Anfield: We're not singing any more
ANFIELD. The Kop. Synonymous with noise, wit, knowledgeable fans, unbridled passion and unwavering support. Famous worldwide, mimicked but never bettered – tales of the extra special support delivered by the Liverpool faithful once reverberated around the planet and are still regurgitated in books, DVDs, on the internet and on TV.
Sampled by Pink Floyd, the subject of a TV documentary, featured on Match of the Day – the swaying Kop was infamously described as the ‘twelfth man’.
When Bill Shankly faced his old club Huddersfield Town side at Anfield during the 1961-62 season, The Terriers’ wing half John Milner said: “The atmosphere that day was amazing, and it made me realise how much the famous Kop helped Liverpool. The noise was unbelievable and verbal communication was impossible when close to the Kop. It was truly astonishing. We scored at that end, but even that didn't quieten them down. If anything, they started to roar even louder.”
Now? You can hear the players talking it’s so quiet at times and the only mention of the twelfth man at Anfield is coupled with an incredulous contorted expression as another match-goer wonders why ‘The Solly’ pub was renamed with this title.
Clubs across Europe – including Bayern Munich, Lazio, Red Star and Fenerbahce - have retired the No.12 shirt in recognition of their fans’ contribution and support. Once, Liverpool could have argued the club do the same.
On the basis of the shite support offered so far at Anfield this season, no longer. Remember (and you don’t need to be an old arse for this one) when EVERY player (within reason) had a song? And it was sung before every game, too.
Must have made the players feel good that, what do you reckon? And how do you think it makes them feel now, when half of them haven’t got a song, and the only time they hear their name it’s after the phrase ‘You're fucking shit you, xxxx’.
No wonder some of the current crop look shit scared to make a mistake. Is it a coincidence that, at the time of writing, results have been better away from home so far this season?
Ironically, there’s been plenty of whinging about the Reds not getting a fair crack of the whip decision-wise at Anfield this season. Well here’s a thought, perhaps the officials aren’t intimidated like they once were.
A study at Harvard University once looked at 5,000 English Premier League matches involving 50 different referees. Researcher Ryan Boyko came up with the equation that for every extra 10,000 people in the crowd, the advantage for the home team increases by 0.1 goals.
His study showed certain referees were more likely to be swayed by the crowd. The figures revealed that away teams scored fewer goals and gave away more penalties, findings which seem to imply that referees are making calls in favour of the home team, possibly as a result of the influence of the crowd.
If he’s got figures for Anfield I’d like to invite him back. Because my totally unscientific research which is based on nothing more than my own inkling reveals that a noisy Anfield equalled loads of dodgy pens and benefit of the doubt.
The current gang of mutes are about as intimidating as Tony Cottee, and consequently refs are giving us fuck all. Or at least being fair. And who wants fair when you’re at home?
As I type, fans are stoking over the coals following a home draw with Swansea. But never mind what took place on the pitch that day, what about off it, in the stands? For the second time in as many weeks the home ‘support’ was out-sung and out-shouted by a group of away fans following a club promoted from the Championship (the previous week it had been Norwich whose fans had shown more appetite for clearing their throats and getting behind their team).
On both occasions not only were the visiting contingent louder, more visibly passionate and more obvious in their backing for their players, they also took the piss out of us: “Where’s your famous atmosphere?” “Your support is fucking shit” “We’ll sing on our own, we’ll sing on our own…” “This is a library, this is a library…” etc etc
In the past, the almost Pavlovian response to such provocation would have been to shout longer and louder back at them – many a time with a tailored put down to boot. But nothing. Fuck all. Aside from a few half-arsed V-signs waved in the general direction of the away end, the collective comeback was a shrug of the shoulders.
That’s not the mindset that inspired St Etienne or Auxerre or had the concrete of the Kop transformed to sponge by thousands of bouncing feet against Chelsea.
Ah, but it was only Swansea/Norwich, I hear some of you cry. And there lies one of the problems. Too many at the match sit back and wait to be entertained. If they’re not, they vent bile - some even booing their own as we’ve seen with Lucas and more recently Jordan Henderson.
We pay our money, they say. You don’t understand the concept of support, I say.
