Friday, 30 October 2015

Visiting Anfield and Goodison on a tight schedule

When you make the trip to one of football's most prestigious cities it is hard not to go and glimpse at what the other side has to offer their fans. Liverpool of course is one of those cities with two big teams and so before we drove up the M6 and M62 we had already decided that our first stop should be located somewhere close to Stanley Park so that we could walk to both Anfield and Goodison Park before AFCB's Capital One Cup tie.
Our early view of Anfield.
So when we had parked up within a mile of the grounds, and yes it took a short while to find a road where we would not need a permit or a road without any yellow lines, but we found a safe spot and headed towards the red stadium. You can't fail to see the new development standing out from some distance away as two or three big cranes sit behind the stand extension and dominate the skyline. Giant posters of the current players were situated on the walls but not in celebration of silverware, just pictures of them sitting slumped down in the changing room - hardly energising or triumphant.
It's an impressive entrance
Bill Shankly greets everyone who comes in.
We went through the Paisley Gates and studied the Bill Shankly statue before making our way into the club shop. It was a long shop with a step down to a lower level. The boys found a tunnel to walk through which was like getting ready to enter the pitch. I just thought it was a shame they had not put the club badge above at the end so that the kids could reach up and touch it just like the real players do at Anfield when they come down the steps from the changing rooms. We picked up a programme and asked about the trophies which were kept upstairs in the museum. Our time did not allow for a walk down memory lane for me and the great Liverpool teams, but it gives me something to go back for I thought.
Tunnel walk.
The expansion is to be completed next summer.
It's a monster development.
We decided to take a closer look at the extension going onto the Main stand. It was a gigantic project that had a width that must have been about the length of two buses parked ended on end. As for the height it was staggering and above the current stand. A steward tried to explain to us with the aid of my programme that the park area (around the dugout) would be extended and more seats fitted in at the base of the current stand, while the gradient of seats would extend naturally from the current stand onto the extension. He said this would mean fans would not feel too far away from the pitch, but it certainly looked like they would be up in the gods.

Just in case you forgot in which half of Liverpool you are now in.
Everton's club shop is situated just across the road from the ground.
Having felt we had a good idea about what Anfield would look like in the future, we asked about the quickest way to Goodison Park, hoping that the steward would not be too offended. He clearly enjoyed the question and sent us up the road to the traffic lights and then down the hill towards Stanley Park. Once we had reached there he said we would probably be able to smell Everton from there! Nothing like a bit of friendly rivalry is there? Don't worry we spoke to an Everton fan later who was equally complimentary about the red side of town.
Another closer up view of the Toffees' club shop.
As we reached the main dual carriage way leading to Goodison Park we noted that the street was decorated with Everton banners at every lamp post. We really felt that this was an area of town that had been claimed. The club shop came into view next and it was a strange building shaped on the kind of tower that Everton has on its crest. their club motto was written large across the entrance and the full length poster images of current players certainly made the impression that any visiting player would feel dominated by the look of the opponents. While it was a smaller shop than at Liverpool there was something much more organised about it in that everything had its place and the emphasis was on passion for the team. I liked the picture of Graham sharp with the UEFA Cup Winner's trophy (I think that's right) and the hair styles! As we left we saw the modern away kit which was a offish green colour. It's still not growing on me.
When Everton were on top in 1985.
Robert checks out Everton's away kit. I guess
we will see that at Dean Court soon!
We had noticed the tributes for Howard Kendall from some distance away. They were all carefully presented at the foot of the Dixie-Dean statue in front of the main gates and it was really moving as you can see from the pictures. There were lots of scarfs left on the gates and you could certainly feel Everton's great loss, but I felt it was important that we come and see the messages and wreaths. I know Eddie Howe was a big supporter of Everton and Howard Kendall and I am pleased we took the time to go to Goodison Park.
Fabulous tributes to Howard Kendall on the Dixie Dean statue and gates at Goodison.
Walking between the ground on our way back to the car we came across a pub called the The New King Harry which had lots of posters up advertising the evening's game that would be broadcast on TV. I took it as an omen that Harry Arter might be grabbing the headlines in the morning, and while he started the game and played well it would be Liverpool fans that would be celebrating again. We had high hopes though and when we eat dinner in the city centre we were served by an ardent Everton fan who saw our Bournemouth shirts and was rather keen on us getting a result that night as his team had already got through against Norwich City.
Surely, it is a good omen for Harry Arter.
Nobody could say they didn't know there was a game on.
Fancy this view from your bedroom?
The Albert pub at Anfield and the players' poster -Hold nothing back.
The scarf sellers were out early and in force.
In the evening we were back at Anfield for the game having caught a local bus from the city centre. We went over to the areas we had not seen earlier and viewed the plaque for the 96 in memory of the lives lost in the Hillsborough tragedy which was touched by many a Liverpool fan before a match. It was good to know that fans think about them everyday and there are scarves everywhere still calling for justice for the 96. A bit further along there are posters of some of the favourite past players like Kevin Keegan and Jimmy Case, and in front of won we saw a registration plate that looked very much like it might have belonged to Stan Collymore, but I was not sure if the presenter and former Liverpool player was at the game that night. Around the corner we came to the family park where there was a stage and all kinds of food and drink to buy. The mascot was also getting a photo or two taken with the kids and it was a good atmosphere building.
The Radio City Tower.
The  memorial for the 96 - never forgotten.
I remember him!
The Liverpool mascot has a busy evening.
Further references to the 96.
The Kop end.
The atmosphere builds.

Liverpool fans sing You'll Never Walk Alone, and of course we join in.

Once in the ground we had a fairly good view but for one post which was rather close to our eye line of one of the goals but we could lean enough to shift our gaze round it when required. I got busy taking photos as the players came out and interviewed Sam, a Cherries fan. The local Merseyside radio station updated me on the Liverpool team which did not seem as strong as last time we played them and I was hopeful of a good result with Arter back in the team. While it was a narrow defeat, we came out of the ground a lot more content than we had been when leaving Dean Court last weekend. The problem now was in finding a bus back and after walking about a mile we found a bus stop and waited probably another half hour before we squeezed and I mean squeezed onto a bus going back to the centre.
The rest of our trip included an overnight stay and we enjoyed visiting the Albert Docks and the town centre as well as taking various pictures of everything 'Beatles', from the yellow submarine to the Magical Mystery Tour Bus, the Beatles's museum and The Cavern. We could not leave out the Royal Liver building either before starting the long drive back south.  
The Royal Liver building in the skyline.
The wheel and the Echo Arena looking on from Albert Docks
Yes, they did have a yellow submarine.
10 O'clock time for a late breakfast.
Had to check out the Beatles.
And the Cavern Club
Breakfast at last for the boys and me and talk about whether we
can avoid Liverpool in the draw for the FA Cup this season, just so that we can get to Wemebley.
The Magical Mystery Tour takes AFCB to Southampton next,
 but Chimes' next away trip will be Swansea.

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