As featured on News Now

…On The Banks of the Royal Blue Mersey
by Ed Bottomley

As of yesterday, we’re one step closer to realising the dream of a stadium on the banks of the Mersey at Bramley-Moore Dock. Everton have agreed a deal with Peel Holdings to buy land at the Bramley-Moore site, with a view to moving home from Goodison.

There is a long way to go on this, clearly, but there’s still room for excitement. Like most of us I’ve flitted between being unable to imagine Everton playing anywhere *but* Goodison, and knowing that to progress, we *have* to leave. I suppose that’s the definition of bittersweet…

All those emotions that we have wrapped up in that beautiful Old Lady…

My earliest memories were names rather than games. Hearing my dad say he loved Gary Lineker like a son, and looking at a picture of him and thinking “Brother?”… Thinking Ian Ormondroyd was a weird name. Hearing Villa fans singing, “You’ll Never Beat Paul McGrath!” – and wondering if that was true. Then I started to notice Goodison… The noise it made when riled up. Once, when we played Blackburn, I was so excited my teeth chattered all game…

I don’t want to forget a thing. Watching Heitinga’s cracker from the Bullens with a volcanic cup of Bovril. Viewing Rooney’s goal from the Park End and hearing the Krakatoan yell of the crowd. Amokachi – overflowing with confidence, scoring a brace against Newcastle as I watched from the Main stand. Or the best of the lot… Taking my son to his first game – Naismith, Mirallas and Lukaku running roughshod over Arsenal, battering them 3-0 and me and my little blonde Amrican boy watching from the Gwladys. And my last game? I don’t get over much. Can it be that I’ve already seen the last of the Old Lady?

We’ve been at Goodison for the majority of our existence. Fans have spent whole lifetimes supporting Everton at Goodison Park. Dixie scored his 60th there, Garrincha and Pele played there, we escaped relegation by coming back from 2-0 against Wimbledon there. Championships have been won there, battles have been fought there. With the right manager and players, a full throated Goodison crowd is unplayable. The Wall of Sound was at Goodison way before Phil Spector thought of it.

To twist former VP Joe Biden’s words – this is a big f*cking deal. Everything else pales in comparison, whether it’s Rom’s contract, the possibility of losing our latest diamond, or having our prodigal son return – nothing means as much as this. West Ham changed their entire club at a stroke when they moved to Stratford, and not in a good way. A bespoke blue stadium, on the waterfront, sounds great. But we’re not going to have everything our way.

The Detroit Red Wings are moving out of their iconic stadium, the Joe Louis Arena and into the horrifically named Little Caesar’s Arena. The owners passed up the opportunity to call it the Gordie Howe Arena (hockey’s legendary number 9) – and you can be sure our owners won’t be naming after our legendary number 9 either… The naming rights will bring in a decent amount of cash for this new stadium. Luckily, if we don’t like it we can just call it Bramley-Moore…

The pressure is on for architect Dan Meis, and he’s a brave man indeed for sticking his head above the Twitter parapet, but it’s worth looking at what he’s got planned for Roma. Much has been made over reports that Everton are currently looking at a 50,000 capacity, with many groaning that it’s too small. The Stadio della Roma is listed as having a 52,500 capacity, that could be increased to 60,000. A plan like this, starting at the lower end, with the possibility to expand, makes perfect sense for Everton too, and would surely appeal to the shrewd financial mind of Farhad Moshiri.

“The Physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his client to plant vines.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

When it comes to costs, some Evertonians have been having a little moan about that too… The ideal scenario would be without budget, a burnished bowl of science and football, visible from space, “Just what God would have done if  he had the money.”  Unfortunately, not even Farhad Moshiri has that much cash – but the £300 million that has been mooted isn’t a cheap bargain basement number. Roma’s stadium is expected to come in as a similar price.

There are plenty more hurdles to jump, there will be plenty of opinions floating around, and now that they’ve shown their hand, Everton will do everything to avoid another stadium cataclysm. Kings Dock – Everton’s El Dorado – is still one of the most heartbreaking “What If’s” in our history, and a repeat would be even worse. This time though, we’re in the right hands. Exciting times lay ahead, and a bittersweet goodbye…

Written by Ed Bottomley

Everton fan exiled in Michigan. Duncan Ferguson obsessive, history buff, optimist. Follow me on Twitter @Dixies60

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