I MADE a series of fundamental mistakes for Liverpool v Plymouth. The first of which was saying I would go to every game this season months ago. I should have been very clear on every league game. Very clear indeed. But more on that later.
My first mistake on the day was deciding to drive. Driving the footy is largely rubbish. It’s stressful and busy and you can’t have a drink. But I was taking my missus and I had some stuff to pick up on the way there and way back and so it all seemed to make sense.
Because all games effectively merge into one, the thing I had to pick up on the way there was my overnight bag from Sunderland. I had left it with the van at Enterprise, because my head didn’t work at the time, and hadn’t had time to collect it since. Bag collected, I found myself on the opposite side of Anfield than I usually am. So I parked in Stanley Park. Which was my second mistake. It took me about an hour to get out because of all the bloody coaches from Plymouth.
I was, though, parked up in good time and up by the ground quickly. There were clearly a lot of Plymouth fans about. I sort of forgot how many there would be. FA rules state you must allocate up to 15 per cent of your stadium for FA Cup games. With our increased allocation this meant just under 8,000, although it is fair to say a few more snuck into other parts of the ground too. There were plenty by us.
I saw Kevin Walsh for a pint. Well he had a pint, I had an orange juice. He asked why I wasn’t drinking and I said I had stuff to do later. He looked at me and said “you’re not doing stuff later”. I’d be offended, but he’s known me for a while. All false promises to myself. But I had the car, anyway.
I was pleased to see a new opponent and a young team. We might be needing some of these lads in the weeks and months ahead and you need to see if they are up for it. Not that the Plymouth challenge itself is a massive one. Who would call a League Two side formidable? Certainly not a Liverpool manager. But the challenge of breaking down a deep lying side in front of a full Anfield crowd likely to grow impatient is a real one.
Our crowd may have grown impatient but you couldn’t really hear them. Bloody hell, their lot were loud. Although they did seem a bit confused over what they expected from the home fans. They spent about 20 minutes asking if they were in a library or not and then, when the Liverpool fans did get animated, told them to sit down and shut up. Which is exactly what would happen if you tried to stand up and sing in a library. Make your mind up, lads.
It was funny watching the Plymouth fans directly above me go through the full range of emotions. The ones I noticed at first were there to enjoy their day. Then they got a bit more confident and suddenly multiplied. Then they realised they might actually do it and their heads went completely.
My wife was enjoying one fella in particular nearly having a break down. Every time we got near their box he nearly had a heart attack, and given we were camped out on the edge of their box that was a lot. When they broke and had a, frankly, rubbish shot on goal he jumped up like they’d missed a guilt-edged chance. Fair play to him, though. After 60 minutes of just having a nice time he could suddenly sniff it and didn’t know what to do. He didn’t look physically or emotionally prepared.
I sort of sensed that the players felt too sly to score by the end. Although I really wish they had. I’ve never heard a cheer quite like it for a draw. Maybe they just really want us all to go to Plymouth. I like civic pride.
I’m actually quite looking forward to it now. Its really, really far, but I’ve never been. A weekend would have been better, like. We could have stayed over. Get a house in Devon. Drink cider from a lemon. But I’m sure we’ll have fun regardless.
I know they will. They seemed like proper fans. Sometimes when away fans come in the cup I get a cob in. Like when Havant and Waterlooville came and we were all meant to be made up for them even though half of them supported someone else. But Plymouth are getting 9,000 in League Two, which is the second highest in the league (only behind Portsmouth who won this trophy not too long ago). They have all done the hard yards at the coal face.
So yeah, pleased for them. I hope we batter them 10-0 in the replay, like. But they had their day and it’s hard to argue with that. You know what else cheered me up? All the kids there. There were loads. My Twitter was full of young Reds, and Blues to be fair, going to games this weekend. That’s boss. Well in to Liverpool for keeping tickets cheap. If you are down about Sunday here are some pictures to cheer you up.
— THE ANFIELD WRAP (@TheAnfieldWrap) January 9, 2017
— N James (@nevjamo) January 9, 2017
— Andy Heaton (@Andrew_Heaton) January 8, 2017
Up the next generation Reds.
P.S. I built that bookcase when I got in. Have that, Walshy.
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