Anfield was one of the Football League's original grounds when it was formed in 1888. Liverpool Football Club however were not one of the league's founding teams, and for those not in the know perhaps this will mean a brief explanation is required. Quite possibly you will have heard of the blue lot, Everton F.C., who nowadays play their football on the other side of Stanley Park. For a short period Anfield was home to The Toffees, who played football there from 1884 - 1892 until a row over rent led to their departure and the formation of Liverpool F.C. who have called Anfield home ever since.
In the 119 years since Liverpool's inception, Anfield has established a name for itself as one of the most well-known stadiums in world football. This is partly due to the success Liverpool have achieved while residing there and over the years the team have given the fans plenty of sights worth savouring.
Some of British football's greatest players have graced the green stuff for the home side at Anfield. Over the years the likes of Billy Liddell, Roger Hunt, Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, John Barnes and Robbie Fowler have all delighted the locals.
The 1970's and 80's were a Golden era for Liverpool Football Club as they dominated domestically and to an extent in Europe. The last couple of decades have passed without Liverpool being crowned England's best side as they've failed to win the top flight title since 1990 when Dalglish was coming towards the end of his first spell as Manager.
With recently returned Dalglish back at the helm, generous new owners (Fenway Sports Group) in place and a talented crop of youngsters emerging there is optimism that the future is brighter than it has been for some years.
It's not just Liverpool players who have celebrated glory on Anfield's playing surface. In May 1989 Michael Thomas' last minute goal ensured Arsenal secured the First Division title at Liverpool's expense and in May 1995 despite losing 2-1, Blackburn Rovers celebrated becoming Premier League Champions inside Anfield. The locals wouldn't have minded witnessing the second of these two events though, as Blackburn won the league at arch-rivals Manchester United's expense and were managed by the clubs greatest ever player, the previously mentioned Dalglish.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Don't expect too much in the way of culinary delights when looking for food in and around Anfield. That is unless you consider burgers, hot dogs, chips and pies to be delightful (and I've got a lot of beer loving friends who do), as that is pretty much all that is on offer. Inside it's more of the same and the pricing structure is pretty much in line with most top-flight stadiums in England. It is highly likely that if you are hungry in or around the stadium and you subsequently part with your cash in exchange for something to nibble on that you'll be distinctly underwhelmed.
Decades of magical moments seem to have ensured Anfield has gained a reputation for being home to one of the best match day atmospheres in England. The presence of this tag isn't without reason, but that isn't to say that there aren't periods of some matches where things can get a little flat in terms of noise. These lulls typically occur when Liverpool are failing to break down the stubborn resistance of a lowly opponent and at times murmurs of frustration at misplaced passes can reveal the frustrations of the paying punters.
The great managers - chiefly Shankly - realised that the Liverpudlian fans wanted to see vibrant, attacking football and as long as the forty odd thousand in attendance can see that the players in red shirts are trying to play in this manner they'll back their side.
Now that Kop Hero Kenny Dalglish is back at the helm, home fans are being treated to the type of pass-and-move football that Liverpool dealt in during their glory days. The legendary Dalglish was the master exponent of this fluid, attacking style during his playing days as Liverpool's best ever Number 7.
The status of Liverpool means that they'll always attract star players and the current crop featuring Uruguay's Luis Suarez features enough talented players to get the home fans on their feet.
It would be wrong to write about Anfield and not mention its most famous stand - The Kop. This single tier structure used to hold up to 30,000 fans who'd sing, sway and cheer as one. These days the famous old stand holds over 12,000 fans and as a single-tiered structure still produces quite a din. On a European night this end of Anfield is a sight to behold as fans proudly hold aloft banners and flags and seem to ramp up the decibel rating a notch or two to welcome their continental visitors. It has been a couple of years since Liverpool played in the Champions League and it is nights in this most prestigious of club football competitions that Anfield really breathes the fire it is associated with.
The area around Anfield is not as rough as some would have you believe, although it probably wouldn't be top of the list for newlyweds when considering honeymoon destinations. On match days there is a heavy Police presence, which adds to fan safety. To be fair you may well encounter local youths cheekily asking for a sly fiver (€5 note) to "mind yer car mate" if you elect to leave your automobile in a residential area. In this writer's opinion the presence of these tracksuit wearing young men is really nothing to worry about and although it's always a touch disconcerting when they choose to bring their golf clubs with them, it's nice to see that they take their work seriously.
