Liverpool won their 5th European Cup, five years ago today, in arguably the greatest ever football final. Here is my memory of that day.
Five years ago, I was a school lad gearing up for me SATs but education always came second best when it came to choosing between that or Liverpool Football Club. My club always won that battle and always will.
So with Liverpool getting ready for my first European Cup final, was I really gonna be worried about jumping the bus down to Aigburth? Of course not, I was more interested in donning my Liverpool shirt, in front of the telly from 9am Monday morning to god knows when.
It wasn’t just a one-day build up in our household, it was the entire week. It started on the Monday with me arl fella letting me stay off to soak up the atmosphere. When me mam had a go at him, he said something I’ll never forget. He said “it’s one week, it’s not gonna kill him and anyway, he might not get to witness many days like this”. He was right, that week off school didn’t kill me but the week that was about to unfold almost did.
So anyway, Monday morning and we had any station on the telly or radio that was talking about the game. Any little bit of news was taken in by us, it just had that feeling that something special was about to happen.
Tuesday was exactly the same. Me and me dad both getting every last bit of information we could. We would of been there in Turkey except money problems stopped that dream happening. But that didn’t stop us feeling like we where there.
We sang our hearts out during the Wednesday morning, afternoon an right up to kick off. Me dad slapped the video in and taped what was to become the greatest final of all time. Both wearing our colours, scarves on the back of the couch and our voices well and truly tuned. Oh yes, this was gonna be something special.
What happened between the first whistle and the half time whistle, well I’m still looking for an explanation on that one. It just didn’t seem real, that our club could do so badly in such an important game.
Me and me dad looked at each other in disbelief, fuming with our club. But, like the thousands in Istanbul, we found our voice once more and belted out a few songs, amongst other things, trying to lift ourselves more than anything. Me mam thought we were cruising the noise we were making.
Then obviously the most incredible thing happened. We pulled it back from three down to draw level and that again set us off. The roof came off our front room when Xabi scored the rebound. It was just unreal. Things like this only happened in dreams, surely?
But all dreams have an happy ending and our dream did. Just in case our fans hadn’t been through enough, the players decided penalties would ease our nerves a bit more. Some hope lads.
I stood in me good luck charm, behind the couch while me arl fella just sat there motionless. I remember when they missed their first two and we scored ours, I walked over and grabbed me dad round the back of his neck.
Then they scored and we missed and he chucked me off him. Told me to eff off cos it was bad luck. So I did, back to me own end of the couch. And then three penalties later we had the Cup in our hands.
And, that was that. The tears flooded out of me an me dad. We grabbed each other, jumping up and down. I flew into the garden screaming with delight. Couldn’t believe what I’d just witnessed.
Don’t think I slept a wink that night, in fact don’t remember even going to bed. Think it was an all night party. Forget school, this was far more important. Liverpool Football Club had just won our fifth European Cup. It was ours to keep.
Watching the lads celebrations afterwards, and then Stevie lifting the Cup up was more than anything else I’d witnessed as a Liverpool fan. Seeing the pride on our boys’ faces, the felt the same joy as I did, as we did, it was fantastic. Seeing them parade the trophy around with our fans was a sight I’m never gonna forget. Nights like that don’t happen too often, so make the most of them when they come. I know I did.
The homecoming, almost tipped the actual night for enjoyment. Because I didn’t have the anxiousness of whether or not I’d be celebrating at the end of the night. I knew the outcome of the homecoming, I didn’t know what would happen on the 25th. That was the difference.
But I didn’t expect the homecoming to be quite as good as it was. We left ours at 5 on the dot when me mam came home from work. Me, me dad, me sister, me uncle Tony and three cousins – Mark, Ant and Lyndsey. Down the road, through the cathredral car park, down Rodney St, past where Rapid used to be, past Lime St and onto St George’s Hall. The crowds were massive. Everybody seemed to be there,
Constantly bumping into familiar faces. The party atmosphere. Everything was perfect. The singing was non-stop. People were everywhere you could imagine, even in places you couldn’t imagine. And just like the previous night, me an me dad were singing our hearts out this time with many thousand like minded people.
Then as the night went on, me dad’s dodgy leg got worse and we split up from the rest of the family. Me and him went an sat down by the Empire only to get shifted by one of their staff. So we sat on one of the statues in front of the museum.
It started getting darker and colder and I didn’t have me coat with me so me dad was saying do you wanna go home, he’d had no tea so I was asking him the same question. Neither of us wanted to go an both of us were making excuses to stay, while trying to look like we were really concerned for the other. We weren’t, we both only cared about staying. We both knew that.
Then over the tannoy we heard the coach would be at least another two hours. Must of been around nine we heard this, and then both of us started asking that question a little more strongly. But I wasn’t bothered about the cold and me dad wasn’t bothered by his hunger. The only thing that mattered was seeing our boys with our trophy.
Well if it was two hours, it flew by because it seemed to be there within half an hour. The first coach came down and everybody ran to see it, I think that was just the press bus though. Then came our boys. Our coach. Our trophy.
Me an me dad walked down from where we sat to this little clearing and the bus parked perfectly for us. Right in the middle of these two trees we had a great, clear view.
We saw the European Cup glisten in the dark while being lifted by Carra. At the back of the bus was Djimi and Djibril dancing around. I think little Luis Garcia got hold of the Cup while were there an all.
Then You’ll Never Walk Alone was belted out by everybody and off we went again, crying our hearts out. God knows who was next to me, but I just grabbed him and started singing with him. That was the kind of night it was.
Walking home, me dad’s leg got worse and I had to run up Hope Street to ours to get the wheelchair for him. Then just as I’m half way up the street, this car pulls up beside me with some random fella and his wife in and in the back is me dad. They’d said they’d take us home. Only Liverpool fans could do that.
We’d asked me mam to tape the homecoming on Sky Sports News before we left, so when we got home we watched it all over again. We asked Ste and Louise (the couple who’d given us a lift home) to come in for a cuppa but they said they had to get home as they had work in the morning.
Well I had school but that was well not happening. I was too busy partying again. Another night with little, if any, kip. Too excited to kip.
And every time I think of that night I get that same excitement. I know I’ll never witness a night like that again. Me dad was right about that. It’s also a night I’ll never forget.
It really was one of those one off nights. Nights that need to be cherished. I am delighted to say I saw it and to say I was there for the homecoming. The homecoming was so special as well.
I’ll still remember these events as vividly in fifty years. That’s how special the night was.