YOU turn up vaguely unsure. Because it is a football match and it is an occasion. Football matches are occasions you believe but this is different. The occasion and the match are separate entities. The occasion will be the occasion regardless. Despite not because.
You spent the night before at Light Night. You heard choral music at the Anglican Cathedral and while the faith you don’t have lives at the other end of Bold Street, you are touched. You are beyond touched. You are transcendent, you have a sudden feeling of grace while carrying and drinking a crate of Stella Artois. You reflect upon that grace and you think of the day to follow. The occasion to follow. You drink.
You board a bus around this city on that Friday night. See space amazons and drink in a library. You are silly and possibly, hopefully sexy and certainly a gobshite with your hair high because you did some telly and you are adopting a position like the gobshite you always are. You’re the worst.
Everywhere you go you think about Steven. Steven not sleeping. Steven stressing. You realise you have spent a great deal of your life thinking about Steven. You have friends, close friends, you think of less than Steven. Worry about less than Steven. And Steven is alright. He’s got a few bob. He has a lovely family and daughters while you are a tit, dry shampooing his hair 10 minutes before doing some telly. You are more worried about Steven than you are about you. That’s fucking mad.
You approach the ground and the size of the whole thing makes you always feel dwarfed. The ground is huge. Liverpool are huge. They have a weight they don’t punch. Steven knows this. He has been asking for them to punch it for a week. He has been needing them to punch it since 1998. You know this. It is too hard. Too unfair. You hate that he leaves without a league winners’ medal. Steven has the biggest prize but you have this gnawing gap where the second biggest prize should be. You think he has that too. You know he should have it. He should. We all should.
This is it. The crux of Steven. The crux of Steven is that Steven was never quite surrounded with enough good footballers at any one time. Steven is Roy where the Rovers have never quite had 38 games in them. The Rovers aren’t enough of the business but Roy has been so often remarkable.
You know, hair like a tit, you keep banging this drum. The legacy of Steven needs to be no player ever leaves the club again without a league winners’ medal if they deserve it. You know how hard it is to win. What winning takes. Devoting everything to that one goal. Sacrificing everything. You know it isn’t a barrel of laughs.
You watch them. The Reds. Heads akimbo. Everything not, never sacrificed. You’d die for it. You’d kill for it. And you know that Steven, brilliant, astonishing, devilish would die and kill for it too. That was always the whole point. That was what he always was. An energy. A force. Always Steven. Everywhere Steven. Too much Steven. Steven would die for it. He would kill for it. He would give up his thumbs.
This Liverpool, the Liverpool shorn of Steven you will be watching looks short of goals and short of character. This Liverpool, the Liverpool shorn of Steven you will be watching looks short of pace. Someone needs to do something.
The final whistle sounds and you see his shoulders hunched. You hear the crowd and for the first time in too long a time you think what a gang of lads these lads are. You hear the crowd and think my god. You hear the crowd and you are the crowd and you feel that grace. Gilded grace. Gorgeous gilded grace golden. You know football is always silly and always has just dry shampooed its hair and always soppy. Drippy. Geeky. You know the lads are the lads and there will be tears in the ground because you know our worst and our best and someone decided to represent both or had that representing thrust upon them and he did both brilliantly and you know soz abar that and you know all the best and you know we’re a crew of dopes so Steven soz abar that but all the best.
You know Steven isn’t one of your mates. You know Steven has an existence you can’t conceive of. You know you can now never be mates. You know Steven is the business. Walk around him. Fulham away will always be the one, the moment for you. Arms whirring. Shirt helicoptering. You know you and him aren’t mates and you know that in that moment when he went yeah you aren’t a bellend you know what we can do you know that these lads are the business and you are the business and we win and we win and we win and we win. You know. The business.
Anyway the football match finishes and the occasion begins. You want to cuddle everyone. You are belting it out. Steven is our captain. Steven is a Red. You are belting it out.
Steven says to have played for Liverpool once. Steven says everything else a bonus. You know he’s right. Steven also says lots of sensible things even when asked a fucking daft question.
You know you are the same age as Steven. You and Steven have lived through the same time. You know human emotional scales are the same and you know you and Steven have been touched by grace. Grace is everywhere. Because to be human. Because to be here now. Because to be. Whatever else was the point?
You know this: It was a joy to be alive that day. It was a joy to be alive for a load of days. You know he made it a joy. He did that. For you. Because you.
