I’M taking next season off to see what else happens in the world, so this is the last of my Five from Fitzgerald columns.
I’d like to thank The Anfield Wrap for asking me to do it and the 27 people that read it on a regular basis.
Most of all though I’d like to thank The Anfield Wrap’s Kate Forrester who has sent messages of encouragement and support like: “The match finished a whole minute ago so where’s your column, you lazy prick.”
She’s definitely brought out the best in me.
So, for the last time, here are five thoughts on the game of football that just happened.
I’ve been going home and away for the last seven years and, as I make my way to the Hawthorns, I can’t help but reminisce.
Kenny’s return, Suarez’s brilliance, the end at Villa when Lambert scored, and the night against Dortmund. The memories are fleeting, whizzing past in flashback, as I realise what I’m walking away from.
More than anything, a place in my heart will always remain in the 2013-14 season.
It was the best football I ever saw and a run-in that made me stare at the league table for weeks. I’ll never forget how I felt before the Manchester City game, how I refused to accept Chelsea, or how Suarez got the ball out the back of the net against Palace because he refused to accept it, too.
I can still feel that moment — the expectation of glory.
For nine months a year, across the pitches of this country, I’ve seen everything — communities cheering on their own and some of the world’s best players trying to make them happy.
In the process, I’ve experienced every emotion possible and felt more alive than not.
But if there’s one moment that sticks out, a memory that endures, it’s the Liverpool fan who wanked himself off with both hands in front of the Norwich fans.
2) Rob Gutmann’s Vindication
Prior to the match, a man that looked like a potato came up to Rob Gutmann and took issue with his ongoing love for Jordon Ibe.
“He’s shite,” the potato man said. “I don’t know why you’re always defending him on The Anfield Wrap.”
Rob stood his ground, said something about Ibe having a higher ceiling, and a temporary peace was brokered.
Jordon Ibe then scored the best goal ever and Rob started crowd surfing with a potato peeler in his hand.
3) Bit weird
The second half was so boring that the kid in front of me kept trying to attach his head to his dad’s.
This genuinely went on for 45 minutes — a father and son trying to form one massive head.
Probably the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen to be honest.
4) The Realisation
In between a man who looked like a potato, and a father and son trying to become conjoined, I’ve spent all day looking for Helen.
It’s 2013-14 all over again again — the expectation of glory.
I’ve scoured the concourse, searched the stands, but she’s nowhere to be seen.
As each minute passes I can sense the opportunity fading and I start to face the real possibility of walking away with nothing.
And that’s exactly what I do. The final whistle blows and I head down the steps of the Smethwick End — alone in a crowd, my own thoughts for company.
Like 2013-14, I start to reconcile the reality before me — that the glory was in the journey and the hope it provided. I was right then and I’m right now. The last few months thinking about her, trying to grasp something that was out of reach, was it’s own reward.
So as I walk out of a football ground for the last time, these are the thoughts that comfort me and produce a tear in the eye.
Ahead of me, always ahead of me, she’s waiting.
5) The Romance
I don’t even need a second glance, or the cliche of rubbing my eyes in disbelief.
I know it’s her.
This is now the ending, the actual victory that I craved all along. Fuck the journey, the hope — I’m done with being rational.
I put my headphones on, press play, and walk towards her.
“Here comes Johnny singing oldies and goldies
Be-bop-a-lula baby what I say.”
I waited all this time to see her and now I’m this close.
“Here comes Johnny singing I got a woman
Down in the tunnels, trying to make it pay.”
I’m here. It’s the end of the film and we look at each other. We know. We smile in victory and walk off together. The credits roll and acknowledge all the people that have taken part — Neil Atkinson, John Gibbons, Andy Heaton, Gareth Roberts, Rob Guttman, Paul Senior, Mike Nevin, Mike Girling, Phil Blundell, Kate Forrester, Sam Brocklehurst and more. Friends for life, people that I’ll never forget.
I met them all in the last seven years, I’m writing this for them — because of them.
“He do the song about the sweet lovin’ woman
He do the song about the knife
He do the walk, he do the walk of life.”
The acknowledgements end, the music fades, and the two us are left alone.
And reader, there’s no punchline this time, no gratuitous laugh to undercut the moment.
The end has been perfectly realised, she’s beside me right now.
Oh, and her real name’s Clare.
So what you’re saying is you’re the jinx that has seen us have one good season out of the last seven? I’m sorry to say but Helen needs to ditch you, Martin. Skrtel’s finally going as well it seems so maybe it’s a Martin thing.
