So on Saturday I finally got around to attending an AFC Liverpool match. Had been trying to sort this for some time in 2019 and I had actually forgot about the date I had arranged until reminded a few days before the match. With the weather forecast of wall to wall sunshine, a bank holiday and an early finish in work on Saturday how could I refuse. So my mate Alan came along with me and we met Mike who had kindly invited us to the match at Aigburth station and headed up to the ground.
A bit of history about AFC Liverpool (Can you guess what the AFC stands for ? ) AFC Liverpool was formed in 2008, by Liverpool FC fans, who had becoming increasingly frustrated at the cost and difficulty in obtaining tickets for the Premiership. The supposed ‘39th game’ in which Premier League fixtures would be played in different parts of the world proved to be the final straw, highlighting that top flight football is now more concerned about money than its fans. Their first home ground was a share with Prescot Cables FC and games where played at Valerie Park in Prescot. They have in recent years played their home games at Rossett Park in a ground share with Marine FC. Funny enough my last non league action I watched was on the same ground where I watched Marine take on Clitheroe FC in the F.A.Cup Link to blog here. So we had a pre match pint in a boozer near the ground and got into the ground for kick off and we were introduced to several people involved with the club and it soon became clear that without the massive efforts of these people there would be no AFC Liverpool. After a minutes silence for the 30th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster it was time for kick off and AFC Liverpool to take on Atherton LR in The Hallmark Security League First Division North. We had the team sheet and placed ourselves on the terrace behind the goal that AFC were kicking towards and settled down for the game.
So AFC Liverpool were 4th in the division fighting for a best place 3rd finish. Atherton were bottom of the league and a home win was expected. The game started true to form with many chances for AFC but only a 1-0 lead with a goal from Anthony Lyons. I was thinking these missed chanced from AFC Liverpool might come back to haunt them and a few defensive errors gave Atherton chances which they did not take. AFC soon started taking chances and in the glorious Easter bank holiday sunshine AFC went in 4-0 up at half time. After some half time refreshments we took a seat in the home stand behind the goal AFC were kicking towards and were introduced to a few more people associated with the club including the announcer who’s playlist included a song from one of my favourite bands The Christians so what wasn’t there to like ?
AFC continued their domination in the second half. During the second half the thing that struck me most about the day happened. With the ground surrounded by houses its quite easy to lose a match ball (Would be several a game if I was playing centre half) Anyway one ball went over into somebody’s back garden. I asked about the chances of getting the ball back and sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. These are £60 match balls we are taking about and to a club like AFC Liverpool this soon adds up. They are already above their ball budget for the year and recently had to purchase another five match balls to see them through the season. As the second half went on another ball nearly entered somebody back yard and an AFC Liverpool member could be heard cheering as another £60 might have been saved. The second half raced past and the final score was AFC Liverpool 7 v Atherton LR 0 and a hatrick for Anthony Lyons who wont be keeping the £60 match ball. Couldn’t quite get the attendance as the announcer called it at 12,236. I have since found out the attendance was 107.
So we entered the Marine FC club bar for a post match pint and a bit more discussion around AFC Liverpool. With AFC ground sharing with Marine any gate receipts normally cover just that cost so extra monies are needed to be found to pay players etc and even a run of away games can put serious pressures on the club finances. The club do hope to find a permanent home within the city boundaries but this is still a few years away at the earliest. I have always fancied following a local non league team. Back in the 80’s as a child we used to bunk in and watch South Liverpool play whilst listening to Liverpool games on our small transistor radio. I did say to Mike who had invited us that fact that AFC did not have a base in the city and also the ground shared that this for me did not make them the attraction they could be. As I stated in October of last year this will be the last season I follow the premier league AKA Liverpool FC with full passion as next seasons introduction of Var for me is the straw the broke the camels back. The weekend before I was at Anfield for Liverpool Vs Chelsea and what a difference a week later for my next match. I will however pop along to a game or two and watch AFC Liverpool next season.
Even at this level of football money talks. Often decent players are hoovered up during the season by the better (Richer) teams down the football pyramid who can offer that few extra bob a week to players to turn out for them. The dedication and commitment of officials and staff at a club like AFC Liverpool is massive and its only when you get introduced to a few people around a club and have explained what goes on that your eyes open up and think wow. AFC Liverpool were hit by their own tragedy earlier on in the season when their joint managed Ben Williams died suddenly at a young age. There are many many things more important than football as we all too well know in the city of Liverpool.
So it was time to head off into the lovely evening sunshine and leave the Marine Travel Arena for one last pint before the train home to Aigburth. A cracking day out. Beers, sunshine, and a 7-0 win. What more could you ask for ? Here is hoping that AFC Liverpool can push on to get their new ground and achieve the ambitions they have on the pitch alongside possible community spin offs and here is hoping they don’t lose too many balls next season !!! Oh yeah the AFC stands for Affordable Football Club.
Fay x x x x x x x x x x
AFC Liverpool played on Monday against Lower Breck in a battle for third place in the Hallmark Security League First Division North. A 4-2 defeat away leaves it all to play for with just one game of the season left. Many thanks again to Mike for the invite.