1) This is Anfield
Liverpool FC’s home ground of Anfield is one of the most famous football grounds in the world. Originally home to city rivals Everton FC before their move to Goodison Park, the stadium has hosted the club’s home fixtures since 1892 and has recently been redeveloped to extend its capacity to over 54,000 with plans for a further extension on the horizon.
Anfield is famous for its atmosphere with the Spion Kop stand behind one of the goals often being the catalyst for the impressive wall of noise that greets the teams as they come out on the field.
In the recent past speculation was rife about a possible new stadium for the club at a location nearer to the city centre. However, current owners, the US based Fenway Sports Group, have rejected the idea for fear of losing the unique atmosphere that surrounds Liverpool’s home games.
The stadium is replete with memories and is a veritable museum to the club’s long and distinguished history. One such example is the ‘This is Anfield’ sign that hangs about the stairs that leads the players out on to the pitch from the dressing rooms. Installed by legendary manager Bill Shankly in the 1960s to bring good luck to his players before each and game and to intimidate the opposition, it was tradition for the Liverpool team to reach up and touch the sign as they headed for the pitch.
Current coach Jurgen Klopp has broken with that tradition since his arrival in 2015, forbidding his players to touch the famous sign until they have won a trophy. With the German as coach they have come close on several occasions but as yet they have not added any more silverware to the club’s impressive trophy cabinet.
This season they are involved in a head to head battle with Manchester City for the league title and face Barça in the semi-finals of the Champions League and so there is still the hope that next season Klopp’s players will return to tradition as they make their way out to play at Anfield.
2) 29 years without having won the Premier League
For many Liverpool fans, if forced to make a choice between Champions League success and Premier League success, the latter would be the more attractive option. The Reds claimed the Champions League title back in 2005 with their famous comeback win in Istanbul against AC Milan and have also been runners-up in 2007 and 2018.
However, the league has eluded the Merseyside club for 29 years with their last of their 18 titles coming back in 1990. A side coached by Brendan Rogers went close back in 2014 when they were pipped by Manchester City despite Luis Suárez’s 31 goals that season which saw him claim the Golden Shoe award for Europe’s top league goalscorer.
3) US Owners
Hard as it may be to believe, Liverpool FC faced severe financial difficulties in 2010 before the sale of the club to the Fenway Sports Group, the US based owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball franchise. The change in ownership brought stability to the club on and off the field. A much needed extension to the stadium was carried out to lift the capacity to over 54,000 and in 2012 the club claimed the League Cup title and in 2014 they came close to claiming a 19th league title. In 2016 new coach Jurgen Klopp took the side to the UEFA Europe League final in his first season only to lose to Spanish side Sevilla. In 2018 Klopp went one better by taking the team to the final of the Champions League where they were once again denied by Spanish opposition, this time Real Madrid.
4) When we were kings
Liverpool may have struggled for silverware in recent years (see above) but there was a time that their dominance in domestic and European competition rivalled that of FC Barcelona in more recent memory. Between 1974 and 1983 under coach Bob Paisley Liverpool FC won no less than 21 trophies, including three European Cups (the previous name of the Champions League), 1 UEFA Cup, 6 English league titles and 3 consecutive League Cups.
After Paisley’s retirement in 1983 his successor Joe Fagan claimed the treble in his first season, winning the league, the European Cup and the League Cup. Domestic success continued for the rest of the decade with the club claiming a league and FA Cup double in 1986, the league title in 1988, the FA Cup in 1989 and the last of their 18 league title in 1990.
5) The darkest days in their history
In the midst of Liverpool’s era of dominance in Europe and at home in the 1980’s, tragedy struck the club not once but twice. In 1985, just moments before the European Cup final between Italian giants Juventus and Liverpool a wall collapsed within the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, the venue for the game, and 39 fans, mainly Italian, lost their lives. The aftermath of the disaster led to UEFA imposing a long ban on English clubs in European competition thus ending Liverpool’s run of success on the Continental stage.
Less than four years later, on 15 April 1989, tragedy struck Liverpool once again. On what the club itself calls the ‘darkest day in our history’, 96 Liverpool fans were killed in a crush prior to an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield, the worst disaster in British sporting history. The very week that Liverpool FC have made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League to face FC Barcelona marks the 30th anniversary of the day of those fatal events which will never be forgotten.