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Anfield Stadium

Location Liverpool, Merseyside, England
Opened 1884
Owner Liverpool F.C.
Operator Liverpool F.C.
Surface Desso GrassMaster
Capacity 45,276
Field dimensions 101 metres (110 yd) by 68 metres (74 yd)
Tenants
Everton
Liverpool
1884–1892
1892–present

 

Anfield is a football stadium in Anfield, Liverpool, England which has a seating capacity of 45.276. It has been the home of Liverpool F.C. since their formation in 1892. It was originally the home of Everton F.C. from 1884 to 1892, when they moved to Goodison Park.

The stadium has four stands: the Spion Kop (also known as The Kop), Main Stand, Centenary Stand and Anfield Road. The record attendance of 61.905, was set at a match between Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1952. The ground's conversion to an all-seater stadium in 1994 as a result of the Taylor Report greatly reduced its capacity.

Two gates at the ground are named after former Liverpool managers: Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley. A statue of Shankly is situated outside the stadium. The ground is 2 miles (3 km) from Liverpool Lime Street railway station.

Plans to replace Anfield with a new 60,000-capacity stadium in adjacent Stanley Park were initiated in 2002. Fenway Sports Group's acquisition of Liverpool in 2010 made the construction of a new stadium doubtful as they have said they would prefer to redevelop Anfield.

History

Opened in 1884, Anfield was originally owned by John Orrell, a minor land owner who was a friend of an Everton F.C. member John Houlding. Everton, who previously played at Priory Road, were in need of a new venue owing to the noise produced by the crowd on match days. Orrell lent the pitch to the club in exchange for a small rent. The first match at the ground was between Everton and Earlestown on 28 September 1884, which Everton won 5–0. During Everton's tenure at the stadium, stands were erected for some of the 8,000-plus spectators regularly attending matches, although the ground was capable of holding around 20,000 spectators and occasionally did. The ground was considered of international standard at the time, playing host to the British Home Championship match between England and Ireland in 1889. Anfield's first league match was played on 8 September 1888, between Everton and Accrington F.C. Everton quickly improved as a team, and became Anfield's first league champions in the 1890–91 season.

In 1892, negotiations to purchase the land at Anfield from Orrell escalated into a dispute between Houlding and the Everton F.C. committee over how the club was run. Events culminated in Everton's move to Goodison Park. Houlding was left with an empty stadium, and decided to form a new club to occupy it. The new team was called Liverpool F.C. and Athletic Grounds Ltd, and the club's first match at Anfield was a friendly played in front of 200 people on 1 September 1892, against Rotherham Town. Liverpool won 7–1.

Liverpool's first Football League match at Anfield was played on 9 September 1893, against Lincoln City. Liverpool won 4–0 in front of 5,000 spectators. A new stand capable of holding 3,000 spectators was constructed in 1895 on the site of the present Main Stand. Designed by architect Archibald Leitch, the stand had a distinctive red and white gable, and was similar to the main stand at Newcastle United's ground St James' Park. Another stand was constructed at the Anfield Road end in 1903, built from timber and corrugated iron. After Liverpool had won their second League championship in 1906, a new stand was built along the Walton Breck Road. Local journalist Ernest Edwards, who was the sports editor of newspapers the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo, christened it the Spion Kop; it was named after a famous hill in South Africa where a local regiment had suffered heavy losses during the Boer War in 1900. More than 300 men had died, many of them from Liverpool, as the British army attempted to capture the strategic hilltop. Around the same period a stand was also built along Kemlyn Road.

The ground remained much the same until 1928, when the Kop was redesigned and extended to hold 30,000 spectators, all standing. A roof was erected as well. Many stadia in England had stands named after the Spion Kop. Anfield's was the largest Kop in the country at the time—it was able to hold more supporters than some entire football grounds. In the same year the topmast of the SS Great Eastern, one of the first iron ships, was rescued from the ship breaking yard at nearby Rock Ferry, and was hauled up Everton Valley by a team of horses, to be erected alongside the new Kop. It still stands there, serving as a flag pole.