You know this: Stoke will be fucking brilliant. Yes.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda-Photo
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Think this may be impossibly beautiful but then too much lager not enough food and I’m almost impossibly sad. Sadder than a man my age should be about a footballer leaving. I think I’ve seen the future and it petrifies me.
Ian, what did you see?
I’m stuck between two stools.
On one end I’m feeling like our heartbeat is headed to California, on the other end I feel that the truth will rear its head about our current crop and the manager in the wake of Stevie’s absence; and that, however grim or brilliant, could bring solace.
Had a drink, still fuming at the election result last week and the reality that Gerrard never won the league is really slugging me in the face. Not happy with any of anything… We’re Liverpool and he deserved Alonso-Mascherano behind him level as well as Suarez-Sturridge level in front of him. Twats who hounded Benitez out and now want their own way over Rodgers 5 years on are menaces and Shankly would disown us as an entity before getting in line with some of the snide going about (Melissa Reddy drew a line under all that the other day, to be fair).
FSG have been annoyingly naïve in their strategy as well; look to go all out to get the league won before Suarez goes and Gerrard calls it. Rationalise all the wage bills you want forever more once that’s boxed because it’s been 25 years and fully grown adults all round the world are sick of hearing about how we used to win the league before we were born. Crazy gear that Rodgers had us nearly winning the fucker with the most attacking football after the pointlessness of our forward signings in summer 2013. Give him the right players and he’ll achieve; just no more £20m squad player centre halves who get left on their arse and turn like buses when there’s 30+ goals to replace.
All these things and England cricket becoming a subsidiary of the Tory Party. It’s been a tough old week.
Just to note that on BeIn Sports here in Qatar where they employ the Terrific Two of Richard Keys and Andy Gray, they had the Liverpool game on live.
In the lead build up of the teams coming out Keys and Gray were exclaiming ‘Where’s Gerrard?, where is he?”.
When the teams came out, with SG hanging back Keys said “Not liking this, what do you think Roy Evans?”, Roy gives a non commital “I don’t think he’ll like all this fuss”.
SG comes out with his girls, soaks in the amazing scenes.
Keys as the players are shaking hands says ” Doesn’t sit right with me all that, not one bit, really doesnt sit right.”
Gray chips in with a “Well I thought he’d get a lap of honour but you don’t do this before a game”
Cunts to a man.
Less said about the actual game the better.
Better doing the good-bye crap before the game, seeing as the locals tend to fuck off with 10 to go, let alone when being outperformed by a shit palace side.
Keys is the biggest shit stirrer and we were always his fav target esp Rafa.
Nice! What’s all this tv stuff mentioned?
I want to talk about my experience of that momentous today yesterday. I had a few tickets and decided for this game I’d sit in the Lower Centenary, despite making a pact with myself a couple of years ago that I’d never sit anywhere other than the Kop ever again. It was row 4 and as the game was meaningless I thought I’d get close to the pitch.
I left my lads tournament early to get the train over with a group of mates. We just stayed in the pubs around James St. Anyway, I had to meet someone at the ground early to sort some tickets out and thought I’m not paying nearly a tenner for a taxi on my own. I approached some taxi’s at the lights that had people in I could tell were going to the match. So I knocked on a few windows and said ‘can I jump in to the ground’. Sorry mate I’m picking others up. No, can’t mate. Turns the other way to avoid answering. 4 turned me down. Just think about that. Liverpool fans can’t let another fan share a cab. It’s fuckin despicable imo. I wouldn’t even contemplate saying no. Why would I?
*Sidenote. A couple of months ago we got off at Lime St and grabbed a cab at the back of the station. Can you take us to the ground mate? Yeah, it’s £30. Fuck off mate it’s £7. Take it or leave it. Was out of my hands as my mates said fuck it, let’s just get in. On the way we were bullying the driver and he said ‘oh, you’re all season ticket holders – I’ll do it for £15. It didn’t feel like a victory.
