Sunday, 21 November 2010

Liverpool double

Saturday 20th November 2010

An offer of a ticket to watch Liverpool against West Ham United from my mum was too good an opportunity to turn down. My mum’s other half (Dave) is a Liverpool fan who made his first visit along with my mum to Anfield a couple of weeks ago for Liverpool’s Europa League tie with Napoli. They were outside the stadium the following day and managed to get tickets for this game for Dave and myself. I seldom do any of the ‘92’ mainly due to cost of tickets, parking and everything else that goes with the so called big clubs now days. My original plan for today was to take in a game in north Derbyshire in the Central Midlands League – let me think of a second...Dronfield or Liverpool. A bit of a no brainer really considering I had never been to Anfield to watch a game before, with my only previous visit was a tour of the stadium some twenty years ago with my dad. About ten days ago I found out that this game was kicking off at 5.30pm for the benefit of ESPN viewers and all the armchair football fans out there, and this got me thinking...would there be a non-league game we could get to beforehand that is within a short distance from Anfield that kicked off around 2pm? After an enquiry about this on Tony’s Non-League forum a response came up with Waterloo Dock FC (current Liverpool Premier League champions) who play their home games less than a mile away at The Dockers Club on Townsend Lane in the Clubmoor area of the city. Sorted then with only the weather able to put a spanner in the works!!!

The journey up to Liverpool took around 2 ½ hours with the M6 being its usual self – i.e.: stop start between Stoke and Warrington. The plan was to go to Anfield first and stop briefly which would allow me to take a few photos in daylight, but even with four hours to kick-off this proved almost impossible. All I managed was one of the statue of legendary manager Bill Shankly. It was then a case of finding somewhere to park but as anyone who has been to this part of Liverpool there are an abundance of residents parking schemes in operation. We were told we could park behind a Texaco petrol station for £13 – seriously. I don’t think so as we didn’t want to be robbed legally!!! In the end we made the rather easy decision to head straight to Waterloo Dock FC. The club were charging (a lot more respectable) £5 to park, but when enquiring if we would get a discount as we were watching the Dock first we were allowed to park for free.

Game 1
The Dockers Club

The club have been one of (if not) the most successful non-league clubs in Liverpool since their formation in 1963. Originally joining the Liverpool Business Houses League they won both the division two (1966/67) and one (1967/68) titles before winning the league championship itself in 1969/70. In 1970 they made the step up to the Liverpool County Combination (LCC) and won the division two title at the first attempt. For their remaining time in the LCC until it merged with the I-Zingari League in 2006 to become the Liverpool County Premier League (LPL), Dock won the league championship on twelve occasions and in the last twelve years of the LCC they never finished below 3rd place. They became founder members of the LPL like already stated in 2006 and have dominated the league since winning all four league championships to date. This season they again sit at the top of the table recording eight victories from twelve league game played, currently having a three point lead over Aigburth Peoples Hall. Last Saturday they recorded a 5-2 victory over South Sefton Borough in the 3rd round of the Liverpool County FA Challenge Cup. Opponents Old Xaverians currently sit in sixth place in the LPL some nine points behind ‘Dock.

The Dockers Club is located on Edinburgh Park and is split from the rest of the club by a wall that separates it from the rest of the park. There are three pitches, all of which were in use this afternoon with the pitch Dock use nearest the club itself. The pitch was railed off on two sides, roped on another and nothing behind the goal nearest the wall. There is no hard standing, cover or floodlights. The game itself was not bad and very competitive throughout. Old Xavs seemed more up for it during the first half and certainly gave as good as they got against the league leaders. Dock showed only glimpses of their quality and it was the visitors who took the lead. Around the 35 minute mark a rasping shot from outside the area crashed against the corner of the upright which came back into play, and the ball was put back in the middle for a simple side footed finish from Anthony Conroy. The lead lasted only four minutes when a long ball was flicked on and the Dock’s number 10 finished well past the keeper. There was though a strong case for offside against one or possibly both of the Dock players involved in the goal. The second half was a lot more open with both sides pressing forward at every opportunity. The home side had more of the chances with them coming close on a number of occasions. Not to be outdone Old Xavs forced the home keeper into a smart save. The winner came with sixteen minutes from time when a long ball was layed off for the number 10 to smash the ball home from twenty yards or so out.

Overall not a bad game on a pitch that appeared (from the sidelines) to be difficult to play good football on. Dock on the balance of play, mainly in the second half deserved their victory but they certainly were made to work hard for it. One thing that I have not seen before at non-league level is that the referee and his two assistants were miked up, which (obviously) allowed better communication between the three of them.

