‘A succession of surreal experiences’ – George Sephton, The Voice of Anfield’s Liverpool Life

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Our latest edition of My Liverpool Life comes from George Sephton, who you may know as the Voice of Anfield, and his wonderful tales and stories of life as a Red.

I started supporting Liverpool because…

The family history went back to the early 1900s.

My dad had a trial for Liverpool in 1923 so that’s nearly 100 years ago, that’s frightening that, but in that era, Liverpool was something like Glasgow is or has been recently that if you’re a Catholic you followed Everton and if you weren’t you followed Liverpool. There were no ifs, buts or maybes.

So my dad was a Red and it was never thought of to be anything else in my house other than a Liverpool supporter.

But that was it: my dad was a Red and I followed him. Although he never took me to a game when I was a kid, it was very strange. His mindset was that going to Anfield every Saturday afternoon was his department.

 

My first game was…

I just recently got the programme for this game, January 30, 1960, in the FA Cup vs. Manchester United. The Busby Babes as they were then, this was the post-Munich era of United and Liverpool were still in the old Second Division.

I remember having to queue around Stanley Park for hours to get a ticket with two of my old school friends, and it was an interesting experience, to say the least. I didn’t know what I was doing basically, where to stand, what to do.

We got a good hiding off United (3-1) but we would have expected it in those days because they were the big wheel and we were near the top of the Second Division but not in the promotion places at the time, but obviously it was a great experience.

 

How did life as Anfield’s famous stadium announcer come to be…

Unbeknownst to me, the guy who was on the PA in early 1971 was standing in for Alan Jackson who had gone off to the Isle of Man to do a six-month contract in radio.

He left this guy in charge and he made a couple of bloomers and in those days my wife used to come to the midweek games with me and we were standing on the paddock and he said something daft. So I said to my wife this guy’s embarrassing and she just looked at me deadpan and said ‘you couldn’t do any better’.

And I thought well actually I think I could and just out of sheer perverseness I went home and I wrote to Peter Robinson, a big long A4 letter.

My letter landed on his desk when they decided to part company with this guy and Peter looked at the letter and thought, ‘well he can speak English, is quite articulate—let’s get him in and have a chat’.

I impressed Peter, and he gave me a trial. And strictly speaking, I’m still on trial, as nobody’s ever told me ‘you’ve got a job’.

I was a dedicated supporter and started going to Liverpool in the early 1960s, standing on the Kop, and when I got the job at Liverpool I turned into what I called a professional supporter.

I get paid for sitting there, playing music and watching the football, how good is that!?

 

My fondest Liverpool memory away from the pitch…

That’s easy. The place is strange now, since I’ve moved my office over to the far side of the ground I don’t mingle with people, I don’t get to meet many people that way. But the best moment of my career was when Jurgen turned up.

His first game was away to Tottenham and the following Thursday it was the Europa League game against Rubin Kazan and I had to go round to the old Main Stand reception.

I was standing there and Jurgen went past and I said to someone I must say hello so I followed him up the stairs.

I said ‘excuse me, Klopp’ and he turns and is looking at me with quizzical eyes and I just held my hand out and said: ‘I’d just like to introduce myself, my name is George-‘ and that’s as far as it got. His eyes lit up, ‘oh yes you are the famous Voice of Anfield!’.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, October 22, 2015: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp after the 1-1 draw against Rubin Kazan during the UEFA Europa League Group Stage Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And I was completely and utterly gobsmacked—and I’m not often speechless, but I was speechless. He bowed and shook my hand at the same time and that’s another surreal moment—you just think it doesn’t get any better than this.

I walked down towards three stewards and two of them were as stunned as I was, but the third came over and said ‘I’m full-time with the club, I work at Melwood during the week and come here on match days. That guy has been here six days and he knows everyone’s name, not just the players, but the tea lady, the office cat, security men – everybody’.

That is Jurgen Klopp in a nutshell, that’s why everybody loves him. He’s the ultimate people person.

 

And the two that stand above the rest on it…

I always say my favourite game at Anfield before I ever started working there was the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1967, we beat Munich 1860 8-0.

People say they must have been rubbish but no, they weren’t, they beat us in the second leg. It was just like watching an exhibition match.

Everything we hit just went in apart from one, I think it was Tommy Smith who missed an open goal late on so it should have been nine, but I was quite happy with 8-0.

That was wonderful, it was pure joy to watch that football.

And then we beat the great Tottenham [7-0] just after the World Cup when they had [Ossie] Ardiles playing for them in 1978.

I remember that day because the Sunday papers used to give marks out of 10 for the players and the following day every single one of them got 10 out of 10.

 

What does the club mean to you…

Everything. My life, the life of my poor wife and my family revolves around Liverpool Football Club.

I’ve spent so much of my life hunched over the TV watching the European draws, the FA Cup draws and whatever else and my life revolves around Liverpool. I’m so proud to be part of what goes on.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Friday, October 13, 2017: Images of former Liverpool player and manager and current non-executive director Kenny Dalglish on the side of the Centenary Stand, renamed the Kenny Dalglish Stand. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Kenny Dalglish quote that I was ‘part of the history and tradition of this club’ came out nine years ago now on my 65th birthday and he said that on TV.

I was out with my wife and family having a meal and my phone started pinging with all these lovely messages and I thought, ‘what did he say?’. And when I found out, I said ‘you can take me outside and shoot me now because it’s not going to get any better than that’.

That’s my legacy. I’m George Sephton, the Voice of Anfield.

I’d say somebody upstairs is looking after me, my timing in life is wonderful.

I was born nine months after the war, I came through the education system when it was, in my humble opinion, a lot better than it is now, I just missed national service by a couple of years—people forget about that—and then I started going to Liverpool games, I think, three weeks after Bill Shankly joined.

So I’ve seen everything: the glory years, the European triumphs and everything, all the way up to where we are now with the wonderful Jurgen, and it just couldn’t have been better.

If you’d landed from space and picked a time to be here I’ve cracked it, no problem.

My life is a succession of surreal experiences. The number of times I’ve stopped dead and thought, ‘how did I get here, talking to these people in this place—how did this happen?’.

 

If I could have dinner with three people from Liverpool’s history I’d choose…

Obviously Kenny. Because he’s been such an icon on so many levels. He won the double as a manager when the double was worth having.

He’s still the best player I’ve seen at Anfield and I mean the best player, not just Liverpool player. I wouldn’t swap him for anybody, you can keep your Messis and your Cruyffs—I’ve seen them all, but Kenny was it.

Probably Jamie Carragher because he’d be great. You just press the button and let him go, he is brilliant.

He’s somebody I admire immensely for just the way he put his body on the line and what he’s done since, the way he’s forged out a new career. Never would I have had him down for a pundit on TV but he’s done so well. I was convinced he’d be on the coaching staff and then become the manager.

And then I suppose I have to go back to Jurgen. I’d really like to think that one day I can sit down and talk to him over lunch or something for an hour just to talk. He’s got some tales to tell.


* Thanks to George for sharing his ‘Liverpool Life’ – look out for more from this series on This Is Anfield. Follow George on Twitter @voiceofanfield.

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