To fully understand what Anfield stadium in Liverpool represents, just listen to Steven Gerrard. A few years ago, when he was captain of Liverpool Football Club, Gerrard explained: « When I die, don’t take me to the hospital, take me to the stadium, to Anfield. I was born at Anfield and I will die at Anfield« .
First the ground of the Blues before a first title of the Reds in 1901
Anfield was built in 1884 and it is first of all the playground of the Blues of Everton, the first club of Liverpool. But because the rent was too expensive, the Everton chairman decided to leave Anfield and build his own stadium. Goodison Park, next door, in fact, just a 5 minute drive, less than a mile and a half. In order not to end up with a stadium on his hands, the owner of Anfield then launched the idea of creating another club that would play at Anfield. This is how the Liverpool football club was born, all dressed in red, on March 15, 1892.
For the Reds’ first match at the now-home Anfield stadium, only 200 spectators witness Liverpool’s 7-1 win over Rotherham’s team in a friendly match. But Liverpool did not wait very long to make Anfield the temple of English football. From the season 1901, the Reds won their first league title.
The Spion Kop, a benchmark stand
Very quickly, Anfield is growing! And for the second title of champion of England of Liverpool, in 1906, the capacity of the stadium goes up to 32,000 places thanks, in particular to the inauguration of the Tribune which, still today, remains the most famous of Anfield: the Spion Kop, The Tribune which is behind one of the goals, on the side of Walton Breck Road. It was a journalist, Ernest Ewards, who had the idea of giving it this name. The Battle of Spion Kop, literally the Battle of Spy Hill, in January 1900 was a bloody defeat for the British against the Boers in South Africa. Two future major figures of the twentieth century served on the British side: Gandhi as a stretcher bearer and Winston Churchill as a cavalry lieutenant and war correspondent. They returned unscathed, but 383 soldiers were killed in this battle, most of them from Liverpool.
Today, the word Kop, at Anfield and around the world, refers to the stands where the most fervent supporters gather. Often behind the goals.
Over the years, the face of Anfield changes. In 1957, for example, projectors were installed. They will be inaugurated on October 30, 1957. A nod to history, for a match against Everton, as if the Mersey derby had to be played in full light.
The Kop is also moulting. In 1994, he is even shaved in order to eliminate standing places. At Anfield as elsewhere, for safety reasons, supporters will have to sit down. Mechanically, the crowds are decreasing. The stadium record, 61,905 spectators, established in February 1952 for an FA Cup match against Wolverhampton will therefore probably never be beaten. Today, Anfield has a capacity of 54,000, all seated.
Between Jimmy ross, the Scotsman, Liverpool’s first real goalscorer, recruited for 75 pounds in 1894 and Virgil Van Dijk, arrived on the banks of the Mersey in 2018 for 84 million euros, some fantastic players have walked the lawn of Anfield with the jersey of the Reds on the back.
Billy Liddell, first, Scottish, his entire career at Liverpool, between 1938 and 1961. At Anfield, he was King Billy.
A little later the fans love it Ian callaghan, a local guy, a real one, a lad from Liverpool, 857 matches in the Reds jersey, absolute record between 59 and 78.
In 1977 arrives Kenny dalglish, the symbol of the glorious era of the Liverpool Football Club with in particular six English championships and 3 European cups of champion clubs.
Become a coach, Dalglish trains Welsh Ian rush, the top scorer in the club’s history: 340 goals between 1980 and 1996.
The last star of Anfield, it is undoubtedly Steven Gerrard. Considered one of the greatest British footballers in history, he came first ahead of Kenny Dalglish in the fan favorite player rankings.
An incredible audience to never walk alone
One of the peculiarities of Anfield is its audience. With unrivaled fervor and loyalty. The club’s motto is there to remind you. « You’ll never walk alone« , you will never walk alone… At the beginning, a song taken from » Carousel « , a musical from 1945. After the success of the original version, everyone sang You’ll never walk alone. From Franck Sinatra to Elvis Presley, passing by Johnny Cash, Nina Simone or Ray Charles, but the most famous version is signed by Gerry and the Pacemakers, a group from Liverpool, in 1963. Quickly, the song becomes the anthem of the fans, a declaration of love for the players which descends from the spans of Anfield before each match.
The love affair between the supporters and Anfield was however damn threatened. The Reds stadium simply almost disappeared. In 2007, the club was bought by two American shareholders who, from the outset, spoke of building a new setting, bigger, more beautiful, more lucrative, above all. A 73,000-seat enclosure in Stanley Park. Anfield is doomed. Obviously, the fans demonstrate, but without success. What saves Anfield, in fact, paradoxically, is a crisis. The economic crisis of 2008 which forced the owners to austerity measures and therefore to keep their good old stadium. Anfield has been modernized, but Liverpool’s most iconic landmark has remained standing.