Sunday, 6 November 2011

From YouTube to Anfield

Anfield is well known as the home of Liverpool Football Club, but it is so much more than that.

On this particularly sunny and brisk day, the crowds are in and out of the stadium with excitement despite the solemn draw that happened there the evening before. Many have made the pilgrimage to this holy land even if just for a tour, a look in the invaluable museum or for a hearty meal at The Boot Room Sports CafĂ©.

Although I have been a couple times to the museum already, this trip was to see the newest addition of the LFC family: Darren Farley, a local impressionist whose YouTube videos have now landed him at Anfield.

As soon as I enter the old turnstile upstairs into the colourful images of Liverpool’s past, the calls are being made for the next Darren Farley show. I bypass the exhibits to claim my seat towards the front of the cinema room, and people have quickly filled up the rest in anticipation of the comedy act.

Darren waits on stage for his cue from stage partner Mark, who is delivering him questions as if he were really interviewing former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez.
The impressions of Rafa, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher bring the laughs and smiles from all ages from beginning to end. It’s not just the voices he has spot on, but the mannerisms as well. The mocking of Wayne Rooney, for example, filled the room with laughter with people seemingly agreeing “That’s so him.”

Darren Farley’s career started on YouTube, when his friend recorded him one day doing his impressions of the likes of Carragher, Gerrard, Rafa and Peter Crouch while in his shop.

“Impressions used to just start as a joke in the pub,” he said. “I’d just do it for my mates but you never think it’s going to be a job. That YouTube video just changed everything. “

“What happened with me was a stroke of luck. I was a landscape gardener working for a housing company and I thought that was the way things were going for me. It was a touch of luck that the video went onto YouTube which propelled me into it.”

Since then, the lifelong Liverpool fan from Kensington, Liverpool has found himself some fame in the football world, entertaining fans and players alike.

“I did little bits of telly at the beginning but I don’t really class them as anything big because I was just a young lad. I really weren’t that professional because I was a young lad going into it. I didn’t really know how comedy worked.

"These last couple of years have been about learning, how to do live television and stand up. I’ve done Soccer AM and going to do a bit more with that.”

The impressions have come natural for Darren, but that does not always mean perfecting them is easy. There is a preconception that a Scouser doing Scouse impressions is easier than it appears.

“Because I’m from Liverpool, a lot of people have this theory that I can speak like Stevie or Carragher and it’s not that easy.

“To be honest with you, I’d have to say Jamie Carragher is one of the hardest impressions to do. I have to do Carragher last because you’re really using a lot. When Rafa come, I just watched him a lot and the Rafa impression just came to me.”

Now that Darren has made a name for himself, and mastered the local favourites, I asked him if he had his own favourite player to show off.

“My personal favourite to do would probably be Steven Gerrard, because people love that. People want to hear that more than anything. Even though he is a Liverpool lad, they want to see him because he’s one of the best footballers in the world.

“For people of any age, Steven Gerrard appeals to them. He’s the captain of Liverpool so he’s the one. That’s been the winner for me, the one that’s love more than anything.

“A lot of people ask me to do Peter Crouch too. They had Ian St John on a phone in and they phoned me and said ‘Can you do Peter Crouch for us?’ I thought ‘I haven’t been doing Peter Crouch for very long so how am I going to phone in as him?’ He was talking to me like we were long lost friends. That’s when you know you’re doing well.”

Darren’s creative and comedic displays of football greats on YouTube caught the eye of Liverpool Football Club. Before his gig in the museum, he was asked to participate in the 2010/11 home kit launch.

He says working at Anfield now for the fans just gets better and better. Being part of the LFC family has him beaming.

“Obviously being a Liverpool fan it’s my dream to work for the club. I mean, when you’re a little kid, you either want to play for Liverpool or at least do something for them.

“To work for the club, it’s great. It’s so enjoyable. They’re hiring you to entertain someone. There’s nothing better than that. I’ve been doing it for a couple of months but it’s getting better as it’s going along.

“We want to make it brilliant don’t we? We want supporters to be buzzing off of it, be really about it. To be here working with Liverpool Football Club is the top, it’s where you want to be, so I’m very happy. “

When asking about his reaction to the approach from Liverpool for a regular stint inside the museum, he insists there is nothing else like it.

“It’s like Christmas. You wake up Christmas day when you’re a kid and you think Father Christmas has been…it’s like ten thousand of them put together. Being a Liverpool fan, anyone would love the chance to work here.

"Where I’m based in the museum, next to me is the European Cup that we won in Istanbul. It’s amazing. The history about the club is here. Nothing beats it.”

Darren Farley's comedic act can be seen in the Cinema Room in the museum at Anfield on Sundays, and some days through the week. Details can be found on the official site There is no additional charge to see the show but visitors will have to pay admission for the museum.

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