The Stadium

Posted by Rushian on April 28, 2005, 10:33:54 AM

Have you ever entered an empty stadium? Try it. Stand in the middle of the field and listen. There is nothing less empty than an empty stadium. There is nothing less mute than stands bereft of people.

At Wembley, shouts from the '66 World Cup which England won still resound, and if you listen very closely you can hear groans from 1953 when England fell to the Hungarians. Montevideo's Centenario Stadium sighs with nostalgia for the glory days of Uruguayan football. Maracana is still crying over Brazil's 1950 World Cup defeat.

At Bombonera in Buenos Aires, drums boom from half a century ago. From the depths of Azteca Stadium, you can hear the ceremonial chants of the ancient Mexican ball game. The concrete terraces of the Nou Camp in Barcelona speak Catalan, and the stands of San Mames in Bilbao talk in Euskera.

In Milan, the ghost of Giuseppe Meazza scores goals that shake the stadium bearing his name. The final of the '74 World Cup, won by Germany, is played day after day and night after night at Munich's Olympic Stadium.

The stadium of King Fahd in Saudi Arabia has marble and gold boxes and carpeted stands, but it has no memory or much of anything to say.

Eduardo Galeano, Football in Sun and Shadow, 1995

Next Monday evening Chelsea will train in an empty stadium. The loudest empty stadium in the world. It'll whisper to them of Liverpool's four glorious European Cup victories. Kopites now long departed will take up their specs again and invoke visions in the Chelsea minds of St Etienne, Inter Milan, Auxerre, Roma, Barcelona and Juventus.

The stands will echo to songs of triumph and glory, of the dignity of Elisha Scott and Billy Liddell, the heart of Ian St John and Emlyn Hughes, the strength of Tommy Smith and Graeme Souness, and the brilliance of John Barnes and Kenny Dalglish.

And when the Chelsea players look around, nervously, to see where these evocations are coming from they'll see no one there. They'll return to their hotel and struggle to sleep as their minds are filled with thoughts of Reds coming up that hill once more, victorious and glorious.

And on Tuesday evening it is up to us, today's fans, to do our footballing ancestors proud at Anfield. Tuesday night is a chance for Glory, both on and off the pitch.

Do your best Reds, for there's nothing more you can do, and Rafa's team will have the chance to emulate the great teams of yore in Istanbul.

This can and will be OUR year.

© Rushian 2005

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