Wednesday, April 13, 2011
L is for Liverpool FC
I bleed red and, while this isn't unusual there's a difference between bleeding solid Liverpool red and weak and spineless Manchester United Red.
(given that most people who bother to comment on my posts are women - and numbers have been relentlessly dwindling through this A-Z thingy - the very mention of football, will have turned off anyone who would normally comment).
I say football because I have an aversion to the s word - every time the s word is mentioned an English person dies somewhere in the world I'm told.
The funny thing about my support for Liverpool is the fact I'm not sure why I support Liverpool; I just do.
This post would be far more interesting if I could write. 'On the bleakest of days we went down the hill and past the smoke stacks, with my father and grandfather treading a path trod by generations before.
'And we stood on a freezing terrace that smelled of urine and ate eyelid flavor pork pies and tried to keep warm in the horizontal rain. But it was all worth it because 5 minutes from the final whistle Big Stan Higgenbottom hacked at the ball from the edge of the penalty box and it flew into the net, subjecting Scunthorpe to abject defeat.'
The reality was the fact that an annoying kid in the playground tried to force me to support Manchester United and I rebelled.
Also Liverpool were the team of the '80s; skillful, industrious, and joyful to watch. We took the league and Europe by storm.
Even after he had gone, Liverpool reflected the vision of Bill Shankly, a dour and hard working Scotsman from a humanitarian, socalist background.
While Manchester United had managers who drover Mazeratis wearing sheepskin coats with fat cigars hanging out of their chops, Shankly and his successors just got on with it.
I never visited Anfield as much as I should have done but once you get there,there's nothing more rousing than hearing the Kop sing: "You'll never walk alone," although as unemployment soared in "Boys from the Black Stuff" Liverpool in the 1980s, it threatened to become "you'll never work alone.'
The 1980s may have been a shining decade for Liverpool FC but in the end the strains of the decade on a ragged city on the edge that always felt more like New York than genteel England, took its toll. There was the outrage of the Heysel Stadium riot and the tragedy of the crowd crush at Hillsborough.
In the end Liverpool went from being immortal to becoming became just another team looking back on the glory days and failing to emulate them, although admittedly we had more glory to look back on than most.
Foreign managers and players came and went and, worse still, Manchester United gained a dour Scotsman of their own and became what Liverpool used to be. And bad Americans bankrolled Liverpool before the arrival of the nice American from the Boston Red Sox.
On so many occasions Liverpool have promised so much and achieved so little. My wife is now accustomed to my bouts of spontaneous swearing after checking out the results on the BBC on a Saturday afternoon.
Still there were highlights, most recently the Champions League final of 2005.
A new manager, Rafael Benitez, had failed to improve Liverpool's performance in the Premiership which we were slipping down. In the final against AC Milan, Liverpool were 3-0 down at half time. Anihilation beckoned. I left the pub in despair and resolved not to watch the second half much, or only from behind the sofa, being such a gallant loser.
Then, against all odds, Livepool clawed back three goals in the second half and went on to beat the Italians on penalties and to lift the trophy.
It was one of those glorious nights that seemed to have been lost in the mists of Liverpool's more glorious past.
Inevitably Liverpool flattered to deceive and haven't won much of consequence since.
Two managers later we are back with Kenny Dalglish, the man who gave Liverpool their last league title in 1990 and we are back to our old ways of beating the top teams and then losing to also rans.
Still, and Liverpool fans have been saying this for the last two decades, belief is finally returning again.
We have said this a few more times than I care to recall but maybe next season will be our year. There's always next season.