THEY say a change is as good as a rest, and anyone who has had the misfortune of sitting in the old Main Stand can attest to the fact that it was in dire need of one or the other.
The place had become a collective drain on the atmosphere and the team; a fortnightly support group for the angry, the depressed, the all-knowing experts who have seen it all before and have been routinely disappointed year on year — because, in their day, they used to win 8-0 every week.
Getting a ticket in the old main was a double edged sword. Great that you had managed to get a ticket, but really bad that you had to consider chopping your own ears off so you didn’t have to listen to everyone sat around you. I’ve often wondered how such a collection of miserable people could sit in one stand; was it a massive coincidence that so many like-minded boring arses ended up sitting next to each other? Or was it that they had been institutionalised, having entered the ground in 1995 full of youth and vigour, and had it knocked out of them by the lifers sat around them — ground down over the years until they too sought out the fresh meat and set about knocking the stuffing out of them, making them conform to the Main Stand cry-arsing etiquette.
The first rule of Main Stand club: moan like fuck.
The second rule of Main Stand club: be quiet whilst you are doing it.
The third rule of Main Stand club: get off handy to beat the traffic.
I read Jürgen Klopp’s programme notes about the new stand and us making the most of the extra seats — using the additional 8,000 seats as a force for good — and I’ve got to be honest, I was very, very doubtful that it would work out well. Yes the new stand looks great, and has apparently been designed to ensure the acoustics were boss and the atmosphere doesn’t get lost, but 2,000 of the available seats are corporate — and all of the people who used to sit in the old main are going to sit in the new one. I couldn’t see it working out well at all. But then, maybe I was being a bit harsh. Maybe the cause of Main Stand club was the stand itself.
There’s quite a lot of scientific research out there that proves that the built environment impacts considerably on human behaviour. What if the shite facilities, the inability to get a bevy, have a piss, or get out of the ground was the cause of the malaise? What if these people just needed setting free from their self-imposed fortnightly prison? What if they were all quietly suffering from Sick Building Syndrome and we have got these poor people terribly, terribly wrong. What if we, the rest of Anfield owe them a massive apology for the years and years of abuse?
The signs before kick-off suggested we might do. It was hard to quantify, but the atmosphere sounded LOUD. Louder than I could remember, certainly for a run of the mill league game. It had the feel of a cup final — with pockets of song breaking out all over the place. In the Kemlyn we were trying to make out if the Main Standers were joining in but it was hard to tell really — particularly for those in the top tier, as they were too far away for us to see anything never mind hear it. It was only until we observed the vast numbers of scarves held aloft for You’ll Never Walk Alone that we knew something had changed.
As the Reds grew into the game, the atmosphere settled down a bit but was injected back to life by two great goals, and some great Liverpool play. And then it happened.
Leicester’s full back went down injured and there was a break in play. A chance for people to catch their breath, where normally the game dies a little and the atmosphere goes with it. It started in The Kop.
“We are Liverpool, tra la la la la…”
The Main joins in, followed by the Kemlyn & the Annie Road. The sound grows and grows, people are out of their seats — on and on it goes.
“Poetry in motion…”
It was amazing. I think it’s one of the happiest I have been in Anfield. It was a moment in time I will remember for years. Klopp was onto it as well. He took time out, turned and looked at the ground, up at the new Main — this glorious, imposing structure filled with freedom and unbridled optimism. He seemed genuinely awestruck by the atmosphere.
Perhaps at this precise point there was a shift, a small but significant shift away from our over-reliance on The Kop to create our atmosphere, to intimidate our opposition, to inspire the Reds. Perhaps we will now see a greater share of the responsibility throughout the ground. Either way, the atmosphere at this point was great. A joy to behold. Perhaps Klopp was right and we were now a force for good — a unified force to be reckoned with. Maybe the negativity, that previously seeped through the ground, was gone for good?
Or maybe not. Just as we were on the march Lucas Leiva stumbled, Jamie Vardy scored and everyone on The Kop went berserk at poor Si Mignolet for 10 minutes, and normal service was resumed. Maybe The Kop, with its nose slightly out of joint, thought they would make a bold claim to be the home of the miserable arses. To grab that title while it was vacant.
I’m not Big Si The Mig’s biggest fan, but I’m fairly sure screaming at him, and telling him how flat his face is, isn’t going to inspire him to do better — especially when he is trying to do as he is instructed. It wasn’t Mignolet’s fault that Leicester scored. It isn’t Mignolet’s fault that we play it short from the back, either. So it’s no good screaming at him to launch it.
That said, The Kop’s singing of Lucas’s name was pretty boss, so maybe that’s a bit harsh. Either way, we might need to strap ourselves in for a few more mad moments this season — with the Reds ability to be absolutely brilliant only matched by our ability to momentarily lose control of the game. Can we all remember to take a breather. To count to 10, next time someone cocks up, and remember that, nine times out of 10, it will all be fine? Maybe take a leaf out of the new Main Stand’s book — live and let live. Be happy. Don’t worry, because every little thing will be alright?
For miracles can happen can’t they? When Klopp joined, and spoke of needing to get the fans onside. To convince us to stay in our seats. To support the Reds and create an imposing atmosphere in our ground, we all thought he had no chance really if we are honest with ourselves. We all thought the Main Stand would stay miserable and the atmosphere would stay shite. The evidence, on Saturday, would suggest that this isn’t the case.
Logical thought would suggest we cannot win the league, that other teams are too rich and too good. Well I tell you what, if Klopp can make the Main Stand sing he can do just about anything.
Let’s enjoy the ride, eh?
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