Going to your team’s first pre-season friendly game is a bit like meeting up with a good mate you’ve not seen for months.
You’ll be a bit out of sync at first. You make small talk about how your summer has been, have a bit of a chat about soccer, but soon enough, you effortlessly fall back into the same old groove. After an hour or so, it’s as though you’ve not been away from each other at all.
It’s always a drag when the domestic soccer season ends. There’s a void to fill during the weekends and you convolute the summer months by watching tennis, cricket and cycling, anything with a competitive edge, really. But it’s just not the same.
Admittedly, a fine World Cup did plenty to plug the gap throughout June and July, but when you get to games frequently, nothing quite stands up to a live contest. So for myself, the curtain raiser on Everton’s pre-season couldn’t come around quick enough.
The first game of the Toffees’ pre-season campaign was against Merseyside rivals Tranmere Rovers at their home, Prenton Park. There was a massive demand for tickets for Evertonians, and subsequently, those of a blue persuasion packed out two sides of the stadium.
Tranmere didn’t really seem quite prepared for the amount of supporters that descended on Prenton Park, though. The club had confirmed pre-match that you could either order a ticket in advance or buy one on the way in. But regardless of whether you’d pre-booked or not, everyone had to use the same entrances. This meant that around 1,500 supporters had to use the same three turnstiles to get into the ground.
So as you’d expect, before the game it was pretty chaotic. Even though we arrived at the stadium 20 minutes early—much earlier than we typically would do—we still didn’t actually get into the ground until 10 minutes after the kick off, such were the enormous queues outside the stadium.
Without wanting to sound extremely patronizing, the levels of organization were befitting of a club that pull in pretty paltry attendances. But all things considered, it’d be pretty harsh to be overly critical of Tranmere.
At the start of last season I wrote a piece about the potential struggles that lay ahead for Rovers, and unfortunately for the Super White Army, they were relegated from League 1 on the final day of last season. If that wasn’t bad enough, the club was plunged into disarray towards the back end of the campaign, as the since departed manager Ronnie Moore was suspended for a reported breach of betting rules and club icon Ian Goodison was investigated for match fixing.