‚The club doesn’t want us, they prefer the guys from Norway or Japan‘, Billy Jones says. ‚Simply for one reason: we go to the stadium and drink one or two in the pubs afterwards. Whereas people from the rest of the world go buying out the fan store‘. He wears a tracksuit and trainers – as they call it in other cities tautingly: the Liverpool uniform. Jones smokes his cigarette in the hollow of his hand, he served in the army for many years. He has been looking through his window at Liverpool’s stadium for more than four decades and was a season-ticket-holder for a long time but can’t afford it any more.
The very cheapest ticket for one season costs 910 Euro. Jones gets into a lather on ticket prices, the atmosphere and the club owners until he shrinks back from his own rant and declares: ‚Don’t get me wrong. I love Liverpool.‘ He climbs onto the demolition waste in front of his home grumbling that ‚they‘ had let the area become run down. ‚They‘ could mean the city council, but also (even if he doesn’t say so): his club, Liverpool FC.
According to reports in the ‚The Guardian‘, in 2013, the club bought the houses around the stadium with a view to demolition and stadium expansion. Instead of speaking with the residents, the club let the area decline to force other neighbours out. By now, a large number of houses had been demolished. LFC is currently redeveloping one side of the stadium.
Supporters in the neighborhood have a voracious neighbour – and it is their own, beloved club. Last year, Liverpool generated gains of 357 million Euro. For most of the kids in the streets on their scooters the only possibility of seeing their idols like Daniel Sturridge is as they rush by in their sports cars, not in their jersey on the field. That changes both the image of a professional footballer and the dreams of those that aspire to becoming one. Hardship and luxury are just a short pass away from each other in Anfield.
Today, on the street adjacent to the stadium, nearly every shop is closed and shuttered when we visit. Faded signs of diners and tattoo studios, a kiosk displays screenshots from surveillance cameras showing recent burglaries. The entrance of one house has the dimpled paving stones which normally lie at crossings for blind people and – to put it this gently – are not purchasable in any store.
Eileen Snell smiles as she tells about an encounter with a Japanese Liverpool fan. ‚She asked me: This all here – is it because of the war?‘ Snell, a grandmother with bleached blonde hair, has been living in Skerries Road beside the stadium for more than 40 years, these houses are also in Liverpool FC’s ownership. Her garden is almost underneath Anfield stadium.
But she is a supporter of Everton FC and welcomes her sons and grandons at matchdays preparing sandwiches for them. The match schedule is pinned on the fridge.
Her husband died at an early age because of a heart attack he suffered on the sofa of the flat. ‚He had just arrived back from an Everton game. That shows what this club does to you‘. She smiles smoothly. In this city the workwear is supposed to be all wet and the humour all dry.