August 25, 1906
Anfield’s latest tourist party.
It was a happy thought on the part of the Liverpool directorate to invite the Press to lunch with them on the occasion of an explanatory visit to Greater Anfield. It was a representative gathering, headed by the League President, Mr. John James Bentley, which foregathered for a substantial prelude a the Bee at noon on Monday. The menu brooked adverse criticism.
The day was certainly oppressive, and it goes without saying that under such circumstances – well, hard work wasn’t easy. Of speech-making there not a zeal, this being confined to Councillor Edwin Berry and Messrs. Bentley, Jamieson, and Brown.
The first named, who presided, after remarking that Mr. Tom Watson’s thoughtlessness – or something else – had resulted in the non-appearance of an agenda which thus denied the speaker the opportunity of making a “well-thought-out impromptu speech”(!), went on to refer to the purposes of their little gathering.
He and his fellow directors’ desire in the advancement of sport, was that the lovers of football in Liverpool should, at the first possible opportunity, have a ground which would satisfy everyone, i.e. with ample accommodation, and as near perfection as it were possible to get from a seeing point of view.
Thanks to the noble manner in which the club’s supporters – both the shareholder and the main in the crowd – had come forth last season (the first year of the club under its broader and more popular basis) they had been able to set about the re-modelling of the ground sooner almost than he had dared hoped. He would not say anything further about the alterations at that juncture, but would leave the Press to see the giant transformation scene for themselves, after being driven up to the ground.
Arrived at Anfield, the prospect was marred somewhat by the advent rain – but what mattered it when the new turf was benefiting so?
It was evident that the usually self-contained members of the fourth estate, case-hardened in receiving surprises, were more or less amazed at the tremendous transformation scene which met their gaze upon alighting from the four-in-hand.
The head of the form of London and Glasgow architects having the construction work in hand – Mr. Archibald Leitch – now acted the part of chief guide and interpreter, with worth henchmen in Directors Berry, McKenna, Fare, Parr, Worgan, etc, back up by the indefatigable club secretary Mr. Tom Watson.
I need not re-tread the ground covered at such length, in the “F.F.” of two weeks ago, but will confine myself to some things then left unsaid. The whole of the playing area has been re-laid, the work of re-sodding being completed in exactly a month from the day the first sod was put down on top of the old.
The whole area comprises a little matter of 11,000 square yards. The barriers to which I previously drew attention are designated Leitch’s patent crush barriers, and I understand they are the first of the kind used in this country.
The pleasing and reassuring feature of their construction is that the greater the pressure that may be brought to bear upon them (either from the front or the rear), the better they will like it – pressure but accentuates their “grip.”
Eventually the ground will be fully equipped with terracing and stands. The crush barriers are repeated along the terracing about every ten or a dozen steps up. Next season it is intended to erect a magnificent covered steel and concrete stand on the north side of the enclosure, capable of seating 7,000 people, at an estimated cost of £7,000,
High pressure banking, operations are still in active progress behind the Walton Breck goal. Here eventually will rear its giant head huge terraced accommodation for no fewer than 20,000 people.
The steps or treads will number over one hundred, so that the man on the top row may pose as a temperance man and still be distinctly elevated. He will be something like 50 feet above the level of the man in the front row.
There is 4 ½in. rise per step, and as spectators invariably look over the shoulders of those in the row directly in front of them, and not over a man’s head it may be conceded how perfect will be the view save on a Scottish mist type of November afternoon.
I find I recently under-stated rather than over-estimated the ultimate holding capacity of the ground, as Mr. Leitch states it will accommodate 60,000 people.
It will include 10,000 more square yards than in former seasons. Instead of the barriers forming four right angles – one at each corner of the ground, the said corners will be rounded off. This will constitute another appreciated improvement.
When complete one will be able to add numerous additional “C’s” respecting the home of the League champions, such as covered, cosy, commodious, comfortable, and compact.
In conversation with the writer, Mr. Bentley, expressed himself particularly pleased with the manner in which spectators will be in touch with their play. How do the reporters, looking on at strange teams at the Palace, for instance, pick out the men as well as is the case?
There should be no eye-straining at Anfield. The turf has a fine, green carpet and is springy enough for anything, whilst it is expected to drain out more satisfactorily than of yore.
But what of Liverpool’s prospects in their opening game?
The Reds First Opponents.
To-day the men were due for a preliminary canter at the Tower grounds. I trust the gate has been a good one, and thereby satisfactorily benefit Wallasey charities.
With but a trio of new faces, the form of the team is pretty well known; that is, judged by a 1905-6 standard. It is scarcely probable Percy Saul, William Macpherson, or Jack Lipsham will be given places over any of last season’s League eleven at the outset, unless they develop surprising abilities.
The Liverpool secretary is building on a 30,000 gate for the opening match v. Stoke. The Potters enter upon their 43rd season as a club, and their 17th League campaign, and despite many a storm-tossed experience will now come up smiling to face the League champions.
Last September the Potters went off with such a crash bang that they headed the table for a month, and they will doubtless seek to begin a repeat order on Saturday. It behoves Liverpool to quit them like men a week lience, and call forth the whole of Roose’s undoubted brilliance.
Stoke are unlikely to introduce any new faces; nor are Liverpool – hence the pair may set up a record in the matter of a dual inaugural personnel. But was ask Arthur Goddard and Co. to set that pace on Saturday.
Last December the Potters stopped Liverpool’s long run of success by winning 2-1 at home, Hardy for the first time finishing in a losing team, but in the return at Anfield a few days later a slashing game ended in a 3-1 victory for the Reds, who were represented by the following: – Sam Hardy; Alf West and Billy Dunlop; Maurice Parry, Alex Raisbeck, and James Bradley; Arthur Goddard, Robert Robinson, Joe Hewitt, Sam Raybould, Jack Parkinson, and Jack Cox. The goal-getters were Raybould (2) and Hewitt.
(Cricket and Football Field: August 25, 1906)