Where were you in Istanbul?

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ARSENAL Fans would have us believe that Anfield’s 12th man handed in a sick note on Sunday but BARRY ELLAMS believes he has been passed with a clean bill of health.

I was too busy chanting Where’s Your European Cups to hear the travelling Gunners goading ‘˜Where’s Your Famous Atmosphere’
I don’t think there is anything wrong with acoustics at Anfield but I could have sworn the atmosphere was bouncing. A big game against Arsenal who are playing like Galacticos and the fans would be up for a good knees up.

I walked out of the Kop at 6pm on Sunday deaf as a post and yet my Anfield mucca said the atmosphere in the stadium was low on decibels.

The Anfield atmosphere has become a big controversy among friends. It’s like no-one wants to talk about it. I don’t think it’s a question of anyone being in denial but the subject has heads shaking. People ask: Why the malaise? Why the apathy? There is even a growing school of opinion that quiet Anfield’s are matched by mediocre performances – we have to sing for victory.
We can blow Chelsea away with one collective breath but lose our voice against Tottenham and Birmingham.
I have seen a lot of bickering between fans lately I even saw scarves thrown onto the pitch at the Tottenham game. Grumbles over the cost of tickets – players that aren’t up to scratch. A few standing up and telling Rafa to take his rotation policy and go swivel.

We are so focused, so concentrated on winning on the Premiership that it’s almost numbing. When we are playing badly we are reduced to nail biting, become solitary, dejected and miserable. Then someone pipes up with Fields of Anfield Road and everyone joins in and the therapy of a Liverpool song makes you feel slightly better. I didn’t get a ticket to Athens and watched the final in Liverpool. We lost the game yet the city rocked like Rio De Janiero – even members of ‘˜The People’s Club’ deigned to join us for a few beers.

I am sure that if we could bottle the atmospheres of 2005 and 2007 Champions League semi-final’s and sprinkle liberally in low key games we could aspire to three points where too often we are resigned to one.

I don’t believe that any other parts of the stadium are less partial to support. You don’t hear The Kop chanting It’s all gone quiet at the back nor have we had any ‘˜Prawn sandwiches’ rants from any of the players – nor will we.

The tradition of singing for your supper began in The Kop rich in its own history and songs.

A South African friend often remind me that Spion Kop was where The Boers massacred The British Army Army (brass band and all) – but the soldiera went to their deaths singing.

Legend has it that a detachment of Welsh engineers sang Men of Harlech at the battle of Rouke’s Drift as legions of spear wielding Zulu’s descended upon them.

We have our own war-mongering Poor Scouser Tommy and the half-time rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone in Attaturk was the call to arms that rewrote history.

When it comes to raising the decibels The Kop is a ghetto blaster. Koppites never sit down, just keep going like Duracell Bunnies. If the movie 300 was a musical it would have been filmed in The Kop. It’s patriotism is revered for halting marching armies in their tracks. Football’s greatest Generals Pele, Maradonna, Cruyff have all paid homage to Liverpool’s die hard fans.

Fans

Arsenal stumbled on Sunday where they should have conquered. As the Premiership’s in-form team rattled its sabre with a world class performance Liverpool’s 12th man stood up and puffed out his chest.

The 12th man is a endangered species who dwells in few stadiums in Europe. We caught a rare sighting in Besiktas where the redmen got the hairdryer treatment.

Apparently the atmosphere in Istanbul was enough to chill the blood. It wasn’t that the Turkish fans were partisan they were more like religious zealots repeating verses of a mantra. It’s backs to the wall time again on Tuesday when the Turks come to the lion’s den. But it would be nice if we can tweak the volume button clockwise for Fulham and Bolton – because we need their scalps as well.

I know there is the Reclaim The Kop campaign to beat the drum for Liverpool to march to glory. An ‘˜Ultras’ section who sacrifice their vocal chords by singing themselves hoarse. Reclaim The Kop is the best thing since sliced bread and I agree with those who say there needs to be some concerted campaign to raise the volume threshold at Anfield. We are afterall – according to Cardiff Council – the world’s loudest fans.

I worked in Bari in Italy in 1998 and used to go to all their home games. I saw Zidane play for Juventus which was an eye opener. Bari’s Ultra fans used to tell me ‘˜Barry we want two things from Liverpool Michael Owen and The Kop’. Two things they believed that could change a game -If I could have gone back in time I would have added Mark Clattenburg. Thierry Henry would have died for the kind of adulation and support that he would have recieved if he had followed his heart and come to Anfield. That’s why I smirked when I heard the Gunners talk about famous atmospheres it opens up a whole debate about gifted teams let down by their fickle supporters and decent sides made legends by their fans. When Arsenal fans joked about our famous atmosphere The Kop gave them the punchline – Where were you in Istanbul?

Barry Ellams

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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