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FULHAM 2 LIVERPOOL 3 – EXORCISING THE DEMONS

by Neil Atkinson // 12 February 2014 // 55 Comments

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Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Fulham v Liverpool - Craven Cottage

DEMONS. All day. Demons. They won’t shut up.

Fulham away. I hate Fulham away as a fixture. Hate it. The formbook goes out the window. For every Yossi there is Lee Mason sending a billion of ours off.

All day the demons. Rory Smith saying Liverpool won’t win. I like Rory. He’s wrong. But it’s sense he’s speaking. We’ve lacked gumption after big wins.

All day the demons. The noises. The ‘don’t get carried away’ sense shouts. They love them. I’ve seen them. Henderson, MacIntosh and Tomkins. Good men possessed into saying it can’t be.

The tantrum havers. Don’t say it. Don’t dream of saying it. We’ll only let ourselves down if we say it. It’s unseemly.

The demons, they speak through them.

Blocking them out has grown harder and harder as we get closer to kick off.

Don’t let the demons in.

First bad call of the day – watch on a stream. The demons love a stream. Stuttering. Imperfect. Solitary. Your relationship becomes just them and you. No us. A me. A me. A me. And what do I think?

I think everything. I hear everything. I hear the demons. I hear can’t do.

Don’t let the demons in.

Kick off. Don’t like it. They look urgent.

Kolo. Oh Kolo. Oh Kolo. You poor bastard. All the security you were meant to bring reduced to an argument with God.

The shape isn’t great and they are countering us. Not meant to be this way.

The pass is genius. The pass is beauty. The pass is matched by the finish. Demons beaten back.

Pressure though. The Reds had done pressure. Actual pressure when not playing well. Yes.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Fulham v Liverpool - Craven Cottage

Half time I walked about six miles around a one-bedroom flat.

Second half more pressure. Waves of pressure. 24 Hours In A&E going on behind me. Christ almighty.

Stream jamming. Swarms of red. Waves of red. Post hit. Endless – oh for the love of Mike. 2-1.

The demons are at the door. Clawing. Biting. Hammering. Jamming. Stream jamming. Brockle urges. Loads of time. Stare them down. Go out, man.

Coat on. Shoes on. Open the door. Stare them down. Duke St’s finest bar. Name redacted to protect the guilty.

Chris McIntosh doing the bingo. The match on. 2-2.

2 fucking 2. With humans.

More pressure. The Reds doing ugly. Doing it well enough?

They look more likely. Begin rationalisation. We haven’t lost ground. Terrible decision on Coutinho. Aspas going spare behind the manager. Go ed, Iago. Start him Sunday. Start him.

Penalty.

He’ll score. No demons. Not now. No doubt. Walk. Around. Him.

And Liverpool see it out. Come from behind away from home. Grind it. Pressure. Win when not playing well.

But rewind. Walk around him. Look at him. Wheeling away. Shirt in his hand, screaming, a football team descending on him, a city collapsing in on him, his shoulders broad a thousand times over, broad again.

Walk around him.

Look at him.

I dare you to look at him. Demons. Naysayers. Look at him. Battle for fourth is it? His jersey a circular blur. Just about getting back into the CL is it?

Let’s be clear. 4th place this campaign would be a significant achievement for the football club. One which should be applauded and welcomed. Everyone walks away head held high. We know that.

But he’s walked among the stars. You dream of it, he’s done it. Everything you can in club football. He’s done 4th, he’s done 3rd and he’s done 2nd.

Look at him and tell me this isn’t about 1st. Look at him go. Our Atlas. Look at him go.

Look me in the eye and tell me you don’t think of first. Look me in the eye.

Support.

Believe.

A joy.

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55 Comments

  1. I love him. I love them. I love you, my Brother.

  2. They’d jail me in Russia for the things I’d do to him…

  3. The demons tell us that our frailties mean we cannot win, as the end gets nearer the demons get louder only true belief will drown out the cacophony. It’s time to regain that hallowed perch. Now WE are going to believe it.

  4. Believe!!!

    It’s ok to do so.

  5. Neil, you are freaking brilliant!

    and BELIEVE we shall!

  6. You crazy bastard, Neil.

    Was at the game in with the home fans. Our end was bedlam at the final whistle. This feels very ’88 again.