So, I got to the ground by bus and was shocked to see my ticket was turnstile J. I’d assumed it was the scoreboard end of the LC. As it was I was near the corner flag at the opposite end. I’ve never seen anything like it. Robbo and Mickey Malibu have wrote about the crowd and if I’m honest, I thought it was exaggerated. Their writing didn’t reflect what I see in the Kop. Well, yesterday it more than did. These seats must be the Thomas Cook ones people mention. I had at least 50 people from South East Asia around me (P.s I love these fans, love their passion and I love the way they see the club and not bothered where anyone is from), my point is only that it was clearly a transient crowd. I looked around at the make up of the crowd and I found it fairly disturbing. I saw the bags of merchandise in front of me and could see why the club would want these transient sections. They’d spent 100’s. I couldn’t even see the match for zoom lenses from the professional cameras everyone seemed to have. The lad next to me didn’t stop texting throughout to the point I was intrigued and spent 10 mins trying to read it over his shoulder. It was unrelated to football. I kind of thought half and half scarves didn’t really exist except for a few kids marking their first game. There was friggin thousands of them. Singing? I’d planned to go and give Stevie a send off. I got plenty tanked up enough to really go for it but within minutes I knew I wouldn’t open my mouth all game. I like to chant aggressively. This had a feel of a choir singing all things bright and beautiful. Substitute the words for Steve Gerrard, Gerrard, He’ll pass the ball 40 yards… You can’t sing it like that with such pleasantry. It doesn’t work.
Planes, abuse from the crowd at a few points after the game, I wondered what I was doing there. I looked around and thought, I share nothing in common with these people. I don’t wanna be among them. I don’t enjoy being among them. I wish I was at home. I then got a text to say my lads team had won the tournament and it compounded how much I was hating being there. Really wish I’d not bothered. We’d planned to meet up in Liverpool centre for a few drinks after the match but walking down Everton Valley I got a call to say we’re gonna head straight back. Luckily I saw someone from Chester and jumped in the car with them. I think my mates thought – end of season, celebrate Stevie etc but the reality is Anfield is so boring your energy levels drop to an extent going home seems the best thing.
I woke up this morning and went on Twitter to capture some of the magic of yesterday that I felt I missed out on. Ha, as fuckin if. All I saw was bile. And these were the Liverpool fans. You know, sometimes I’m not bothered that Ian Ayre was there. I’m not interested that FSG weren’t there. I can’t be arsed with looking for conspiracy theories everywhere. I can’t be arsed waking up to Joseph Cousins tweets about games that happened 8 months ago so he could have a dig at Rodgers under the guise of respectability. I can’t be arsed seeing the same agenda’s from people day after day. The truth is, I hate Liverpool fans. They can’t even let someone share a cab with them. They make Anfield an unpleasant place. They make my Sunday mornings turn sour with their bullshit. If Sterling was undecided about his future they’ve made his mind up. Yesterday was a nothing game. It was all about Steven Gerrard. I feel like the whole things just passed me by and is somewhere buried among the hatred and agenda’s. I respect a few on Twitter, like Malibu’s view this morning, but I feel like I need a straightener with half of them or I can’t move on. I won’t be going to Anfield again. I don’t enjoy it.
Oh my, captured my sentiments entirely. I stopped going to Home games, on the few occasions have been offered tx, years ago. I have tried to set out why, both to myself and others, but seemed to struggle explaining. But it’s there in what you said, it simply isn’t an enjoyable experience. For many of the reasons set out here and more. Talking of the cameras (much like gigs these days too by the way), the ultimate was Madrid this year, after they score, first one I think, there’s a Red… A Red… arching to take her photo of Ronaldo as he wheels away. Our support has died & gone to heaven. Sadder than anything happening on the pitch.
I felt the same my friend. I gave my season ticket up int the Kop 2 seasons ago. I was bored after about 8 minutes every game. No vibe, no fun nothing. A lot of fans should hand their season tickets down to their kids or gran kids, an get some atmosphere in their.
Great peace though mate. You put it exactly how I felt
Cab?? Billy Liddell used to take a tramcar to the match. And he was captain!
Tell the kids that terday – they won’t believe yer…
When I lived in Northwich I used to get a train to Line Street but got off at Edge Hill…didn’t understand why my uncle in Kensington thought that was hilarious, but I was only 12…
Sounds a bit sulky Robin…..never going to Anfield again? I used to hear whinges like that if we’d finished second in the League…lol.
Haha, you’re probably right mate. Now the dust has settled, what I’d say is there’s certain areas of the ground I won’t sit in again. Primarily, The Paddock and Lower Centenary towards the away end. I’d never buy a ST in those area’s. The view of the game is appalling and I don’t want to sit among the people in there. I think the Kop is ok though. I seem to always enjoy going to the game until the match starts then I get bored. I suppose if there’s something riding on the game it’s different.
The taxi a few months ago pissed me off too. The point was the driver thought we were day trippers (arriving at Lime St) and thought he’d exploit us. It just seems to be exploitation after exploitation.
