In the second of our exclusive two part interview with Carlos from Radio City, we explore the Atmosphere at Anfield, Pyro, Life as a producer and working with John Aldridge.
JR: it’s a common view that the atmosphere at Anfield has been noticeably different in the last few years, what’s your take on it?
CW: I think there’s a few reasons why the crowd hasn’t been as vocal. With Liverpool not doing as well over the last few years I think there’s been less to get excited about. I know the fans are expected to create an atmosphere and to urge on the players but when the players aren’t doing it on the pitch and maybe going through the motions it’s harder to get up for games.
Before last season, our home form wasn’t good at all – losing the Blackpool and Wigan for example at Anfield shouldn’t really happen and fans were going to the ground with less expectation and weren’t being entertained. Sometimes you can predict what’s going to happen when you see who the opposition are going to be so you go there expecting a draw or whatever.
I’m sure when things start to improve on the field and maybe get Champions League football back, we’ll more of thos famous nights!
I also think there isn’t enough fans from the city going to the matches anymore. How many times do you see the games on TV and you see a load of fans at Anfield taking photos constantly? Just watch the game! I can even go back to a match in 1998, I was in the Main Stand for Liverpool‘s 3-3 draw against Charlton. Some fans standing next to me asked me which stand was the Kop – need I say more?! We need proper fans going to the game!
The prices for tickets nowadays has a lot to do with it too, we all know people who’ve had to stop going just because they can’t afford it anymore and that’s a crying shame – I know we all want big money signings and to do that we need money coming in but surely a balance must be struck somewhere and bring the prices down. It’d hard to pay those prices when you’re not guarenteed a good time!
JR: Much has been said about the away fans this season, do you think they give the team a boost away from home?
CW: I do think the fans give the team a boost away from home. Nearly every time we have an away game you can hear the Liverpool fans louder than the home fans and they don’t stop singing and they give the players great support for the whole game. In the away games you can always tell the fans are enjoying themselves, singing, bouncing and displaying their banners and flags, its a spectacle in itself and the goals seem to be celebrated even more.
Liverpool fans have always loved and are always proud of their away days wherever they might be so they always make the most of it when they’re travelling to watch their team. I think with the money they’re having to shell out, they make sure they enjoy it more! But again if you talk about the prices of tickets, if they keep rising you do worry a lot of them will be priced out again.
JR: speaking of away fans, the club issued a statement on the use of Pyro at away games, it rubbed a few fans up the wrong way; in your view do the club have a point, or is it no pyro, no party?
CW: I can see both sides to the Pyro argument. It does look great and I always remember watching old European matches in the past seeing a lot of the home fans with flares and it just looking magical and partizan, what European nights should be about. I know with health and safety that’s all changed and can understand the authorities being worried that fans could be affected in some way and I understand that Liverpool would put out a statement too. They probably don’t want to be put in hot water if an incident occurred from the result of letting the pyro off and they’re probably looking out for the fans in a way that they don’t want them to be turned away or banned from going to matches.
JR: Can you tell us what it’s like working with John Aldridge?
CW: Working with Aldo is good. As all the Liverpool fans know he’s a massive fan himself and you can tell in the way he commentates! He’s so passionate throughout, you hear how excited he gets when a goal goes in and you can feel how gutted he is when we concede or lose a game, it’s just how we’re feeling so we can all relate to him. He’s really good at reading the game and is great at predicting what’s going to happen. I don’t like it when he says to Steve Hothersall, ‘I can smell something bad in this game’ as most of the time he’s right and we lose! And if a player is not performing he will give constructive criticism, he’s not afraid of dishing it out – and it’s what we’re all thinking too a lot of time.
We can have a laugh off air too with the conversations we have so it’s always an enjoyable afternoon!
The only hard part of working with him is doing the phone-in. He will admit he doesn’t like doing that part of the show because he’s just like a normal fan as I said earlier, it’s hard talking after a defeat, you’d rather just go for a pint and have a laugh and forget about it! It’s good when they win though as it’s a nice positive phone-in.
JR: Anyone who listens to the match on radio city will understand what happens when Liverpool score and Aldo celebrates? Has he ever raised eyebrows during away days?
CW: As I said earlier, Aldo loves showing his passion especially when a goal goes in or there’s a decision that goes against us or someone like Didier Drogba is rolling round on the floor like he’s been shot! With most press boxes situated near the home fans, Steve and Aldo can be heard by some of the supporters! Some fans do get rubbed up the wrong way if they hear either of our commentary teams criticising the home team or see them celebrating a goal against their side! I think the Chelsea fans have been quite vociferous in the past and we have heard Steve tell Aldo to ‘sit down’ during games because he’s not happy with some of the abuse he’s getting.
I remember at Stoke a bloke was going nuts shouting at Aldo and a woman near this irate fan wasn’t happy that he was giving the fans a bad name by being abusive, so she went over to him and hit him to shut him up! She then apologised to Steve and Aldo for the abuse they got.
JR: How much work/research do you need to do before a game?
CW: There’s lots of planning ahead of matches from booking our commentary teams into grounds and ordering ISDN lines so we can broadcast the commentary to compiling audio for the specific matches.
For each game we plan what subjects we’ll will talk about, be that through interviews from the players and manager, booking guests for Terrace Talk or in the hour build up to the games, putting together musical mixes or just talking points to put to Aldo. We’ll also pick out the main stats on Liverpool and the opposition too. Our commentator Steve Hothersall will get his own notes together too.
JR: What’s the best match you’ve ever produced when with Liverpool?
CW: You’ll only need one guess to work out which is the best game I’ve been lucky to produce – the Champions League Final! It was such a proud moment to bring that historic night to the airwaves. We were out in the city throughout the day until it’s climax hearing our commentary team and fans back in the city experience the rollercoaster evening that we all remember so fondly!