  7. Another fantastic article! I hope this becomes a regular post match routine for you Neil.

  8. If you stop doing these post match articles and we don’t win the title, Neil….ITS ALL YOUR FAULT.

  9. I love these ‘day of the match accounts’ Neil – brilliant stuff. My stream was shite this morning too!

    Demons best fuck off when the Champions Elect are in town!

    Robbie,
    Melbourne Liverpool Supporters Club

  10. I really enjoyed reading this Neil. I loved the Arsenal one too. I’ve always liked your writing. But…

    But after the pure poetry of the post Arsenal match write up, and this, I’ve got a feeling that you, like Luis Suarez, are moving from ‘good’ to ‘something special’. If you can keep up this standard, greatness awaits.

    It’s funny, it’s like your form is being swept up with LFC’s. Long may you both ride high!

  11. Finally the Reds have ground out a scruffy win. Maybe there’s legs in this team after all.

  12. Texeira, Suso, Coutinho rotating in the middle, Ibe and Sterling providing width, Gerrard holding, Suarez and Sturridge up top…next season is going to be so entertaining that if we dig in that transfer market to get a left back, center back, holding mid, one more wide mid and a 3rd top striker, Champions of Europe AGAIN!!!!

  13. Brilliant article. Do we dare to dream?

  14. Is it ok to cry a bit when reading this?

  15. My piece the other day perhaps fairly been perceived as negative – but that’s not the intention – I believe there’s so muchore in this team and manager – and fourth is beyond my dreams for this year- I’d have settled for a decent challenge for 4th.

    Now we ‘re here we have to aim higher. 4th is great but 3rd ties up soooo many loose ends and first – first takes us and this team to the status of gods and demi-gods.

  16. you should to this every game neil.
    wouldn’t be surprised if stevie he hung up his boots if we nicked the title this year. and in that case – deservedly so.

  17. Excellent, the writing everywhere about this title challenge (afraid to even type it for fear of jinxing it) is fantastic at present. This is my favourite so far though. Nice one, Neil.

  18. Just for the record, I wasn’t saying it can’t be – just that if it isn’t, we should still remember it as a great great time.

    Brilliant stuff Neil.

  19. We may, we may not. We may nearly, ever so nearly. We may not. But SG, LS and DS says if we don’t it won’t be for lack of trying and next we will be even better.

  20. YOU SHALL NOT PASS!
    Well maybe a couple of times if Kolo is playing but you know what, we’ll batter your doors in at the other end.

    Awesome stuff

  21. Brilliant Neil – captured the hurt tinged expectation, disbelief, relief and joy wonderfully!

    I’ve been all over the pod cast since the first episode but have not read much – this one piece changes all this. Damn you! As if I didn’t have enough Atkinson in my life already! :)

    Ellis

  22. “Look me in the eye and tell me you don’t think of first…”

    To quote The Dude – Fuckin’ A, man.

    Went through all the emotions last night, and you’ve summed them up perfectly Neil. Nice work. To win the thing would be nuts, but then we are aren’t we? Watching Suarez going mental at the team to get on with it after we score, seeing the appreciation the lads are giving each other for the through balls and crosses, and the hustling and pressing, mercilessly at times, it’s infectious. And it’s us. It’s Liverpool. 11 points ahead of ‘them’. 12 to go. Bring it on.

  23. Get in there Neil. Love it. Love everything about it.

  24. Brilliant summary of the emotional rollercoaster that was last night. Never seen Stevie G celebrate like that!

  25. Great article, sums up a mad evening in the internet age, whilst simultaneously evoking one of my favourite writers, James Ellroy. Liverpool Confidential you could say.

    Bravo

  26. Absolutely spot on. We can do this, we can win every game yet, but that wouldn’t be the hard way, would it?

    What I know is, CFC are not contenders – “Horses mouth”
    Arsenal are imploding – “There’s absolutely no doubt about that”. They can’t even beat a mid-table team.
    City are going to be dealt with severely, at our fortress. They only want the CL really, don’t they Manuel?

    Make us dream.

  27. Wa a piece Neil Lad, made the hairs stand upp!!

    Tell me he’s not about 1st, tell me!!

    Class lad!!

    By the way the I think some the comments here were better than the poetry uv just written!!

