games at Anfield. There is no better place to see your team try and
progress towards the final with the backing of the twelfth man from one
of the world's most famous stadiums. A mixture of young and old, fans
who have seen it all alongside ones who hope to.
Some will have been
there v Internazionale in 1965. A few more for St Etienne twelve years
later whilst many more modern day match goers would have experienced
Barcelona 2001 and the Chelsea semi finals of 2005 and 2007. Special
European nights, ones not to be missed. Night's that only Anfield can do
Now the Carling Cup will never compare to those night's above. The least revered English competition which usually acts as a platform for promising youngster's and fringe players, seen by many as a more of a nuisance than necessity - a Mickey Mouse cup. A cup however, that Liverpool want to win. Badly.
A competition that will likely provide Liverpool supporters with the most important and memorable home game of 2011/2012 as Liverpool take on Manchester City in the second leg of the semi final. A home game that might be missed by many Anfield ever presents.
On Wednesday 7th December 2011 Liverpool confirmed to their season ticket holders what the majority of them already knew. They are not thought as an important cog in the Liverpool machine, the ones that provide the side with their fantastic support every other week, every single year. They are a number on a financial spreadsheet, listed as the major contributer in the guaranteed income column.
As selling details were released for the big semi final in January, these supporters had to scroll to the bottom of web page to see where they finally come in the ticketing pecking order. Astonishingly, in the first home cup game of the season, members who have been to three league games have more right to a ticket than those who will go to all nineteen. Absolutely crazy. Simply not fair.
The reason this has happened is because of a few little boxes that is on the Season Ticket application form. The Automatic Cup Scheme boxes which, if ticked, guarantees all season ticket holders a ticket to every home match that Liverpool take part in that particular competition, in the seat you sit in for Premier League games.
In the past it has been viewed as something of a bonus box, great if you want to avoid the hassle of buying tickets online or on the phone (and that is serious hassle) and makes no difference if you don't tick it as you can't be sure if you can make all games all season or just want to choose where you sit.
The Club have already basically said that season ticket holders only have themselves to blame as they never ticked the box. Maybe so, but it stinks and the release of a Q&A along with with ticketing details shows they know it stinks too. They know a lot of loyal fans will be outraged, and they still went ahead with it. Driven by greed, this is modern football.
Choosing where to sit is the reason why I don't tick the box. As my regular ticket is in the lower centenary stand, I like to move to the Kop for the cup games, much better atmosphere and can get to stand next to good friends of mine.
Being next to friends is important to me as they are parts of my memories of the great wins over Chelsea, Inter, Arsenal and Barcelona.
Grabbing people you know share the same passion for the game in a victorious group hug is better than a bunch of corporates and tourists who frequent the lower centenary and probably wouldn't hug anyone at the risk of missing a photo opportunity.
I have been to every single home game since missing a 0-0 draw with Real Betis in November 2005 and that includes games in all competitions against the likes of Havant and Waterlooville, Unirea Urziceni, FC Rabotnicki and Northampton Town. Many people have had season tickets for much longer than the six years I have and have been to many more away games over the years, yet not ticking a box means their loyalty has not been rewarded.
It's that game against Northampton that many have suggested is the catalyst for this ridiculous decision that allows three gamers with twenty odd pound membership to purchase a cup ticket before eight hundred pound season ticket holders. Only twenty two thousand people turned up on that dreadful night when the only thing worse than the weather was the performance.
Liverpool Football Club do not want a repeat of that and giving increased priority to members will firstly get more fans to become members and, more importantly, make more season ticket holders tick that box so that there are a majority of tickets sold for every game before the season has started.
At the time of writing Manchester United have just crashed out of the Champions League. They also operate an automatic ticket scheme so they won't lose much ticket revenue for when they enter the Europa League.
This is a perfect example to why clubs want this system in operation, it covers their own back with no regard for the fan. Even though United will probably play reserve sides against much weaker teams, fans won't have a choice if they want to purchase a ticket as they will have agreed to do so back in June.
This is by no means a dig at the members either. I appreciate that it is hard to get tickets for games and many members go to every match and will no doubt care for the club than some season ticket holders do and I can see some cases where they may have more rights.
For instance, when Liverpool reached the Carling Cup Final in 2005, A fan card holder who had been to home games against Middlesbrough and Watford in the run up to the final had more rights than a season ticket holder who had been to no Carling Cup games. At the the time I thought that was very harsh as my Dad, a season ticket holder for nearly thirty years didn't get to Cardiff, but I suppose their has to be some incentive for non season ticket holders.
You shouldn't be able to miss less glamorous ties at home and expect a final ticket. This time it is different, this is the first home cup game. They have taken it to new extremes. Greed has taken over and the club don't care who doesn't get a ticket as long as the seat is taken.
Liverpool are taking the Carling Cup more seriously than they have done for many years and anyone who was at Stamford Bridge last Tuesday will know how much of a buzz it is giving to the fans. Recent trips to Stamford Bridge and The Britannia are two of my most memorable away trips in recent seasons and others who attended Exeter and Brighton before the Stoke game may not be going to the semi final.
Just to spell that out, there are a few of us that have paid for all nineteen league games and all four away Carling Cup games (five including the away leg of the semi) yet are behind a member who has been to just three league games and no Carling Cup games.
Liverpool Football Club needs to address this quickly, as whatever outrage there is now, will be doubled if Liverpool get to a first Wembley final since 1996. God knows how they are planning to deal with that if it happens.
Follow me on twitter @andy_hayes1