The last 19 years, some thoughts before I move..

Posted by Hinesy on March 28, 2008, 12:32:46 AM

I’m in the process of selling my flat, a place where I’ve lived since 1991, probably the longest I’ve lived anywhere all my life and naturally with a whisky in one hand, one becomes reflective, looking back over how things have changed since that time.

Luckily for you, this site is about Liverpool FC, not’, so you don’t have to read about the seersucker suit I had back then, but instead get the bit about how my team, our team has changed, over that time, how things in football have changed in my humble opinion.

For a start when I was unpacking in Sept 91, a certain Mr G Souness was made manager, winning the FA Cup but little else. The away grey kit was abandoned, Mark Walters was playing for us and Peter Beardsley was making the trip across the park.

I also remember painting a bedroom listening to Blackburn lose to us but win the championship and cheering out loud as the mustard yellow paint sploshed around as the small team up the road lost to West Ham..

I’d, like many, lost a bit of interest in the on field playing of the club following on from Hillsborough only a couple of years earlier, but nothing had prepared me for the Premier League and the SKY years of football.

You see, for the length I’ve lived here, effectively football has existed in its new form of the Premier League, the footy on the satellite dishes, the influx of money into the game and the influx of foreign players into the game.

I’ve lived through other smaller teams winning the European Cup in extra time, of other lesser teams, claiming glory and showing off, and the memories of our lot walking out on Wembley’s funny cut grass in white suits only to lost to some other small club.

But I’ve also seen Roy Evans, the epitomy of a decent man, try to rail against the tide of ‘progress’ only to be sidelined by Gerard, bringing false hope but also European Glory, I’ve seen us beat Barcelona at home, a wonderful memory not for the win but for the sheer fact that the big guns of Europe, were firing at Anfield.

For me Liverpool are the most European of English clubs in terms of our history and pedigree. Yes I know the league is ‘bread and butter’ but I don’t like the sliced stuff and if ever a ground truly came alive, its Anfield on a European night.

And that’s why when Houllier did wake the giant that was Liverpool Football Club, as much as Roy kept us playing in the top four, I will always be grateful to Ged because during his time, something deep within our soul stirred, a slumbering giant awoke and fans went to the grounds with tales of old Euro games, of the Kop rousing itself as one and singing out loud, proud that across France and Spain and Italy and Germany, Liverpool FC had indeed been on holiday but by god we were back.

And we were. The new century brought  the 2001 season, and three things stick out for me, firstly Robbie’s goal against Charlton to take us to the Champions League after the dizzy heights of Dortmund, secondly, Owen’s second goal v Arsenal in the FA Cup where he lived up to his promise and skinned the best defence in the country, (apart from our two SH’s naturally) and finally the crazy game in Germany where we won the UEFA Cup.

I like the UEFA Cup, it’s a great trophy, and it taught me my geography. Keep your Bayern Munich’s everyone knows where they’re from (The village of Bayern innit?) – the UEFA Cup gave you Spartaks and Lepzigs and teams with numbers in them, Schalke04 and so on.

These in the days of the cold war were exotic exciting locations, but even in the new millennium, the UEFA Cup still gave us a reminder of what we were about abroad, Liverpool back on the road.

Then there was Ged’s illness, v Leeds, the Kop spilling out after the game with people asking the taxi drivers what the news was filtering through the air, Sit down Pinnochio became the new cheap away song, and Thommo acquitted himself well.

Then there was Roma, I was almost late for the game, running up to Anfield, sat like a massive spaceship aglow in the middle of the houses, lit up and throbbing with anticipation, I got in just as YNWA started up and you just knew there was magic in the air. No matter what Mr Capello does with that other small club, England, he will always have my respect for hugging Ged, wait, was it true, the wildfire chatter running round the ground like a cheap Mexican Wave, was Houllier back down there with his little red scarf, yes it was and there was Fabio giving him a hug.

We couldn’t lose that night and we didn’t.

But the sunshiners and others all picked over the bones of Ged’s demise, he was never the same, and Liverpool went quiet til Rafa showed up and asked for a three legged table.

I’d watched Valencia make us look a bit silly, when they beat us 2-0 at there’s and here was the architect of that game, not like Houllier proclaiming any arcane link, standing on the Kop as a young un etc, but he knew how special it was.

2005 has been well documented elsewhere, but for me, the Chelsea semi final still gets the hairs on the back of my neck going, the last 6 minutes, Gudlordsonyou’vemissed’s fluff at the end, I swear I could name 1,000 Reds who thought it was going in, the sheer noise of the game, you couldn’t hear yourself and the hoarseness lasted for days, us staying back singing and chanting and singing and shouting and singing and cheering and singing. Jose could fuck right off that night, truly there was a 12th man, it was us the crowd and I’m not surprised Chelsea were stunned, because so were our players by the sheer need to win, the sheer will of the fans… My good pal Michael tells me it was just written in the stars that year, well the nerves, the desire and the will of the Kop that night will rarely be surpassed, because we’d had famine and now we feasted.

2006 was a hangover frankly, that’s all I remember, everything was dulled after Istanbul, if our club was put into cold storage the moment Jerzy’s hand touched Shevchenko’s penalty, many of us would’ve accepted that and said yes, we’ve had some good times and that’ll do us now.

And then last year, we were duped by two yanks and still no closer to the league as much as I love what Rafa has done for us.

Over the time I’ve seen 4 managers try to raise Liverpool up to the heights of the League again, to make us a consistently great team and they have all to some degree succeeded and failed in varying measures.

But my feelings for my team as I look back at the time in this flat, is one of enduring happiness, frustration and above all love for that unique thing, it’s not the players, though I shout for them every week, its not the manager though I back him to the hilt and its not the bloody owners, its that intangible thing that is simply ‘Liverpool’.

And no matter where I’ll stay in my life, it’ll stay with me.

I should add after reading some of the kind posts below, that nothing is certain in life except death, taxes and the club you support. No matter what changes in my life, that'll always be with me.

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