everyone still roared the team on. There were only a couple of patches where Everton fans made some noise but they were pretty much shouted down by us!
The referee seemed to anger both sets of fans in equal measures though, as every decision he seemed to make was either booed by us or booed by them! Time ticked on and the fans singing for Louis Saha were soon rewarded when he made an appearance into the second half. United then started to really push on and sent wave after wave of attacks in Everton's half but, nothing was prevailing. The guy next to hubby was still insisting on giving a running commentary of every pass, cross, tackle and shot and he was beginning to get a bit critical. A hint of tension and frustration started to creep in until suddenly, from a Nani corner, Vidic rose majestically to head the ball into the back of the net. Cue delirium from the reds and an absolutely rocking rendition of 'Nemanja, Woah'. He looked absolutely delighted (and showed that he definitely knows his song!) and he applauded us several times and raised his hands in the air in triumph. We also started up singing, 'Thats why we're Champions'. The last few minutes were edgy, particularly when Everton were peppering our goal with shots and crosses. We continued to roar our encouragement which Rio seemed to appreciate as he clenched his fists at us in a kind of 'Come on' action. We all replied with a VERY loud 'Rio, Rio'. Finally, after a horribly stressful 4 minutes of injury time, the final whistle went. We had beaten Everton, and the cheer from the United end reverberated all around the ground. The players all came over to us, and Nemanja's song started up again which he looked made up about. We also sang, 'We shall not be moved' and the players looked really chuffed. They all started to file down the tunnel and the Everton fans all shuffled out, heads down, until there was only us left. We were being kept back by the police for a while in another display of their ridiculous overreaction. So we took the opportunity to keep singing and having fun. Paddy Crerand appeared from the gantry and gave us all a big wave and a smile when we sang 'One Paddy Crerand' and then Fergie suddenly reappeared from the tunnel (we think, to give an interview for MUTV). We sang, 'Fergie, give us a wave' twice, and both times he duly obliged along with 'Now every single one of us, loves Alex Ferguson' and 'Ferguson's Red and White Army'. Eventually, we were let out of the ground only to find that the police were holding us all together until they could 'escort' us all to our coach parks and station. Obviously we had driven so thankfully, we were spared this new excess from the police but the helicopter hovering overhead didn't escape our notice. I really don't know what they were expecting United fans to do- go on the rampage evidently! On our way back to the car, all we could hear was scouse voices moaning about Ronaldo- some things never change!
All that aside, we got 3 points which was the main thing and even went briefly top of the league for a little while! And it was fantastic to be at a United match that felt gritty, passionate and real- even with all of the ups and downs that it brought with it!
Credit to Skysports.com for stats
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