And now for something completely different…
Undoubtedly my most technically challenging banner to date, it stands as an 8ft high monumental tribute – not to a player, a manager, or a hero of any kind – this is a celebration of the little man – in both senses of the word.
Since the opening of the newly rebuilt Main Stand at Anfield in 2016, my matchgoing experience has changed a lot. Gone are the constraints of the Kop, with legroom sufficient only for children (and they wonder why people want to stand!), I have become accustomed to the relative palatial luxury of the Upper Main. Part of the matchday experience here is the journey up four escalators, and for those who enter via Turnstile S, this has for four years, meant a friendly greeting, a handshake, a chat, and an optimistic score prediction from Alan Edwards, the diminutive octagenarian steward who was posted at the top of the climb.
Alan is far from unique among Anfield’s stewards in the friendliness of his approach, but his ready smile, short stature, and his age and experience have made him a much-loved character among the faithful. Here is how the Liverpool Echo summed him up in an article back in 2019:
Meet Alan – the 80-year-old Liverpool FC steward – who has gone from hitch hiking to matches to a club legend.
Alan Edwards is a devoted Red and first started going to matches with his dad, when he was 12 years old.
However in his 50s, Alan was forced to give up his beloved season ticket after his building contractor business hit some financial difficulties.
A few months later, having got back on track, he went to renew his ticket but was told there was an eight-year waiting list.
So, instead, Alan decided to get a job working on the turnstiles at his much-loved club and the rest they say is history.
Alan, from Broadgreen , told the ECHO : “As long as I am able to, I will keep working here.
“I don’t want to give it up.
“It is just brilliant.
“I have met so many people and made so many friends, that is my favourite part – the meeting people.
“The atmosphere in the ground is just amazing, we are all part of the family.
“It is a privilege to work here.”
Alan became a steward for LFC around six years ago, but before that worked on the turnstiles (Image: Alan Edwards)
As a lifelong fan – who has missed only 10 home matches, in the last 50 years – Alan used to follow the Reds when the club was in the second division and would hitch hike to matches.
But through the 80s he would use his building transit van to drive himself, his family and friends, all over the country to follow the games.
Son Keith said: “The van would be full of building stuff and sometimes there would be 10 of us sitting in the back of it, to get to the games.
“He used to have his lunch with Bill Shankly in a cafe in West Derby when he was builder.”
At 12 years of age, Alan said he would watch the match from the “boys’ pen” on the Kemlyn Road stand – which is now known as the Sir Kenny Dalglish stand.
The dad-of-four said: “When I first started going to the match my dad would take me to the game and he used to put me in the boys’ pen, it was called and he would go and get a pint and watch the match from the stand and come and check on me.
“I remember in 1959 I went to watch us play Worcester City and they were a non-league team.
“And we travelled down there on the Saturday and when we got there the match had been cancelled.
“So we went back on the Thursday and then got beaten in the FA cup.
“So the least I deserve is this cup.”
During his time working on the turnstiles and then as a steward, Alan has more than a few stories to tell his four grandchildren.
One memory in particular he said was around six years ago, on his first day working as a steward, when Liverpool played Manchester United.
Alan Edwards, with his four grandsons who are all Liverpool FC supporters
He said: “I was working on the Manchester side of the fence.
“And I said to some of the lads, ‘I used to serve with one of yours, Bobby Charlton, when I was in the National Service. He was in the same camp as me.’
“Next thing I knew I had five or six lads gathered around me asking me ‘go on then what was he like as a person?’
And I said basically – he was ‘under the arm’ [not a nice fella] and they said ‘why’ and I said ‘because he was from bloody Manchester’
“But it broke the ice and we had a laugh about it.”
Another memory Alan recalled was the brass band that would play before every match and how the ‘gate crashers’ were dealt with.
He added: “You used to get the lads who would try and jump over the turnstiles to get in.
“I used to have to shout over to the stewards ‘jumper, jumper’ and then they would throw them back out.”
Alan posing with my first banner
Alan, who still plays golf and played football up until his late 50s, was recently awarded by Liverpool FC for the great job he does as a steward, which the dad said is all down to his “life experience.”
He said: “When I first got interviewed for the job the lady asked me why was I applying for it because of my age.
“And I said because people will respect my age.
