OF all the famous stadiums across the world, none have gone hand in hand with atmosphere more than our very own Anfield.
I’m sure none of us need reminding of that famous night at home to Chelsea in 2005, nor the remarkable second half vs Olympiakos that same year.
More recently our home league game against Everton, and our Carling Cup semi-final vs City last season when we marched alongside Kenny’s army all the way down to Wembley.
But most famously, if we didn’t have the pleasure to stand on the Kop all those years ago, we’ve certainly grown up with images of that famous stand swaying as one with such grace. Not forgetting with its popular wit and humour too, the Anfield atmosphere became a spectacle in itself.
Unfortunately though, these games are few and far apart and it’s safe to say the Anfield atmosphere has become as inconsistent as Luis Suarez’s finishing. Sometimes magnificent, other times embarrassing, and all too exclusive to those ‘big’ games.
Before I go any further, I’d like to point out that I am totally against the ideology that Scousers are bigger fans than those outside of Liverpool. I think it an outdated idea born out of bitterness at the way football has developed away from being the working classes game anymore, where workers lived for their weekends when they would gather together on the terraces to watch their local team and really felt a part of it. Sadly, ticket prices have taken this away from us, but football has moved on and has in some ways become more inclusive. Just listen to the different languages and accents next time you’re there on a Saturday at 3pm.
I regard all Liverpool fans as equal, wherever they are from or their ability to get to Anfield. But what I do have a problem with, Scouser or not, is how you act when you do get the chance.
On what is becoming far too many occasions we are being out-sung by visiting supporters leaving us with no answer to taunts of “where’s your famous atmosphere?”, with only the back of the Kop offering anything in return – but even they’re too far back and secluded to be heard. Occasions that always seem to fall when we play those ‘lesser’ teams whom we are expected to beat, and comfortably too. Do we? No. A trend that seems to be synonymous with our form in the stands providing, in my eyes, evidence that we fans inside Anfield have a major part to play.
What I’m asking for is for match goers, regular or not, to understand that when they come to Anfield, their contribution to the atmosphere is vital in us getting the three points. Who would not want that after all?
People come from far and wide to experience the Anfield atmosphere, but rarely are they part of it, tending to instead take pictures of Steven Gerrard taking a corner. Take all the mementos you want before and after the ninety minutes but nothing beats feeling a part of something. I know a lot do not know many songs apart from ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ or ‘Fields of Anfield Road’ but even just clapping along and making some noise is better than sitting there, glum faced and screaming at Downing to get down the wing. This is not exclusive to ‘tourists’, because I’ve frequently seen lots thrilled to be there, giving it their all, whilst next to him some grumpy, season ticket Scouser wishes for the “good ol’ days”.
Thus, this rant is aimed at anyone who has the attitude that Anfield is a theatre where I go to be purely entertained whilst I sit with my prawn sandwich in silence giving horrified looks to anyone who even dares to join in or start any sort of chant. I regard every game as a big game; you cannot do otherwise when you are aiming for the top four. So I call on every Anfield match goer to get behind the eleven on the pitch and do all we can to help us bring back those wonderful ‘European night’ atmospheres of years gone by.
Call this whatever you like, but I don’t rate fans on their location, nor how many times they have been to Anfield. I will though, when I see you inside.