THE man affectionately known as the ‘Voice of Anfield’ will celebrate a landmark occasion when Liverpool entertain Sunderland in their opening Premier League clash on Saturday.
The Reds will make a special presentation to long-serving George Sephton to mark the 40th anniversary of his appointment as match announcer.
Sephton took the microphone for the first time against Nottingham Forest on August 14 1971 and has been providing the musical backdrop for home games ever since.
“Saturday will be a very proud day for me and to be recognised by the club is fantastic,” he said. “It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing it for 40 years. I didn’t think I’d even last 12 months! It’s quite a landmark and I’m gobsmacked to have reached it.
“Liverpool is in my blood. My father had a trial for the Reds back in 1923 and I’ve always been a huge fan.
“It’s been a privilege and I’ll carry on while people still want me to do it. There’s a tradition in American baseball that stadium announcers carry on until they drop. There are guys over there still doing it in their 90s.
“I don’t know if I’ll still be going then but it would be nice to get to 50 years.”
Sephton, who worked in IT for 40 years prior to 2008, landed the role at Anfield back in 1971 after writing to club secretary Peter Robinson.
The TV gantry was his spot for games prior to moving to the match control room in the corner of the Kop a decade ago.
“It all started when I made a sarcastic remark about the person who was doing the announcing to my wife while we were in the Paddock watching a game one night,” he added.
“She said ‘it’s easy to say that from down here, but could you do any better?’ I thought I could so I wrote to Peter Robinson basically saying ‘give me a job’.
“As it turned out they had decided to get shut of this other guy and were wondering what to do when my letter dropped on the desk. My first game turned out to be Kevin Keegan’s debut. I’ve always had an affinity with Kevin.”
These days the Aintree-based 65-year-old has branched out into after-dinner speaking and wedding discos as well as working part-time as a courier but nothing beats the thrill of Anfield on match days.
“I’ve been lucky enough to meet some amazing people,” he said.
“I got an award off Ian St John at the supporters’ club dinner. When I was a lad I loved watching him play and never imagined one day I’d be on first name terms with him.
“Kenny Dalglish is the greatest player I’ve ever seen and he was on LFC TV saying some kinds words about me. To hear my hero praising me was surreal but it makes it all worthwhile.
“I’ve always just tried to be myself. People say the music they hear before a game at Anfield is different to any other ground.
“You go to some grounds and dance music is screaming out at you. That’s inappropriate for a crowd with such an age range.
“At Anfield there are people aged three to 93 so I try to be selective. I’d like to think I’ve got a good taste in music and I play an eclectic mix of stuff. I’ve always played as many Liverpool bands as I could over the years and some have told me I gave them their first break.”
The job is very different now to the one he took on four decades ago.
“I used to go into Anfield at midday for a 3pm kick-off and for big games the ground would already be half full,” he said. “I’d be talking and playing music for three hours before kick-off.
“Now the gates don’t open until 90 minutes before the game and with everyone having seats there is no rush to get in. I’m always in my seat two hours before kick-off but now you have to try to build up the atmosphere much closer to kick off.
“I used to sit on the TV gantry above the halfway line. It was cold and windy but the atmosphere was fantastic. Now I sit in the match control room which is warmer but with the sound proofing I don’t get as much of the atmosphere as I used to.”
Sephton, who has acquired a 10,000-strong cult following on Twitter, has high hopes for the season ahead.
“I’ve got absolute faith in Kenny and I’m really pleased with the signings,” he said.
“The owners know what they are doing, we’ve got a good manager and a classy squad. We just need a bit of luck to help us get back on top.”