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Liverpool v West Ham United
Sunday, April 7th, 2013, 1.30pm
Premier League
By James Prentice
(Doing The 92)

1.Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

Anfield is a ground I had wanted to visit for years but given that tickets are usually difficult to come by I hadn’t had the chance to make the journey. So, after eluding me for so many years, when the chance of a ticket in the away end for Liverpool’s match against West Ham came up, I didn’t have to think twice. I would have liked to have sat in one of the home areas, but just to get to a game there was good enough so I quickly made plans to get over to Liverpool for the lunchtime kick off. The Reds, for a number of reasons, are not my favourite club, but I decided to put any preconceptions to one side and enjoy the day out.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

I left Lincoln early doors and drove to Liverpool, using the Woodhead Pass (which offers some great scenery) before joining up with the M60 and the M62. After leaving the motorway I drove for just under three miles before finding somewhere to leave my car. On the advice of an exiled Scouser I work with, I parked just off Queen’s Drive, to the north of Anfield. The streets south of this all have ‘residents only’ parking restrictions so I would recommend that fans leave their cars here. From this area I only had a short 15 minute walk to the vicinity of the stadium.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

Being a football grounds enthusiast, and having arrived in plenty of time, I first went for a walk around Goodison Park, home of Everton FC. This was a real trip down memory lane – I first visited this ground in 1997 and then again in 1998 but haven’t returned since. I would like to go back again, however, as it is a really lovely old ground that has a nice mix of tradition and modernity. After taking a couple of pictures of the exterior I walked through Stanley Park towards Anfield. While I am not a fan of Liverpool, I can appreciate the size of the club and the loyalty of the supporters and enjoyed having a look around such parts as the Paisley Gateway, the Shankly Gates and the Hillsborough Memorial. As the Arkles pub was packed out, I opted for a swift pint in the open area behind the Anfield Road end, which is run by Willow Catering. Most of the home fans seemed to be keeping themselves to themselves, although I often find this is the case at Sunday matches – supporters up and down the country usually seem to be in better spirits on Saturdays.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

I took my seat in the Anfield Road End, becoming an honorary Hammer for the afternoon, having grabbed a Scouse pie from one of the kiosks (it was tasty, if a little dry). The view from my seat – half way up the stand - was good, although in line with reports I have read on this website I am sure that the sightlines are much poorer at the front and at the very back, where the overhang from the upper tier can be a real impediment. The stadium looked just as I had imagined from pictures I had seen beforehand – the Main Stand reminded me of the East Stand at White Hart Lane; the Centenary stand looks extremely smart; and the Kop is simply huge considering it is a single-tiered affair. Overall, Anfield is a good-looking stadium and I can imagine it is a pretty intimidating place for away sides despite not being of the sheer size of a ground like Old Trafford or the Emirates.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc...

The game was, in short, a massive disappointment! I had hoped to see the net bulge a few times, but alas the goalless affair was one of far too many that I have seen over the last couple of seasons. Liverpool never really got going after becoming disheartened against a stubborn West Ham side, while the visitors could have snatched something had they been more clinical with the few good openings they created.

To their credit, the stewards were pretty anonymous and let the West Ham fans – who stood all game – get on with supporting their side. The home fans were pretty quiet throughout – perhaps due to a combination of it being a Sunday lunchtime and a frustrating showing from their team – while the visiting Hammers were in good voice throughout, fashioning a chant comparing Jonjo Shelvey to Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter that was mentioned in the 606 e-newsletter the following day. The pre-match chorus of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ was not sung with the gusto that I’d imagined, and only about one in five Liverpool fans seemed to hold scarves aloft during this anthem, which was a surprise. This led the Hammers to chant, ‘where’s your famous atmosphere?’ Perhaps Reds fans make more of an effort for big/derby matches? The kiosks seemed few and far between and the concourses certainly didn’t seem spacious, although I understand that this will change when the long-awaiting redevelopment of Anfield takes place.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

I had a short journey back to the car and was on the road pretty quickly. There were a few young lads hanging around not far from my car, and when I drove off they told me in cement-thick Scouse that they had ‘minded my car’ and I owed them money! I couldn’t help but be reminded of Glasgow at this point, as the exact same thing happens there.  Surprisingly, it didn’t take more than about 15 minutes to get back on to the M62 and before I knew it I was on the outskirts of Manchester and well on my way home.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

While I would have liked to have been able to make a proper day out of it – and for a Saturday match at that – I enjoyed my trip to Anfield. I have always admired the passion that the fans have for the game and have only experienced fanaticism to such a degree in Manchester and Glasgow, and possibly in Newcastle. I would like to go back at some point and hope to make another trip when the stadium has been redeveloped. This is scheduled to commence pretty soon, although I know some Liverpool fans will be sceptical until it happens given the years of false dawns surrounding their relocation to a new ground. Whilst it might be better in some ways for the club to move to a purpose-built, Emirates-style bowl, I can’t help but admire the fact that they’re trying to remain at their spiritual home despite the hurdles they will have to overcome to do this. If only more clubs – like West Ham – were prepared to do this.

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