  28. Going through this read over and over again, I find myself having the goosebumps I had yesterday once we got the equaliser. This constant pressure, all these miserable memories from the past that have been coming back again and again just like the demons we all have in our minds. I was telling myself soon I wouldnt be able to handle these games, it’s been happening for too long and I dont think Im that tough mentally to take another draw where we should’ve actually battered a poor, poor bunch of average European players, that Fulham is; or another Kolo madness; or Lui not being able to score in third consecutive game /can you fuckin belive that?!?/.
    And then again, who else if not HIM!
    All these demons in my head wont disappear over night, however I cant help it but keep believing and the only reason is HIM!
    Besides, you were totally right and noone couldve put it better than that- this football team is BANANAS!

    Most sincere regards from a Bulgarian red and true admirer of the magazine and especially the podcast, Neil!

  29. haha well in Neil. im daring to dream too, im scared to do it, nah fck it – come on redmen! Just imagine Gerrard’s face as he lifts the trophy! Wont be a dry eye in the house…

  30. Its not just me then. Pacing. Demons. The voices.
    after the match, at home, in the dark, at home. In the dark at home there were no voices, in the dark, at home.The demons fell silent. In the dark. He closed his eyes.

  31. Tried to keep as calm as possible last night but that is IMpossible. Make no mistake this is turning out to be an amazing season; great football to watch (and behold), more ups and downs than the Colossus roller-coaster in LA and the team taking us to the brink of agony and ecstasy all in one thrilling hit.

    This is what it’s all about!!!

  32. Great stuff Neil. Great stuff. That moment of Gerrard celebrating defines our season so far. Madness and Jubilation and Belief.

  33. List of people that we should be thankful to if we actually manage the unspeakable:

    - Brendan Rodgers.
    - Luis Suarez.
    - Daniel Sturridge.
    - Steven Gerrard.
    - Raheem Sterling.
    - Simon Mignolet.
    - Neil Atkinson.
    - Jordan Henderson.
    - …

  34. Goose bumps, misty eyes, hair standing on end…. Fantastic!

  35. Amazing. Rousing. Genuinely sent tingles down the back of my neck.

    I dare to dream.

    After that final whistle last night I just lay there on the sofa, unable to move, mind buzzing. It was truly incredible. I can’t believe the emotions I was going through over what should have been a routine three points over the bottom-of-the-table side.

  36. Dreams? Demons? Ridiculous stuff.

    Everybody knows that city are on 2.3456 ppg and Chelsea on 2.4456 whilst we’re only 2.2345 and our defence is crap and no-one goes from 7th to 1st in one season and we never beat Stoke or Arsenal and a team with Djimi Traore in it couldn’t possibly win the CL..

    Seriously though, another great rallying cry from Neil for the dreamers and football romantics amongst us. There’s definitely something in the air..

  37. This was just amazing. I felt the terror and relief that this article had in it. Amazing writing. CHAMPIONS ELECT!!!!

  38. Fantastic piece Neil.
    We dare not believe. But I feel what we did in 45mins in instanbul is going to happen only over the next 3 months.
    Last night was LFC 1 AC MILLAN 3.
    The come back is on! Honestly I don’t want to dream but fuck it!! Why not ? I didn’t know what to expect from LFC this season but so far I still don’t know what to expect.

  39. Walk. Around. Him.

    Brilliant. Writing. My. Friend.

    Dare to dream? Like I said the other day, I’m dreaming life a frickin’ mo-fo!

  40. Fabulous piece.

    Football fans generally have it the wring way round. If you’re doing well, they command y not get carried away and when you’re doing bad, they tell you to support the team. In my mind, the most important time to support is when you are as close as you are now.

    Screw the wanting it be able to say you told us so or wanting to dampen the blow of a possible anti-climax or saying the opposite of what you really want/believe in the hope that you are wrong. Now is the time to support like you’ve never done before.

    We fans feed off the players and,likewise, the players feed off us. Anyone who’s ever been to Anfield knows what a difference the fans can make. Start believing in your heart and your soul. Send out that positive energy. It will find it’s intended recipients.

    Let’s do this!!!

