The stands were empty, while the stadium was packed. They chanted songs of vast delusion while blue smoke choked the air.
It’s all about playing beautiful football and being the best team the world has ever seen. Everything this season has been lacking is history, grandeur, and radiance.
Nonetheless, we comprehend. This is a grand club with a grand backstory. And their survival as a Premier League entity was absolutely remarkable. From a 2-0 deficit to a 3-2 victory. From sleepwalking over the canyon to relegation, to a daring leap to safety on the other side.
They are now clear. They’re covered for another year. These are words that Evertonians never expected to hear. Certainly not during halftime. This was quite the comeback. It came out of nowhere.
The first 45 minutes were as terrible as Everton has been this season, and there is considerable competition in that category. What about the second? It was the best there is!
Five minutes from time, Dominic Calvert-winner Lewin’s was met by a foolish pitch invasion, which may draw the attention of the police — especially after footage emerged of Patrick Vieira appearing to kick an Everton fan who had run on — but the sense of relief was just overpowering.
After the second goal, the final 15 minutes of the game were played in a cloud of caustic blue and a frenzy of abandon. Before the game, the smoke alarms inside the Goodison Road doors and hallways had been deactivated after being frequently triggered by flares.
There were stunned silences after Crystal Palace scored, and the news that Burnley had lead Aston Villa early on didn’t help matters, but by the end, this old ground felt unhinged, almost without boundaries. Fans sat on the crossbar as police cleared the pitch.
Lampard the saviour
Everton manager Frank Lampard was sure at the start of May that hard effort would get the club back into the Premier League. He was correct.
“We have to have real strong belief,” he told Sky Sports. “When times are difficult in terms of results and position, it’s important you remain positive and have a belief about what you can do here and that maybe things will go in our favour.
“We need to keep working towards that.”
Everton boss Frank Lampard also spoke about the pitch invasion in his post-match press conference after his side secured survival.
“I feel for Patrick,” Lampard said.
“I didn’t get him at the end. I would have said, ‘come in with us’ – although he might not have wanted that. Of course, he ran 80 yards across the pitch and it’s not easy.
“It was pure elation of fans who have come on the pitch after avoiding relegation. If it is done in the right way let them stay on the pitch, let them have their moment. As long as they behave, no problem.”