WELL, they’re all away. The Anfield Wrap crew have decamped to Dortmund, via Amsterdam, on what Neil Atkinson described to me the other day as a “work experiment”.
No further insight was proffered, leaving me to ponder if said experiment was to see if anyone can get as bladdered as Gibbo on a European away. Well, they haven’t taken me, so they’re up against it from the start.
No, I’m stuck in Blighty (day job stuff and that), a bit like Captain Mainwaring from Dads’ Army fronting the Home Guard. Gareth Roberts asked me to get my late tackle in early — hence my Friday column appearing here on Thursday.
Robbo has picked up on the fact I’m not particularly enamoured by this big Dortmund-Liverpool love-in that is centred around the personality of Jurgen Klopp. He’s been winding me up by sending me sickly Twitter links — the first being Radio 5 Live’s trendy little visual; billing our Europa League quarter-final as the fucking “Klopp Derby”!
Travelling to Dortmund to commentate on…
The Jürgen Klopp Derby
— Conor McNamara (@ConorMcNamaraIE) April 4, 2016
It’s not just the media obsessing over Klopp’s return to the Westfalenstadion, it’s our own fans too; engaging in a cringefest that promises shared singing of You’ll Never Walk Alone and necking from each others’ pints before Dortmund’s most recent Bundesliga trophy is officially transferred to Liverpool wearing red and yellow ribbons and celebrated as number “Neunzehn”.
In the midst of Robbo’s probing, what set me off on this little rant was the image tweeted by a Liverpool Supporters Club (they shall remain nameless, mainly because I can’t find the link) of a pair thick-rimmed Klopp glasses.
Inside the left lens appears the Borussia badge inscription “BVB 09” and circled by the right lens, there’s the Liver Bird, standing like a tart on the street corner. Gerry Marsden, or at least his anthem, is the pimp with “You’ll Never Walk Alone” spanning a yellow and red backdrop.
I half expect a banner of the same, made from Klopp’s foreskin, draped across the Liverpool and Dortmund ends on Thursday night.
If the above comment offends, this isn’t for you. And as my mate, Chris Maguire who has broken his glasses at the match more times than Jürgen Klopp, has said: “I’ve never known a person be defined so much by his wearing of spectacles. Did he invent them?”
@michaeltnevin I've never known a person be defined so much by his wearing of spectacles. Did he invent them?
— Chris Maguire (@chrismaguire73) April 5, 2016
For me, football is all about the needle.
I wasn’t even completely comfortable with the “Friendly Final” tags attached to our Mersey duels with our neighbours Everton, all those years ago. And we had a hell of a lot more in common — unemployment, rag-arse bleak futures and social deprivation — with our blue counterparts than we do with the Borussia Dortmund fanboys who’ve nicked all our frigging songs.
Liverpool fans are at their best when the opposition are seen as the enemy. Witness the recent displays of fervour against Manchester United in the last round. Let’s not get too cosy, eh?
As The Kop has gradually declined over time, we’ve become obsessed (and I’m as guilty as the next man) over the buoyant German fan culture, perhaps forgetting that the “Yellow Wall” is an imitation, albeit a very good one, of what we in Liverpool gave birth to in the 1960s.
Having said that, I’d still be prepared to take me top off and swirl it round my head if, like in Germany, it was about 10p to get in at Anfield.
We know it’s cheap to go the match in Germany, but can we stop going on about the free transport you get with your ticket? The way some go on about this, it’s as though you get a gratis trip to the Moon at half-time and there’s a free pint waiting for you when you get back.
Even if you did, it would pale in comparison to the japes we have around the lift in Block 306 of The Kop where we compare shin injuries suffered in our little haven of unsafe standing. (I might be joking here).
Nonetheless, I’ve come to the conclusion that Dortmund are bad, bad wools. We should steer well clear.
Have you seen the fucking state of that weird mosaic thing they did a few seasons back — with the massive head of a sex tourist appearing behind the goal, peering through binoculars like the World Champion of Peeping Tom-ism?
Again, if you don’t like this, you can lump it. I’d rather be on a silent, freezing Kop moaning my arse off about the size of the tellys in Costco than joining in songs with a loudmouth on a megaphone while fellas around me are dipping sausages in a pint.
I don’t want Liverpool becoming a “hipster” club, even if we currently fulfil the key criteria — being shite. What remains of our fan culture is under threat as it is from visiting oversized Europeans in leather kecks without the rest of our identity being strangled by fellas wearing uncontrollably massive beards.
My dislike for Dortmund dates back to 1966. Just short of a year before I was born when they denied us the only European trophy to elude us – the Cup Winners’ Cup – with the jammiest extra-time goal in history. Ask the old skipper Ron Yeats what he thinks about Dortmund. Have a watch of the video below where the poor fella ends up in the goal, flapping round like a fish caught in a net.
I’ve got personal bad experience with them, too. Back in 2001, after overindulging in a potent cigarette prior to the Dortmund UEFA Cup final against Alaves, I spent 120 minutes fearing I was going to fall out of the steep Nordtribune behind the goal at Signal Iduna Park. It might have been a 5-4 classic but for me I spent most of it in the midst of a “whitey” with my head in my hands.
I’d just about recovered by the time they visited for a Champions League tie later that year and thousands of Dortmunders milled around Liverpool getting bladdered all afternoon.
I thought there might be a chance of a bit of swapping colours (see, it’s alright for me) so I went into town prepared. For some reason, the big Dortmund unit I exchanged a scarf with for an old shirt worn by Torben Piechnik, didn’t seem that impressed. It was only later that I realised I’d played five-a-side in it the night before.
Anyway, before I sign off with you thinking I’m a miserable bastard; here’s the thing. I wish I was there and I’m only messing. If you’re out in Dortmund have a great time. If you’re stuck in front of the telly like me, let’s hope we get a result that makes the second leg a great occasion.
The big Klopp love-in might be convenient for Liverpool and take the edge off the Dortmund crowd. And when we get them back to Anfield, let’s buy them a pint and then scare the living shite out of them.