To fans around the world, Wednesday night was emotional as they watched Jordan Henderson lift the long-awaited title, but it was even more surreal inside an empty Anfield.
A senior writer for the Liverpool FC matchday programme and magazine, Chris McLoughlin was lucky to be one of the very few journalists in attendance as the Reds’ lifted the long-awaited Premier League crown.
This Is Anfield spoke to Chris to get his insight on one of the strangest experiences in the club’s successful history—a trophy lift behind closed doors.
“One of the most surreal nights of my life…”
“It was probably one of the most brilliantly surreal nights of my life.
“I was privileged and lucky to be in the ground to see Liverpool lift the Premier League trophy, but at the same time it was being lifted behind closed doors, without the atmosphere that you would get with a trophy success.
“When you think about all the trophies Liverpool have won in most of our lifetimes, they have been at neutral venues for cup finals; it is 30 years since we’ve seen an actual trophy lifted at Anfield.
“And for those supporters who’ve not been going to Anfield for not that long, who were maybe not even born or couldn’t get tickets or whatever it was, it would have been maybe the greatest experience they’ve ever had at a football match and they didn’t get to see it.
“It wasn’t the greatest experience compared to being in Madrid or being in Istanbul, or Wembley or Cardiff, in terms of the atmosphere around the trophy lift.
“But the big thing about it was and the important thing about it was what trophy was being lifted.”
“It was a brilliant idea to lift it on the Kop…”
“I think under the circumstances, like Jurgen Klopp said himself, it was done the best way it could be done.
“To be on the Kop, that would never, ever happen if supporters were in the ground; it would be on the pitch. So that made a difference.
“It was kind of like taking the trophy into the hearts of Liverpool Football Club, but with the pulse beating outside.
“It was a brilliant idea, and also to have Kenny Dalglish handing over the trophy. If there’s a living figure who symbolises Liverpool more than Kenny Dalglish I’ve never seen him.
“To actually be handing it over to Jordan Henderson, who also lifted the European Cup, the Super Cup and the Club World Cup in the last 14 months or whatever, is incredible.”
“It feels like we’re owed a night…”
“It wasn’t like being in Qatar when Monterrey, Flamengo, the match officials, the sponsors, the stadium manager, the groundsmen, two of the people who worked outside on security all got medals; it was pretty much Christmas by the time we left the stadium that night!
“It wasn’t quite like that, but it did take a while to build the anticipation for Jordan to get up the steps.
“I was sat in the Main Stand in the press box, which is pretty much on the halfway line, and with the lighting show it wasn’t quite the same as it would have been from the centre of the pitch.
“People who saw it on television would have had a better view of the actual trophy being lifted, I’m sort of looking at it from a distance and obviously taking pictures and recording it on my phone.
“But to be physically in the stadium to see that was amazing, it was absolutely fantastic to be able to say that I was there.
“At the same time I couldn’t help but think of all my mates and family and people who would normally have been there, colleagues, season-tickets holders who have until this season not missed a game since long before they last won the league.
“It kind of feels now like we’re owed a night. We’re owed not just a parade, but we’re owed something at the ground.
“I don’t know what they’ll do, some kind of celebration friendly or something ridiculous like that, but it feels like we’re owed a shared experience inside Anfield.”
“I could hear Allez, Allez, Allez outside…”
“The second half you could start to hear people outside.
“You couldn’t not hear the fireworks, they were some of the loudest firework explosions I’ve ever heard, they seemed to echo or sort of ricochet around the upper tier of the Main Stand.
“You could see the fireworks going off behind the Kop, and also the smoke was obvious.
“It may have been the drinks break, or somewhere around that point, that I could hear Allez, Allez, Allez.
“Then you’re thinking ‘well obviously there are people outside, but how many people are actually outside?’. It was only when I saw images from social media when I realised there were a lot of people gathering.
“But it added to the weirdness of it. You’re in an empty stadium watching the champions playing some amazing football, and you can hear the party but you can’t see it.
“It was one of the most unusual experiences I’ve ever had in a football ground, aside from the fact that we were about to get the Premier League trophy half an hour later.”
* The official souvenir match programme from the Chelsea game is still available to buy online here, and Chris is writing a new LFC Premier League winners’ special magazine that will be available from Reach Sport soon.