My Sunday walk took me somewhere different and yet not so different; familiar and yet not so familiar. My daily dog walk to the park takes me beneath the shadow of the Anfield stadium, the home of Liverpool Football Club, into nearby Stanley Park. I’ll find time to write about the park and our daily walk later but having deposited the dogs back home I decided to have a walk around some of the streets that lead on to the park and have a look at the construction work that is going on just down the road from me. Usually as I leave the park at 6:30 in the morning the car park is beginning to fill with the cars of the construction workers who are working on the extension of the existing stadium.
There has been a lot of uncertainty and controversy over the past few years over the development of Liverpool’s stadium and the impact on the local community. Whole streets were bought up and scheduled for demolition, some were and some remain boarded up and abandoned. At one point the stadium was going to be rebuilt in Stanley Park, another scheme would see the football team moving out of the area all together, but after years of uncertainty Liverpool FC are staying put but expanding the ground.
Anfield Road has lost many of the fine tall terraces and villas that overlooked the park, but Stanley House remains.
But further down from Stanley House, where once there stood a row of imposing villas you will see only hoarding
Construction on the Main Stand will add another 8,500 seats and take the ground’s capacity to 54,000.
I had intended to cut through one of the now non-existent streets to Walton Breck Road and the front of the stadium but had to detour as they had been swallowed up by this behemoth. And here I saw the other side of Anfield. Walking along streets where there were clear signs of a thriving community with children’s play areas, well-kept houses and folk going about their everyday tasks you turn a corner and streets where on one side a whole row of houses is boarded up.
But this is a city of opposites and where football is more than a question of life and death. As I approached the ground a scally was walking towards me with a can in his hand singing of how he loves Liverpool, then mournfully he cursed the place because Gerrard had departed to America. Those may not have been his exact words but I hope I have conveyed the sentiment accurately.
People were crowding around waiting for a guided tour of the ground and museum, which will set you back at least £17.
Well, that was the first time I had stepped into a football ground since the 70s and the closest I am ever going to. Except, well this is a city of two halves, so I guess I will be making a trip across Stanley Park to Goodison. But really, I can’t see what the fuss is about.