Normally West Ham’s
allocation of 3,000 tickets sells out to season
ticket holders, but with a 12.45 kick off, and coverage on Sky, this humble
Club Member got to make his first visit to Anfield since it went all-seater.
Not wanting to make a long drive to Liverpool, then worry about parking, I
paid a king’s ransom for a train ticket. This necessitated taking three
trains from my home in Northampton. Once in Liverpool I enjoyed a fine pint
of ale at the White Star. I then took the Internet Football Ground Guide’s
advice and made for Moorfields Merseyrail station. £1.95 buys you a return
to Anfield/Goodison. You simply get off at Sandhills and get on the
soccerbus. I didn’t wear colours, but it felt safe enough to do so.
Sadly, no famous chicken balti pies, and the queue for other food (including
scouse pies) put me off. Things generally seemed well run. There was no
queue for toilets, and though there was a high police presence, all was calm
My seat towards the front of the Anfield Road Stand was fine – even though
everyone insisted on standing. The stadium is large, traditional in form,
but with modern touches in its styling. I can’t say it is as impressive as
Old Trafford, but when they play “You’ll Never Walk Alone” just before kick
off and everyone holds their scarves up you feel you are in a famous
Then it went quiet. The home fans had to be goaded into singing, but even
then it was pretty half-hearted. Bobby Zamora shocked everyone by scoring
early on, which didn’t improve the atmosphere among the Liverpool fans.
Having said that, the roar when Liverpool went forward was immense. Were
West Ham heading for their first win at Anfield since “She Loves You” was in
the charts? No, of course not. It was cruel to concede two goals just before
half time, but it was no more than Liverpool deserved as wave after wave of
attack assaulted Roy Carrol at the Kop End.
Things were more even in the second half, though the 2 – 1 score line
remained. Banter between fans was fairly good-natured. It was certainly
returned with smiles by the Liverpool fans nearest to our section. A few
even obliged when certain visiting fans sang “Stand up if you have a job.”
Some nice touches at the end: Steven Gerrard and the visiting fans applauded
each other. Anton Ferdinand handed his shirt to a West Ham fan, then shook
hands with some Liverpool fans. Fans filed out in an orderly fashion with no
hint of animosity. There was a short queue for the soccerbus, and the return
journey to Liverpool Central on the train was smooth.
In conclusion I would say that the staff at Anfield, and others involved in
the organisation of transport and security, are well-drilled in making your
visit as smooth and enjoyable as possible. I would also say that the
Liverpool supporters added to the experience. Few away fans come away from
Anfield in celebratory mood, but after further visits to the Fly in the Loaf
and Philharmonic pubs back in the city centre I was already looking forward
to my next visit.