No longer does the Liverpool crowd seek to influence, to suck the ball into the back of the net. It’s too busy taking pictures, getting off early or griping like a grandma with cold feet. Why is that?
The answer is there isn’t a single answer. But huge rises in ticket prices, the Thomas Cook daytrip brigade, and the difficulties in seating large numbers of mates together certainly doesn’t help.
The modern fan – the Sky generation, too, is a big part of the problem. Footie is just some kind of wacky past-time to many of these renta-fans – they film the Kop singing You’ll Never Walk Alone, get their mate to take a picture of them, update their Facebook status, then sit impassively for 90 minutes before heading off home which, and, yes, I’m going to say it, nine times out of ten won’t be Liverpool.
That’s not to say there aren’t some brilliant clued-up proper matchgoing Reds from outside the city – of course there are. And equally, there’s plenty of Scousers who are part of the atmosphere problem - I’m thinking your ‘too cool for school’ types.
Too busy looking and acting hard to sing, what are they bringing to the party? Apart from a North Face coat, obviously.
And almost phlegming at players while doing some kind of shit Rocky impression – well that will inspire the team to victory won’t it? This ire isn’t just aimed at The Kop, either.
Once upon a time, The Anny Road sang. And occasionally, when they’d put their flasks and blankets to one side, the Kemlyn and the Main Stand would join in.
There’s still the occasional shout from the Road End and the far end of The Paddock. And most of it is enough to make you want to burn your season ticket and become a monk. “Who are yer? Who are yer?” YOU AND YOUR SOCCER AM BOLLOCKS - FUCK. OFF. Who are YOU?
These people just don’t get Liverpool for me – the city, the club – the whole shebang. And I wouldn’t mind betting half of them are the same slack-jawed half-wits who stood there shovelling curry into their grids while clued-up fans were doing their damndest to highlight the Hicks and Gillett debacle by marching and protesting last season.
So when is it going to get better? When this nosedive to average going to be arrested? Because make no mistake, if we’re not there already, we’re fast becoming just another club and just another ground.
The McDonaldisation of footie is in full swing and we’ll soon be a Big Mac and large fries. Getting up for it when its the derby, the Mancs and Chelsea is not good enough (and if that was getting up for it for the Mancs by the way, we really are fucked).
There’s been plenty of talk of when the atmosphere will improve: when Hicks and Gillett go, when the in-fighting stops, when Benitez goes, when Hodgson goes…
Well they have, we’re supposedly one again, and the situation is the same.
Kenny’s permanent appointment was supposed to unite the support - to, and please excuse the phrase - get us all singing from the same hymn sheet (if only).
Ironically the cringeworthy Thomas Cook Sport website, which by encouraging more tourists to experience Anfield for up to £270 for ONE match ticket and B&B, is diluting the very thing it is trying to sell, includes the following: “Very few other football grounds can boast to have an atmosphere anywhere near to that at Anfield.
“The Kop is the most renowned stand at Anfield amongst home and away supporters with the people who occupy the stand referred to as kopites. Traditionally, Liverpool's most vocal supporters congregate in the stand.”
Traditionally, aye, until it was consistently populated with whoppers.
And so to a solution. There may not be one. But we should try to find one regardless because what’s the alternative?
I want Liverpool’s support to be special, different – BETTER. That’s not where it’s heading.
While [delete as you see appropriate] debating/waffling/talkingshitabout this very subject on Twitter, I was told by a supporters’ committee member that this problem has been raised with the club.
Good – I hope they listen.
Traditionalists will say it’s up to the fans to bring back the Anfield atmosphere. And they’re right.
But if the club can somehow help logistically – be that with an unreserved seating section to allow big groups of mates to pay on the turnstile on a first come, first served basis; by being more open to fans looking to move their season ticket; or even (and I know is this as likely as an Everton trophy) a reduction in ticket prices for kids – then what’s to lose?
Everyone: fans, club, players, even the fucking bank, wins out of a better atmosphere.
And as an added bonus, I for one, wouldn’t feel like such a hypocrite next time I belt out “Fergie's right, your fans are shite” to the deathly silent Old Trafford.
We’re better than them. We’re better than everyone. So let’s prove it, eh?
|Last Updated ( Sunday, 18 December 2011 23:14 )|