Floodlights were installed at a cost of £12,000 in 1957. On 30 October they were switched on for the first time for a match against Everton to commemorate the 75-year anniversary of the Liverpool County Football Association. In 1963 the old Kemlyn Road stand was replaced by a cantilevered stand, built at a cost of £350,000, and able to hold 6,700 spectators. Two years later alterations were made at the Anfield Road end, turning it into a large covered standing area. The biggest redevelopment came in 1973, when the old Main Stand was demolished and a new one constructed. At the same time, the pylon floodlights were pulled down and new lights installed along the top of the Kemlyn Road and Main Stands. The new stand was officially opened by the Duke of Kent on 10 March 1973. In the 1980s the paddock in front of the Main Stand was turned into seating, and in 1982 seats were introduced at the Anfield Road end. The Shankly Gates were erected in 1982, a tribute to former manager Bill Shankly; his widow Nessie unlocked them for the first time on 26 August 1982. Across the Shankly Gates are the words You'll Never Walk Alone, the title of the hit song by Gerry & The Pacemakers adopted by Liverpool fans as the club's anthem during Shankly's time as manager.

Coloured seats and a police room were added to the Kemlyn Road stand in 1987. After the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 where overcrowding led to the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans, the Taylor Report recommended that all grounds in the country should be converted into all-seater grounds by May 1994. A second tier was added to the Kemlyn Road stand in 1992, turning it into a double-decker layout. It included executive boxes and function suites as well as 11,000 seating spaces. Plans to expand the stand had been made earlier, with the club buying up houses on Kemlyn Road during the 1970s and 1980s, but had to be put on hold until 1990 because two sisters, Joan and Nora Mason, refused to sell their house. When the club reached an agreement with the sisters in 1990, the expansion plans were put into action. The stand—renamed the Centenary Stand—was officially opened on 1 September 1992 by UEFA president Lennart Johansson. The Kop was rebuilt in 1994 after the recommendations of the Taylor Report and became all seated; it is still a single tier, and the capacity was significantly reduced to 12,390.

On 4 December 1997, a bronze statue of Bill Shankly was unveiled at the visitors' centre in front of the Kop. Standing at over 8 feet (2.4 m) tall, the statue depicts Shankly with a fan's scarf around his neck, in a familiar pose he adopted when receiving applause from fans. Inscribed on the statue are the words "Bill Shankly – He Made The People Happy". The Hillsborough memorial is situated alongside the Shankly Gates, and is always decorated with flowers and tributes to the 96 people who died in 1989 as a result of the disaster. At the centre of the memorial is an eternal flame, signifying that those who died will never be forgotten. The most recent structural change to Anfield came in 1998 when the new two-tier Anfield Road end was opened. The stand has encountered a number of problems since its redevelopment; at the beginning of the 1999–2000 season, a series of support poles and stanchions had to be brought in to give extra stability to the top tier of the stand. During Ronnie Moran's testimonial match against Celtic, many fans complained of movement of the top tier. At the same time that the stanchions were inserted, the executive seating area was expanded by two rows in the main stand, lowering the seating capacity in the paddock.

Future

Plans to replace Anfield were originally initiated by Liverpool in May 2002. The proposed capacity was 55,000, but it was later revised to 61,000, with 1,000 seats given for segregation between home and away fans. Several attempts were made between 2003 to 2007 by the Liverpool City Council to instigate a groundshare of the proposed stadium with local rivals Everton, but this move was rejected, as neither club favoured it. On 30 July 2004 Liverpool was granted planning permission to build a new stadium 300 yards (270 m) away from Anfield at Stanley Park. On 8 September 2006 Liverpool City Council agreed to grant Liverpool F.C. a 999-year lease of the land on the proposed site.

Following the takeover of Liverpool F.C. on 6 February 2007 by George Gillett and Tom Hicks, the proposed stadium was redesigned. In November 2007 the redesigned layout was approved by the council, and construction was due to start in early 2008. The new stadium, provisionally called Stanley Park Stadium, was to be built by HKS, Inc.. It was scheduled to open in August 2011 with a capacity of 60,000. If the new stadium is built Anfield will be demolished. The land will become home to the centrepiece for the Anfield Plaza development, which would include a hotel, restaurants, and offices. However, the construction of Stanley Park was delayed following the economic crisis of 2008 and the subsequent recession, which directly affected the then American owners. The situation was worsened because the club was bought with borrowed money, not the owners' capital, and interest rates were higher than expected. Hicks and Gillett promised to begin work on the stadium within 60 days of acquisition of the club, but had trouble financing the estimated £500 million needed for the Stanley Park development. The deadline passed, and as of June 2011 the site remains untouched. The delays had repercussions in the local district of Anfield, with regeneration plans on hold until the future of the football stadium is decided.

The acquisition of Liverpool by Fenway Sports Group in October 2010 put into question whether Liverpool would leave Anfield. In February 2011 the new club owner, John W. Henry, stated he had a preference for remaining at Anfield and expanding the capacity. After attending a number of games at Anfield, Henry stated that "the Kop is unrivalled", adding "it would be hard to replicate that feeling anywhere else"

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