Sunday, January 28, 2007

Round up part 2 - This Is Anfield

Game 16 - Liverpool 4 FFC 0
My mate Mark has been talking about going to Anfield for a few seasons now, but for one reason or another we’ve never made it. Noticing it was on a Saturday and unlikely to be moved due to European football I suggested we go up this year. Having decided to go we then spent quite a long time trying to talk ourselves out of it. The train was too expensive, neither of our cars were up to the job of driving and the coach would mean a very long day, not to mention the inevitable defeat. Eventually on the Tuesday prior to the game we bit the bullet and bought tickets for the game and the coach. The coach option turned out to be not as bad as we feared. Taking a late decision to go from Motspur Park only had to leave home at 7:00 and had the added bonus of being able to park for free. Our driver, (Everton!) made great time getting up there and even provided us with a panoramic trip round the outside of Anfield, passing Goodison Park and Billy Wright’s statue before eventually finding our drop off point on the far side of Stanley Park. We were nice and early so headed straight for The Arkles pub. The pub was rammed with mainly Liverpool with a fair scattering of Fulham, but a friendly environment with both fans standing shoulder to shoulder watching the Manchester Derby (though wanting a different result!).

Spot the Fulham fan.

A great atmosphere and a couple of pre-match pints set us up nicely for the game ahead and as we made the short walk to the ground the full impact of Anfield's historic past hit me for the first time. Walking up to the ground down proper terraced back streets it felt like we had been transported back 20 or 30 years. We went to see the Hillsborough memorial and couldn’t resist having our photo taking by the Shankley gates and the "This Is Anfield" sign. It will be a sad day if Liverpool do as planned and leave this ground behind to move to a bigger stadium. The game itself was pretty much as expected. Fulham strove manfully in the first half to contain Liverpool, and did pretty well despite a few lapses, but we were always struggling to find any threat up front. The second half, particularly after the loss of Diop to a thigh strain (maybe his last performance in a Fulham shirt?), saw the Reds streaming forward with pace and power. The first goal was unfortunate, the second avoidable and then it was all downhill with no way back. It was a long journey home, eventually returning around 11:00, but we had a great day out (despite the inevitable defeat) and were really glad we made the effort.

Wonder if that kid's photo came out better than mine?

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