Anfield was covered in glorious sunshine at the weekend as Liverpool got a dress rehearsal ahead of Jürgen Klopp’s swansong in a fortnight…


ANFIELD in the sun.

You can’t beat Anfield in the sun. The chance to wear shorts, to drink outside in beer gardens, smiles all around. It puts the world in a better mood when the Anfield turf seems shinier.

And we did that on Sunday. After weeks of doubts, grimaces and pressure from within and outside, The Reds stop feeling sorry for themselves and got on with what we’re best at.

And Tottenham couldn’t live with it. If we’ve had a tough time of it of late then they too have been in the bunker. Still, at least they had that nice lap of honour with kids on the pitch and that last September when two wrongly given red cards, an own goal and a PGMOL debacle won them a game of football.

I know. I’ll get over it. I just wish Jürgen Klopp had done the fist pump thing at their end too. ‘Mate.’

In a strange way, that wasn’t my personal highlight of the day, nor was it my fortnightly surprise at just how the Sing Fong chippy opposite The Kop can work through a queue of customers. Have you seen that place? There can be a half-mile queue outside the shop on matchday and they can get through it in about three minutes. British Gas, take note.

No, it wasn’t the game or the hardest-working fast-food emporium in L4 that delighted me. It was the pub. The pub afterward.

‘Football without fans means nothing,’ said Jock Stein. Football without your mates is lesser still.

I love going to the match but not all of it, in fact, there have been times when hardly any of it is about the actual game. It’s the running into people inside or outside of the ground. Either stopping for a chat or a slap on the shoulder as you pass an acquaintance. Maybe a nod across the concourse.

These things are important. During the pandemic, the comedian Elis James wrote: ‘All I’m asking for is an away trip, cans on the train, a late winner (3-2, having been second best all afternoon), the players to punch the air in front of us at full time and for a man whose name I don’t know but have been on nodding terms with since 2001 to compliment my new coat.’

That’s just perfect.

Liverpool got over itself on Sunday. The past few weeks have been disappointing, but we’re alright. It was nice to watch a game which didn’t have too much riding on it. A standard 11 versus 11. A straight shootout. Then to see, mock, hug and enjoy your mates afterwards.

And it’s strange how we let this whole farrago get into our heads. How we let it shape us and inform our moods.

I spent Saturday on the Suffolk coast, intermittently going into a pub to watch Ipswich’s promotion. At the final whistle, my girlfriend pointed out a man who was stood alone, holding an empty glass diagonally across his chest. It had probably been there for a while, unnoticed. As he gazed at the pitch, a tear ran down his cheek.

He hadn’t seen his side in the topflight for over two decades and though I made sure I didn’t remind anyone which ground they were relegated on back then, I knew what he was going through well enough.

It’s why we do this. Moments like that. You think nothing good is ever going to happen to your side, you sit through seasons of dross and cling to every false dawn with no sight of reward. Then a perfect alchemy is created before your eyes. From Blackpool at home to Barcelona took nine years.

No one knows what happens next for Liverpool Football Club. Is the new man going to be Bob Paisley’s to Jürgen’s Bill Shankly or will it be Rafa Benitez to Roy Hodgson? Sure, the infrastructure is going to be in place, but new managers often like to tear down and begin anew. Suddenly, everything is less certain.

But none of that matters yet. It’s sunny out there. You can’t move for free Vitamin D. Shorts are on. Beer gardens are open. The parks are green. Liverpool exist and is about to have the biggest farewell party in its history. A happy farewell party because he’d hate to have us upset.

Be happy because it happened.


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