Updated: Aug 2, 2020
Anfield Road - incredibly once the home ground of Everton FC - home to Liverpool Football Club, six times champions of Europe. Whilst on a 3-week holiday of Scotland, Ireland, and Iceland, I shelled out an extra grand or so to tick off a bucket list item. Boy did things work out well. Scheduled to be in Ireland from Boxing Day until New Years, Wolves visit to Anfield on the 29th was the only possible game we could attend.
An impressive, well-organised team, Wolves would end up traveling to Anfield in red-hot form, having beaten Manchester City two days earlier. Liverpool, now double-digit points clear at the top of the league would be at home for the first time in two weeks. Their first game at home since being crowned Champions of the World no less; 3 days after a whopping 4-0 away win against second-placed Leicester City. Anfield was ready to rock.
Landing early the day before the game, it was straight to the stadium, where we discovered Georgie Porgey for another English Breakfast. Highly recommend! Committed, we took the obligatory stadium tour. Amazingly Goodison Park, home of Everton, is visible from Anfield. Something about two, 40,000 (Goodison is 39,500-ish) + stadiums less than a mile from each other gets the blood going.
Anfield is the third Premier League stadium I have visited. Whilst new stadiums like The Etihad become more common, old stadiums like Anfield, gradually pieced together and extended upon are vastly different from anything we have in Australia. Whilst I love a brand spanking new stadium, these old-style British stadiums have my heart. The Anfield tour is the first, mostly self-guided tour I have done. We were able to spend an incredible amount at ground level; incredibly unusual for a stadium tour. Surprisingly, we also signed professional contracts with the club.
Knackered, we found a quiet local pub for dinner and watched defending champions Man City drop more points in the title hunt. This only added to the excitement that was evident the next day, it was game day. A much-needed sleep in and a run to Anfield, Goodison, and then back set the scene for an amazing day. Heading into town to get our tickets, we headed to a re-done Cavern Club, the birthplace of The Beatles to sample pre-game life. In hindsight, gameday here might be the way to best sample what the original Cavern Club would have been like. Packed to the rafters; Liverpool and Wolves fans mingled freely.
The Church, literally a converted church, was our final pre-game watering hole. After watching Celtic (a friend of Liverpool as it were) a week earlier, we sunk a few pints as they took on Rangers (coached by Liverpool legend Steve Gerrard) in the old firm derby. A game too scary for the bucket list! Grab yourself a pint and a feed here.
With a little over an hour to kick-off, we wandered up to see the teams arrive. A non-event really, the highlight was scarf shopping. Dropping $100 here would have been as easy as it gets, such is the range. In the end, I went with the cliche' game day scarf (a half Liverpool half Wolves arrangement with the date on it) along with a Red and Golden You’ll Never Walk Alone number. A Trent Alexander-Arnold themed option an unlucky omission.
Sitting opposite the world-famous Kop, known to suck goals in for the home team, was a dream scenario. Surprisingly, my mind now hints to itself it should probably experience a game in the Kop also. A 4 PM kick-off awaited, as did a gorgeous sunset. Unsurprisingly, this felt like the perfect time for a drink to calm the pre-game nerves. Of course, this is not possible. Essentially, in the UK, you can’t drink alcohol if you can see the pitch.
Already having the day of my life; my second attempt (more on this in another post) at a Premier League debut was about to ramp up. The fields of Anfield Road, loyal supporters from Liverpool, begin to show off their voice. This is what I was desperate for; singing had begun.
Anfield in all its glory
The Scousers work through a repertoire of team-based chants; no players are mentioned yet. Each rendition grows in voice; Anfield awaits. As banners cross the crowd, massive flags swirl, the Kop finds its voice. The ground announcer reads each Liverpool starter; each name receives a big 'ayyye'. History is then witnessed, well, heard. Liverpool’s heroes emerge from the tunnels we’d walked the previous day to a chant never before heard at Anfield:
'We’re champions of the world, we’re champions of the world. And now you’re gonna believe us, and now you’re gonna believe us, and now you’re gonna believe us...We’re champions of the world'
It rings out around the crowd; it’s not so loud as sounds I’ve heard before. Kyle Field is louder, the MCG is louder. Yet, it is so in tune. It builds and builds. The chant changes to roars of Liverpool, Liverpool. The accentuated ‘Liv’ is addictive. Then the music starts. Not Sandstorm, Power, or anything of the like. It’s time to sing, You’ll Never Walk Alone begins. The music stops and the crowd takes over, it’s hard not to feel emotional. The sound from Kop grows and grows, where massive flags wave with larger than life images of the manager, towards the iconic peak of this anthem. Walk on! Walk on! With hope in your hearts. And you’ll never walk alone. This repeats before a final Walk on! Walk on! It's game time.
