Let’s go ahead and get one thing straight right off the hop: this isn’t a eulogy. This isn’t borrowed nostalgia for a stadium I’ve visited only in my most memorable dreams or an admonishment of the things to come. History and heritage have become disposable commodities, with little to no worth placed on roots. Momentum for the sake of momentum and progress for the sake of it all. As time ticks down, go ahead and swallow your daily helping of unabashed defeatism; an apology for what we’re all thinking despite our otherwise noble intention to cling to our spiritual home. By the end of this you may want to pay your respects and say goodbye.
As mellow dramatic as it may sound, I never thought I’d see the day when a new stadium for Liverpool FC could be seen as anything but a cause for celebration. We spent numerous hours lambasting our previous “custodians” over their failure to deliver just that and now we move in the opposite direction with a number of concerns being rightly raised over the proposed new build in Stanley Park, feeding the incumbent regime the inverse of our former argument.
Our inability to compete with our closest rivals in the age-old money game have made the trivialities of match day revenue paramount. Money can’t buy you love or history but it can buy you silverware. As the Premier League title spends another season on the outskirts of Merseyside, distance continues to make the heart grow fonder and the green monster of envy stronger.
Increasing the capacity of a stadium built to hold 44,000 to 60,000 seems to be the only way to truly level the playing field. While Manchester United generate £3.6 million for every match played at Old Trafford, we pocket a measly£1.7 million. There is no counter argument to the harsh realities of where the Sky Sports generation has led the once beautiful game. You can raise the eternal question of “when is enough, enough?” but today money begets money and money begets success. Falling any farther behind is no longer an option.
And neither, it seems is the plan to refurbish Anfield. John Henry may have been able to pull off a coup by re-developing Fenway Park for the Boston Redsox but that touch of magic has all but petered out. Although we still don’t know what will become of our home away from home, metaphysically for those of us who have never been and the tangible physical for those of us who pass by the gates every day, proceedings are not going to plan.
The shortcomings of the previous regime may have set the club back several years, as Ian Ayre pointed out earlier but it also provided us with a few more matches in the Kop. Another chance to stand where our fathers and grandfathers, mothers and grandmothers, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends long gone stood before the future and the cold economic realities came crashing down around us.
So, don’t call this a eulogy. Call it a longing for a time long gone. A re-setting of the clock, a wish for things that never were, to be. As a squabble over a concept so foreign as naming rights grinds into gear, we can spare a thought for the past and where we once were; where I wished I could be. Concrete and re-bar may build a house but the people inside it make it a home. Our new home may not be Anfield but it will still be ours and we’ll make it something special.