Writer: Eamonn Moore
Date:Wednesday September 29 2010
Arsenal, Chelski and now Liverpool, throw in a trip to the Toon and an opening day celebration at Wigan the away start couldn't have been much tougher.
There's a couple of iconic Premiership grounds and on Sunday we're taking one of them in. The Kop, those heady days as a kid when Liverpool won everything all the time, St Etienne, Gladbach there's few 'old' grounds left that can evoke memories like Anfield can, and that's just for the non Liverpool supporters.
It's almost 40yrs since we last played there, and our last 9 visits have only seen us lose twice. Tickets were at a premium and for those of us lucky to have one it will be a ground to remember.
Opened in 1884, Anfield was originally owned by a Mr.Orrell, a fellow brewer and friend of John Houlding, president of Everton FC. Everton, who previously played at Priory Road, were in need of a new venue, due to the noise produced from the crowd on match-days. Orrell let the land to the club for a donation to the local hospital. Everton's landlord changed when John Houlding purchased the land from Orrell in 1885 charging direct rent.
The first match played at Anfield was between Everton and Earlestown on 28 September 1884, which Everton won 5-0.
During Everton's tenure at the stadium, stands were erected for some of the 8,000 plus spectators regularly attending matches, although the ground was capable of holding around 20,000 spectators and occasionally did. The ground was considered of international standard at the time, playing host to the British Home Championship match between England and Ireland in 1889.
Anfield's first league match was played on 8 September 1888, between Everton and Accrington.
A dispute emerged between Houlding and the Everton FC committee, over how the club was to be owned and run. This dispute escalated from the full purchase of the land at Anfield from minor land owner John Orrell, into a disagreement over how the club was run. This culminated with Everton moving to Goodison Park. Houlding was left with an empty stadium, and decided to form a new club to occupy it. The team was called Liverpool F.C and Athletic Grounds Ltd, and their first match at Anfield was a friendly played in front of 200 people on 1 September 1892, against Rotherham Town, which they won 7-1.
Liverpool's first Lancashire League match at Anfield was played on 9 September 1893, against Lincoln City, Liverpool won 4-0 in front of 5,000 spectators. A new stand was constructed in 1895, capable of holding 3,000 spectators, on the site of the present Main Stand. Another stand was constructed at the Anfield Road end in 1903, built from timber and corrugated iron.
After Liverpool had won their second League championship in 1906, a new stand was built along the Walton Breck Road. Local journalist Ernest Edwards, who was the sports editor of newspapers the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo, christened it the Spion Kop; it was named after a famous hill in South Africa where a local regiment had suffered heavy losses during the Boer War in 1900. More than 300 men had died, many of them from Liverpool, as the British army attempted to capture the strategic hilltop. Around the same period a stand was also built along Kemlyn Road.
The ground remained much the same until 1928 when the Kop was redesigned and extended to hold 30,000 spectators, all standing, with a roof erected as well. Many stadia in England had stands named after the Spion Kop, however Anfield's was the largest Kop in the country at the time. The topmast of the SS Great Eastern, one of the first iron ships, was rescued from the ship breaking yard at nearby Rock Ferry, and was hauled up the Everton Valley by a team of horses to be erected alongside the new Kop where it still stands today, serving as a flag pole.
Floodlights were installed and on 30 October 1957, they were switched on for the first time for a match against Everton, to commemorate the 75-year anniversary of the Liverpool County Football Association.
In 1963 the old Kemlyn Road stand was replaced by a cantilevered stand, able to hold 6,700 spectators and built at a cost of £350,000. Two years later alterations were made at the Anfield Road end, turning it into a large covered standing area.
The biggest redevelopment came in 1973, when the old Main Stand was demolished and a new one was constructed. At the same time, the pylon floodlights were pulled down and new lights installed along the top of the Kemlyn Road and Main Stands. The new stand was officially opened on 10 March 1973, by the Duke of Kent.
In the 1980s the paddock in front of the Main Stand was turned into seating, and in 1982 seats were introduced at the Anfield Road end. The Shankly Gates were erected in 1982, a tribute to former manager Bill Shankly; Shankly's widow Nessie unlocked them for the first time on 26 August 1982. Across the Shankly Gates are the words You'll Never Walk Alone.
