The date was October 10th 1963, the venue Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, England. It was the first time that the song “You'll Never Walk Alone” by Gerry & the Pacemakers was played through the ground's loudspeakers. Not many people would have predicted quote how seminal this song would become in the years that followed.
Before thrilling supporters that year, however, the song was part of the Broadway Musical “Carousel” and was first performed in 1945. Eleven years later, the same number was seen live by one Gerry Marsden, who was so captivated by it that he resolved to form a ban and one day play it live. He managed that in 1963 with the Pacemakers and the song became an instant pop hit.
At that time it was commonplace to have contemporary pop tunes played live at Anfield, home of Liverpool Football Club. The lyrics of this song, which speak of courage, bravery and defiance, were the exact embodiment of what connected the fans of the club with their beloved ‘Kop', the arena's main stand. Eventually the song disappeared from the charts, but it remained a fans' favourite. Marsden, who was himself present at most of Liverpool's home games at the time, spoke of how deeply touched he was by the whole experience. “I went weak at the knees and I thought I was melting. Our song being played in the Kop! We felt like kings”, reflected the singer. It was from this moment on that the fans began to sing “You'll Never Walk Alone.”
Decades after it entered its way into the hearts of Liverpool fans, the song made a fresh appearance in public. At the 1989 FA Cup Final, it was performed live at London's Wembley Stadium, where the chorus was led by Marsden. But there was also a sadder note to the occasion. The song was sung in remembrance of the fans that had perished in the Hillsborough stadium disaster some weeks before, when Liverpool and Notingham Forest had met in the Cup semi-final in Sheffield. 96 fans, most of them of Liverpool, eventually lost their lives and 760 were injured in the tragedy, after an overflow of spectators into the Liverpool supporters' section led to a crushing. Shortly afterwards, the club's directors voted unanimously to incorporate the words ‘You'll Never Walk Alone' into the team's badge.
The first time the song was used in Germany was at a home game of FC St Pauli and continues to be played in stadiums across Germany.