The story of Goodison Park (part 2): The Greatest Show on Earth.

Everton FC: Goodison Park – The Story Of The Grand Old Lady

“Goodison Park is for me the best stadium of my life.” – Eusébio

The intervening years between Dixie Dean’s record breaking season and England’s hosting of the 1966 World Cup, had seen Goodison Park subjected to numerous changes, development and reconstruction.

As integral as anybody in the metamorphosis of the stadium was Scottish architect Archibald Leitch whom, in the first half of the 20th century, was the British Isles foremost football stadia architect.

Leitch, who was responsible for part or all of the stadium designs at more than 30 clubs up and down the country, had in 1938, with the completion of the new Gwladys Street stand, achieved his 30 year Goodison Park dream. The ground had now become the first entire two tiered stadium in the country.

Read Goodison Park: The Grand Old Lady, Part 3

On September 18, 1940, the Grand Old Lady had also, by the skin of her teeth, survived the Luftwaffe blitz of Liverpool. Confirming the near miss in the Everton Football Club Minutes Book, the secretary’s recordings allow a fascinating insight into the event, as well as a clear understanding of the ‘keep calm and carry on’ attitude towards the German bombing of the city. Raids that would span more than two years in total:

War Damage

‘The Directors inspected the damage done by enemy action on the night of the 18th inst. & it was agreed that the Secretary make arrangements to have necessary repairs made.

It was also decided that Messrs A. Leitch be instructed to value the cost of complete renewal of damaged properties & that a claim should be forwarded to the War Damage Claims department within the prescribed 30 Days. The damage referred to included:

The demolition of a large section of the New Stand outer wall in Gwladys Street destruction of all glass in this Stand; damage to every door, canteen, water & electricity pipes and all lead fittings, perforated roof in hundreds of places.

On Bullens Road side, a bomb dropped in the school-yard had badly damaged the exterior wall of this stand and the roof was badly perforated here also.

A third bomb outside the practice ground had demolished the surrounding hoarding and had badly damaged glass in the Goodison Avenue and Walton Lane property. The Secretary estimated the extent of the damage at about £1,500.’

Goodison Park had survived, and with her, the magnificent legacy of Archibald Leitch. One that lives on as vividly today as it has throughout the last hundred years.

The signature Leitch criss-crossed steel balustrades remaining as much a part of Everton Football Club’s iconic history as the great Dixie Dean, the Toffee Lady and the depiction within the clubs famous crest of Prince Rupert’s Tower.

The Greatest Show On Earth

The summer of 1966 in Liverpool must have been heady days indeed for supporters of both the city’s football clubs. As the red half of the city were still celebrating a first division championship, the blue half returned triumphantly from Wembley after seeing their heroes overturn a 2-0 deficit, to snatch the FA Cup away from opponents Sheffield Wednesday.

Only a matter of weeks later, the greatest footballing show on the planet rolled into town as Goodison Park, selected as a host stadium of the 1966 FIFA World Cup, welcomed seven nations onto her hallowed turf.

Playing host to five World Cup fixtures, including three group games, a quarter-final and a semi-final, the stadium witnessed the magic of footballing greats such as Pele, Garrincha, Beckenbauer, Haller and the tournaments outstanding player and Golden Boot winner, Portugal’s Eusébio da Silva Ferreira.

The Benfica striker would fire six of his nine goal haul at Goodison Park, with four of those coming in one of the most extraordinary football matches in the history of the game.

July 23 1966, Portugal vs North Korea, Goodison Park

The unknown and secretive North Koreans, who, despite having earlier shocked the tournament into life with a giant killing 1-0 victory over Italy, arrived for this World Cup quarter-final as the overwhelming underdogs.

They would meet Eusébio’s Portugal who had, four days earlier put pre-tournament favourites Brazil, to the sword at Goodison Park. Those fans fortunate enough to be inside Goodison that day, could never have imagined the rollercoaster of a football match they were about to witness.

Belying their status in the game, and seemingly indifferent to their opponents’ reputation, the Koreans immediately went on the attack and within a minute of the kick off, a sensational strike at the Gwladys Street End from Pak Seung Zin, had put the minnows in front.

Portugal were shell shocked and with the 40,248 inside Goodison Park roaring them on, North Korea were seemingly unstoppable.

A swift Korean counter on 22 minutes, after Eusébio had failed to convert a Portuguese attack, saw goalkeeper Pereira badly misjudge a cross and when the ball was returned, Li Dong Woon was on hand to send the Koreans and Goodison Park into raptures.

Incredibly, the underdogs were not finished there as just three minutes later, Yang Sung Kook, following in on a deflected shot, composed himself and arrowed the ball into the far corner of the Portuguese net.

Three down after 25 minutes and with his team in disarray, it would be left to Portugal’s best player, top scorer and captain to almost single handedly drag his team back into the World Cup.

Eusébio, the man nicknamed the ‘Black Pearl,’ gave his country some much needed hope, finding the top corner of the Park End goal before racing back to the centre circle with the ball under one arm.

On 43 minutes, Eusébio converted from the penalty spot after centre forward Jose Torres was brought down in the box. By the 56th minute, Portugal were level.

Picking up the ball in his own half, Eusébio drove forward and after playing a one-two, the ‘Black Pearl’ slammed a shot past Li Chan Myong in the Korean goal. Just three minutes later, the Portuguese were in front as the unstoppable Eusébio scored his fourth goal and second from the spot.

The North Korean dream was eventually ended as the four goal hero turned provider, with his corner kick finding Jose Augusto to make it 5-3 to Portugal.

Eusébio’s Portugal would fall in the semi-final to eventual World Champions England, however his remarkable performance that summer afternoon will forever be enshrined in the annals of legends who have graced this historic stadium.

Likewise, the 1966 North Korean team, who shocked, thrilled and enthralled the world, at the Grand Old Lady of English football, Goodison Park.

1966 FIFA World Cup Games at Goodison Park

Group Games

12 July, Brazil 2 – 0 Bulgaria

15 July, Hungary 3 – 1 Brazil

19 July, Portugal 3 – 1 Brazil


23 July, Portugal 5 – 3 North Korea


25 July, West Germany 2 – 1 Soviet Union


The Everton Collection

Planet World Cup