14th October 2016 might not initially strike many as a significant day in Everton’s history.
In playing terms, it was the day before the Blues travelled to Man City in a match which saw Maarten Stekelenburg save two penalties to earn a draw at the Etihad Stadium.
A nice match to remember, but not exactly a momentous occasion.
Just 24 hours previously though, at an abandoned dock on the city’s waterfront, there was something historic taking place involving Everton.
Farhad Moshiri, a few months after confirming his major investment into the club, was leading a cohort of officials for a close look at Bramley-Moore and the surrounding area.
The billionaire bought shares at Everton in February 2016 and instantly set about his work to deliver a state-of-the-art new stadium that the club desperately needed.
The following May, controversial plans to build a ground at Walton Hall Park were abandoned for good. The club needed another site.
And that led them to a crucial day, 14th October 2016. Visits to both Bramley-Moore Dock and Stonebridge Cross were on the agenda for the club delegation.
Dan Meis was in attendance as were a number of members of the then-Blues board including Bill Kenwright and Denise Barrett-Baxendale, who at that time was deputy CEO to Roberto Elstone – who was also on the site.
The Mayor of Liverpool at the time, Joe Anderson, was also down at the waterfront as he had spoken about reaching a potential agreement with the Blues in the following months.
He’d met with Moshiri and Kenwright in the previous July to discuss the plans for a new stadium, at that time believing that a new ground could be “achievable” in two years.
Presumably, he meant the plans for a new stadium, rather than the actual building itself.
Because, at the time, there might not have been much to see from what was then a derelict site down at the waterfront.
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Bramley-Moore was one of many docks north of the city centre to have fallen into disrepair in recent years, and was even inaccessible to members of the public.
Any historical elements to be seen, therefore, were shut away from the residents of Liverpool.
In fact, you’d honestly be forgiven for not having really heard of this particular dock until Everton were so intrinsically linked to it.
Having famously missed the opportunity to capitalise on a potential project at King’s Dock at the beginning of the century, however, it was little surprise that a waterfront ground was so appealing.
But, what must be remembered is that it could all have been so different.
On this day five years ago, Bramley-Moore Dock was not the only site for a potential stadium that the delegation from Everton visited – they also took a trip to Croxteth.
Stonebridge Cross was undoubtedly a less exciting location, it didn’t hold the mystique and allure of being part of the city’s famous waterfront in the future.
However, there were a lot less heritage and planning issues to consider here – and it was ready to build on immediately rather than undergo the strenuous enabling works that were required at Bramley-Moore.
No-one would ever begrudge the eventual decision that was reached after these momentous visits, though.
To be a fly on the wall of the conversations at each site would no doubt be intriguing.
What would Moshiri have thought about his investment? What early ideas would Meis have been sharing about his plans for each area? What would others have envisaged the project to look like five years on?
As it happens, in 2021, excitement is building more than ever.
The dock infill is currently underway, ready for the next stages of construction to begin in early 2022.
Demolitions have taken place at the dock to clear out the area ready for a new stadium, and the site is almost constantly a hive of activity after so many years of abandonment.
All of it may well have began with this trip to the waterfront, five years ago today.
Details were scarce back then, but now the site is at the heart of every Evertonian. And that’s only going to grow in the coming years.
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