As an only child for 9 years, my 4 male cousins, who were like my brothers growing up, decided that I should have been a boy. So they set about making me into a footballer!!!! Part of this ritual was putting all the teams in the Division 1 of 1970 into a hat and pulling out one for me to support. They were already followers of Leeds, Chelsea & Ipswich. I drew Liverpool. And so at the tender age of 7, my adoration of football and Liverpool began. Throughout the 70s and 80s I had many great days as their standing in English and European football rose and rose. I laughed many times at my poor cousins as their teams form bounced and lurched from one place to another!
Championships, FA Cups, League Cups, Milk Cups and the ultimate prize, European Cups. We won them all. Bill Shankley & Bob Paisley were my Gods. While my girl neighbours pushed dolls in prams around the place, I became Ray Clemence and threw myself around every football field in Dublin defending the goal in Liverpool’s honour. ‘That’ Steve Heighway corner in the 1977 moment was the happiest moment in my young life. And then for the first time ever, I cried in a sporting capacity when the wonderful Kenny Dalglish scored in the 1978 final. I was the only 14 year old girl who knew anything about Borussia Moenchengladbach!
And so, the years rolled on, the trophies kept coming. Life was great being a Liverpool supporter. Then, 9 days before my Wedding, I rushed home from work to watch the FA Cup semi final from Hillsborough. It knocked both me and my hubby to be for days, and we remembered the 96 and their families as we exchanged our vows. It also strengthened my bond with the greatest club in the world.
My first ever trip to Anfield was in 1990 as we beat Leeds Utd 3-1. It was the most amazing night ever. So every year, it became my dream to save enough money to go to Anfield at least once a year. I was there in 1996, sitting in the front row, when we beat Kevin Keegans Newcastle in the first 4-3. Oh how I sang that night. And for the first time ever, I abused an opposing footballer!!!! I had long since fancied David Ginola but he was the opposition and playing right in front of me. As he slid in with a tackle on Stan Collymore, I jumped out of my seat and called him a froggy bastard!!!! But Stanley, Stanley, Stanley Collymore had the last laugh and I couldn’t talk for 2 days!
I’ve been fortunate enough to be there for some great matches. The Gary Mac peno against Barcelona to bring us to the UEFA Cup Final, the 6 minutes of extra time in the Champions League semi final v Chelsea and many many other great moments. I’ve also been there for some bad days. Man U beating us 3-1 in 1997. That was the first time I felt genuine vitriol between 2 sets of fans. The worst was as Roy Keane slid in to take the legs from under Jason McAteer, a Scouser in front of us shouted ‘F**k off back to Ireland you IRA bastard’. I felt genuinely uncomfortable and adopted a scouse accent for the last 20 minutes of the match. Just in case!
However, the hairs still stand on the back of my neck when I walk through those great Shankley gates. The pride I feel everytime I stand inside the grounds. The unconfined joy when we score, the utter devastation when we lose. My moods for days can be measured by how Liverpool have done in their last match. The greatest night of my life? Isn’t is the greatest night of every LFC supporter? May 25th 2005. I went through every emotion under the sun that night and it all culminated in me running down the road screaming like a mad woman. And I was stone cold sober!!!! Is there anything else in the world that can come close to generating this emotion within a human being? Perhaps the birth of a child. Perhaps playing on that winning team in the Champions League. But for the armchair supporter, the love for Liverpool FC winning that night will never be eclipsed.
And now, where do we stand? It’s been a hard few years. Every August, we prepare for the season with hope and expectation. We concentrate on the highlights of the new signings who bring so many new talents and we wave derisory goodbyes to those leaving, feeling they were either crap or they gave us their best. I still haven’t forgiven Michael Owen for going to ‘the dark side’. I have high hopes for Brendan Rogers, despite yesterday. I think he knows his stuff and I like the guys he’s brought in. There are still another few ins and outs yet, but I think he’ll bring us home some glory. At least that’s what I have to hope and believe in if I’m going to continue with the rest of my life.
Steven Gerrard is a model professional and definitely in the mould of some of our greatest every players. I feel bad that he hasn’t won a league title. He deserves that. What’s even worse is that in all his time, our greatest rivals have won a record amount. That must hurt so bad. I’d love the opportunity to stand in that dressing room and tell those players how lucky they are to play at the greatest club in the world and how lucky they are to have the greatest fans in the world. I often wonder if they know that.
In a game that’s gone money mad, I still would like to believe that footballers come to Anfield because they want to and not because they are being paid more than anywhere else. But while we live by this sword, we also die by it as evidenced by the fact that Chelsea & Man City have bought their way to the titles. But for me, I have to believe in them and their love for our club.
To all those LFC fans out there, keep the faith. We’ll be back!