Everton Football Club,
Goodison Park

Quiet fills the space between the four stands, 40,000 seats unoccupied. Later that space will have the undivided attention of 40,000 pairs of eyes but all that can be heard now is the creaking of the opening gates, the raising of shutters and the drone of a lawn mower. It is the calm before the storm.

The atmosphere inside Goodison Park builds as the footballing chants amplify as we approach the arrival of the players. Fans await the sound of an acoustic drum beat, accompanied by a Scottish whistle - the sound that every Blue holds close to their heart - the sound of Z-cars.

With the game underway, the rhythmic padding of fast-moving feet is slowly drowned out by shouts of advice from the crowd as an opposition defender draws near. Fear not. Arteta smoothly glides by earning an enthusiastic ripple of applause from fans in the close proximity. But he's turned straight towards a secondary onrushing defender. Already off his feet, the player induces a notable crunch as his own feet collide with that of Everton's Spaniard. Cries of anguish from the players are insignificant in comparison to the incredulous roar of the Goodison faithful.

With the game tensely poised, there's an air of tension as Arteta prepares a set piece. The purposeful thud of his right boot connecting with the ball is followed by a momentary silence as the ball arcs towards the penalty area. The Gwladys Street end rises in anticipation and a half-cheer erupts as the ball is propelled towards the goal. The sound quickly reverts to a collective sigh of exasperation as the ball clips the post with a metallic kiss, before looping to safety.

But on the next attack, the ball crosses the goal line and for perhaps a fraction of a second there is silence, the ripple of ball on net and the intake of breath. Then, the noise. The roar rumbles up to the rafters and cascades back down towards the pitch. For a short while, that noise is all that fills the air - a deafening bellow contained within four walls.

As the game edges ever closer to that much anticipated final whistle, the drawn-out anguish can be heard through the sound of high pitch jeers. The scoreboard is raised high to reveal three minutes of added time - and what had been jubilant chants are converted to nervous moans. The realisation that the next 180 seconds will be the longest in their lives is too much to bear. With just a few moments remaining, the opponents waste an attack - the ball goes out for a goal kick. A wave of relief rushes around the 40,000 seater stadium. All eyes are now on the referee as Tim Howard bids to knock the ball as far into the opposing half as possible. With the ball in air, all eyes are on the referee as he raises the whistle to his lips. The roar that accompanies that movement is unparalleled; relief, excitement and pride are expelled in a cacophony of singing, chanting and applause.

Mark Rowan
Head of Media and Communications
Everton Football Club

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