IT’S Tuesday in work and Neil is gasping for a pint.
“We’ll just do this thing and then nip back for a bit and then we’ll get out, Gibbo.”
“Not going to be long on that, are you? Just need to sort one thing then I’m done here.”
I’m not that bothered really but don’t want to dampen his enthusiasm. I think it’s because Leeds are in town and he hates them. Leeds are very much in town, by the way. You can hear them singing on Mathew Street before you reach it. They haven’t had much to celebrate recently, so are treating this one like a European away.
Eventually Neil gets bored of waiting for me and grabs someone else out for a drink. When I catch up with him he is on his own in Aloft passively aggressively trying to move some lads off the pool table.
Aloft Hotel is one of the strangest places we drink in. They have a large reception area with a board rotating the latest stock prices and a Starbucks coffee I have never seen anyone serving at. But the lager is decent and the pool table is free. Although the cue (single) hasn’t had a tip on in months. There is a girl in a very weather inappropriate skirt sat by us, though. So it’s swings and roundabouts.
Steve Graves comes to join us and Neil beats us all at pool and then we go and get dinner at Casa Italia. Casa Italia is one of the strangest places we eat in. It feels older than Liverpool itself and I don’t think the laminated menus, surly staff or table cloths have changes since it opened. But its well priced, tasty and you can get a carafe of wine. So it’s swings and roundabouts, really.
On the way in a man tells Neil he is right about Daniel Sturridge. Neil asks him what his name is and he says “it doesn’t matter what my name is” and then tells him why he is right about Daniel Sturridge. It was a really strange way to agree with someone. But good to get a tense exchange in Casa Italia out the way early.
Stuffed with Italian we make our way to the ground. Taxis are unusually easy to find and I even manage a bottle of Peroni in The Glenbuck (getting the hang of that name now) before kick-off. Then its into the ground to see the eternal sunshine that is my father.
Leeds are in. Over 5,000 of them in the worst clothes you’ve ever seen. Particularly popular is the short sleeves wooly hat look. One man is in a just a denim waistcoat and a wooly hat. I can only assume he doesn’t get cold, but the hat is to stop his brain falling out his ears when he jumps up and down.
Actually can we clear up now that it wasn’t that cold? I was getting messages before the game from unnamed Anfield Wrap contributors from The Wirral threatening not to leave the house. I saw people dressed for skiing trips. There have been lads on North Pole explorations who have worn less layers than some people I saw. And they probably moaned about it less too. For those reading this in genuine cold climates, let me inform you that on Tuesday night it dipped below zero for a bit. There was a bit of ice on my car in the morning but I cleared it with the windscreen wipers. We all need to get a grip.
The Leeds fans make a racket to be fair. It’s a big game for them. For their players too. They play quite well and give Liverpool plenty of problems. They just don’t seem that sure about putting the ball in the back of the net. Even when they very nearly do you sense it was sort of by accident.
My dad is a bit worried about how they are playing. I don’t think there are enough of his type of players on the pitch. My dad’s favourite player is Phil Coutinho. Before that it was Yossi Benayoun, Before that it was Luis Garcia. Before that it was Vladimir Smicer. Before that he thought Jamie Redknapp was really underrated. Spotted a theme yet?
You don’t get marks for artistic impression in football, but my dad thinks the game is the poorer for it. He wants a fella capable of the sublime. If he’s also capable of the ridiculous then even better. He quite liked Luis Suarez and Kenny Dalglish but they’re a bit passe for him. I’m not saying my dad sees himself as something of a flawed genius, but he certainly likes them on the football pitch.
Then Ben Woodburn comes on. He’s someone everyone can get on board with. He gets everyone going. Liverpool score. Then he gets another. The youngest player ever to score for Liverpool. 17 years and 45 days.
Let’s put Woodburn’s age into perspective. At the start of last season he wasn’t yet starting for the Under-18s side. He had made just one appearance from the bench for them the season before. Throughout last season, and into the summer, he didn’t even have a player profile on the ACADEMY section of the website, because he was deemed too young. Now he’s the name on everyone’s lips. Quite the rise.
After the game I meet Neil, Steve and Craig Gilbert to do The Pink. There are no taxis about but we walk into town because it is not that far and NOT THAT COLD. We say some things about Liverpool. We leave.
We all decide to be sensible and go home. I don’t really fancy another drink and I’m up early to speak to school children. Neil has realised his missus is away so he can go home and listen to Joanna Newsome records in bed. At first I thought this might be an euphemism but knowing Neil it probably wasn’t. Me and Steve get the bus home.
In the hat. In the next round. Treble still on.