As the 650 tonne roof truss was fitted onto the Main Stand last week, I thought I would take a look back at the history of Anfield and how it’s changed over the years. As we all know, the ground was originally the home of our blue shirted rivals Everton Football Club but it’s been Liverpool’s since 1892.
Three years after making Anfield their home, the team behind Liverpool Football Club began work on a brand new stand in the same location as today’s Main Stand. It held 3,000 fans and was the first big change to the historic ground.
The year of 1903 saw a new stand built at the Anfield Road end, and by 1906 we had created the Spion Kop. The Spion Kop took its name from a battle in the Boer War where several soldiers from regiments in Liverpool and the Merseyside area lost their lives. Soon after a stand was also built along Kemlyn Road and Anfield began to take its familiar shape.
In 1928, the Spion Kop was redesigned and was able to hold more than 20,000 fans. An all-standing terrace and with a new roof erected, the Kop was envied by football clubs all over the country. The year of 1928 also saw Liverpool acquire the topmast of the SS Great Eastern after it was salvaged from a ship breaking yard on the Wirral. The mast now stands as a flag pole at the corner of the Kop and the Centenary Stand and is an iconic feature of Anfield.
The 1928 Anfield Stadium remained the same until the 60s when the Anfield Road end became covered. In the 70s the old Main Stand was completely demolished with a new one reconstructed. In the 80s an area at the front of the Main Stand was converted into a seating area and seats were also added to the Kemlyn Road and Anfield Road stands.
In 1989 after the Hillsborough Disaster, the Taylor Report recommended that all grounds in the country should be converted to an all-seater arrangement by May 1994. Anfield would undergo further changes over this time period to meet the new safety requirements.
In 1992, eventually, after some delay, a second tier was added to the Kemlyn Road stand and what we know today as the Centenary Stand was officially opened in September of that year. The delay was caused by two residents on Kemlyn Road refusing to sell up but after some time the club managed to agree a deal. By 1994, Anfield was an all-seater stadium.
The next big change at occurred in 1998 when the Anfield Road end was changed into a two tier stand. By the 1999/2000 season though fans complained of abrupt movement of the upper section of the stand during matches and so a series of supports were added for extra stability.
In 2008, our American owners Hicks and Gillett promised us the world, construction was due to start on a “new Anfield” in Stanley Park, a spade would be in the ground within 60 days they said but the construction never happened. Whilst the idea was exciting at the time, I’m so happy it didn’t go ahead.
We now find ourselves moving forward with Fenway Sports Group who took over ownership of our club in 2010 and abandoned the idea of leaving Anfield. Instead, John W Henry preferred the idea of redevelopment and after several meetings with the council and the creation of detailed plans, construction on the extension of the Main Stand began in December 2014. The expansion will take our capacity to approximately 54,000, and with expansion to the Anfield Road end also planned we could hit 59,000 by the end of the building work.
The famous arena has seen many changes over the years but as cliché as it sounds you would never replicate the atmosphere and the history of Anfield in a different location. I’m glad the proposed shift to Stanley Park never occurred and I look forward to the changing face of our iconic ground as we push forward into the 2015/2016 season.
What are your thoughts on the Anfield redevelopment?