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(SORRY it’s late)

I tell people I have had a season ticket for Liverpool since I was 10. It isn’t strictly true. When they opened the upper tier of the newly named Centenary Stand in 1992 my dad bought two tickets for the family to share. I think that was his way of getting round spending the inheritance money. Although, I don’t remember much suggestion that my dad wouldn’t always be on one of them.

My mum didn’t bother, as far as I can remember. Due to a nomadic childhood she supports a mixture of Leeds United and Watford (depending on who is doing better). But my sister very much did. She loved going. She loved John Barnes even more. According to my dad, she spent her first game shouting “go on, Barnesy” every time he touched the ball.

So every season for me growing up was tense negotiations and trying to convince our Jess that Watford at home was just as big a game as Manchester United. Here are a list of games Jess went to on “my” season ticket.

Liverpool 3 Manchester United 3 — 1994

I’d seen Liverpool lose to Manchester United at Anfield the season before so wasn’t too bothered about missing this, especially after we went 3-0 down. But famously Nigel Clough and a few of his mates had other ideas. Apparently you could cut the atmosphere with a knife that night. At Anfield I mean, The atmosphere in our living room was shite. Just me bouncing round scaring the cat.

Liverpool 3 Aston Villa 0 — 1996

This felt like the first big test of the system. An FA Cup semi-final. My dad didn’t really know what to do so there was some sort of draw out of a hat which I lost. I stormed out the house in protest.

Have you ever stormed out as a kid? It’s quickly rubbish. I couldn’t go to a bar, I was 14. I couldn’t really go to Ben’s. It was the first place my dad would ring. He’d just end up walking up the road and getting me. So I just stood in the cold for a while. Then scraped some money together to buy some chips. Then ate the chips. Then went home. Reckon I was gone 30 minutes tops.

My dad felt bad though and promised I could go the final if we got there. But they ended up going on general sale anyway so my dad sent me up to Anfield with some money to try and get another one. I got to Anfield very early, about two hours before the ticket window opened, thinking it would be really busy. There were about 10 people there.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8vTpeQYT4A

It turns out this was one of the very first ticket protests against rising prices. Tickets for the game were £14, £22, £30 and £38, but very few of the cheap ones were available and there were no concessions for children. Neither FA Cup semi-final that year sold out, with less than 40,000 at Old Trafford for the Liverpool game. People just decided it was too much.

So I could have had a lie-in after all. But I did manage to get a ticket for the semi-final. My dad even went on his own and let me go with my sister. And I still nabbed that final ticket, of course.

Liverpool 4 Newcastle 3 — 1996

A week later I was back in my living room to watch what is often referred to as the greatest game in Premier League history. My mates from school came over for this one though, so it wasn’t just me and the cat.

I think a couple of them were Blues so attention spans were mixed. I’m pretty sure my games consoles saw as much action as the TV did. I was glued, though. And when “Collymore closes in” even the Blues were gripped.

Would have been nice to have gone, though…..

Liverpool 1 Chelsea 0 — 2005

You’ll notice a bit of a gap here. By the age of 16 football clashed with my sister sleeping off trips to Garlands so she went less and less. Then she went to university in Nottingham. The glory years of going every week were upon me.

Yet, when she came home form uni in her early 20s she decided to start going again. The cheeky bitch! So the battle was back on. There was no way I was missing Juventus and all their superstars in the quarters. I didn’t think we were going to get through. But then we did. So it was only fair she went to Chelsea. Although I think that was someone else’s definition of “only fair”, not mine.

The morning of the Chelsea game I still didn’t have a ticket. It wasn’t looking good. However, my dad somehow managed to get one in The Kop from someone in work and I was in. I watched the entire game on the very back row on my own. What a night.

https://youtu.be/rfCJDJ_zUjg

Liverpool 3 West Ham 3 (Liverpool 3-1 on pens) — 2006

I’ve only missed two finals, domestic or European, since the League Cup final in 1995. One was the League Cup final in 2012 that Kenny won. The other was this.

Again I showed my hand too early. I was desperate to go to that semi-final at Old Trafford against Chelsea. It felt the bigger game than the final. Rafa Benitez v Jose Mourinho again. In reality, I just couldn’t see past it. So, having missed the semi-final. Jess went the final. To be fair, she had never done one and I’d done loads.

Watching a final in a pub rather than the ground is actually underrated. You’ve got all your mates there, you can drink as much as you like, and you’ve got a ready-made party venue when you win. Which Liverpool eventually did.

We went the Brook House on Smithdown Road. I did a lot of clapping the TV. Which is a weird thing to do when you think about it. I think we even clapped the West Ham team getting their medals. I’m sure they were made up.

Liverpool 1 Chelsea 1 — 2008

This was our third Champions League semi-final against Chelsea in four years. Which is absolutely bananas, really. I’d done 2007. Jess did 2008. This time I still didn’t have a ticket coming up to kick-off. So I decided to just go up to Anfield and try my best.

I was in The Albert asking just about anyone. It seemed I was deemed “next in line” by the ticket mafia should one come up. When a strange thing happened.

Jason Oh, who already had a ticket but is a big team player, decided to go to the ticket office and see if they had any returns. They did. So he tried to buy them. They took his two fan cards but said he couldn’t buy any more as they were already being used.

Now, it’s about 19:43 at this point. It might be my memory playing on me for dramatic effect, but I’m sure you could hear the Champions League music playing in the background. Jason points out that they are very unlikely to sell them now, so they might as well let us have them. To which they eventually agreed and sold us two tickets in the Anfield Road. What an absolute result.

Our free Anfield Wrap show in the aftermath of the loss to Wolves:

Well, it would have been if John Arne Riise hadn’t wellied one in his own goal.

So there you go. Famous games where Jess got the season ticket. She stopped going soon after that. My dad claims it is around the time he started asking for money towards them, but I’m sure that isn’t true. Life just gets in the way, doesn’t it? She’s got two kids now. A job involving a commute. Priorities change.

She still loves The Reds, though. So for Southampton, the day of her 37th birthday, and for the first time since the European Cup Final in 2005, me and Jess went the game together.

The actual footy was a letdown, let’s be honest. She loved it, though. She loved drinking in The Glenbuck before, just like we used to 20 years before when it was The Stanley. She got presents for her kids. She didn’t even moan about the cold that much — and that wind was lethal. It’s just a shame about the bloody players!

When she got home she put on Facebook:

“Despite the result I loved going the match tonight after so long. Never take it for granted.”

We do a bit, don’t we? Those of us who go all the time. I’m going to try and do it less. Though our dreams be tossed and blown.

Up the family Reds!

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