Admission / programme: none
Attendance: between 50 and 60
Match rating (in relation to level): 3*

More photos can be found at WDFC
Game 2
FA Premier League

The walk to Anfield was very straight forward and took around fifteen minutes and we arrived with around an hour before kick-off. As you can imagine the pace was buzzing with the game being a sell out. The tickets we had were in the corner of the upper tier of the Anfield Road stand with the West Ham fans being to the right of us. Anfield is a very intimate stadium with the stands being very close to the pitch. It doesn’t take long to make you realise that you are in one of the great temples of world football. One thing to note is that there was no issue regarding cameras and taking pictures before and during the game, unlike at Burton Albion (the last ground in the 92 that I visited) who do not allow photography from fans to be taken during the game. Let’s hope that the other lot over the other side of Stanley Park are just the same in three weeks time.

What is there to be said about Liverpool Football Club that could do it justice on a ground hopping blog? I don’t know but I shall have a go anyhow.

With a club with such an illustrious history as Liverpool I could probably write about 5,000 words on the subject but all I shall do is give a (relatively!!!!) brief history in a timeline format, while a detailed version can be found on the official website: HISTORY

1892    Founded and joined the Lancashire League
1892/93 Lancashire League champions
        Promoted to the Football League Division 2
1893/94 Football League Division 2 winners
        Promoted to division 1
1894/95 relegated back to division 2
1895/96 Division 2 winners, promoted to division 1
1900/01 Football League champions
1904/05 Division 2 winners, promoted to division 1
1905/06 Football League champions
1921/22 Football League champions
1922/23 Football League champions
1946/47 Football League champions (5th time)
1961/62 Division 2 winners (4th time), promoted to division 1
1963/64 Football League champions
1964/65 FA Cup winners
1965/66 Football League champions
1972/73 Football League champions
        UEFA Cup winners
1973/74 FA Cup winners
1975/76 Football League champions
        UEFA Cup winners
1976/77 Football League champions (10th time)
        European Cup winners
1977/78 European Cup winners
        European Super Cup winners
1978/79 Football League champions
1979/80 Football League champions
1980/81 European Cup winners
        League Cup winners
1981/82 Football League champions
        League Cup winners
1982/83 Football League champions
        League Cup winners
1983/84 Football League champions (15th time)
        European Cup winners
        League Cup winners
1985/86 Football League champions
        FA Cup winners
        Screen Sport Super Cup winners
1987/88 Football League champions
1988/89 FA Cup winners
1989/90 Football League champions (18th time)
1991/92 FA Cup winners (5th time)
1994/95 League Cup winners (5th time)
2000/01 FA Cup winners
        UEFA Cup winners
        League Cup winners
2001/02 European Super Cup winners
2002/03 League Cup winners
2004/05 European Cup winners (5th time)
2005/06 FA Cup winners
        European Super Cup winners

Since the formation of the FA Premier League in 1992 the club have not been crowned league champions and (I’m sure with a lot of pain) seen arch rivals Manchester United equal their number of domestic title wins. This season the club have had a disappointing start and last Saturday lost 2-0 @ Stoke City. This is nothing compared to opponents West Ham United who under manager Avram Grant find themselves propping up the Premier League table.

I have seen a few one sided games this season and this was no exception. Liverpool went at West Ham from the off with David Ngog forcing Rob Green to make a save inside the first minute. Maxi Rodriguez and Fernando Torres also came close before inevitable happened. A Raul Meireles corner was controlled by Glenn Johnson who then drilled a shot past green for the opening goal on 18 minutes. The home fans did not have to wait long for the second when Danny Gabbidon handballed in the box on 27 minutes. This then allowed Dirk Kuyt to send Green the wrong way to put Liverpool two up. It was then a case of how many Liverpool would then score and it was not surprise that they added a third before half time. It came on 37 minutes as Green produced a fine save from Torres, only for the ball to fall to Paul Konchesky who crossed for Rodriguez who glanced a header past the keeper. Game over. The performance of the Hammers (in relation to the level they play at) was one of the most inept I have seen in a very long time – they offered nothing, not even pride. It wasn’t until forty five minutes that they won their first corner of the match! The second half was not as one sided, probably due to the fact the Liverpool players knew that had the game won. Despite this they still had chances to increase the margin of victory with Rob Green producing a couple of fine saves from Torres and Poulsen.

It was hard to make an opinion on how good Liverpool were due to fact that their opponents were so poor. West Ham will need to improve vastly and quickly if they do not want to be playing Championship football next season.

At the end of the game we made our way back to the Dockers Club for a drink before setting off on the journey back down to Leicester. It was a long but enjoyable day out for my first experience of watching football in the city of Liverpool. As things would have it I am back here on December 11th for the Everton – Wigan game.

Admission: £41 (ticket was an early Christmas present from my mother)
Programme: £3
Attendance: 43,024
Match rating (relative to level): 3*

A few more photos can be found here: LFC
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