Coloured seats and a police-room were added to the Kemlyn Road stand in 1987. A second tier was added to the Kemlyn Road stand in 1992, turning it into a double decker layout. It included executive boxes and function suites as well as 11,000 seating spaces. Plans to expand the stand had been made earlier, with the club buying up houses on Kemlyn Road during the 1970s and 1980s. Plans were put on hold until 1990 because two sisters, Joan and Nora Mason, refused to sell their house. When the club reached an agreement with the sisters in 1990, the expansion plans were put into action. The stand was officially opened on 1 September 1992, by UEFA president Lennart Johansson and re-named the Centenary Stand.
The Kop was rebuilt in 1994 after the recommendations of the Taylor Report and became all seated; although it is still a single tier, the capacity was significantly reduced to 12,390.
On 4 December 1997, a statue of Bill Shankly, created from bronze, was unveiled at the visitors' centre in front of the Kop. Standing at over 8 feet (2.4 m) tall, the statue depicts Shankly wearing a fan's scarf around his neck, in a familiar pose he adopted when receiving applause from fans. Inscribed on the statue are the words: 'Bill Shankly - He Made the People Happy'. The Hillsborough memorial is situated alongside the Shankly Gates, and is always decorated with flowers and tributes to the 96 people who died as a result of the disaster. At the centre of the memorial is an eternal flame, signifying that those who died will never be forgotten.
The most recent change to Anfield came in 1998 when the new two-tier Anfield Road end was opened. The stand has however encountered a number of problems since its redevelopment. At the beginning of the 1999-2000 season a series of support poles and stanchions had to be brought in to give extra stability to the top tier of the stand. During Ronnie Moran's testimonial against Celtic many fans complained of movement of the top tier. At the same time that the stanchions were inserted the executive seating area was expanded by two rows in the main stand, lowering the capacity for seating in the paddock.
We'll be sat in the lower tier of the Anfield Road stand (on the main stand side) where there is room for up to 3000 fans. Views are generally good but the further back you go the less of the game you'll see if people are standing up.
How to get there
M55 M6 South. Join the M62 and follow the M62 until you reach the end of the motorway (beware of a 50mph speed camera about a 1/4 of a mile from the end of the motorway). Then follow the A5058 towards Liverpool. After three miles turn left at the traffic lights into Utting Avenue (there is a McDonalds on the corner of this junction). Proceed for one mile and then turn right at the Arkles pub for the ground. If you arrive early (around 1pm) then there is street parking to be found.
There is the alternative route of taking the M58 at J26 off the M6 South. Continue forward onto the A5036, bear left onto the A59, Continue forward onto Ormskirk Road - A59 (signposted Liverpool) At traffic signals turn right onto the A59. At Queens Drive Flyover roundabout take the 2nd exit onto the A59 (signposted City Centre, Birkenhead, Wallasey). At traffic signals turn left onto the A5050 (signposted Everton) At traffic signals turn left onto the A580 (signposted Manchester, St Helens)
At traffic signals turn right onto the A5089 (signposted Tuebrook, Anfield)
Turn left onto Tinsley Street, the ground's within easy sight.
Sat navvers - L4 0TH
For the Virgin lovers amongst us - The nearest station is Lime Street which is two miles from Anfield. A taxi from Lime St. will cost about £6.00 - £8.00. Buses go from nearby Queen Square Bus Station. On match days use the Merseyrail network to link with the Soccerbus service from Sandhills Station.
For those flying via Samm Airways - The nearest airport to Liverpool is the John Lennon Airport is approximately 10 miles from the ground, and taxis should be easily obtainable. Alternatively, you can catch the 80A or 86A bus from the airport to Liverpool South Parkway bus/rail interchange and ask for a rail ticket to Anfield. For £1 extra on the normal rail fare, you'll get a return journey on the Soccerbus service, which links with Northern line trains at Sandhills station.
Where to drink
There's The Albert located right next to The Kop and opposite the new Hillsborough Justice Campaign Shop on Walton Breck Road. The Arkles is the designated 'away fans pub' it is located nearer the Anfield Road End. There's The Park opposite The Albert, popular pubs around the ground also include The Sandon, Sam Dodds, The Salisbury, The Flat Iron, King Harry and The Stanley, the towns not a million miles away, take your pick from 100's of alehouses.
Ale is on sale within the ground.
Stewards + Plod
Should be no concerns from either. Stand up if you are the Pool.
Fear Factor Rating -2. We're everyone's second team.
Last Saturday was galling. The spitter and FatSam revelled in the late, late winner and our away form looks better than our home at present. Liverpool aren't on the best of runs and I'm not sure if there's ever a good time to visit Anfield but come 5pm on Sunday here's hoping we're not walking alone but with at least a point for our troubles.
Onwards + Upwards
Date:Wednesday September 29 2010
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