SORRY it’s late. I’ve been in the post office. You all bought loads of T-shirts and Christmas subscriptions. Which is very kind of you, but did rather get in the way of, well, just about everything else.
It’s not too late to talk about Everton though, is it? We’re still in the glow. Still watching Sadio Mane’s goal. Still nursing the bruises. But I’m gettting ahead of myself.
As derby days go it was an unusual one. A stressful day in work was followed by a carol concert. A carol concert! I play trumpet. December is brass band season. And the annual Christian Lawyers Christmas service waits for no-one. Not even the Mighty Reds.
So, while all my mates are in the pub, literally all my mates, I’m smashing out Carol Of The Bells with The Formby Band. I was there in body, but not always in mind. During verse three of Hark The Herald my mind may have wondered somewhat. Will Joel Matip be fit? Is Daniel Sturridge going to be on the bench? And, to be honest with you, during The Lord’s Prayer, I may have asked the big fella for a last minute winner.
I do a quick dart after our last hymn before a man does the last message, which I’m sure was very good but was unlikely to be containing team news. A quick change in the office and I’m in a taxi at 7pm. The roads are surprisingly clear and I’m at Anfield in no time.
I’m not lost. The big part of Everton away is the walk from Anfield to Goodison. As soon as I get there, the march is off. I don’t even have time to grab a can. Which makes me, quite easily, the most sober man in L4. The walk is great. The lads and lasses are in fine voice. Although a lot of the songs aren’t very nice about poor old Everton. It’s a bit dark, so a few young, safety conscious gentlemen have helpfully lit the way with flares. Which is very thoughtful of them. I follow the red flames and smoke all the way to the ground. I film it along the way for Facebook, and Joe Connolly sees me and tries to do an AFQ. But it doesn’t really feel like the time to ponder if I’d rather have rakes for hands or spades for feet.
I’m in the lower tier, which is the best. Some of the views in the back of the upper are similar to looking through a postbox. Everyone in the world seems to be there. It appears to be someone’s birthday and loads of lads have 21 banners. Again, really thoughtful Liverpool fans, aren’t they? A nice touch for whoever it was. Although for some reason the Everton fans aren’t joining in. Spoilsports.
I’ve picked a ticket up from @, he’s a lovely fella who goes everywhere. It is fair to say he didn’t warm up for the derby by playing in a carol concert, choosing to spend some quality time with his good friend Captain Morgan instead. His mates are all sound too, and we are spread across two rows which makes us feel like a gang ready to take on anyone. At least the boys in blue.
After The Gwladys Street End have wrapped themselves up in tinsel, for reasons only they know, it’s time for the action. The footy doesn’t exactly start as hoped. Liverpool aren’t really doing very well at passing to each other and Everton have got the ball well more than I’d like. They don’t have loads of shots or anything — why would they? — but the pressure is certainly there. Someone says they are going to tire themselves out. I hope they don’t score first.
I manage three pints at half-time. Three! That must be a personal best. Admittedly, I steal five minutes at the end of the first half, but still. I must have been thirsty. Kev Walsh is on the wine. He’s aggressively drinking wine. I think he’s worried about a grape shortage. He’s got more wine than he can hold. And he’s got bloody massive hands.
I get superstitious at games. If it’s not going well I like to go and stand somewhere else. I see Cope and Ben Johno in two seats on their own right by the away fans so I go there. We start with two and one behind, occasionally flip the triangle, but we’re always in a tight three.
Everton can’t live with us. The Reds are well on top. The tight three is right in their face and they don’t want to know. We put the second half showing solely down to us. We’re very pleased with ourselves. Just when we’re talking about how, in the future, The Albert will be full of stories and songs about how the TAW Tight Three won the Goodison Derby a steward comes and moves me.
I’m convinced something sinister was at play here. That Bill Kenwright has seen what was going on and had a word.
“Someone break that tight three up before we get battered!”
I plead with the steward but he’s having none of it. The Bluenose bastard. He’s trying to cheat. I dive in with Walshy, Ben and Josh, hoping that works just as well.
I don’t last very long either. There is a break in play while someone is injured and we all use the time to have a big row. Ben is shouting at an Evertonian with a snapback cap and a ponytail. He looks ridiculous. I’m pointing him out to other Evertonians saying: “Look at the state of him, lads? How can you allow that to go on?”
They call me lots of names. I just keep saying: “But look at the state of that dickhead in your end”.
It’s at that point my mate the steward shows his face again. It’s fair to say he’s had quite enough of me. He wants to know where exactly my seat is and why I won’t go there. I go back to my seat. It might not be lucky, but it’s a hell of a lot luckier than the street outside.
Eight minutes of injury time! They don’t fancy that at all, our lads are pumped though. Attack. Attack. Attack, attack, attack. Sturridge shapes and shoots. Mane is quicker in mind and body. The ball goes right in the goal.
I somehow end up falling over. I’m on the floor looking up as limbs are all over the place. I quite like it. I’d probably have stayed there if I hadn’t heard a voice underneath me. I’m lying on top of another fella. Sorry, mate. Let’s get up and have a smooch.
Full-time and I’m all over the place doing a Mane Conga. We stay in the ground for ages. Singing and dancing and shaking the ground that’s made of wood. Kev is hurtling over seats like a man determined to break his neck. The stewards politely ask him to go home before he does. One, two, three stewards and he’s still waving his rattle. Ee aye, addio, we scored a goal.
Once outside we head to The Glenbuck. Well I say head, that might be pushing it. Kev is determined to celebrate with everyone, friend or stranger. It’s fair to say the wine has kicked in. He’s a ruddy nightmare. I’m starting to think he doesn’t like Everton one bit. About seven hours later we make the bar, just as everyone else is on their second drink.
After two in The Glenbuck we have one in the 12th Man and then I jump a taxi with Kyle Percy. He’s meeting people in Tom Thumb on Hardman Street. As I enter, Jon Cook pours me a glass of Rosé. This Rosé doesn’t agree with me. I look at it a bit, look at the time, think about tomorrow and go home. I’m just looking for a taxi and a bus comes. Absolute result. Some lad is trying to read a book and I kettle his head all the way home.
Mane Christmas, everyone. Up the derby winning Reds.
– Here is our Unwrapped show exploring the wider issues at Liverpool Football Club, free this week as part of the TAW Christmas Hamper.
Buy a TAW Player subscription for Crimbo: Three, six and 12-month options, plus a special Anfield Wrap card!