Tony Gillan: Not much romance in Sunderland’s trip to Everton’s Goodison Park ground

The statue of Everton legend Dixie Dean outside Goodison Park. Photographer Stephen White/CameraSport

The statue of Everton legend Dixie Dean outside Goodison Park. Photographer Stephen White/CameraSport Football
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I rarely miss a home game, but did not attend the embarrassment against Everton on September 12. I was in Milan.

I did not completely escape as it was shown in a cafe where I watched beside two Everton supporters. For the main part this was not a problem as I completely ignored them.

But matters tilted with ten minutes of the game remaining. Sunderland had seen little merit in marking Romelu Lukaku and were consequently trailing 3-0.

I was contemplating a stroll to the square where Mussolini’s corpse was draped by the ankles on a meat hook, just to cheer myself up, when the Evertonians’ conversation turned to the Stadium of Light itself.

The one who had evidently never been asked: “What’s it like?”

The other, who claimed he had been, replied: “It’s **** but we always take a good turnout there.”

All too often you reach the point as a Sunderland fan when you think: “At least we’ve got a great ground.” Now this Merseyside excrescence was trying to take even that away.

This was too much.

If he genuinely thought that occasionally being inhabited by a few Everton fans is all that can be said in favour of northern England’s finest sporting arena, then he must faint with embarrassment when he goes to Goodison Park – and I told him this.

His response was the usual unicorn droppings about the “history and tradition” of one of Merseyside’s more celebrated eyesores.

This is the common euphemism for “hovel, that can only be improved by demolition.”

A couple of weeks ago we had some fun sniggering about Crystal Palace’s home. Well Selhurst Park is like Claridge’s tea room compared to Goodison, with the added attraction of Sunderland never having conceded more than three goals there.

Everton FC are one of English football’s greatest clubs. But if you’re going there for the first time on Saturday, dispense with any romantic notions about their ground because they will be knocked out of you immediately upon arrival.

The Scousers won’t mind you laughing at their stadium, even in the unlikely event of a Sunderland win. After all, they have a great sense of humour.

Enjoy the “view.”