St Luke’s Church
Goodison Park is unique in the sense that a church, St Luke’s, protrudes into the site between the Goodison Road Stand and the Gwladys Street Stand only yards from the corner flag. Everton do not play early kick-offs on Sundays in order to permit Sunday services at the church. The church is synonymous with the football club and a wooden church structure was in place when Goodison Park was originally built. Former Everton players such as Brian Harris have had their funeral service held there.
The church can be seen from the Park End and Bullens Road and has featured prominently over the years as a backdrop during live televised matches. It is also the home to the Everton Former Players’ Foundation of which the Reverend is a trustee.
The church has over the years curtailed development of the ground. Everton did attempt to pay for its removal in order to gain extra space for a larger capacity. One of two jumbotron screens (both installed in 2000) has been installed between the Goodison Road stand and Gwladys Street stand partially obscuring the church from view. The other is situated between the Bullens Road and Park End.
Imaginative spectators would climb the church and watch a football game from the rooftop however they have now been deterred from doing so with the installation of security measures such as barbed wire and anti-climb paint. In addition, the introduction of the ‘all-seater’ ruling following the Taylor Report has meant that spectators no longer resort to climbing nearby buildings for a glimpse of the event as a seat is guaranteed with a purchased ticket.
In September 1939, Goodison Park was commandeered by military, the club’s minutes read: “The Chairman reported that our ground has been commandeered as an anti-aircraft (Balloon Barrage section), post.” During World War Two, an American forces baseball league was based at Goodison Park. In addition, a baseball game between two Army Air Force nines watched by over 8,000 spectators raised over $3,000 for British Red Cross and St. John’s Ambulance fund.
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