I HAVE sort of given myself Monday off. In the way that I’m still recording The Coach Home and I’m still getting a million emails and WhatsApp messages to do with work. But its relatively lazy and relaxed. For now.
The reason for this is that I have guests up from Birmingham. Dave and Gilly are old friends and Gilly has a book out, a real one not like mine and Neil’s pretend one, and is doing The Rider to promote it. But I can’t do The Rider because we record Monday night. So they came up early so we could hang out.
Sunday night was drinks in The Caledonia and The Loose Moose String Band. Monday morning is lazy starts and bacon butties. The Coach Home is to be followed by a quick game of Ghetto Golf and then a train up to Seaforth to meet the minibus to go to Leicester. I even decide I can probably start the drinking early at Ghetto Golf. What could be better?
Best laid plans are laid to waste by the dreaded text: “John, any chance you can drive?”
Balls. Now I’m not in a great position here. I haven’t driven to an away all season despite, famously, having been to every game. I also half committed to maybe driving a couple of weeks ago when I thought someone else would end up doing it, so here we are. I say yes.
Ghetto Golf is a bit rushed as I’ve got to pick up the car as well and I’m drinking soda water AND I get beat by Dave. I say my goodbyes in town and head up to Seaforth via Bootle. The glamour. But we’re on our way, it’s been a while.
Of the eight of us, four aren’t drinking. I should feel a sense of solidarity in this, but to be honest I’m fuming. Just like I do when I drive to a party and my wife decides to just drink soft drinks when I’d love to have a bevy. I feel like a starving man watching another man throw away a sandwich. If they aren’t drinking I want them to drive, not me. I’ll get drunk. But for various reasons, the good people at Enterprise won’t rent them a car. I wouldn’t mind but I’m the worst driver in the world.
As usual no one had brought ale so we have to stop immediately. The drive to Leicester isn’t great but we have a laugh. I get into it anyway. The laughs, the stories and The Charlatans. It’s been two whole weeks without it. Too long. Sober footy behind the wheel of a car that is too big for you is better than none.
After 17 piss stops and a few traffic jams we get there and look for somewhere to park. It isn’t easy. Tizzer is directing to somewhere with authority but it quickly becomes apparent he isn’t where he thinks he is. Mick and Andy abandon us, like deserters in the war, with the excuse they have tickets to sort. We’ve all got things to do, lads.
In the end I don’t as much park the car as abandon it. The lads take a picture. As you can see it is very inconspicuous. What you can’t see is that it is also on a hill just off the busiest road in Leicester. Ah, never mind. What are they going to do, tow it?
We walk to the ground past a miniature Statue of Liberty that the town of Leicester have decided to build, for reasons only they’ll know, and get to the ground to find an entertainer singing R.E.S.P.E.C.T. by Aretha Franklin — insert you’re own Claudio Ranieri joke here.
Outside I meet Tom from ‘Go The Game With Gibbo’ fame, who misunderstood the concept of the competition and now expects a ticket every week. I must check that small print. I also meet my cousin’s fella Sav who works in Leicester and so thought he had a great chance to get to a local Liverpool game. Until his work sent him to Manchester for the day. Unlucky.
We’re in the ground. Leicester are making a defiant racket. I thought it might be a bit subdued, given everything, but I guess they haven’t got time for that. They need the points. They have got time to wonder how many trophies Steven Gerrard has won, though. Although we don’t have the time to list them all back. So, to help, here is a picture of him with the European Cup. Best of luck with that one, lads. I hope Sevilla twat you 17-0.
Although saying that it looks like they might beat us 17-0 at one point. Jamie Vardy is unplayable, well certainly for our defenders. The rest are swarming behind them and every second ball is a blue one. What on earth were they doing in La Manga? It’s almost like being in England playing actual football matches is better preparation than cycling round in the warm. Leicester look hungry. We look like we’ve eaten a three course meal before the game and can’t move. The crowd are having a really good game of ‘blame the Liverpool player you hate’. It’s a good job Sav has brought Haribo or I’d have gone home at half-time.
The second half promises a little better but then they score anyway. They do a weird light thing on their phones for Ranieri like a Robbie Williams concert. Philippe Coutinho pulls one back, to suggest an exciting finish, but then we just pack in instead. At least Ben Woodburn gets a little run out. I’m struggling for positives after that. What was that thing with the phones, though? There should have been banners, statues, songs, not ‘press a button on your phone for a minute for the greatest manager in our history’.
We get back to the car and miraculously it doesn’t even have a parking ticket. Maybe because it wasn’t actually technically parked. We drive away blasting the A-Team theme to celebrate. Andy crowd-sources the match ratings and Emre Can doesn’t come out of it well. So don’t blame Andy, blame our mean friends.
The way back looks like being alright until the M6 has other ideas. How can there be traffic jams at midnight? Why is it one lane when no one is doing anything? Why are you teasing me with signs warning me not to drive faster than 50, when I can barely get above five? Why are Liverpool so fucking shit?!
We collectively do our best at answering all of the above, but I’m not sure we manage it. We finally get back to Merseyside but its over an hour before I can get to bed. The drop-offs are Maghull, Crosby, Seaforth, Town, Wavertree and Garston. If you are not familiar with the area, these are not close together.
I eventually get home. Slag off my mates, slag off Jürgen Klopp, slag off The Reds, slag off the cat and go to bed. Why do we do it?
Arsenal on Saturday.
Up The Reds.