(GROUND NUMBER 192)
Date of First Visit: 18th APRIL 2000
THE AUTO QUEST STADIUM, WIDNES
EVERTON RESERVES 1
NEWCASTLE UNITED RESERVES 1 (Marcelino)
F.A. PREMIER RESERVE LEAGUE
"HI HO!--HI HO!--TIH WIDNES WE WILL GO!"
It was at 1:30 bells precisely in the orly afternoon that the 'Indigenous Duo' (meesel and 'The Undertaker') set off on the 350 mile roond trip tih Widnes R.L.F.C. the new 'home' of Everton Reserves tih watch the Toon's 'second string' in this end of season fixture.
(Ah divvint even knaa what ''Indigenous' means, but it soonds good!)
"WHAT DO YOU THINK OF WIDNES---THEN???"
"YIV GORRA CANNY PETROL STATION, JUST DOON THE ROAD!"
We arrived at aboot 'five bells' and parked the 'jam jar' in the main stand car park which just happened tih be reet next tih the Widnes Social Club underneath the 'said' stand.
And SO! (az yih de!) wih made the twenty yard marathon stroll across the tarmac for wor customary pre-match gargel.
Unfortunately for 'The Undertaker', he was drivin' so it was left tih me tih sample the local brew while he stuck tih his usual orange 'n' shandies.
(NOT! in the same glass---ah may add!)
On hearin' wor 'cultured Geordie accents', one of the locals enquired, (in his 'uncultured' 'half-Scouse' accent!)
"You 'avent come all the waay frum Nuuwcastle?---have yer???"
"ER!---Well!---Actually wih have!", ah said sheepishly! (tryin' tih hide behind mee pint!)
"What duh yer think of Widnes---then"?, he asked iz, with apprehension in his voice.
Nuw!---considerin' the fact that apart from the social club we were in, the anly other place wi'd been te in the toon was to an 'Esso' petrol station not far from the groond, (tih fill up for the retorn jorney) mee reply was short an' straight tih the point.
"Yiv gorra canny petrol station, just doon the road!", ah said pointin' oot the window across the car park!. (smirk!---smirk!)
And then 'The Undertaker' butted in.
"The duel carriageway that leads ontih the 'M62' looks very nice iz well!", he said (tryin' tih keep a straight face!)
(Ah meen!, it's not a place yi'd gan te for yih summah holidiz!---like!) (Wor friend did'nt get the joke!)
This aad gadgie was sittin' on the next table so ah thought a'd ask HIM a question in retorn.
"What was the groond caalled before it became 'The Auto Quest Stadium"? (refurin' tih the fact that it had been renamed after the clubs sponsors)
"Widnes Rugby League Ground!", came the reply.
(Ah decided not tih ask 'Mastermind' any more 'difficult' questions after that!)
One of the club commitee men then came ower and presented wih with two complimentary tickets for the game.
"Cheers mate!", ah said, grabbin' the 'precious'? tickets from his hand!.
Two more of the 'intrepid travellers' then arrived in the clubhoose (Dave and Mick who live in York) (F***** Glory-hunters!) tih DOUBLE! the number of Toon fans who'd made the jorney across the 'Pennines', and so (it came to pass!) that it was the 'faithful foursome' (sic!) who cheered on the lads, on what was a rain sodden neet on Merseyside!.
Wi'd expected a crowd of aboot fower tih five hundred tih torn up, considerin' the fact that Widnes was some fifteen miles (az the 'drunken magpie' flies!) from Goodison Park.
BUT!--as this was their last home game of the season, Everton had decided tih mek it 'A Kid's Night' and everybody got in for nowt with aboot fower thoosand screamin' kids (complete with 'hot dogs' an' fizzy drinks!) tornin' up instead!. (So wih did'nt need the complimentary tickets after aal!) (what wih needed was f***** ear plugs instead!)
Amongst the fower thoosand screamin' 'sprogs' there were quite a few of them sportin' Toon colours, so we were NOT alone after aall!.
The Auto Quest Stadium is a strange mixture of old and new and on three sides of the groond there are three identical cantilever stands which have aboot two thoosand blue, yellow and green seats each. BUT!---in complete contrast, as yih 'mince pies' torn tih the right, yih see something straight from the 'dark ages'. i.e: A rickity old stand complete with a tiny rusty 'faally doon' roof, and next to it some two foot high crash barriers, painted in the Widnes clubs black 'n' white colours, that the 'seven dwarfs' could faall ower!.
(Which begs the f***** question, why are the seats blue, yellow 'n' green???, (a 'job lot' perhaps?) and where the hell were the 'seven dwarfs'???)
(Answers on a postcard pleeze tih: 'Snowhite' c/o Widnes R.L.F.C.!)
The match was played in torrential rain and Marceleno
put the Toon ahead with a glorious header which dipped ower the Everton keeper. But the lead did'nt last, and the 'Goodison boys' equalised just after the interval.
The Toon were well on top in the second half but could'nt break doon their defence again, and the match finished aall square.
Then after the match it was a 'white knuckle ride' at 90 mph in the pourin' rain back ower the Pennines tih get yhem by 11.30 bells precisely.
(Another one tih add tih the 'hoppers reserve list'!)
When ah telt wor lass that ah was gannin tih Everton tih watch the reserves, shih thought ah was gannin tih London!.
"Divvint be daft woman!", ah said, "Everton divvint play in London!".
"Ah knaa!", shih said, "ah was anly kiddin'---It's in SCOTLAND!---is'nt it"???
(Good job SHE was'nt drivin'-------IS'NT IT JUST!?)
Footnote 2: 'The Undertaker' woz aalso known az 'The Caped Crusader'.
He woz killed alang with 'Liam from the Lamp' and 296 others.
The 2 of them were on their way to New Zealand for an NUFC pre season tournament, when their plane woz shot doon ower the Ukraine in July 2014.
They were both good friends of mine.
RIP The Undertaker and Liam