Alex Kirkham gives his own account of his love affair with Liverpool Football Club.
From the age of 6, I was hooked, Michael Owen’s wonder goal in St Etienne at World Cup 1998 threw me into the arms of Liverpool Football Club, and from that day, I’ve never looked back.
I’m now 17, and whilst most of my mates main issues are how much to drink this weekend, and which girl to make a move on, my main issue, is how the Redmen are going to do this weekend, and hoping they can pick up another three points as they continue their quest to end their 19 year drought without a League Title, the only trophy I haven’t seen them lift. I’m getting more desperate to see it, as another season usually passes in which we end up battling for fourth, or if we’re lucky, battling for third spot, but last season, was a different story, and the Reds came closer than they have in years. It had its lows, the defeat at Middlesborough that seemed to of end our hopes on number 19, and failing to beat teams such as Stoke, West Ham, Fulham, and Hull City at home. But seeing us sweep footballing giants Real Madrid aside, and demoralise the Mancs in their own back yard a matter of days later, is up their in the top drawer. It’s fair to say, a bird with a puffed out chest that sits high on the shores of the Mersey overlooking the city of Liverpool with something hanging from its mouth, has taken ahold of a huge grasp of my life, but I wouldn’t change that for the world. It’s given me the biggest highs of my life, Dortmund, Cardiff, The Champions League run in 2005 just to name a few, but Istanbul is by far the greatest.
How 45 minutes of football can leave you at your lowest ebb, lower than ever below, but then after six crazy, mad, indescribably, spellbinding, miraculous minutes, can leave you knocking at the entrance doors to cloud nine couldn’t happen anywhere else. Seeing Jerzy Dudek outstrech his arm and save that penalty, left me on a high I’ve never experienced before or since, and a high I was still experiencing days later. No drugs could give me the pure adrenalin rush, the excitement, the sheer joy and magnitude of it, the happiness and buzz that it give, seeing Ol’ big ears coming home for keeps.
Compare those emotions of those two years later, as I sat on a train from Liverpool to Hull, shedding tears, that ran down my hidden face in to my coat as I slumped on table, staring at the sights of Huddersfield pass the windows, after seeing Filippo Inzaghi dash my hopes of seeing number 6 been paraded around the streets of Merseyside the night before, the contrast is almost to much to bear.
Football can give you these extra-ordinary lows, but when the jaw dropping highs come along, its worth every single second. I couldn’t see myself on the Stretford End, eating prawn sandwiches, checking my watch, waiting for the inevitable 94th minute penalty to be awarded, or sat in the Shed End, waving my free plastic flags, watching a load of primadonna’s dive around, or sat in the new Emirates stadium sat in silence. Nah, that’s definitely not me. Raucous singing, twirling scarves, roaring on the Reds on the eve of another famous, special, Anfield European Night. You see, birds come and go, but the only bird I need in my life, is that Liverbird, the one that’s ALWAYS there for you whatever, no matter what, through the thick and thin, and one that gives you the incomparable highs, the one that takes us to big, famous European cities, and also, the not so familiar ones, the one you couldn’t physically bring yourself to cheat on. Its a passionate, raw, undying love.
Liverpool, as a city, is a stunning place, and doesn’t deserve the stereotype it has, and the bad publicity it sometimes receives. For me, personally, being an outsider to the city, i love the place more than anywhere else I’ve been, its a bit like being stood on the Kop, it feels like my spiritual home. The Liver Buildings, The Albert Dock, St Georges Hall, The Cavern, The Radio City tower, The Cathedrals, all those things combined with the Heritage, the Shopping, the Buildings, and of course, the famous Scouse wit, culminates making the city into what it is, but there’s another reason why I love the city so much, there’s an overriding factor. You see, where I’m from, Football’s just a sport, but in Liverpool, its life, like it is to me. It plays a huge role in everybody’s day to day routine. I look up to the fellas in the 70’s who stood on the Kop, singing, swaying, after working 12 hours on the docks for next to nothing, and when it was there only release from the riots, with all them going on, and so much more in there lives, they saw football as their only release, and still supported their club the same, if not more, than ever. When I read, or watch, and see the fellas with there Liverpool hats on, boarding planes, I watch with a tiny hint of jealousy, that I wasn’t one of those jumping in the fountains and dressing up the statues in all Red in places like Rome in ’77, and also the famous Anfield nights that will be remembered forever, like Inter Milan ’65, and St Etienne ’77, but I’ve seen games such as Olympiakos, Juventus and Chelsea in ’05. I’m witnessing a new chapter being written, written by a Spanish fella with a goatee, as he leads his armada.
Talking of admiring people, I hugely admire the families of those 96 fans who went to a football game, and never came home. Dead because the South Yorkshire police failed to be able to police a football game, innocent, young people. I wasn’t born when the disaster happened, but I know the truth, but worryingly, not enough people do. Some must think if only their loved ones hadn’t gone to Hillsborough on that fateful day, but the love they had for this club wouldn’t of kept them away, they are a credit to this football club, and that’s why we must continue to fight for Justice. But no one should die following their Heroes, no Parent should of had to lose their son or daughter at a football game, some as young as 10, waving them away on that sunny April day, not knowing they wouldn’t return, no one who attended, the survivors, shouldn’t have to face the day to day trauma tat they do, no family should have a spare room upstairs, an empty seat at the table at family events, but they do, and Justice MUST be done, and the truth be let known, so that twenty years on, these poor people can have closure, at last. The families continue to fight for Justice, and rightly so, knowing that their lost one can look down, happy, proud, knowing the fight for Justice is as strong as it was in the instant aftermath of the Disaster. Also, the boycott of the S*n newspaper, is stronger than ever, a paper no red should ever buy. Scouse solidarity, at its best.
Its now eleven years since I first fell head over heels for the Reds, and things have changed, My first hero, Michael Owen, now plays for the Mancs, but he was replaced a long time before his exit from the Reds, replaced by a well known fella, goes by the name of Steven Gerrard. I’ve seen us lift every trophy, bar one, the League, or as it is now known, the Holy Grail.
In those eleven years, my love for this great club has blossomed, and remains as strong as ever. Its gets under the skin, Its a religion, a way of life. Drugs, Sex, Beer? Nah, it just doesn’t compare. It sets the mood for the following day, often days, but if I get to see a certain midfielder lifting the Holy Grail high in the air come May, I’ll be taking a three month vacation to cloud nine.
Its 1’o clock on a Saturday morning, I’m sat in a room covered by men in that famous old red shirt, that Liverbird there again as I catch my flag in my eyeline, whilst I listen to songs about a Spaniards Armband and boys coming down the road. The questions still remain on my mates minds, ” What we getting ? Where We Drinking ? What lasses we meeting ?”. I’ve got a few on my mind aswell, “Can we break Burnley down tomorrow ? Can we do what we failed to do so many times last season at home ?”
Who knows, if a Scottish bloke hadn’t walked into Anfield almost 50 years ago, chatting about Bastions of Invincibilty, and Teams from Mars, we may still be in pursuit of number one. I think its fitting, to end with a quote from the great man:
“Liverpool was made for me, and I was made for Liverpool”