How Anfield has changed and evolved down the years and how the customs of Liverpool supporters have also shifted…
I’VE changed seats this season.
Previous campaigns have found me at the Lower Annie/Main Stand corner flag where, it is safe to say, the atmosphere seldom interrupts the game.
Of course, any seasoned match-goer will tell you that “in’s in” and you never complain about where you are as long as you’re in the ground, but when the chance came to move on, I took it with both hands and a click of a mouse.
I watched the Aston Villa game in the Lower Kemlyn and it IS the Lower Kemlyn. I know, yeah. Still clinging to that term despite it being the Kenny or whatever. That’s the gift of age. I hope we do well against Leicester Fosse in the Milk Cup.
The view was beautiful. Anfield is beautiful and the weather helped. The turf looks gorgeous, the Main Stand enormous and the away fans (no I won’t ‘sit down/shut up’) a mile away. Anfield feels like home.
I made my own Anfield debut 42 years ago and that too was in the Kemlyn. A little higher up and closer to the Annie Road but also, in a much different ground. The slate grey seats are long gone and the grass has less sand on it nowadays.
It was November 1981 when I first walked to my seat without looking at the pitch (Superstition No. 1) and refused to sing the first verse of YNWA (Superstition No. 2). It was to be another decade before I sat there again. I wasn’t meant for the seats. I always wanted to be elsewhere.
In another coincidence, it was Villa again which marked another debut, this time on the Kop. I was rather late to this in 1985 due to a number of factors including the lack of a Red Dad (oh, he was fine for trips to Goodison but saw that my heart wasn’t in it), money and albums.
I couldn’t afford both. It was the match or music and music won. If push came to shove I’d probably do the same today. Music hardly ever lets you down, apart, of course, from Be Here Now.
Obviously, going on The Kop was much different back then. Firstly, you could just show up. None of this credit and passes on your phone business back then. As long as you had cash (I think it was around £2.50 in 1985-6), got there early and were prepared to queue, you were in.
Secondly, it was rarely comfortable. You never ended up in the same place even if you had your own ‘spec.’ You’d be pushed down the steps, pulled back up and get and then shoved along.
My mate Fiona and I preferred the crash barrier half way up to the left of the penalty area and would, madly, arrange to meet there despite 10s of thousands of people getting in the way. It worked, though we’d usually agree to meet outside rather than at the final whistle as God only knew where you’d end up.
That’s all gone now, of course, and though it sounds more like warfare than a spectator sport, I miss it and the customs that went with it.
Singing the players’ names while they warmed up. We always began with Molby that season — repeating the word ‘Rambo’ to the Seven Dwarves song — before going round in order.
Then there’s applauding the opposition goalie when he ran to our end. Paul Cooper of Ipswich always got a special reception. We liked him. Peter Shilton’s was equally vocal, though less supportive and always with one word. A name. If you know it, he blocked me on Twitter for mentioning that name. Sod him.
I think that keeper thing still goes on, but it’s much more muted. I like it, not because it makes us like the thoroughly great lads we are, but because it must confuse the hell out of them from time to time. To be welcomed? By them? Why?
But this is a different age and customs must change. I thought that as I looked around the ground last Sunday. It’s changed so much. Everything so new.
I hope we keep being different too. I hated sitting near that away end, listening to the same songs in different accents. I like that we’re us.
I hope my seat in the Annie is OK for West Ham too. That too must change.