This was not my footage, but it'll get the hairs up on the back of your neck all the same
The Anfield roar is deafening; Wolves kick and attack the Kop end. Sadio Mane intercepts a pass and plays it back to Allison, Liverpool goalkeeper. It’s met with a round of applause. This theme continues. Everything is applauded. An aggressive pass that misses the mark; applauded. A stark contrast to the bomber faithful at the MCG; moaning as if every last moment is match-defining. It highlights what a job Jurgen Klopp has done. The coach, of the players, has also coached his crowd. Gone are the Anfield nerves of yesteryear. This a crowd that believes. They let the players know; Champions of the World!
Three minutes in, Liverpool produce the sort of Football I was so keen to see. It is so fast, like nothing I have seen before. Zipping, the ball flies all over the field. Passes rarely miss a target. Mo Salah - the Egyptian king - misses one he shouldn’t have after a series of one and two touch passes cut Wolves apart. On reflection, he would have celebrated this right in front of us! The crowd doesn’t groan as an AFL crowd might; after a big 'ooo', there is more applause. English crowds are quite intelligent. Even the first player chant of the night shows this.
Si Senor rings out. After two match-winning goals at the previous weeks World Club Cup, Brazilian Robert Firmino hears his song before he has even touched the ball tonight. Most of the players have a chant about them it seems. The fans launch into these whenever that player has an impact. Virgil Van Dijk cuts off a wayward Wolves pass; we hear about Liverpool’s centre-half! Trent Alexander - Arnold walks in front of the Kop; a scouser on the team rings out. He shows his appreciation. The chants are catchy, usually covers of songs, you find yourself humming all night. 5 months on, I am still singing “Siiii Senor.”
We end up with the full experience. Sadio Mane appears to put Liverpool ahead; right in front of us. Anfield erupts, then quietens quickly. Quickly ruled out by the referee for a handball in the lead-up; VAR intervenes. Unlike our codes here, the crowd is totally in the dark here, only aware there is a VAR check going on. Anfield barely has a scoreboard, there is no hint of a big screen. The players find out before anyone else, we roar at their celebrations before the goal is even official. Wolves are livid; their fans 50 m away are taunted for celebrating the original disallowing of the goal. It’s just heating up.
The scoreboard @ Anfield - old school!
Minutes later, we have a great view of a Wolves equaliser. The goalscorer produces a terrific celebration; nailing what looks like a 10m knee slide! Neto really gave it to the main stand; there is so much passion in this sport. The sound an away teams support makes when Wolves' score is incredible. There are 3000 Wolves fans here, the maximum seemingly allowed at a Premier League game, yet sound every bit as loud as the home fans when given the chance. Then it happens again.
VAR is having a look. It takes years for the goal to be overturned. After just delivering a spray to the home fans, the traveling Wolves fans cop it from all sides. For the first time, it feels like the 50 cops separating home from away fans might be a good idea. Half time settles everyone down.
1-0 it would remain; Wolves throw everything at Liverpool. I am a Liverpool fan, however, I’ll have a soft spot for this Wolves team. I enjoyed the way they go about it. As Wolves create some chances, we expect the crowd to show nerves. They don’t. The Kop increases its singing. Urging their team home. Eventually, towering centre-back Virgil Van Dijk clears a last-second corner. Thrilled, the crowd erupts. Naturally, some file out, yet 90% stay. The show goes on. Liverpool, Liverpool, top of the league rings out across Anfield as the crowd finally files out.
FYI - We used StubHub to secure Tickets. They offer a refund policy if you don’t get your tickets. Why do you ask? Because you’ll be picking up your tickets from a city hotel; handing over your driver’s license. We had season tickets which belonged to two ladies I am not sure even exist. Paying 5 times face value, just hand your license over, listen to the instructions, and ask no questions! You’ll get your license back when you hand the tickets back post-game; allowing some random Liverpudlians to keep making a fortune. Get in touch via the socials if you want advice or questions concerning this.