All right, everyone.
Here are my five thoughts on Swansea City 3 Liverpool 1:
1) A Rival
I was at a service station on the way to Swansea, queuing up for a coffee, when I sensed his presence.
Turning around, uneasily, I confirmed what I suspected – Kristian Walsh of The Liverpool Echo was here.
For those of you that don’t know, Kristian does his own “Five Things I Learnt” column for The Echo and this is the first time I’ve seen him since I’ve moved in on his territory.
My heart started racing and the assembled crowd started to get tense — anxious faces alternating their glances between me and Kristian. A man in the queue in MacDonalds shielded his child, an elderly woman in Costa Coffee put a lid on her Cappuccino.
Everyone was preparing themselves for a showdown and, as if in slow mention, Walsh edged towards me.
“Kristian”, I said.
“Martin”, he said.
The economy of words only heightened the tension.
Something had to give, and it was me who tried to broker peace.
“Can I get you a drink?” I said.
“Yes please, mate, I’ll have a green tea.”
We then sat down and talked about the “Five things” life that we both led.
We shared experiences of those days when you’ve only got four and it nearly kills you, those other days when you get six and you’d rather lose a limb than leave one of them out.
We both agreed that you rarely just get a perfect five these days.
We shook hands and I like to think we reached a level of mutual respect.
It was a bit like that scene in Heat when Pacino and De Niro finally face off – except they didn’t have a fella on the next table eating a scotch egg whilst reading Total Carp.
Back on the coach, my iPod shuffled on to Free Nelson Mandela by The Special AKA.
Hearing the song again reminded me of a time in the late ’80s when I went to a “Free Nelson Mandela Concert”.
They charged me £20 and he didn’t even turn up.
I’m still furious about it.
3) The worst thing I’ve ever seen at a football match.
If you thought today was bad from the comfort of your own home or pub then let me assure you it was significantly worse for me – there was a white fella in front of me wearing a Rastafarian hat with fake dreadlocks attached to it.
I took a picture of him. Look.
The first person who tries to justify this in the comments below by saying it’s alright because we’re singing that Bob Marley song will have their name put on a banner that says:
“Someone called YOUR NAME HERE thinks it’s ok to dress up as a Rastafarian because they like one reggae song.”
Trust me, I’ll take it everywhere — even football matches.
4) Not a great advert for football.
In the second half I noticed an ad on Swansea’s big screen for a thing called “Walking Football.” It had a picture of some bald Welsh fella with a football, and the tagline read “Play the game at your own pace.”
I assumed this was some new initiative for the elderly, or the unfit, so I must admit I was slightly surprised to see Lucas Leiva give it a go.
I left the ground empty — we had lost and, to make matters worse, I only had four “things”.
No more than 30 minutes later, I see that Kristian Walsh has already posted his 5 things and my failure is complete. I knew I should never have taken him on. He went to Oxford, he gets paid actual money to do this, whereas I just get abusive texts from The Anfield Wrap’s Kate Forrester saying things like
“Where is it then, you prick?”
Inconsolable, I sat on the coach and watched a grown man be sick on himself and then try and dry his face on a window.
Then I got an email through, via The Anfield Wrap.
It was from “Helen”, the woman I sat next to at the Everton game and have thought about ever since.
Readers, let me show you what she said.
I hope you’re well.
It’s come to my attention that you have been writing about me on this website and, after an internal struggle, I just wanted to get in touch.
Oh, I know I probably shouldn’t, I know this is silly of me, but I have feelings too and, like you, I can’t keep them to myself anymore.
So, forgive me for being forward, but *deep breath*, here goes.
I remember you from the Everton game, of course I remember you. Was there a connection between us that night? I thought so at the time but you know, I’m never quite sure that you can trust your heart at our age. But now I’ve read that you felt the same. You’ve made public your declaration and even given me a name — Helen.
I’m touched. I thought these days were behind me and I would live out my life with a husband who, let’s just say, is on a low heat.
But me. I’m now aflame. I’m roaring inside.
There are only four games left and, I can’t overstate this, but I hope to see you. I won’t plan it, I can’t possibly tempt fate, but I’m praying that it happens and we’ll have our moment.
Thank you for what you have done to me.
P.S. In the spirit of an openness that I hope will always be between us, I feel that I should warn that you are very much my type. You see, I have a real soft spot for men who do “Five Things” and my heart once belonged to another — Kristian Walsh of The Liverpool Echo. He was my world between August and November this season, I had my heart set on him and even arranged to meet.
I would have fucked the shit out of him too but the prick asked for a green tea when I offered to buy him a drink.”
What. A. Woman.
Up Helen’s Reds.
Late, but brilliant.
Helen needs to be full length novel.
Was worried for a minute that you were letting the green tea thing slide. Who stops off for a green tea? Though fair play to him he’s looking well.
Why does this bring me so much joy.
Maybe he worked in Japan for a bit , and is being ‘authentic’. Oh alright.
“I shot the sheriff ” (by Bob Marley) would be a good matching rytham to the pace we played today.
Wowwww: Helen and Martin, “Bridges of Medison County II”? I expect Helen to look better than Glen Close, left with Martin to fight it out with Clint Eastwood for the leading role. Cheers
correction: Meryl Streep (still, Helen is miles ahead)
This is wonderful. Thank you.
You’re locked in now, Martin. No going back. No escape. People will live for ‘Fitzgerald’s Five’. They’ll write fan fiction putting their own imagined endings to the Helen & Martin Affair. “It was a cold night in the Kop that derby night, but there was steam rising as their eyes met, full of longing.” Scripts will be written. Actors will be chosen for who should play the parts. Background music will be imagined. Should it be a sitcom or a rom-com? It doesn’t help that my given name is Ellen, a derivative of Helen, which means ‘bright, shining light’. I better stop now…
Was about to fume over the helenlessness till the end. When Kristian stops pissballing about and does his job investigative reporting Helen’s whereabouts he can talk shit to you.
Don’t get yourself attached to anything you’re not prepared to get off on in 30 seconds. Helen. Martin Skrtel’s entire Liverpool career. Any of it.
Do we have the beginning of LFC’s The Archers? I very much hope so.
This column makes the wins better and the defeats bearable.
Absolutely brilliant, as ever!
I have no idea where this will end up, if this column gets much better – pace yourself Martin.
This Helen thing could run and run. Let’s hope so.
Green fucking tea
Helen caper well played out. There’s absolutely no reason why a white man can’t be rasta. Nothin’ to do with colour