Why are you never going back?
I’ve been really enjoying this series and it’s a shame you’re ending it so soon. You might want to review the viewing hits on the articles because I’ve a feeling it’s a lot more popular than you realise. No doubt it’s a difficult exercise to come up with a witty and original piece soon after a game but you’ve nailed it every time to date. Thanks for the entertainment and I hope it’s not too long before we get to read or hear more from you. Shane.
It’s over guys. Martin realised (despite my best efforts, I mean I haven’t pronounced a ‘H’ once) that I hail from the Wirral. He called me a wool and inferred sexual shenanigans with all manner of Artiodactyla.
Hopefully ‘The Five’ will be back next season.
Clare the Wool.
The irony of being called a wool by a lad quoting Dire Straits lyrics and especially the 1980s Ted anthem that is Walk of Life. It’s as if The End never happened,,
Reading your forlorn search for ‘Helen’ brought the film Don’t Look Now into my mind. I really hoped the tantalising, fleeting glimpses didn’t end in a dark cul-de-sac with a flashing blade and an unexpected gelding…
Thank God for Clare. Or did she ghost-write the column? Is Fitgerald in the boot of a car somewhere?
I’m phoning the Samaritans and then cancelling my subscription!! Bring back five from Fitzgerald!!!! Comedy gold….
You’re a class act, mate. Thanks for the laughs.
May you have half an hour with Clare before Helen hears you are two-timing her.
Martin thanks for the memories. Hilarious, always a highlight. Doing a piece per match must’ve been draining! Instead maybe do five or ten per season? We’d all totally love that. Hope to read you again soon.
Really enjoyed your observations,
Numerous laugh out load moments & for some reason I loved typing FFF rules ?
And it did .
Superb. Your Helen creation was one of the funniest things I’ve read in many a year!
Helen’s real man. Helen’s real.
Thanks, Martin for a wonderful curtain to end each act each game. When we are in that dark tunnel of despair you remind us that football is a game and we are a community. You manage to put things into perspective when all seems lost. I am one of your faithful 27. Never missed an episode. Regards to Helen. Don’t stay away too long.
Great stuff Martin. Thanks for the laughs this season. Hope you’re back writing before too long.
This doesn’t feel right. You’ve become a big part of the TAW team. Where will the wisdom come from now?
My mate has had a season ticket for 20 years. A few years ago he had a child and decided he’d give it up for a year (the ticket, not the child). It turned out to be 2013 /14 and one of the biggest regrets of his life. This feels bad timing too.
Regarding 5 from Fitz, I think there’s wisdom in not dragging things out but all the best things run for 2 seasons, Fawlty Towers, The Office, Phoenix Nights. This just feels too premature. Surely, you’ll be watching the matches down the pub. Why not make your observations from there?
My dreams tend to reflect my day to day life and I spend every day at my allotment then come home and read articles on TAW. Last week you mentioned Helen had a book on allotments. It obviously slipped into my subconscious. It doesn’t seem right that my last memory of her is going to be of her getting fingered in my allotment shed. It doesn’t seem very befitting of her but it sounds like that’s what it’s gonna be. Oh well. C’est la vie
Thanks for the memories Martin. Hope to hear from you on TAW sooner rather than later. Good luck.
I’m not sure I’ll cope without this column post-match. This is too rash a decision……..
Of course, if we start off like a train next season and obliterate everything in sight and win the league by February, then I won’t miss it too much! Here’s hoping, eh!
Cheers for the distraction, laughs, insight and comedy-genius Martin.
It’s been boss.
If we get into the Champions League next season, how about “Five From Fitzgerald – The European TAW”?
It’s going to be a shame not reading your post-match musings in Klopp’s first full season in charge and our first real assault on the Champions League for nearly a decade. Everyone knows all the best bands bow out with a few select European dates to say goodbye… Make it happen! ;)
If she’s a Clare who spells her name without an ‘I’ you’ll be back on here next season.
Mark my words.
I’m blaming that ‘Kate Forrester’ character, ever since she started getting above her station, Martin’s got a bit twitchy, culminating in this. Free the Martin One!!!
Of course we all want to know, does she have any sisters ?
Happy sailing Martin. Thanks for the belly laughs.
Gracias, senor Martin.
Oh for a season ticket. I’d do a five from anyone if i had a season ticket. Even Helen…..
Fabulous. You will be sorely missed.