It didn’t quite happen as expected or desired, but then again, who knew what to expect.
I’ve been waiting for this moment for 27 years. You may well have been waiting longer. We’ve all been waiting for the same thing.
I don’t feel ashamed to admit on various occasions in the not so distant past I’ve sat and seriously pondered whether Liverpool would win a title – the one title everybody craves – in my lifetime.
That may sound ridiculous to followers of teams lower down the football pyramid, given Liverpool’s rich history, global fan-base and regular finishes in European competition positions.
But with the cut-throat nature of getting to the division’s summit, staying consistent over a whole season while competing in an almost embarrassing financial deficit to resurgent rivals – it never seemed further away.
Growing up on tales of Liverpool dominating English and European football always seemed to sever reality. It didn’t correlate.
Liverpool then and Liverpool now was a very different thing, and this forever seemed to be the case. It became accepted.
To witness the demise of your own team unfolding in the shadowed areas of the rise of those around you was never an easy thing to take, yet it carried a strange comfort that normality often does.
Even as Gerard Houllier’s Reds scooped trophies for fun during a brief purple patch at the turn of the century, or Rafa’s nearly-men almost ousted United in 2009, it never seemed quite enough. Not tangible, a temporary reality.
Rare moments, battling both the odds and false hope. When Brendan Rodgers’ side almost fell over the line in 2013/14 more backing was received from the neutrals purely because of the unlikely nature. Liverpool weren’t seen as ready to win the league. Aly Cissoko played a role in a title charge for christ’s sake, it still beggars belief.
Were Liverpool only ever going to get shots at the big prize through good fortune and bursts of emotion, fielding a side of vastly mixed capabilities?
Surely the Reds will get back up there at some point, there was always that quiet confidence despite its unknown origins. Yet when that time came would I still be able to get to matches? Would football, priority-wise, still mean the same thing? Would I still have my dad – the man who gave me the greatest gift of the love of this football club – around to enjoy it with?
You have to ask yourself these questions
And the answer to it all? They would win it, sooner than I perhaps ever envisaged, in the most breathtakingly irrepressible way. Storming to end 30 years of pain in a near immaculate manner, playing some of the best football Anfield has ever seen and all the while doing it as reigning European and world champions.
It’s the stuff of wild fantasy. The only caveat? It would end in the thick of a global pandemic.
That final whistle sounded at Stamford Bridge and Liverpool were officially declared better than the rest. Untouchable. Champions of England. Breathe that in.
In this new, warped simulation which we now call modern day life, things naturally unfolded much more differently than anybody could have anticipated.
While the title couldn’t be won during match time for the Reds, neither could the millions of fans around the world pack together amid pubs, clubs or social events, to share the moment collectively with those that matter most.
It’s a strange and unique sensation, watching a match on TV and knowing every other Liverpool fan you’ve ever come into contact with is guaranteed to be doing the same, regardless. Nobody barreling over Anfield seats in post-goal bedlam, nobody propping up the bar of the Sandon screaming Carlsberg-fuelled obscenities at a ref who will never hear them.
I always envisaged being in the ground when the fabled moment arrived, looking across to a swaying and throbbing Kop contorted with emotion as the Reds picked up the crown which has been missing for so long.
Instead fingers were nibbled, sofas nursed erratic fits of fidgeting and the masses watched on, remotely, for the news we’ve most craved to be confirmed. Teary phone-calls to follow, the conversation that’s been coming for years but until now had never taken place.
It should have been together, over a drink or looking down from the terraces, disappearing amid the mist of a deep blood-red flair and tasting the sticky sulphur while pouring out that emotion as one.
Yet in the end, none of it mattered. Did Liverpool’s title win feel any less special? Absolutely not. It was the ending of a prolonged period of pain.
This isn’t just any old football team. This is a historic, record-breaking side to have won the Premier League faster than any before. Liverpool have added a whole new dimension to the phrase ‘coming back with a bang’.
Heavy metal, 31 matches played and just one defeat. Two draws and win upon delicious win. This team is a beast unlike any before and the envy of Europe. The best on the continent.
Football transcends. It’s so much more than simply 22 blokes kicking a ball around a field for 90 minutes.
It’s invested emotion. It’s relief, it’s respite, it’s family ties and irreplaceable memories, lifelong bonds, an unbreakable link to loved ones since departed. It’s watching the match on a weekend and being filled with happiness, regardless of what is going on in life. It’s a safe place with no limitations on love and passion.
The coronavirus pandemic served to slow Liverpool’s title charge, but never came close to halting it. Football is the very stitching woven into the fabric of many communities. And so the crowds swelled outside Anfield and fireworks cracked away at the darkness until morning’s first light as Liverpool reclaimed a piece of its soul.
It was needed. Celebrating a team who themselves can’t stop celebrating. It’s human nature to need one another, and nothing facilitates that process much better than football.
Not simply waiting, but yearning for a Premier League title was a whole experience in of itself. Truth be told Liverpool had this in the bag for some time, but that mathematical certainty was the key. Football’s strangely altered new landscape was never going to take the shine off that. History will hold up this side as one of, if not the, finest to rule the beautiful game.
So think of the bad times, the hard times, the times where a club really did seem lost, when dominating English football again was but a distant dream. And now keep gazing at that league table.
There’s a side at the top, seven games still to play yet already solidified in gold, a capital C by its name. It’s going nowhere.
Liverpool football club are back on their perch. Champions of England.