  41. Fantastic piece of writing. …. and maybe this year could be another Istanbul???
    I know Stevieb deserves it more than any of us. … As Good fearing Sturridge would say. ..LET US PRAY……YNWA

  42. Bit back a tear myself there. Cracking stuff!

  43. It’s Neil Peace! Great stuff, invoking the great Ron Yeats ‘The man is a mountain, go into the dressing room and walk around him”, ”he’s a colossus”.

  44. These voices in my head starting to clamour. I come here for a bit of sanity and you start dancing around with them.

    I’m scared witless to believe we could do it. I’m scared witless to think we’re still just 3 points ahead of fifth place. This fine line between joy and despair.

    I think when we eventually we get back there I’ll cry for a week.

  45. Surely we can’t win it, can we?

    In 2004/05, I never for a moment thought we would win the Champions League throughout the entire tournament until Dudek made that double save in extra-time in the final…

    We stitched up Mourinho back then, can we do it now?

  46. Steven Gerrard wants to win the league

    There are 12 games left, we’re in third place, four points off the top and Steven Gerrard wants to win the league (and he thinks he can)

    Steven Gerrard didn’t get booked for taking his shirt off after Richardson had already been booked for taking his shirt because he’s an idiot. He took his shirt off because Steven “Istanbul” Gerrard wants to win the league and he thinks he can (and he wants everybody else to know it).

  47. Back in the days before David Moyes jumped at the chance to create a version of Man U in the the style of Hodgson’s Liverpool, even before the inevitable winding down of the Fergusonian empire, I used to note the (possibly imagined) mindset of Man U’s players during games, particularly big games, and compare them favourably to ours.

    The difference I always saw was that with us it was CAN, with them it was WILL. Stevie and co said as much to the media: “We can win, why not? There’s a chance. Possibly” – that sort of thing. There was always hope in our hearts, at least barring The Owl’s painful stewardship.

    But United had more than hope, they had expectation, a sense of entitlement, something beyond confidence: security. They knew they would always win. Maybe by a jammy pen at the end, maybe by a lucky decision at a vital moment, maybe by all the skill available on pitch or bench. They were calm, sure, they did what they had to do. That’s how it seemed to me, particularly when we played them.

    Of course, sometimes they were wrong, and let’s cheer to that. However, that didn’t alter their attitude and they eventually got thing back to how they were supposed to be.

    I was too young to be paying close attention to footy during the Paisley, Fagan and Dalglish years, but I imagine we could have said the same about those Liverpool teams too.

    We are still all about CAN, but if Rodgers’ Liverpool can keep winning games like Fulham the other night as well as the big ones, we can make a modular shift to SHOULD/MUST, and if that is sustained for long enough and we get cups and things, then my friends, it will shortly become WILL.

    I look forward to the day when hope is no longer necessary, but for now it’s great to have plenty.

  48. Absolutely boss, if that doesn’t get your loins stirring nothing will.

    Swansea your next.

  49. I’ve been reading and listening to TAW since the very first podcast, but don’t remember ever commenting on an article before. Here I am now, though, to tell you this is the most beautiful piece of writing I’ve ever read on Liverpool FC, and that it filled me with the strangest feeling of exuberance, hope and nervous unease. Great stuff.

  50. I never read articles twice and I’ve read this twice. I never comment on articles EVER and this is my second comment on this article.

    Being a ritual listener to your podcast…I can hear your voice getting louder as I progress through to the end. What a rallying cry of an article! I picture someone blowing an animal horn and a million Liverpool gladiators march onto the battlefield eviscerating everyone and putting that c*nt Mourinho’s head on a spike. I picture Stevie G riding around Anfield in a chariot holding up the Premier League trophy screaming to the fans.
    Really fantastic stuff.

    I love your comparison of Gerrard to Atlas. Brilliant!

  51. Neil, you’ve been saying it since the beginning of the season, Liverpool FC, champions-elect.

    Absolutely brilliant piece.

    Keep it up, looking forward to your next one.

  52. Pure quality that piece, capturing all of them emotions is some feat, great writing my friend.

    It’s on and we all know its on, if the Redmen believe and we sing our hearts out for them. Well you never know you just never know……

  53. Read the article a while back but only finished the comments now. Must be the most commented on article here to date?! Loved the game and TAW in all its’ forms is essential in the aftermath. Push the feeling on.

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