Recently I booked two adult tickets for the Anfield Stadium and Museum tour. I only decided to do the tour for the fact I had a friend over from California for the week. I travelled to Anfield on a Friday with ease traffic wise, which most of you know is an unusual feeling. Waiting patiently I didn’t know what to expect. The stadium tour was an eye catching and life changing experience. I have been to Anfield countless times for games, watching from every stand, stood on the non seater Spion Kop, been to big games, been to “less important” ones; however the tour gives you a different perspective. People are aware fans come afar to Anfield, however I didn’t understand why there were Arsenal, Everton and even Mancs on the tour. I do now.
Starting the tour outside Shanks’ statue, the man towers above anyone walking past. And rightly so. You get escorted to the Legends lounge in the Main Stand: Paisley, Fagan, Neil, Fowler, Barnes, Rush…the lounge is dedicated to the greatest players to wear the Red shirt and who managed the Redmen. You are taken into the director’s box for a great view of the ground. The potential of a new stadium is discussed by the tour staff like it is certainly going to happen. The concept of the turf being left as a memorial garden in respect for those fans that have had ashes spread. I also think of the flowers laid for the 96. A walk way towards a new stadium in Stanley Park would be a nice touch, but not enough for my liking.
The old bootroom was turned into a media room to cater for the influx of media into football, the likes of Sky Sports in the 90’s. Then is the walk into the most intimidating corridor in Football, the “This Is Anfield” sign hangs fearsomely in front of opponents, it hangs backing the Liverpool players. The home changing room is modest wooden benches, cushioned walls, A/C and that’s about it. A picture of Shanks turns this modest feel into a luxurious one. Rafa had a new bootroom built into the changing rooms upon learning the history of the old one, 12 x 12, players can only enter upon an invite from the manager. The away changing room is not sound proof unlike the home one. I could only think about the roar of The Kop against Chelsea C/L 2005 Semi Final Home Leg; the passion of the crowd rocking the walls. Chelsea must of been shaking in the boots.
You are then taken to The Kop via the subs benches and seats. The middle seat inside the front 5 is the commander in chief’s throne. Then to The Kop; standing capacity prior to all seater stadiums, 32,000 more than all the other stands combined. WOW. The Kop was filmed for the first ever MOTD against Arsenal. The flags, the banners, the singing, the obsession. The most famous stand in the World without doubt.
Now, for some honesty. I was all for a new stadium build, brand new shiny stadium, 60,000 plus and all that. I have dramatically changed my mind. This is the most iconic, historic stadium worldwide. The story of Anfield stretches to foreign lands. A new stadium could not recreate my story, never mind the millions who have visited Anfield over time. There seems to be every possibility around the ground to allow for extension and regeneration of Anfield. The club has bought the land behind Anny Road where terrace housing use to stand. Sadly many of the houses behind the Centenary are derelict. I pray that our new owner John Henry is conducting his due diligence in order to protect and redevelop the greatest stadium not only in World Football, but in Sport; whilst at the same time, looking at helping the area around Anfield. I can’t make Sunday’s game due to working 7 days a week. Sunday away at Bolton was a free day and I got to the Reebok, bouncing to the Maxi song. Those going, make an atmosphere to make him realize a new stadium cannot replace Anfield! Make Henry a memory a new stadium cannot replace! There is no stadium in the world that compares!