Originally published in print. Issue 191 of Red All Over The Land Fanzine
Liverpool V Palace – Not a match report at all…
After what seemed like a lengthy absence from Anfield (my last game being Man Utd this season, sitting out Southampton) I returned, with my old man up, for one of his trips of the season to enjoy Crystal Palace’s visit to Anfield. It is a fixture that held quite a lot of nostalgia for me and my old man as in 1998 Crystal Palace was the first Premier League game my Dad took me to at Anfield. I’m afraid to say mine isn’t a story of scouser to scouser, but deep down Bristol Rovers fan taking his slightly strange but very strong minded Liverpool supporting son to Anfield, all the way from Wiltshire. I won’t enter into the out of towner debate, and I feel no need to justify my support to anyone… I’ve lived in Liverpool ten years now, and my Dad is a full convert. Although even I will admit to a soft spot for Rovers as I mature. But anyway… I digress, it was indeed this fixture, well over ten years ago that I got my first taste of a premier league game at Anfield (having been to a pre-season friendly a few months before.) Like most of us, I will never forget the game… despite having forgotten most of the slightly dull duels against Premier League strugglers since. The great Lombardo was player manager at Palace, and a rather rotund Thomas Brolin also featured for the ‘Eagles.’ We won 2 -1 with a little David Thompson coming off the bench to score the winner. I’ll always remember the long drive home… crawling out of a guest house car park on the Anfield Road, a site that now houses the ‘food zone’ or ‘kids zone’ or some other absolute bastion of modernity and corporate bastardry. 606 on 5 Live droned on as we slowly made our way out of Liverpool, and flicking through a matchday fanzine while someone who’s opinion is of no consequence whatsoever* spouts rubbish to Alan Green always reminds me of that wondrous evening.
So to the present day… we were unusually situated in the Main Stand… having resided for years in the Anfield Road, before becoming fed up of the hordes of incomprehensibly pissed Irish daytrippers that frequented it (no offence to our brilliant genuine Irish support by the way) and moving into the Kop. God know’s why, but the only availability for us for Palace was the main stand, so the main stand it was. In a strange way I quite enjoyed being in there again… it gives you that old football ground feel that is so hard to find these days. A feeling that leads me fairly nicely onto the whole point of this column….
I’m afraid I’m going to bemoan the atmosphere and yes, modern football in general. The site of a young lad getting carried out in the aftermath of Palace fans letting off smoke bombs was certainly distressing, and it makes it very difficult to advocate the use of ‘pyro’ at football stadiums, but you can certainly advocate noise, passion, originality and atmosphere. All of which, these days, Anfield does not possess. It isn’t so much modern football that is the problem… I’m sure we all secretly have Sky Sports News on more than most channels. Alright players get paid extortionate, ridiculous amounts of money… but there is very little we can do about that. The actually game itself hasn’t changed, a brilliant tackle is a brilliant tackle, a great goal, is a great goal. But your average matchoger… well they have changed dramatically.
I’m aware that it’s easy to moan about the atmosphere at Anfield these days, but I can’t help it… I pretty much despise most of the Anfield attendance now. If I’m honest, it looked a lot more fun in the Palace end! We all know that the match day atmosphere at the biggest grounds in the country have been on the decline for years, whatever we say… Old Trafford, Arsenal… ourselves, it’s all a similar pattern. Inflated prices and grounds full of ‘tourists’ and people who wouldn’t know ‘terrace culture’ if someone wrote it as a motif in the chocolate of their cappuccino.
I don’t expect a booming atmosphere every game… but at least have some self-respect and knowledge of what supporting a football club is all about. Not just any club indeed, Liverpool Football Club. We don’t sing… ‘who are ya’ and ‘going down, going down.’ We don’t take photos of Steven Gerrard taking a corner from 100 yards away on our iPhones. We don’t tell people to ‘sit down’ just because they have the cheek to get mildly excited or irate about something. We do take pride in what we wear to the match… and we don’t feel the need to drape ourselves in horrific and overpriced club merchandise.
I know people say, rather than moan about the atmosphere, try creating some? I hate that argument as much as anything else… my answer to that is: what is the point? For me, safe in the knowledge that I’m surrounded by vacuous identikits of modern life I’d rather sit quietly and enjoy the game than make some pathetic attempt at generating an atmosphere that I know no one else around me will appreciate of understand. For me it is more embarrassing and cringe worthy to see someone persevere through ‘Poor Scouser Tommy’ because they’ve learnt the lyrics off by heart on an internet forum.
Every now and again, very, very rarely, Anfield comes alive like we all know it can. But it is so rare these days. I appreciate the Kop seems to be more densely populated with banners and flags than it has been for a long time… but it strikes me as paying lip service to an atmosphere when after the whistle has gone, any sign of an atmosphere is packed away with the canvas and flag poles.
You’re having a scarf aren’t ya?!
Maybe I’m just in a bad mood… perhaps I’ll be proven wrong as the season progresses, but I doubt it. I was hugely heartened, if I can put it like that, by the piece by Semolina Pilchard in the last issue. They beat me to it by absolutely lambasting the modern obsession with ‘split scarves.’ The mind absolutely boggles. Now I didn’t used to mind split scarves during our European exploits, it struck me as a genuinely good ‘memento’ of some wonderful games and against obscure and fascinating opposition. I cherish my split scarves from games against the likes of Barcelona, CSKA Sofia, Juventus, Young Boys et al. However, why oh why anyone would want a split scarf of Liverpool Football Club Vs Wigan or Reading or Norwich or any other English team is beyond me. What is even worse than that are split scarves against Utd. We are Liverpool… we despise that lot more than anything else, how an earth anyone could cope with having THAT badge and THAT name draped across them at Anfield or anywhere else for that matter is beyond me. I think I may have posted a statement during the Utd game this season on some social media network or another, along the lines of… “any so called Liverpool ‘supporter’ who is currently at Andield sporting a Utd ‘split scarf’ should be strung up by it.” I stand by that.
Anyway… you’ve probably had enough of my vitriol. You wouldn’t think we were 2nd in the league would you? There’s no pleasing some people. Pass me a plastic bottle of flat Carlsberg and I’ll try and crack a smile.
Oh and if anyone fancies sorting me out with away tickets… Tweet @AnfieldShrine
*Paranoid Android – Ok Computer - Radiohead