The city of Liverpool is well worth a visit and recently spent a year being the European Capital of Culture. The city boasts a glorious maritime past, supreme musical heritage, great shopping and fantastic restaurants.
If it's a pre-match pint you're after you need look no further than The Albert or The Park, both are boozers right outside the ground and offer the sort of rough and ready experience you'd expect and ought to be seeking if you venture into either of these pubs.
Liverpool fans have a reputation for being well-educated football followers with a well formed sense of humour. Their away fans travel in the thousands and support their team through thick and thin.
At home games there seems to be a growing difficulty in remembering the great Bill Shankly's words when he said "If you can't support us when we lose or draw, don't support us when we win". It seems on occasion that the new generation of match-goers expect champagne football week in week out and at times the supporters seem slow to spur their side on when things aren't going great during the 90 minutes. That said, the Liverpool faithful are gracious in defeat, often applauding the efforts of visiting players and fans.
Anfield's inhabitants are most famous for their rendition of the song "You'll Never Walk Alone" prior to kick off and at times during games. There is something very special indeed about over 40,000 fans passionately singing this anthem and if your soul is functioning properly the hairs on the back of your neck may well be caused to stand on end.
Anfield is located approximately two miles from Liverpool city centre and can be easily accessed from there by both train and bus. To travel using the latter form of transport directly to the ground, visitors should look to get the number 26 or 27 from the Paradise Street Interchange. It is also possible to get the number 17 from Queen Square Bus Station or the 917 from St John's Lane straight to the stadium.
Lime Street Railway Station is just two miles from the ground, from there buses can be taken from nearby Queen Square Bus Station.
Traveling by car isn't always a barrel of laughs, as the roads around the ground on match days get pretty congested and parking isn't always readily available. That said, it is possible to find somewhere to park if you arrive in plenty of time prior to kick off.
The official Liverpool Football Club website provides specific directions depending on which part of the North West of England you're driving from.
Watching Premier League football is an expensive business these days, and with a ticket to a match costing over €40 a trip to Anfield will be a relatively expensive day out. Despite this, Anfield's pricing structure ranks favourably when compared to England's other top clubs. Some of the League's best players ply their trade for the side and the squad is made up of Internationals (unfortunately Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Andriy Voronin have moved on!) who are currently sticking to the club's principles of playing an attacking, passing game, which many fans like to watch.
As well as this, it really is worth remembering that Anfield is one of the most iconic football stadiums in the world and deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Camp Nou, the Bernabeu, Old Trafford, the San Siro, the Mestalla and Celtic Park.
The organised Stadium Tours offered by the club are well worth considering, as they provide a behind the scenes look at one of the football world's most iconic stadiums.
It is also well worth allowing time to check out the Shankly Gates and Statue and the Paisely Gateway which were erected in honour of Liverpool's most successful managers.
Visitors may also wish to take time to visit the Hillsborough Memorial which was erected in remembrance of the 96 individuals who lost their lives at the Hillsborough Stadium disaster in 1989.
It is possible that in the not-too-distant-future Liverpool will play their home matches away from Anfield. Its capacity of 45,000 trails that of Manchester United and Arsenal who have match day revenues far higher than the Merseyside club and the club's other main competitors Chelsea and Manchester City have far wealthier owners than the Merseyside team.
Fenway Sports Group (FSG) chief, John Henry, has stated his preference for redeveloping Anfield, which would echo the course of action he took when redeveloping the home of his Baseball team Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park. Henry though has made no promises that Liverpool will remain in their current home and the club possess planning permission for a 60,000 seater stadium in nearby Stanley Park.
The footballing world awaits the decision of FSG and it may well be that in a few years time the chance to watch Liverpool play football at Anfield has passed. If you haven't yet experienced a visit to this Cathedral of Football, it may be best to try to do so in the next couple of years, just don't ask where the Premier League Trophy is if you visit the trophy room!
**Photo attributed to Ben Sutherland
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66-68 Lark Lane
Liverpool, England L17 8UU
194 Walton Breck Rd
Liverpool, England L4 0RQ
+44 151 261 2734
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