Friday 05 July 2013
Premierleague.com profiles all 20 Premier League venues, continuing with Liverpool's home ground, Anfield Stadium.
Year built: 1884
First League match: Everton 2-1 Accrington, 8 September 1888
Anfield has been home to Liverpool Football Club ever since the club's formation in 1892. However, the Reds were not the first club to play at the ground. They only moved in after Everton, who had been tenants for eight years, upped sticks in objection to the landord’s rent hike.
During Everton’s spell at the venue, Anfield came to be regarded as a ground of international standard, playing host to the British Home Championship between England and Ireland in 1889, and staging its first league match on 8 September the previous year, between Everton and Accrington FC. Indeed in the 1890-91 season Anfield became the home of the champions as Everton won the first of their nine league titles.
Two years later, after an acrimonious board split, the Blues found a new venue across Stanley Park and moved to Goodison Park. With Anfield empty John Houlding, an Everton director who had fallen out with the club, formed his own club and so Liverpool FC and Athletics Grounds Ltd was born.
Archibald Leitch, the architect, designed a new 3,000-capacity Main Stand in 1895, and as Liverpool’s popularity grew further stands were erected in 1903 and 1906. The latter, on the Walton Breck Road, was built following the Reds’ first championship victory and was christened the "Spion Kop" by local newspaper journalist Ernest Edwards, after a famous hill in South Africa where a local regiment had suffered heavy losses during the Boer War.
Redesigned in 1928 to house 30,000 standing supporters the Kop soon developed a reputation for being one of the most cacophonous football stands in the country. During Liverpool’s heyday in the 1970s and 1980s the noise generated at Anfield became integral to the aura surrounding the most successful club in the country, with the Kop influential in many a home win.
The biggest of the grounds redevelopments came in 1973 when the old Main Stand was replaced. Nine years later the Shankly Gates were erected, in tribute to the former manager, Bill Shankly, who had lifted the club out of the doldrums and turned Liverpool into a footballing force who would go on to dominate the domestic and European football scene for the best part of the next two decades. Inscribed on the Shankly Gates are the words "You'll Never Walk Alone’", the title of the 1963 hit song by Gerry & The Pacemakers that was adopted by Liverpool fans as the club's anthem during Shankly's time and which has endured to this day.
In December 1997, a bronze statue of Shankly was unveiled at the visitors' centre in front of the Kop, which had become an all-seater stand, after the recommendations of the Taylor Report. The report emerged as a result of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster in which 96 Liverpool supporters attending an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest died. The Hillsborough memorial, which is constantly adorned with flowers and tributes to the victims, is next to the Shankly Gates. At the centre of the memorial is an eternal flame, signifying that those who died will never be forgotten.
Located about two miles north of the city centre and nestling among the red-brick buildings of the Anfield area, "the home of football" has retained its dual status as both traditional community hub and iconic ground of global renown.
4 Jan 1994 Liverpool 3-3 Manchester United
Although just four days into the New Year Manchester United came to Anfield having established a 12-point lead at the top of the table, with traditional rivals Liverpool a further nine back. Further humiliation for Liverpool looked on the cards as United surged into a three-goal lead within the opening 24 minutes thanks to goals by Steve Bruce, Ryan Giggs and Denis Irwin.
But the Barclays Premier League champions’ cushion was reduced within a minute, when Nigel Clough snapped in a 25-yarder. The £2.3m signing from Nottingham Forest struck again from outside the area seven minutes before the interval, and with 11 minutes left Anfield erupted as Neil Ruddock completed a great comeback with a brave header.
28 Aug 1994 Liverpool 3-0 Arsenal
Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler scored the fastest hat-trick in Barclays Premier history when he stunned Arsenal with three first-half goals. Roy Evans’s charges were hoping to hit the ground running after finishing eighth in the top flight the previous season and had opened the campaign a week earlier with a 6-1 thrashing of Crystal Palace, in which Fowler had also scored. But the 30,017 supporters at Anfield knew they were witnessing something special when the 19-year-old academy graduate confirmed his reputation as one of England’s most exciting talents against one of the meanest defences in the country.
Fowler opened the scoring in the 26th minute when Martin Keown failed to clear a cross from a free-kick and the young striker applied a simple finish from eight yards. The Toxteth-born teenager’s second goal, three minutes later, required greater skill and accuracy as he fired the ball across the goal and in off David Seaman’s far post. And Fowler saved his best for last, beating Keown and Seaman, who collided with one another, before slotting the ball into the open net from a narrow angle. The match had been decided in the space of four minutes and 33 seconds.
3 Apr 1996 Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle United
In one of the all-time classic matches in the history Barclays Premier League Stan Collymore’s last-gasp winner gave Liverpool a breathtaking victory over title-chasing Newcastle United at Anfield. Kevin Keegan’s side came to the ground where he had been a legend as a player three points behind league leaders Manchester United with two games in hand. Newcastle led 2-1 and 3-2, playing some scintillating football before a late double from Collymore swung the encounter Liverpool’s way. The win put Liverpool within five points of Manchester United and two behind Newcastle.
The home side took the lead after just two minutes through Robbie Fowler, who scored 28 league goals in the 1995/96 campaign, but Les Ferdinand levelled the scores eight minutes later. Keegan’s men went in front four minutes later through David Ginola but were pegged back by a second goal from Fowler on 55 minutes. Faustino Asprilla’s clever toe-poke past Liverpool goalkeeper David James restored Newcastle’s lead just before the hour, but less than 10 minutes later Collymore equalised. The former Nottingham Forest forward then produced the winner at the death, after being picked out by John Barnes, by lashing the ball past Pavel Srnicek to send the home fans into delirium.
“The only thing I fear is missing an open goal in front of the Kop. I would die if that were to happen. When they start singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ my eyes start to water. There have been times when I’ve actually been crying while I’ve been playing”
Kevin Keegan (Liverpool 1971-77)
For a 3D tour of Anfield and a video profiling Liverpool and their home ground, click here >>