“If I go up to someone and say stop causing trouble they will see my age and respect my life experience and they respond to that.
“If you do it with the right attitude you get the right response.”
Video footage of Alan in action at a home game was shared on social media by his son Keith – who said even though his dad has Parkinsons disease, he doesn’t let it stop him.
In the video streams of fans can be seen greeting Alan who said he often receives, hugs, kisses and handshakes by supporters.
Overwhelmed to be recognised by the club and Reds fans, he added: “At the staff awards on Friday – much to my surprise – I got an award and got a hotel night in the Hilton for me and my wife and a bottle of Liverpool champagne.
“I am going to open it when we win the Champions League .
“When I went up on stage I said to the woman – ‘you could have given me a ticket to the cup final’ and she laughed.”
Alan said although his sons and grandsons have tried to convince him to go with them to Madrid, he will be watching the final against Tottenham Hotspurs in his home.
He said: “I think we will win – it will be a travesty if they don’t win with the way they have played this season.
“Taking all that into consideration we should win.”
Sadly, ill health has caught up with Alan, and he has been forced to give up his beloved job at Anfield. I decided to pay a special tribute to Alan by hanging a banner for him in the Upper Main Stand where he brought so much joy to match-going Reds in recent years. I drew up a design and, with the help of other loyal Reds, crowd funded its production costs. This is a gift to Alan and his family from all of us.
The banner will hang for the remainder of the 2021/22 season from the railings behind the U5 wheelchair gantry, before being gifted to Alan and his family.
Once again, the Echo picked up the story:
Anfield’s ‘lucky charm’ loved by generations of fans forced to retire after two decades
Many fans looked to the 82-year-old as a good luck charm
A much-loved Liverpool FC steward is leaving a job he has held for two decades despite being “desperate” to carry on.
Alan Edwards is a well-known figure at Anfield stadium to generations of fans – with some viewing him as a good luck charm.
But sadly lockdown meant a lengthy period of enforced inactivity for the 82-year-old from Broadgreen. Together with the effects of Parkinson’s Disease, it means he can no longer continue in the role he has held for the past two decades.
Alan’s son Keith, 56, said: “My dad was desperate to carry on, but lockdown hasn’t been kind to him.
“The Parkinson’s, along with not being as active as he was because stewards were not needed during lockdown, have taken their toll and he is now more unsteady on his feet.
“One of his biggest joys was always going to the match. He would always stand at the top of the same escalator at every game, and everyone knew him.
“In fact many fans looked to him as a good luck charm, and had pictures of him on their T-shirts.”
Alan’s association with his beloved Reds stretches far further back than being a steward – he went to his first match with his own dad when he was only 12.
Keith said: “He has only missed about 10 matches in 50 years. The club have been brilliant – he was sent a special message on his retirement from Klopp and all the players, which we’ve put in a frame for him.
“It’s the end of an era. All my mates attribute their love of football to my dad from when he used to take us all over England in his van to watch Liverpool play.”
To mark Alan’s retirement, his fellow stewards are putting together a collection for him, which will be presented to him when he next attends a home game as a spectator.
In addition, a fundraising campaign has been launched to get a tribute banner made for Alan to be displayed in the Main Stand for the rest of the season.
It was launched by Reds fan Mark Sweatman, from Oxton, near Birkenhead, who makes banners as a hobby.
He said: “I decided I wanted to do something to give him the send off he deserves from the Main Stand fans, to let him know just how much we have cherished him over the years.
“Me and my matchgoing friends have enjoyed Alan’s unique welcome ever since the opening of the new Main Stand at Anfield in 2016.
“He always greeted us with a friendly smile and a score prediction at the top of the Main Stand escalators, and he has been somewhat of a lucky charm.
“We’ve enjoyed a period of great success since Alan became part of our matchday experience, and he became known to us as the Lucky Steward, before we learned his actual name.
“It was always remarkable how Alan had a queue of supporters waiting to enjoy their few moments with him on matchdays – he has meant so much to so many people.”
Any funds raised beyond the cost of the banner will be given to Alan as a retirement gift from all the fans to whom he has brought such joy over the years on matchdays. Alan’s son Keith has indicated that Alan would like to donate the bulk of this to the Parkinson’s Liverpool branch.
Thanks for taking the time to read.