THIS weekend sees the opening of that massive new Main Stand. You know the one, you can see it from everywhere.
Ever since Everton spent their rent money on Victorian Lonsdale and got chucked out, Anfield has been home to the Reds, but the stadium has obviously changed markedly over the years.
On Saturday an extra 8,500 Liverpool fans will be in the ground. But will it help Liverpool get results on the pitch? Or will it just lead to even more people groaning at misplaced passes and shouting at Simon Mignolet?
I had a look at how Liverpool have got on at other notable moments in Anfield history in the hope of proving that the new Main Stand will mean more than Liverpool winning the Big Stand Cup this summer.
Where It All Began 1892
Liverpool’s first ever competitive game at Anfield was an 8-0 victory against Higher Walton in the Lancashire League. A drubbing so harsh that High Walton folded a year later out of embarrassment. Only 200 turned up to that first league game although, in a magnificent display of early glory hunting, there were 4,000 there for the next fixture against Bury when locals realised the new team was quite good. They only managed a 4-0 victory that day.
Liverpool, known as ‘The Team of All the Macs’ for its strong Scottish contingent, finished top of the league that season, ahead of Blackpool on head to head results and were promoted to the English Football League Second Division. So seasons at Anfield one, titles one. Not a bad start.
The Birth Of The Kop 1906
Now he had his own football team who weren’t a gang of scruffs, Sir John Houlding quickly went about redeveloping the ground he owned, building a 3,000 capacity stand on the site of the Main Stand in 1895 and another stand at the Anfield Road end in 1903. The Kop was opened the summer after Liverpool’s second First Division Title in 1906. The name is first credited to Liverpool Echo journalist Ernest Edwards, who stated “This huge wall of earth has been termed ‘Spion Kop’, and no doubt this apt name will always be used in future in referring to this spot.” Right, wasn’t he?
Records don’t mention if they had a opening event for The Kop with free pies hosted by Steve Hothersall. But we do know that Liverpool won their first home game of the season 1-0 thanks to a goal from Joe Hewitt, an “inside-left” who scored 74 in 164 appearances for Liverpool, and went on to work for the club in various capacities for over 60 years. By then 30,000 people were watching Liverpool as the city realised that Everton were absolutely rubbish. However, Liverpool could only finish a disappointing 15th that season.
The Kop Redesigned 1928
After 22 years of everyone getting absolutely soaked they decided to put a roof on the new Kop, extended to now hold 30,000 people. They also rescued the topmast of the SS Great Eastern from a yard on The Wirral and hauled it up Everton Valley by a team of horses and erected it alongside the new Kop. It’s still there that, looking great. So those horses didn’t die in vain.
In front of 38,411 jubilant, dry fans, Liverpool scored as early as the first minute, plenty of that on Saturday lads, and went on to beat Bury 3-0, with two goals from Billy Millar, a player who strangely only played twice more for the Reds. Liverpool finished fifth that season with “The Wednesday” winning the league.
The Kemlyn Road Replaced 1963
In the early 60s the city was flying and they celebrated, as is the tradition, by building a new 6,700 capacity stand costing £350,000. That’s nearly £7million now. I’ve just checked. Decent money before TV revenue and commercial deals.
However, Liverpool completely ruined the premise of my article by losing their first three home games of the season 2-1, beaten by Nottingham Forest, Blackpool and West Ham United. Despite that, they somehow managed to win the league by four points. Old footy was mad.
The Main Stand Remodelled 1973
The last significant changes to the Main Stand were in 1973, although The Paddock did become seated in 1980. However, in 1973 the whole stand was demolished and rebuilt becoming the structure we got used to seeing until this year. The new main stand was actually opened in March 1973 at a cost of £600,000 and was opened by The Duke of Kent, who apparently received polite applause. Not sure that would happen now….
That day a crowd of 41,674 were there that day to see Liverpool beat Southampton 3-2, with two goals from Kevin Keegan. In May Liverpool won the league championship. Back when, in May, Liverpool used to win the league championship. They won the UEFA Cup too.
The Centenary Stand Opens 1992
In Liverpool’s centenary year a second tier was opened on what was, and still is to arl arses, The Kemlyn Road, and it was renamed the Centenary Stand. My family bought two season tickets in the new stand that summer and have had them ever since, although we’ve gradually been pushed back as the corporate seating has increased.
Liverpool played Sheffield United in the first home game of that season but went on to win 2-1, with goals from Mark Walters and Paul Stewart. Deary, deary me. Shockingly enough Liverpool Football Club did not win the title that season. They finished sixth.
The All-Seater Kop 1994
Following recommendations from the Taylor Report that all stadia become all seated, The Kop opened as an all-seater stand in the summer of 1994. The capacity of the stand is now 12,390. It had a McDonalds for a bit.
Liverpool famously lost the last game in front of the standing Kop because that team couldn’t do anything right. However they started the next season in fine form, walloping Crystal Palace 6-1 away on the opening day, before beating Arsenal 3-0 at Anfield in front of the new, if only partially finished, Kop. For that reason, a crowd of only just over 30,000 were there to witness Robbie Fowler score a five minute hat-trick. A Premier League record until it was beaten by some fella called Sadio Mane. Liverpool finished 4th that season and won the League Cup.
Liverpool tend to win their first game after something major has happened to the stadium. Except when they don’t. But then they do win the league. Which is good too.
Up the Reds.
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