A Time of Change?

Saturday’s game against Leicester City was memorable for many reasons.

The opening of our new Main Stand, our much awaited 1st home game of the season, a destruction of the current League Champions and, whisper it, a possible change in mentality amongst the supporters? After many years supporting from the Kop, I decided my legs could no longer endure the pain of being squashed in for 90 minutes. Off to the new Main stand I went, upper tier.

My pre-match routine remained much the same, walking up past the King Harry (streets full of discarded pyros following the welcome to the team bus) before turning right down ‘dog shit alley’.

It was from here the changes began, now at the end of the alley stood our impressive new stand. A huge structure, but one that looks the part. A carnival atmosphere surrounded the place. Fans walking around acquainting themselves with the new surroundings, live music being played and fans gathering to admire the surroundings in the new park. With the sun shining the atmosphere already began to feel a bit special.

Normally I’d enter the ground about fifteen mins before kick off, but not today!

About 4.30 I entered the new turnstiles – ones actually built for todays ‘fuller figure’ I glided through them, rather than trying to shuffle through the ones into the Kop. 

Up a few steps and onto escalators! Pinned to the walls next to the escalators were replicas of iconic Liverpool flags. It felt like we went up about five sets of escalators before reaching the new concourse – modern, clean & spacious – with windows where you could view out across the city from the heights of the new stand!

The child in me took over, I wanted to go & see my seat.

So half an hour prior to kick off I’m in my seat.

Wow!

A fantastic view with leg room a plenty! If you want a comparison, think Wembley.

As an added piece of entertainment my seat is right by the press box – in front of me went Steve McManaman, Glenn Hoddle etc – a nice pre-match distraction.

The stand soon filled up, as kick off time neared – fans with their cameras out to savour the occasion.

Now, as part of going the match I love to enjoy & join in the atmosphere. The Kop is generally the best place for this, with the Main Stand the worst. I was hoping this would change with the introduction of another eight thousand fans. How right I was!

Fans who had waited nearly 20 years for their opportunity to own a season ticket were determined to enjoy the occasion!

The Upper Main Stand singing got off to a flyer, You’ll Never Walk Alone being sung with passion followed by the full collection of songs. Never before has the Main Stand seen scenes like it for a League match!

I know Anfield is applauded for its atmosphere, and when the occasion suits the place can bounce, but far too often the singing is lucky to continue past the fifth minute of the game. This may be due to complacency as many Season Ticket holders have sat in the same seat for years & years. The influx of so many new Season Ticket holders may have just shook things up for the better?

Maybe it was the ‘new’ fans, or maybe Klopps continual request to support the team helped create the atmosphere, but I sensed a change in the crowd. At two nil we were cruising,

Two moments stood out for me;

At two nil up there was a break in play as one of the players received treatment – suddenly the crowd began to sing, fans stood up and backed the team belting out ‘poetry in motion’ – not just the Kop, but all four sides of the ground. Inspiring.

Then suddenly Lucas inexplicably makes a mistake to gift Leicester a lifeline. This would normally lead to a nervousness sweeping the ground as we fear dropping points and groans being directed at the guilty player- not this time! Lucas was cheered, his name was sung by the crowd to support him – whoever thought supporters should ‘support’?

Klopp spoke afterwards about how great the crowd were, “this is not a theatre, the fans have a job to do” – that message may just be landing with the fans, hopefully, a realisation that we need to get behind the team when they need it most, and let’s be honest, we all enjoy a great atmosphere so let’s help make it happen!

The support not condemnation of the crowd led to an overall impressive performance by Lucas, great team display and a great result against the reigning champions.

Four games so far with three against teams in last seasons top four. We easily won two of them and deserved more than a draw from the other. Not a bad start to the season! (let’s forget Burnley for a moment)

Leaving the ground I was filled with a new sense of optimism.

New stand, great manager, a supportive crowd, a great result and a team that looks like entertainers.

I know it can just be early season optimism, but let me enjoy it.

Written by @LeBigMc5Times

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