COUTINHO swings it in and he rises resplendent, red resplendent, and he nods it across goal and it is there, it is there, and we are there and I surge forward and fall backwards and I am seven and I am just in awe of this hero; of this man who has gone and done the simplest and best thing in football again.
And there he is wheeling away, just arching away, and doing the thing — the natural thing — making ball meet net in front of all those people, those people — our people — exactly when we needed and deserved it when those other Reds needed and deserved it and it is there, bouncing being there, and I remember Tyldesley commentating for Radio City saying things were there; listening obsessively to things being there on repeat on a tape recorder knowing that it being there is the purest thing and that is what he does tall and strong and there it is when all we did was need and deserve it and there he was this hero when he was needed rising rising rising and I am surging forward and falling backwards.
And I am 17 and there he is in front of the Kop end and he’s everything you’ve ever wanted isn’t he? But he isn’t perfect and he can’t be; he is flawed and he is gnarly and he is badly like us and like me because he just is, he just has to be, and being 17 I just love the fact he leads my gang and he clears things off the line and celebrates and he gets sent off because I’d get sent off and he blams them in and he celebrates in front of the Kop end and he does all the things, all the football things, that someone like you could never do but would want to do.
He finds the way to make his mark in Merseyside Derbies and against Manchester United and he is in front of the Kop end celebrating, standing tall, being Liverpool. And he makes you want to feel like a teenager until you remember the feelings of a real life emotional teenager and then you think again and he probably has to deal with all that too all the time and how can you deal with all that? And as it bubbles up tears sting and you feel stupid. Stupid. Stupid because you are 17 and it is stupid to feel like this about a game because I should be too cool but tears sting as he is there at the Kop end and I am surging forward so no one else sees and falling back because I can’t keep going forward.
And I am 27 and it is 2008 and he is capable of everything and the players crowd him, these lads who understand him, and perhaps understand us through him and he is mobbed and I think what a set of lads how I wish they were my lads as they are his and I love that his lads extend off the pitch but I am sensible now as he is mobbed and know it can’t be him alone because football doesn’t work that way and that Roy needed The Rovers and that anyway balls looping over the line isn’t everything and that jobs still need to be done.
But there he is and I am with him and them anyway because you know this and that and then I am surging forward and falling backwards as the mob dies down and as I do so it is 2014 and he seems so happy as the mob lets him go and he looks at the Kop end and sees himself in them and he seems so happy and he raises his arms and he is this man who isn’t perfect who isn’t going to win the league but who has carried everything and there in that moment he is our man and we should walk around him because he has carried everything and no one should have had to but this is part of being old — which I am and he is — that you are left with the imperfections and all the flaws but then you have to make the best of them and nod the ball anyway and lift your arms and these lads and lift these lads because they need lifting and they need a bit of saving even if he’s the one who has got them into trouble on occasion.
Because there is this understanding between him and them and there is this understanding between you and him now because you know what I’ve been around some blocks and got a ton of things wrong as well but I don’t get to do this lifting only to be lifted and he does that and I should just walk around him but instead I surge forward and fall back and I am here and it is now and he walks away from the Kop end and walks along the Centenary fist pumping stalking his way along and tears sting because I am stupid and wrong and vulnerable to the passing of time and because he isn’t superman and he never ever was because he hasn’t got that league and he hasn’t delivered it to me or to us and I know he isn’t superman because no one is and no one can be and no one has endless miracles but I know I want one more because I am that stupid and sentimental and foolish and because this football club and city is bloody daft and he carried all the daftness and he probably shouldn’t have bothered because while he isn’t perfect we most definitely aren’t and he pumps his fist and he walks back to the centre circle and Jordan Henderson touches his cheek and I don’t know what happens next but I know enough to know we all move on and I know that he does to and Jordan Henderson touches his cheek and we all get to be human and sweet and flawed and brilliant and that is all anyone can do.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda-Photo
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda-Photo