The Boys Pen at Anfield
Ode to the legendary enclosure for youngsters at Liverpool

boyspenAnfield

Here’s a lovely shot of lads waiting to get into Anfield via the infamous Boys Pen circa 1975. The Boys Pen is where young lads would go before graduating to the Kop at Anfield. Looking towards the Kop, it was situated in the top right hand corner next to the main stand. Once in, the chief objective was to bunk into the Kop by climbing the railings.

It was not a place for the feint hearted and scraps were commonplace. The Boys Pen was around for 70 years before being demolished in the early 80’s.

You’ll notice the 35p entrance fee – in those days, with travel and a snack thrown in, a kid could have a full day out at the footie for £1.

Anfield legends Phil Thompson, Terry McDermott and John Aldridge graduated from the Boys’ Pen to the Kop and then on to the famous turf as well. Thompson remembers that after he broke into the first team: “When I looked up at the Pen during matches, it always felt strange. That was where it really started for me.”

Here’s a great poem by Dave Kirby about his time watching Liverpool from the Boys Pen;

THE OLD ‘BOYS PEN’

Its fifteen minutes to kick off time
I’m in my seat, Block 109
I look around, I hear the noise
see lots of fathers with their boys.

The kids look happy, a marvelous sight
MacDonalds burgers they all bite
they’re all excited that’s for sure
and with their dads they feel secure.

Although the surroundings have now all changed
the children’s feelings are just the same
the middle classes have now arrived
but things were different for a sixties child.

I then look out across the kop
to the right hand corner at the top
where up until the age of ten
I served my time in the old ‘boys pen’.

For those of you who do not know
it was a place for kids to go
metal bars like a kind of cage
where little Kopites came of age.

I remember the first time I went inside
Liverpool v Chelsea  65
a star struck boy who stood amazed
football was all we had those days.

You’d always see some kids from school
they came from all over Liverpool
little scouses every week
from Kirkby Town right up to Speke.

The Kop was packed out in those days
but at half time, dad found a way
to fight his way through all the crowd
and feed his boy, he did me proud.

An ‘eccles cake’ a sausage roll
a drink of coke, god bless his soul
between the bars he’d pass it through
like feeding monkeys at the zoo.

And through those bars we used to stare
at all the kopites standing there
oh how we’d long to stand with them
and make that step from boys to men.

Some  kids escaped now and again
it was a pretty dangerous game
it filled the Kopites full of laughter
to see kids dangling from the rafters.

It had its own ‘soprano’ choir
you couldn’t sing ‘walk on’ much higher
inside those bars kids sang with pride
but it sounded so funny from the other side.

When the match was over at 4.45
your dad would pick you up outside
dozens of kids, some big some small
stood opposite the pen by the old brick wall.

But that was how it was those days
no greedy players, no corporate ways
they recognized us ‘Kopite cubs’
we were the future of the club.

Then at last it came my time
to leave this little world behind
I was at an age when every lad
didn’t want to go the match with dad.

And so I passed out to the Kop
that love affair has never stopped
I take my son to the occasional game
but this ‘dad and lad’ thing’s not the same.

You never see young lads no more
who go the match in threes and fours
this city’s children rue the day
when they took the old boys pen away.

The money men arrived in town
and in their wisdom pulled it down
they called it ‘progress’ but we read their thoughts
who needs children when adults pay more.

I now drift back to present day
I take my seat, watch the redmen play
a diehard red, I’m the real McCoy
because I was groomed from a little boy.

That golden era has now passed by
but we all have memories you cannot buy
from apprentice Kopites, now middle aged men
who served their time in the old boys pen.

Dave Kirby.

 

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