Friendly Liverpool supporter holding pint
All photos: Alex Ingram

Every Football Club's Fans Have Match Day Rituals – These Are Liverpool's

From picking up a scouse pie to dropping by at the top local pub, here’s how to have the best match day experience at Anfield.

George Sephton can recall his first game as Anfield’s stadium announcer in an instant. “It was 14th August, 1971, and we played Nottingham Forest,” he says. “There was this young lad with long hair who turned up who nobody had ever heard of called Kevin Keegan, who made his debut.” Keegan went on to make 321 appearances for Liverpool and score 100 goals, winning three league titles, the European Cup and various other trophies along the way. He left the club in 1977. Another 45 years on, the sound of George’s voice is still a defining feature of Liverpool’s home games.


“That first day I was in the old Main Stand and you had to go up the fire escape, through the roof of the stand and down a ladder onto the platform,” George explains. “I got down there, I looked around and thought: ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ There were all these faces I recognised. I stopped, took a deep breath and said to myself: ‘Well, I’ve got two choices. I can either get in there and get on with it, or go home, pack my bags and leave the country, because none of my friends or family will ever speak to me again if I bottle this.’”

A diehard Liverpool fan, he had gone from standing on the Kop to addressing tens of thousands of his fellow supporters and, in his dual role as Anfield’s resident DJ, choosing the music that would soundtrack their time on the terraces. Having watched the team shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of the crowd, he suddenly found himself making the solitary journey to the ground several hours early, lugging boxes of vinyl up to the gantry and wrestling with his equipment before kick off.

George Sephton, Anfield stadium announcer for Liverpool Football Club.

George Sephton.

A lot has changed since then, not least the tech: where once he spun 12-inch singles, he now keeps his pre-match playlist on a memory stick that stays closely guarded on a lanyard around his neck. George has been a constant over the last 51 years, however, to the point that he is known as the Voice of Anfield. 

“I’m sort of like a big red comfort blanket really,” he laughs. “I keep bumping into people who say: ‘I’ve been listening to your voice since I first came here.’ I’ve had a few people say I’m part of the match day experience, which is nice.” Waiting for his voice to drift over the PA in the build-up to a game has become a ritual in itself. The sound has become so familiar to Liverpool fans that, when George last missed a game 14 years ago for his son’s wedding, there was an unsubstantiated rumour that he was dead. 

A sign in a Liverpool FC pub telling people not to sing shit songs

“People say to me ‘You’ve got to retire’ and I say ‘I’m not planning to’, not unless there are unforeseen circumstances,” he says. “It’s more than likely that I’ll have a coronary after an equaliser in the 90th minute.” As the man tasked with playing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, Liverpool’s club anthem, in time for the first whistle, George has one of the most important jobs of anyone who isn’t on the pitch. The entire stadium joining together, scarves outstretched, to sing in unison remains one of the most powerful rituals in English football.

People eating food outside Homebaked Bakery in Liverpool.

Homebaked Bakery.

When he arrives at the ground, George will sometimes nip into the Homebaked Bakery, a community-owned enterprise in the shadow of the Kop, for his pre-match coffee. At a side window round the corner Liverpool fans line up to get their hands on pies filled with rich, meaty scouse, the sailor’s stew that is so fundamental to the city that it gave rise to the term “Scouser”.

Pies filled with scouse in an oven

Pies filled with scouse.

Others stand in snaking queues outside local Chinese takeaways like The Golden Dragon Chippery or Sing Fong, waiting for jumbo sausages slathered in curry sauce. As a port city with historic trade links to Shanghai and Hong Kong, Liverpool is home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe and, on match day, those cultural ties are captured in miniature in the spring rolls nestled snugly on polystyrene trays amid giant portions of chips.

A woman ladles curry sauce onto chips at Sing Fong, Liverpool

A woman ladles curry sauce onto chips at Sing Fong.

Another man who has witnessed much of Liverpool’s modern history is John Pearman, a veteran of the club’s fanzine scene and longstanding editor of Red All Over The Land. “[The first issue] came out in 1995 before a home game against Everton,” he says. “It rained and we lost 2-1. But we’re quite proud that, since then, Everton have only won two games here and they’ve not won a trophy.” It seems unlikely that starting the zine caused a chain reaction which condemned Liverpool’s rivals to years of misery in the Merseyside derby but, for John, it’s still a welcome coincidence.

Red All Over The Land is the last remaining print fanzine sold outside Anfield, having outlived several of its competitors. Standing beneath the vast outer wall of the Main Stand, John is the first port of call for many of the supporters who stroll to the ground across the green expanse of Stanley Park, where kids in Liverpool shirts mimic Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and the rest of their heroes in scattered pre-match kickabouts.

John Pearman, editor of "Red All Over The Land" Liverpool FC fanzine

John Pearman, editor of "Red All Over The Land".

