The words Anfield and Liverpool are synonymous with each other. The stadium and its atmosphere have become a representation of the club and its heritage. As today’s players touch the imposing This Is Anfield sign, they are walking in the footsteps of legends that heralded on the famous turf.
When asked ‘What is the essence of Anfield?’, incredible European nights, great goals and passionate crowds all spring to mind, however, it was actually Everton who were the first to occupy the small ground on the edge of Stanley Park.
Everton occupied the ground for 8 years, up until 1892. Following a rent dispute, Everton left the ground and headed for the other side of Stanley Park. Meanwhile, John Houlding was left with a pitch but no team to play on it. John Houlding went about creating a new club, which he named Liverpool Football Club. They would play their home games at Anfield.
Located in the North of Liverpool, Anfield itself is actually a district of Liverpool. Despite the riches of the football club, the Anfield area is actually one of the most run-down parts of Liverpool. The stadium is believed to be called Anfield, due to it being located on Anfield Road. Anfield stadium sits in the L4 area of the city. Recently, Anfield has been undergoing renovation and the club continues to help regenerate the local area surrounding the stadium.
Anfield is known for the special atmosphere that it creates. Kopites are widely acknowledged to have started off the culture of singing at football matches. Previous to the 1960s, mainly short chants were sung at British football stadia. The Beatles (amongst others) had Liverpool back on the map internationally and there was a sense of excitement surrounding the city. This translated onto the football terraces, where Kopites would put their own words to the tunes of the famous hits of the time. Usually, the songs were released by local bands, only increasing the city’s pride. An early panorama program shows a reporter standing in front of the Kop, reporting on the peculiarity of what he was seeing and hearing. Coupled with Bill Shankly’s strong connection to the fans, Anfield was often a joyous place to be. Nowadays, young men in suits won’t be seen singing Cilla on the Kop, nevertheless, the same culture of fan innovation exists.
The Main Stand
The Main Stand has had several iterations over the last 100 years. The most famous being its ‘Craven Cottage like’ look in the 1960s and its most recent look. A massive development project has just seen the Main Stand completely regenerated into a much grander structure. The new Main Stand was opened at the start of the 2016/17 season and has been a resounding success. Its extended capacity has increased Anfield’s capacity by around 9,000. Amongst the changes is a new tunnel system, a new bus entrance and a massive LFC badge on the side of the stand, which can be seen for miles around.
The Spion Kop is one of the most famous football stands in the world. Its pre-match displays are instantly recognisable worldwide and the noise that the crowd makes is sometimes deafening. The people who watch from the Kop are often considered loudest and hardiest supporters, meaning that the atmosphere is almost always good there. These days, a ticket at Anfield is costly and like gold dust, on the Kop in particular. It is Mecca for many fans travelling from abroad. A chance to experience and contribute the atmosphere is what they’re after. After the Taylor Report (post-Hillsborough) the Kop had to become seated. Whilst it’s undoubtedly safer, a small part of Anfield’s original soul has been taken away.
Kenny Dalglish Stand
This stand is known to long-term match goers as the Kemlyn Road stand, despite it changing its name to the Centenary Stand in 1992, to celebrate Liverpool’s centenary year. In 2017, the Centenary Stand was renamed the Kenny Dalglish Stand in honour of the king. The naming of the stand will ensure his tireless work for the club and its supporters will not be forgotten. Many past players and managers attended the stand’s renaming ceremony to honour Dalglish and his continuing influence on the club and city. The stand itself holds just over 11000 spectators, including nearly 350 in executive boxes.
The Anfield Road end
The Anfield Road end is by far the smallest stand in comparison to those around it. The away supporters sit on the Main Stand side of the structure whilst the home fans occupy the rest of it. Meanwhile, in the FA Cup, due to regulations, the whole stand is often filled by away supporters. There are currently much-needed plans in the pipeline to increase the capacity of the Anfield Road end.
Outside the stadium, proudly stands the Shankly Gates and the Paisley Gates. You can see the top of the Shankly Gates on Liverpool’s badge. These gates were named after arguably the two greatest managers in the club’s history.
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