AS unlikely as this sounds, I normally do a bit of research before I write this weekly column.
At the very least I have watched the previous match at least once, read up on the general consensus and had an all-round good old think before I start writing. I know it is incredible that I still write such incoherent nonsense week on week, but imagine what it would be like if I ever did it cold.
Imagine no more, as this week is that week. I have had a mid-winter break from our punishing Liverpool FC schedule. We have family who live in the bowels of the Cambridgeshire wilderness and this weekend was spent down there having a Christmas catch up kind of thing. So for the last few days I have been off grid, in the flattest land since Holland, wondering what kind of mental place we were staying in and trying to figure out what is going on in the real world. I got back at about 8pm on Sunday evening, oblivious to the goings on of the FA Cup. Sunday was a no comms days – total media blackout, meaning I have got a couple of hours before I fall asleep to watch the match, eat my tea and write these words.
The only option left open to me is to live blog the game while drinking red wine and eating roast potatoes, after everyone already knows the score and isn’t that arsed anymore. Say what you want about The Anfield Wrap but no other Liverpool FC fan sites are live blogging a game 24 hours after it has finished; groundbreaking, fashion-forward mother fuckers the lot of us.
So, I’ve pressed play on the video and The Reds are going to kick off in a minute. The team looks good. I’m fairly convinced Ben Woodburn and Sheyi Ojo are going to be better than Peter Beardsley and John Barnes in Kenny Dalglish’s boss team — and I’ll be able to slug red wine and do a bit of jiggery, Mickey Mouse Fantasia-style so that the wine bottle will write these words for me while The Reds win by at least three goals. Here goes.
It’s a good start – nice tempo. Nice break from Trent Alexander-Arnold. Oh good, there’s Albie Moreno taking all the set pieces again. Yippee. It’s fairly evident that these are going to sit in so it might be a long 90 minutes. Until the match gets decent I’ll flesh out my weekend a bit for you with tales of the mentalness of the Cambridgeshire fens and then jib it when something happens.
Third minute: Nice run from Ojo. Shit atmosphere.
I’m in a boozer on Saturday afternoon in the next village to where we are staying – it’s 3pm and the footy isn’t on. The pub is relatively busy for such a small place, there are about 15 people in there and they are all having a lovely chat, together, all of them, which is the first thing…
Sixth Minute: Hang on a minute, what the friggin’ hell kind of tackle was that from Moreno – one of his flying dropkick efforts.
My mate who I’m with knows pretty much everyone in the boozer so the conversation starts flowing. One of the fellas in there is regaling the sort of lounge side of the bar with stories of hunting, fishing, butchery and…
13th Minute: Why has Albie shaved a smile into the back of his head? He is one big massive conglomeration of emojis, isn’t he? Emoji master.
14th Minute: Ojo should score. Good tempo now.
Anyway, this fella in the pub, I get introduced to him.
Me: “Hiya, mate. Sorry, what’s your name? Ronald. Nice to meet you, Ronald”.
My mate: “His name’s not Ronald, mate. It’s Ranald”.
21st minute: Fuck’s sake, Divock, get off his back. That’s a foul all day. It’s only a matter of time this, though. These are shite.
Me: “Ronald, that’s what I said”
My mate: “No, it’s Ranald”.
Me: “Ranald – with an A?”
At this point my head fell off. There’s Ranald with an A, banging on about about snow geese (swans) and hunting disasters while looking like his head was carved from stone. He had on a massive fisherman’s jumper that had sleeves but only the top bit of the sleeves, the underside of which had long since eroded away.
40th minute: Better side, The Reds, but ultimately this is a shite game. The centre-half has just pinched Emre Can and put his finger in his ear, the shithouse. Try sticking your finger right up his arse, Emre, see how he gets on.
Half-time: This is surely coming. Dan Sturridge to come on with 20 to go and open these up once they are knackered.
So Ranald, once he has regained his composure after I’ve tried to tell him that he was spelling his name wrong, starts telling this story of his two mates, two old boys from the village who were having a barbeque. They decided to kill their pet goat.
54th Minute: The referee is a prick. Doing that ‘let’s ref the context and give fouls to the shite side thing’.
Old boy number one gets the goat on a lead and takes him for a walk around the garden to calm him down. Old boy number two takes out a fucking big gun and follows them, waiting for when the goat is relaxed enough before shooting him in the back of the head. Now, my first thought at this point is that this is a particularly suspicious goat given that he is a pet and seems absolutely on edge about the fact he is going for a walk in the garden. Perhaps his head is a bit battered by the lead situation. Anyway, old boy two, recognising that the goat is now chilled as fuck…
60th Minute: Dan Sturridge is on. The game is still shite and the atmosphere is even worse.
…pulls back the gun and lights that goat up – “cop for that you suspicious prick”. Except the goat is on him and tries to leg it causing the bullet to miss his brain and just blow his ear clean off. The goat goes beserk – quite rightly as his auld fella has just shot his ear off, and runs round in circles on the lead trying to get away from the fella with the gun, resulting in him wrapping the lead around old boy number one’s legs causing him to fall over and then get dragged around the garden by the one-eared goat.
69th minute: This might not happen here – too many shots from poor positions.
There’s a couple of things I wanted to know about the story but was too scared to ask. Firstly, why did the goat have a lead on? Secondly, if it had a lead on, did it have a collar? Thirdly, did they eat the goat after they had shot its ear off? Fourthly, what was the goat’s name?
75th minute: Their full-back looks to have gone the same way as the goat there, which is a shame. Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino on, though, which is good. Feel a bit sorry for the young lads really, especially the attacking ones. I’d quite like to see Woodburn surrounded by nothing but first-teamers rather than playing in this makeshift side.
78th minute: Great tackle by big Kev Stewart. We aren’t going to score and I reckon we are going to Plymouth. I reckon Plymouth is the type of gaff with loads of Ranalds, and pet goats, and fellas talking about killing everything. And that’s fine, because they will all be having a lovely time.
82nd minute. I’ve just turned me phone back on. Fuck’s sake, it finishes 0-0.
One of them games? I thought we were OK but lacked a bit of composure in the danger zones, which is to be expected given this was the youngest ever side to play for Liverpool. Is it worth worrying about? Absolutely not. We get a nice big trip to a place in the middle of nowhere, where we can listen to fellas in pubs talk about killing a variety of animals. What more do you want?
I wonder what Ranald is up to?
Let’s go, Reds. Get into these goat-walking fuckers.
Here is one of our recent free shows talking ‘safe standing’ with a member of Celtic’s Green Brigade — if you like it, why not SUBSCRIBE?