He, too, is woven into the backdrop of match day, arriving at the ground a couple of hours before kick off and enduring driving rain, biting wind and, occasionally, balmy sunshine. “By getting here early, you do meet a lot of people,” he says. “Some of them wear those half-and-half scarves, we don’t talk to them!”


Red All Over The Land is nearing a significant milestone but, despite outlasting so many other fanzines, John knows it can’t go on forever. “If I can keep going for another 16 issues that will get me up to 300,” he says. “Then I might consider retiring.” If he does decide to call it a day, the zine will be sorely missed.

Fans watch TV in the Twelfth Man pub before kick off of Liverpool match

Fans watch TV in the Twelfth Man pub before kick off.

A five minute walk from John’s usual spot is a pub called the Twelfth Man, a favourite among locals. Fans dressed all in red nurse pints of Guinness in the hours before the game, while the brown-and-white striped curtains and patterned carpets give it the air of a bar set up in someone’s living room. It’s a stepping stone on the way to the ground for Josh Hallam, a Main Stand season ticket holder.

Like so many other football fans up and down the country, his match day ritual is based on superstition. “Basically, I’ve got to park in the exact same spot in the exact same street,” he grins. “I’m tempted to park closer but I can’t, because when I started parking there we started winning… it would end in disaster.”

Two fans pose for a photo in full Liverpool gear

Two fans pose for a photo in full Liverpool gear.

The superstition dates back to Liverpool’s Europa League semi-final against Villarreal in 2016, when Jurgen Klopp’s side came back from a 1-0 defeat in the first leg to win 3-1 on aggregate. Liverpool have won the Champions League, Premier League, League Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup since then and, this season, they are still in with a chance of winning an unprecedented quadruple, so there may well be something to it.


“There’s also a shop I’ve got to stop at and buy a Snickers Duo,” Josh adds. “I mean, there’s no rhyme nor reason to it. But, still, just in case.”

Spirit of Shankly member Josh Hallam outside the Twelfth Man pub in Liverpool

Josh Hallam outside the Twelfth Man pub.

Josh is a member of Spirit of Shankly, the Liverpool supporters’ union. Bill Shankly, as well as being one of the club’s most charismatic and beloved managers, was also a staunch socialist and the group do their best to hold the club hierarchy to those ideals, successfully opposing hated former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, a proposed ticket price rise in 2016 and pay-per-view plans for televised games during the early stages of the pandemic. 

Match day on Merseyside is closely linked with community activism. Fans Supporting Foodbanks, a joint initiative by Liverpool and Everton supporters which combats food poverty in the city, have a hub next to the Kop where people queue up to drop off donations before the match. Depending on who’s at home and who’s playing away on any given weekend, their volunteers often repeat the same routine at Goodison Park, Everton’s ground, roughly a mile away. Their slogan, “Hunger Doesn’t Wear Club Colours”, speaks to their determination to bridge divided loyalties, a rare thing in English football.

Fans gather in front of a mural of Bill Shankly in Liverpool

Fans gather in front of a mural of Bill Shankly.

As one of Europe’s most decorated clubs, it’s little wonder that Liverpool attract fans from far beyond Merseyside. A season ticket holder since 2012, Harinder Singh makes the long drive up from Cobham, Surrey, picking up other fans from the outskirts of London or the Midlands along the way. 

Liverpool have a huge following among British Asians and, as the co-host of the Desi podcast, a multilingual pod where football analysis in English is interspersed with fluent Punjabi and Hindi, he is part of a burgeoning group of supporters from similar backgrounds who routinely meet at the club shop for a catch-up. “It’s become a mini-ritual of ours that we always congregate here pre-match,” he says. “There’s a real feeling here that it doesn’t matter where you’re from in the world – Liverpool, London, Lisbon, Lahore – this is the place for you.”

Desi podcast host Harinder Singh outside the club shop

"Desi" podcaster Harinder Singh outside the club shop.

Given how many of its residents through the generations have made their livelihoods at sea, Liverpool is often said to be a global city. That is reflected in the fans who are drawn to Anfield from all over the world, many of whom feel an affinity with the club precisely because of that sense of openness. Nonetheless, as evidenced by the murals of club legends painted on the side of red-brick houses, the Liverpool banners hanging from open windows or the neighbours who meet up to perch on the wall of the local garage and bask in the sunshine before heading into the ground, the club is also rooted in the streets which surround it. That is never more apparent than when, up in the room he shares with the scoreboard operator, George Sephton hits play, and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” echoes for miles around.

A mural depicting legendary Liverpool goalkeeper Ray Clemence on Wylva Road

A mural depicting legendary Liverpool goalkeeper Ray Clemence on Wylva Road.

A merch stand in Liverpool
A cardboard cutout of Jurgen Klopp advertising hot dogs
Two Asian Liverpool supporters eating food
Liverpool fans holding pints in the sun
A Liverpool supporter holding a pint in a pub
A Liverpool flag flies from the back of a car