Tuesday, 22nd Feb 2022 21:44 by Tim Whelan
For the second time in less than a fortnight we visit the city of Liverpool, for the rearranged game at Anfield, with the kick-off at 7.45. Anfield is approximately two miles north-east of the city centre.
And if you didn’t manage to get a ticket you’re unlucky, because although this game was selected for TV coverage on the original date, it’s not being broadcast live this time around. And the reason is that it’s a Champions League night, so UEFA don’t allow any domestic games to be shown at the same time. You’d think that if the Champions League is as great as they say it is they wouldn’t need to protect it’s viewing figures from competition, but that’s the way it is.
If you’re driving you need to follow the M62 right to the end and then get into one of the two right-hand lanes, signposted A5058 Ring Road North. To get straight to the stadium you would follow this road for three miles and then turn left at the traffic lights into Utting Avenue (just after a big McDonalds on the left), but there is a residents’ only parking scheme that starts immediately after this junction.
So you’re better off staying on the ring road for a while longer and turning left onto the A580 towards the city centre. That will take you to Goodison Park, where you can park securely for £10. If that doesn’t appeal you can follow the signs to one of the ‘park and walk’ options, or take the risk of street parking outside the residents’ only zone.
It won’t be possible to get back to Leeds by train after the game, but I’ll include these directions for the benefit of fans who live a bit closer to Liverpool. It’s about two miles from the main Lime Street station, but Kirkdale Railway Station on the Merseyrail system is the closest to Anfield at just under a mile away.
Another option is to go to Sandhills (the most windswept railway station in the world) and catch the ‘soccerbus’ from there. If you’re going this way you can ask for a ticket to Anfield from Lime Street or Liverpool Central, as this is cheaper than buying the train and bus tickets separately. You can get a train direct to Kirkdale or Sandhills from Central, but you would have to change there if you’re starting from Lime Street.
You could also catch a bus from Queens Square bus station, which is close to Lime Street, though you’ll have to pick your way through some extensive roadworks. The 17a 17b 17c and the 26 all run from there right to the stadium, though the journey back will take a while as the streets will be choked with traffic.
The usual away pub is ‘Arkles’, which is just along Anfield Road from the away section, and has a decent fish and chip shop nearby. If this pub gets a bit too full you could try the ‘Flat Iron’ by going a bit further down Anfield Road to it’s junction with Walton Breck Road. That’s a Liverpool fans pub but away fans are accepted, and I’ve never had any trouble in there.
There is also a fan zone on the other side of the road from the away turnstiles, and they usually sell overpriced lager inside the stadium itself. If none of this appeals, you could do your drinking in the city centre before catching a train from Liverpool Central to Kirkdale or Sandhills (see above).
After the game at Goodison ten days ago I took a stroll across Stanley Park, and I found it all very different from the last time Leeds came to Anfield, at least with fans present. Anfield Road has been closed off, as a new extension at that end is in the process of being constructed across it (see picture) and there is a lot more space behind the main stand as a whole row of terraced houses has been demolished.
But the biggest change has been the addition of several tiers to the main stand, which now towers over the rest of the stadium. The extension took the capacity of this stand from 12,000 to 20,500 and that of the whole stadium to 54,074. There are now some smart glass panels at the back of the stand, and behind it a couple of statues of their most famous managers and players. Beneath the stand itself is the memorial to the victims of the Hillsborough disaster.
The away section is just under 3,000 seats at the Anfield Road Stand, where the facilities are generally good, but the view from the back seats has been severely restricted since a new tier was built above in 1998. So much so that the last time I was there the fans in those rows moved forward into the gangways to try to get at least a passing glimpse of the pitch.
Thanks to Premier League regulations the tickets cost £30 for adults, with various categories of concessions at £22.50, £15 and £9, though you might get a generous £1 off for a restricted view seat. Which is nice. They were all sold out long before the original date, and I haven’t seen any returns popping up for sale on the official Leeds site since.
To get a ticket for any of the home stands you would need to fork out for a Liverpool membership, and even then they seem to be very difficult to get hold of. If you’re truly desperate, their official site is selling hospitality tickets at £268 a head, but even these are shown as being for home fans only. You wouldn’t want to pay all that money and get thrown out for being a Leeds fan.
Such is the demand for tickets that they are in the process of increasing the capacity by a further 7,000, by building the Anfield Road End extension at a cost of £80m. By the time it is complete at the start of the 2023/24 season, Anfield will be the third biggest stadium in the Premier League. I’m not sure if any of the extra seats will be given to away fans, but we might dare to hope that we all end up with a better view.
Some of this stuff came from www.footballgroundguide.com .
Photo: Action Images
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