'Voice of Anfield' George Sephton marks 40 years in job

George Sephton and Jamie Carragher George Sephton with Jamie Carragher

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Since 1971 the one constant for Liverpool fans has been the sound of stadium announcer George Sephton.

This season he is celebrating 40 years in the job, during which time his voice has become as familiar and evocative of Anfield match days as a chorus of You'll Never Walk Alone.

Mr Sephton, 65, who over the years has become known as the "Voice of Anfield", said: "If anyone 40 years ago had said I'd be still doing the job now, I'd have sent for the men in white coats.

"It's incredible, nowadays nobody mentions my name without throwing the Voice of Anfield on the end."

Debut with Keegan

In his four decades behind the microphone he has seen 10 managers - one of them twice - and witnessed the club win 11 League Championships, five European Cups, six FA Cups, seven League Cups, three UEFA Cups, three European Super Cups - and many false dawns.

Start Quote

One night, I went home after a game full of cold, feeling grotty and somebody had pushed a packet of throat pastilles through the letter-box”

End Quote George Sephton Liverpool FC stadium announcer

He got the job by chance, sending a speculative letter to then chief executive Peter Robinson at a point when the club just happened to be looking for a new match-day voice.

His announcing career kicked off on the same day Kevin Keegan made his club debut, a home game against Nottingham Forest in August 1971. Mr Sephton was paid £2.50 a match.

"The constant theme I get in letters and emails is that people enjoy coming to Anfield because they don't get the dross that they get thrust down their ears for 90 minutes before games at other stadiums.

"I've got a long cherished history of playing Liverpool bands, there are one or two Liverpool artists who had their first airing at Anfield which I'm very proud of.

"I've been at it so long there's a lot of people who've never heard another voice over the PA system at Anfield."

George Sephton George Sephton in his old TV gantry position above the pitch at Anfield

For many years Mr Sephton's commentary position was a precarious perch in the television gantry suspended above the crowd, which he would reach by climbing across the Main Stand roof and down a ladder.

He now makes match-day announcements from the comparative comfort and warmth of the match control room in the corner of the Kop.

"It's a long time since I've missed a match, the last match I missed was when my son got married, previous to that it was about 20 years since I'd missed a game.

"One night I went home after a game full of cold, feeling grotty and somebody had pushed a packet of throat pastels through the letter-box - I must have sounded awful.

"What is keeping me going is that we have American owners and there is a tradition in American baseball that stadium announcers carry on into their 90s."

'Surreal experience'

Mr Sephton's third game as announcer was one of his most unusual, when Liverpool's great rivals played a home game at Anfield in August 1971.

"It was a very strange occasion, Manchester United v Arsenal at Anfield in the First Division, as it was then," he recalled.

"United had been ordered to play away from Old Trafford because of crowd trouble the previous season at Old Trafford.

Phil Thompson and George Sephton George Sephton (right) with the European Cup in 1981

"Looking back now, it doesn't bear thinking about, I had to prepare for what was basically two away teams, although theoretically Manchester United was the home team.

"I still have this memory of a surreal experience. The build-up wasn't anything like a normal match, it took a while to get any sort of atmosphere going."

When Mr Sephton began his announcing career there were still terraces at Anfield and the ground would regularly draw crowds close to 60,000, many turning up hours before a game.

"At Roger Hunt's testimonial I turned up nearly three hours before kick-off and outside there was no-one around.

"I remember thinking that was strange as we were expecting a full house.

"When I got inside the ground it was full, and I realised why - nobody was outside, everybody was already inside."

One of Mr Sephton's most emotional memories is the evening in August 2007 when, following the killing of 11-year-old Everton fan Rhys Jones, Liverpool took the decision to play their rivals' theme tune Z-Cars at the next home game.

"I think that was wonderful," Mr Sephton said.

"I can still to this day see the look on Rhys Jones's parents faces, standing on the edge of the pitch near the dug out with Rafa [Benitez], Brian Hall and Rhys's big brother.

"The crowd took to it, nobody objected, that's the way it should be.

"It was the best possible gesture, it showed the dignity and magnanimity we have in this city, it wouldn't and couldn't happen anywhere else."

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