Marseille v Liverpool: story of a first game

Posted by Rushian on April 29, 2004, 12:05:08 AM

First of all excuse my dodgy English, as I am French ...

On the 3rd of March, Liverpool FC won 4-2 in Sofia, Bulgaria, to secure a place in the UEFA cup next round. The draw for this next round happened the day after. Coming home after a usual day at university, I jump on my computer to see who are Liverpool going to face in this round. "Liverpool to face Olympique Marseille" was the headline of the official website, I couldn't quite believe it.

As I am a Liverpool supporter since I am about 12, this is a rare opportunity to see my beloved team in the flesh. Now I had to get a ticket in the Liverpool end. I was told it was impossible because you have to own a season-ticket at Liverpool, which I obviously do not. So I went on the official Marseille website, and booked a ticket for the home end.

After almost 3 weeks of anxious wait (during this time, Liverpool drew 1-1 at home in the 1st leg) the day at least came.

Thursday 25th March

I usually hate when I hear my alarm ringing in the morning, but not today. Indeed, after 2 hours spent at university, I came back to Cannes straight after, and at 1 pm, I and a friend eventually drive towards Marseilles. Despite my mum's advice, I carry my English flag and Liverpool shirt with me. After 2 hours spent on the road, and almost 1 hour spent in Marseilles to find where to park the car, we can at last feel the fresh famous Marseilles "mistral" on our faces.

We decide to visit Marseilles for a few hours, but this will not last long. Indeed after a few minutes spent on the "vieux port", we see this Irish pub, with some Liverpool banners hung outside. We obviously decided to go in there, and it was crowded with Liverpool supporters. My first contact with Liverpool fans in years.

As the hours go, so do the pints, and everyone is becoming more friendly. Liverpool chants are sung loudly in the pub, and when people realised I am French, they are quite surprised - not to see a French Liverpool fan (this is not really surprising since Gerard Houllier brought his French army with him), but to see a Frenchman with an English flag, and showing so much devotion to Liverpool FC. They are all friendly with me, even if sometimes I can't understand them, due to their Scouse accents.

7 pm, the game is now in 2 hours, so me, my friend and a group of Liverpool fans we met at the pub head off to the stadium by underground. The underground is unsurprisingly full of Marseille fans, but there's no trouble to mention. On the contrary, the atmosphere is very friendly, and it wasn't rare to see a Liverpool fan swapping his scarf with a Marseille one.

Once at the Velodrome, we have to leave our new Scouser friends as our tickets are in the home end. In the euphoria of being a Liverpool fan in a foreign city, I forget to hide my colours, and go towards the home stand with my Liverpool shirt and English flag on. Some less friendly Marseille fans are giving me abuse in French, as they thought I was English, they were very surprised when I reacted to it in French!

So, now we are almost in the stadium, we just need to go past a last group of stewards. And what I hoped for happened.

The steward, fearing for my own safety, threw me in the Liverpool end. Now we are stuck in a kind of cold warehouse, waiting to go in, with all the Liverpool supporters. Some 700 hundred policemen are here just for us. What are we guilty of? Only being English (and French!) and loving football. After 30 minutes, we can go into our stand and the game is on its way (don't worry I am not going back over it), Marseille won 2-1, Liverpool are out of the UEFA cup.

The Marseille fans are clapping us for our non-stop and fair-play support, we are clapping them back, and more scarves and shirts are exchanged between the 2 sets of fans. We have to stay on our seats for 30 minutes after the final whistle, and I start to think that it is very hard to be an English travelling supporter.

Anyway we are out of the ground, back to the car, and eventually back in Cannes. Despite of the defeat, I can now sleep with lots of great images in my mind. What a day!

This was a great day out, but also a good way to improve my English. Indeed, except my friend, all the people I was there with were English. I had to speak English a lot, and some of them didn't even notice my French accent. Sometimes it was hard for me because the Scouse accent (Liverpool area) is very strange and hard to understand. I also sang in English, and even spoke English to fellow Frenchmen!

The Liverpool fans were very friendly, and I always had to answer the same question : "so why Liverpool ?"

Answer: to live moments like I lived this day.

© Nicoliverpool 2004

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