At the turn of any new year, it is only natural to reflect on the past and think about the future. I have been doing just that and reflecting on Liverpool Football Club during 2010, and I do not think that I have been the only one. To be honest, the process has often been about as much fun as watching some of the Christmas TV that has been polluting this festive season but there were some memorable moments.
One such moment in 2010 was when I visited Anfield during a late October trip to Liverpool. It was a very rushed trip around Liverpool via a range of random buses but I had wanted to go to Merseyside and I wanted to go to Anfield. Most people thought that I was crazy. I live in the English Midlands and although there was a special offer on the trains during that weekend, most people wondered why I had not opted for a more local destination and another trip to Birmingham and the Black County. However, I wanted something different and the trip to Liverpool was going to provide that different “something.”
Having last visited the city nearly seven years ago when my sister lived near Penny Lane, a return visit had long been overdue. I needed to make a return trip to a city where I have always found to be something special with a very proud football history. A beeline to one of Liverpool’s many bus stations and the number 17 bus meant that I got to Anfield, and finding it impossible to divorce myself from the rich history of Liverpool Football Club.
For people who struggle to understand why Liverpool fans respect their history, I wonder whether they have any sense of a soul when they fail to pick up the fact that this stadium oozes pride and historical significance. I know that I am preaching to the converted on this website but Anfield is one of the world’s football cathedrals. It is not just a mass of concrete and red bucket seats. I was that kid in the proverbial sweet shop. I swapped banter with bemused fans, friendly receptionists, embarrassed shop workers, and car park security guards. I even tried to put on a bit of a soft scouse accent which must have sounded strangely bizarre and frankly ridiculous.
After being huddled in a sterile train for nearly three hours going through endless stations with the words ‘Trent Valley’ at the end of the title, I was strangely talkative. However, I guess that was due to being in the shadows of Anfield. There was so much to see and so much to think about that my particular reaction was to just keep on talking and talking. Most people seemed to nod sagely even though I am not that sure whether I was making any sense and sounding anything other than a desperate jobbing actor wanting a bit part role on Brookside twenty eight years too late.
On that grey Saturday in October, I was enjoying the proud history of Liverpool Football Club as I trooped around Anfield and the nearby terrace streets. Having only recently had the number ‘3’ added to the start of my age, I was only able to wonder about what have been the atmosphere on those great European nights of the seventies and the eighties.
I tried to pretend that I was one of those celebs on those ‘personal journey’ TV documentaries telling the viewer about the local area with the help of Coldplay-styled music, but it did not really work. It is one thing to read the books and hear the stories of the players but I just wish that I had been able to experience those historic football moments in person.
You can not write out those historic achievements from the history of Liverpool Football Club like characters out of a desperate soap opera. The stories of those European triumphs and the league and cup victories will be passed down through the generations. There are other stories too that can not be forgotten about, and equally bind the soul of the club together. In this ever-changing and daunting world of modern day football where a lot of people seem to only care about when and where the next goal will be scored, any club, including Liverpool Football Club, needs those moments to remind everyone why they follow their team in the first place.
Like my own club in Suffolk, I can tell you about what happened in the 1978 Cup Final and I was not even born. After reading a large amount about Liverpool Football Club, I like to think that I could have a decent stab at what happened in some of those big Liverpool games too, when I was either not born, or too busy watching Children’s TV. These stories are so important and are one of the key ingredients that make what people call the Kop atmosphere.
It is not that hard to seek out those clubs that have no history, or choose to airbrush their history out of their club psyche. In a world where some people believe that football began with the advent of the Premier League in 1992, and that a club is as important as their next Champions’ League victory, some fans and commentators sneer that some clubs are living in their past being unable to face the present. I am getting a sense that some of those criticisms are being levelled at Liverpool at the present time and I would suggest that those critics do not quite get what Liverpool Football Club is about for the game of football as well as for the people on Merseyside and beyond.
I sense that most fans of any club want to have one foot in the past as well as one for the future. There is a separate debate to be had whether the future is being nurtured in the club after a so-far desperate and dreadfully underwhelming 2010-2011 season at Anfield but in this period of uncertainty, it is not that surprising that people at this club are holding on to certainties and their past. As I discovered on that October afternoon last year, at least Liverpool Football Club have a past that they can continue to justifiably celebrate into this new year.