Let’s be honest, there’s not a lot better than having a pint before a game and soaking up the atmosphere. But if you’ve never been to Anfield before or the last time you went you were just a whippersnapper holding your dad’s hand and wondering what all the fuss was about, how do you know where to go and what to do with your time?
The answer is obvious: Take my advice. Now the clearest choice for your pre-match drinking and eating needs is to stay in Liverpool city centre. After all, the ground is a fair distance from the middle of town so you’re probably not going to struggle to find somewhere to feed and water yourself. But there isn’t going to be much of a match-going atmosphere for you to sample, so you’re far better off heading towards the stadium and seeing what’s on offer.
The reality is that most pubs really close to the ground get very, very busy in the build-up to the match. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get served or that you should go, it’s just that it might take you a while to get to the bar and pretty much none of the pubs in the direct vicinity of Anfield do sit-down food for you to enjoy.
On the food front, then, I can’t recommend Homebaked enough. Located in what used to be Mitchell’s Bakery and directly opposite the Kop, this co-operative bakery not only does great food but also helps the community with everything that it does.
You can get delicious pies, sausage rolls, butties and hot drinks here. There are a couple of tables and chairs dotted around for you to sit down on and relax whilst you have your scran, too, so it’s a great place to have a relax before the game. Filled with locals and often with a queue going out of the door, if you’re feeling peckish before the game then get yourself to Homebaked and help out the local community while you’re at it.
178-182 Oakfield Rd, Liverpool, L4 0UH (0151 286 9623) – thesandon.comLess than five minutes walk from Anfield is The Sandon, one of the most popular pubs with Liverpool fans in the whole area. It’s a large place, so you’re not going to be too squeezed in if you don’t want to be. There’s a large smoking area outside and they often do a BBQ before the match, so you can grab a burger and bun or hot sausage to fill your stomach before you head into the ground.
The Sandon’s main selling point, though, is the atmosphere. With hundreds of Reds all cramming into its grounds for a couple of hours before the game it’s fair to say that it gets a wee bit rowdy as kick-off approaches. It isn’t one for the shy or weak-willed as it gets absolutely rocking in the hour so before the game is due to start. This is where you’ll want to head if you don’t want to spend too much on a pint, are happy to elbow your way to the front of the bar and feel like joining in with some LFC based songs before the match. An absolute belter of a pub.
The Twelfth Man
121 Walton Breck Rd, Liverpool, L4 0RD (0151 263 0678)
Also about five minutes away from the stadium but in the other direction is The Twelfth Man. Liverpool Football Prides itself on having some of the best fans in the world, so it’s no surprise that there’s the pub named after said fans. It used to be called The Salisbury and is still known as The Solly to most locals, so if you can’t get directions to it under its actual name then ask a local where The Solly is and you’ll soon be on your way. The downside is that it’s not the biggest pub in the world, so expect it to be rammed, with people on the pavement outside and barely any room to move about on the inside.
The upside is that there is an upstairs so if you get there early enough then you might just be able to snag yourself a table. There’s also just as good an atmosphere as in The Sandon as kick-off draws closer so you’ll be able to learn some new songs that you may not have heard before. It’s also the place to be after the match once the ‘quick drink at full-time’ crew have made their way home. Locals to chat to, TVs with footie on and cheap booze is the order of the day here.
375-377 Walton Breck Rd, Liverpool, L4 0SY
The above two pubs are close enough to the ground to mean that they’re only really for the hardcore Liverpool fans who take themselves seriously and wouldn’t be seen dead with a half-and-half scarf on or even a Liverpool replica shirt. If you’re looking for a slightly friendlier place then The Flatiron might be worth considering. They welcome away fans most of the time (though probably not if we’re playing Everton or United), so it’s fair to say that it’s not just a place for the die-hards.
The Flatiron is about a ten minute walk from the ground depending on your pace. That distance gives you a chance to get away from the crowds a wee bit, meaning it’s not quite as busy as The Sandon or the Twelfth Man. It’s recently been refurbished, too, so you can expect a reasonably high standard of hygiene and facilities, if that’s the sort of thing that matters to you. They’ve done food in the past, so if you’re desperate for a sit-down bit of pub food then maybe give them a bell before you go.
The Cabbage Hall
20 Breck Rd, Liverpool, L4 2RB (0151 287 1346) – cabbagehallhotel.co.uk
This is the one place near to the ground where you might just be able to get some decent pub food if you’re there early enough. The Cabbage Hall is another place that’s been refurbished recently and it’s well worth a visit if you haven’t been before. There’s a large beer garden in the back as well, should you go on a sunny day and fancy sitting outside.
The atmosphere will crank up at The Cabbage as kick-off gets nearer, which is to be expected considering it’s only about two minutes away from Anfield. It’s the ‘wrong side’ of the ground, however, so it doesn’t get quite as busy as either The Solly or The Sandon. It is, as the name suggests, also a hotel, so if you’re looking for somewhere to stay that’s quite close to the ground then you’d do well to see if this place has any rooms available. If you can’t get a ticket for the match you could always open your window and let the Kop tell you the score!
The Shankly Hotel
Millennium House, 60 Victoria street, Liverpool, L1 6DN (0151 601 5830) – shanklyhotel.com
Ok, I know I said I wouldn’t tell you about any city centre places but come on. What’s better than a hotel named after the founding father of modern day LFC? Not far from the Cavern and other well-known Liverpool landmarks is this newly opened hotel that’s also got a bar and restaurant on its grounds. Shankly once said that he wanted Anfield to become a ‘bastion of invincibility’, so the restaurant/bar is aptly named as The Bastion.
This isn’t the sort of place you’ll want to head to to belt out ‘On The Fields Of Anfield Road’ and swear your head off at, though. This is a top-end eatery and a bar with mixologists who are ready to make you a cocktail to match the food you’ve ordered. You can get beers, spirits and pub grub too, of course, but this is definitely not an alternative to The Solly or The Sandon if you’re worried they might be a bit too full.
So there you go. Pubs near Anfield with brilliant atmospheres, hotels, places to get food and more. You can eat and drink in the ground, of course, but you’ll pay through the nose and the quality won’t exactly be amazing, so I’d suggest just sacking that off.