Kevin – I only take taxi’s in a group of 4 plus. The bus was £2.20 so makes sense to share a cab. I walk everywhere in general. On Saturday I phoned a lad I was meeting and he said he wanted to be in the ground by 4.30 which left me needing to get there quickly, hence being pissed off that no one would let me jump in there cab.
Went to church, got on a bus, drank in a library, washed hair, went the game, stressed about hair, thank you Steven, stressed about hair, realised I’m not Gerrard’s mate, went home.
This read like an entry from a teenage girls angst ridden diary. Top, top parody Neil. I was worried TAW might be full of doom and gloom articles over the next few days, but I enjoyed that. Anyway, keep up the good work lads, the shows you guys do are boss.
So where were Henry and Werner then? Last home appearance of our only world class player/club legend and neither of them anywhere to be seen. Complete lack of respect to Gerrard and the supporters sorry, consumers. Almost Freddie Shepherd/Douglas Hall lite. I suppose they’re pissed off he isn’t going to sell them any more shirts.
No wonder the players don’t seem to give a toss, when the Owners seemingly don’t either.
They were somewhere conducting interviews.
No fucking programmes left in the ground with over 45 mind to go to kick off. These Anfield clowns couldn’t market a free chew off Pippa Middleton’s tidy sister.
Still being run like a corner shop in some respects, who’d guessed there would be high demand for programmes! Doesn’t help when the guy in charge (or something like that) of programmes says on the radio he was keeping a box of them for himself, yeah it’s a drop in the ocean but people still miss out, try programme master.com
I rarely buy a programme but was going to yesterday, but my brother buys one every game. Disgrace that some people bought handfuls to stick on eBay. Surely the club should have printed loads & stuck any spare on the club shop website, made more money for the club, & scuppered the greedy sods who bought loads to stick on eBay
Wee just have to recalibrate our romanticism – imagine how much it will mean when he wins the league as manager?
If that does ever happen I won’t survive the celebrations,
Wouldn’t surprise me if he becomes a decent manager.
Agree with above sentiments.
Anfield has turned into a tourist attraction so far removed from the place of my youth it’s not even recognisable. It’s merely a global brand sucking in the wealthy in search of ‘experiences’ and the famed Anfield atmosphere.
Quite ironic then that what they pay a fortune to come and ‘experience’ doesn’t even exist any more. Surely they must wonder what all the hype is about. I’d feel short changed. Or maybe the faceboook post and selfie is all they are really after anyway. Maybe it’s not so much the experience itself but the experience of being at the ‘experience’.
It’s also ironic that the atmosphere that the club promotes to attract these ‘football tourists’ to spend their money was built by working class local kids that can no longer afford to go; and if they could afford to go I suspect the horse has bolted and tradition has been broken to the extent that many would now choose to spend their money on other activities and watch the match on laptops or TV instead.
You can’t blame the tourists for the shit atmosphere when most people in the ground are local season ticket holders. It’s the fucking age of those who’ve been going for many years. The young can’t get in because the middle age mutes won’t give up their tickets.
It’s not even a recent phenomenon, have you actually been to Anfield? Even in the glorious 80s the ground could sound like a park training session.
I think you must have really enjoyed Red or Dead. Really enjoyed it. It must have been an influence. It comes through. It comes through really strongly. Strongly like a glorious ox. An ox in a field. An ox in a filed that likes football. That wears a shirt. A red shirt. A red shirt with an 8 on it. An ox. In a field. With a glorious Liver Bird. On. His. Chest.
Yeah that makes a lot of sense. Why should loyal fans who have been going for years be expected to give up season tickets ? And how are local kids expected to pay for the cost of them unless they’re involved in the local contraband distribution.
Surely the issue is more the ratio of season tickets to other tickets and the the availability of low cost tickets for the youth and reduced prices in general – which SoS is campaigning for . But why would the club do this when they can rake in money from ‘tourists’, which is my point, and with demand always outstripping supply where’s the incentive to reduce prices? We could probably half fill the ground every week just with transient punters.
As for the 80s – and I’ve been going since 76 starting in the boy’s pen – there were quiet games, but even in quiet games you would have a laugh and joke with the people around you . Mr Crimes above was making the point that this is largely absent . In fact last season, the best games were the league cup games in my opinion – no surprise that there were far more locals in the ground and tickets were available and cheaper .