‘Operation Anfield Exercise’ is a phrase that will be familiar for match-going Liverpool fans – and possibly those who’ve heard it on TV too – but what does it mean?
You are absorbed by the action on the pitch and suddenly the phrase ‘Operation Anfield Exercise’ is announced over the tannoy, first to commence the ‘operation’ then to say it’s complete.
Many have been left wondering what the announcement truly means – and no, it is not a social experiment whereby everyone at Anfield has to exercise, thankfully.
The announcement over the public-address system is for the stewards, as George Sephton, otherwise known as the ‘Voice of Anfield’, told This Is Anfield in 2021.
“‘Operation Anfield’ is what would happen if there was a catastrophe going on and we needed to empty the stadium,” Sephton, who has been Anfield’s stadium announcer for more than 50 years, explained.
“If there was a terrorist bomb threat, a major fire or an explosion in the kitchens, whatever – if we had to operate ‘Operation Anfield’, everybody would be out of the stadium in two or three minutes.
“Operation Anfield Exercise means that we practice without actually moving anybody out of the stadium.
“When we do that, the stewards who are responsible for opening out gates would get to their gates, stand by, say they’re ready and everybody else involved in the possible evacuation of the stadium would be in the same place.
“After a couple of minutes, everybody’s in their place, so if they had to do it they would press go and all the gates would open.
“But obviously an exercise just means they’re practising without actually letting it end up with people being turfed out of the stadium.
“It’s all for your safety, it’s done with the cooperation of the police but it’s run by our stewards, who incidentally like the team, are the best in the business.”
There you have it, it signals an evacuation procedure without the need for any fans to leave their seats.
So, the next time you hear ‘Operation Anfield Exercise’ and see stewards make a move, you will know exactly what is unfolding.