THIS feels like an early test of the going to every game idea. The South of Wales for a game barely into the afternoon. They send these challenges to test your will. Fortunately we’ve got a good mob and a designated driver, so that takes the edge off the 6am alarm clock somewhat.
Not that there was any need, in the end, to get up quite that early. Despite us being very seasoned in this sort of thing, we still always scandalously misjudge the amount of time it takes to pick everyone up and get on our way. We have a stubborn and resolute commitment to presuming it will take about half an hour, regardless of who is coming. Given the pick-ups on this occasion were Walton, Seaforth, “Aintree” (*cough Norris Green cough*), Maghull, Wavertree and Garston, with a stop off for a Maccies breakfast, that might, on reflection, have been a touch optimistic.
In the end I give up on my pick-up time and, partly to save time but mostly to stop myself going back to bed, I walk round to Ben Mac’s where I at least get to hang out with his baby until the car finally arrives. We then pick up Josh and, two hours after Kev has got into the car, we are on the motorway and on our way.
Running late, it is now imperative we make good time. So we spend the whole journey shouting at Andy Clarke to drive faster and then making him stop every half an hour, because someone needs the toilet and Mick Clarke wants to try and win a teddy at the services. It’s a wonder anyone agrees to drive us anywhere, really.
Conversation ranges from Bobby Firmino to how much money everyone owes everyone to how we’re getting to Southampton to how we’re going to get the FA Cup Final from Benidorm, if we get there. What? We always go that weekend. It’s not our fault they mess about with the fixtures. We try and write a song for Bobby Firmino but end up writing one for Mahmoud Dahoud instead. It’s to the theme to Pink Panther and it’s brilliant. We best sign him now.
We arrive bang on kick-off, park very illegally and make our way to our seats, which are obviously right at the opposite end of where we are parked. Swansea very kindly wait until we get into the ground before scoring, though. What a lovely set of lads.
It was a funny end, ours. Loads sat down which I haven’t seen for years, and plenty not that interested in singing either. The lower tier looked the usual suspects, but the upper tier was very strange indeed. Luckily we had a nice little block of The Gutmann’s, M Nev and my mates Ronan and Mick, so we just carried on regardless. Me and Nev do some great shouting of the word Liverpool.
Liverpool are struggling, aren’t they? Swansea should be 2-0 up by the time we get going. But I still have faith. Sort of. At half-time all the talk is of the ‘keeper. A man I don’t know comes up to us and says “Be careful for what you wish for with Mignolet, because that fella doesn’t look right at all” and goes the bar. Ben and Kev arrive with an extraordinary amount of beer and we talk of what the Reds need to do second half. The consensus being score more goals than them.
Second half, Liverpool immediately look on it. You fancy us to score and we do. Celebrations are good and a second is presumed but doesn’t come. Just when I am starting to worry we have blown ourselves out, some yard dog barges into Firmino and we get a penalty.
No matter how good your taker is you worry, don’t you. It’s such a big moment. I’m holding Mike Nevin in my arms like something out of Titanic, willing the ball in the goal. I’m expecting him to go hard and low. He bloody chipped it. He bloody chipped it. I just keep saying the words down Nev’s ear as there is bedlam around me. We now resemble the pottery scene in Ghost. Mates are hugged. Strangers are hugged. I high five Raffy Gutmann about 14 times in a row.
The finish is obviously nervy. We don’t make enough of some nice positions and then the ball drops to their lad right in front of goal with Loris Karius stuck on his line but it goes just wide. Then Dejan Lovren leathers a ball to Cardiff and the ref blows up. Me and Ronan celebrate all the way back to our car, which predictably has a parking ticket. Never mind.
It takes us ages to get out, in which time some very nice police officers ask us to get out so they can search us and the car for drugs. Once they realise we are just drunk idiots, high on belief we are going to win the league, they let us go. Although we all pose for some pictures first. I told you they were nice.
I’m DJing in Liverpool with Steve Graves at 8pm so it is a race to get home. Every time we get ahead on the sat nav we lose time to the inevitable piss stops. However, good enough, Andy Clarke gets me to the Albert Dock for two minutes to eight to the familiar sounds of my mates arguing over where the kitty is — “I know you say you haven’t got it Ro, but just check your pocket again mate.”
The DJing goes well. Steve Graves is more sober so does much of the heavy lifting. I’m largely on vibes. I realise I haven’t eaten since the aforementioned Maccies breakfast so scoff some wedding cake. The band are very good. Look them up, The Funky Nuts. Available for all your functions.
As it finishes I send a half-hearted text to see if the lads are still out but I am relieved when Steve suggests we just go home. They’ve mostly gone to bed by then, anyway. Apart from Mick Clarke who gets in about 5:30am. About 23 hours after we started. And they say Adam Lallana works hard.
Up the putting the shift in Reds.