Walking Alone: The Absence Of Anfield’s Atmosphere


A general view of Anfield Stadium (Photo by Clint Hughes/Getty Images)

It’s not like the old days. From roar to whimper, joy to tension and courage to cynicism; Anfield and its faithful have evolved, regressed and disappointed when it comes to producing their heralded atmosphere in recent years.

Where once it pushed Liverpool teams over the line, sucking the ball into the net as it swayed as one, The Kop is now reserved, inhibited.


Often it’s possible to hear the chants of the visiting support, sometimes mocking the lack of spirit from their home counterparts in the stands for all to hear, with retorts proving either meek or desperately thin on the ground.

Players come and go, they age, they fade and they lose what made them great, yet the same should not be said about a stadium. Sadly, in Anfield’s case, its power has diminished, lying dormant. A thing of the past.

Its restoration may yet come with the planned expansion. Perhaps a moment of positivity, an incident of hope and progress, will be enough to resurrect it’s once feared presence, but perhaps it’s inhabitants are still far too damaged from the club’s fall from grace to even recognise positivity, let alone embrace it and harness it to instigate change.

As football has changed, Liverpool FC has. The traditions and history are still there, but perhaps less as an inspiration than a defence for the disappointment of the near misses and low finishes during the club’s fall from grace in the Premier League era.

One of the most crucial changes contributing to the depletion of Anfield’s historic noise is the very price fans are forced to pay to even have a chance to be part of it, with tickets becoming more and more difficult to obtain for the unwealthy.

The image of Liverpool has always been of a working class city, gritty, passionate and determined, fiercely loyal to its football team. Saturday afternoons were the highlight of weeks where many had typically slaved away at work for a paltry wage, the exploits of the mighty Reds something all could get behind, a well of positivity in often negative times for those living in the city. Most fans were locals, forever invested in their team, with nothing outside of the football mattering on each match-day.

Now Anfield plays host to those who can afford it.

Businessmen and day-trippers arrive hoping for a good day out, checking their phones for texts throughout. Many who can afford to go are psychologically less able to enjoy the game in front of them, due to the enormity of the sum they have had to pay proving a source of negativity and pressure.

The working class atmosphere has been lost. Going to Anfield is now a privilege only available to a minority of support.

Meanwhile, The Kop is no longer moving as one, a swaying human monster of noise, but seated. There will never be terraces again for obvious reasons, but the anonymity of those amongst the crowd has grown as they all sit separated. Friends are often forced to sit apart due to unavailability of seats together, and inhibitions are brutally exposed.

Fans are now reserved by the comfort of their surroundings, feeling that singing may upset those around them. The courage to make noise has dissipated as people’s environment has improved.

The penultimate reason for the demise of Anfield, and in fact all Premier League grounds’ atmospheres is yet another necessary handicap set by the evolution of the modern game.

Football has grown into a source of entertainment; a product. Many games are now televised, leaving dispassionate fans to wonder, with the score at 0-0, whether the admission price was worth the trip with a warm sofa, big screen and skybox waiting at home.

Fans now expect to be entertained, and now believe their role to simply be a viewer, unaware that they themselves can help push the ball over the goal-line, inspiring their team to perform at their very best and find that extra 10%.

Young fans have been raised on this idea of football as entertainment, ruled by the media, and are uneducated in the times when football was a game where those from all walks of live bonded, and Anfield was it’s home.

Yet there is only one real, and very obvious reason why Anfield no longer threatens to deafen opposition fans.

Liverpool are not as good as they used to be.

The club is now burdened by its past successes; a noose of expectation hangs from the yardstick of European and League trophies, choking almost everyone involved with the club in modern times.

Liverpool Football Club and its fans have been to hell and back over the last 5-6 seasons.

Disbelief, anger, fear and depression has not yet departed the air that hangs inside it’s ground, with the fans appearing nervous, tense, quick to anger and slow to warm up. The wind has been stolen from the sails of their ships, leaving them shaken and disillusioned.

From the poor management of Graeme Souness and Roy Hodgson to Hicks and Gillett, the two that nearly destroyed everything Liverpool had built, it has not been easy. Each new leader has provided a false dawn, and many cannot believe the decline of Liverpool’s performance since the glory days.

Fans didn’t bounce back from going into administration. Songs were not sung, and positivity was not evident even after the club had come back from the brink of collapse. Tension still filled the air. Even after Kenny Dalglish was returned to his throne at the head of Liverpool, the historic fanfare that greeted him quickly dissolved into yet more worry about where things were heading.

The smallest setback seems enough to set fans off or shut them up, and many feel they are not permitted to sing once You’ll Never Walk Alone finishes playing.

There is doubt. There are inhibitions. Going to Anfield is no longer a release of tension, but a provider of it.

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This article on Anfield was originally published on The Liverpool Word by staff writer Matt Volpi.

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