Liverpool are sitting pretty for the moment, at the top of the Barclays Premier League. The league, along perhaps with Spain’s La Liga, that this year at least, is actually worth watching. Where the team at the top hasn’t all but won the league already and the rest simply making up the numbers. A league where anyone can beat anyone and this is something to be proud of. Especially when one considers the fact that this time last season the team were languishing in seventh place with only 61 points.
I’ve been asking myself lately, how would I feel if Liverpool were to actually win the title this year? If, against all the odds, the might of the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and of course Manchester United, the team actually finished as Champions. What would that mean to me? Of course, I’m “daring to dream” as has been the phrase used to describe the hope and expectation that Liverpool fans, and apparently the general public have for the team from Walton Breck Road, Liverpool 4. The answer is many things. Far too many to write here.
For one, it would make me immensely proud. Not simply because I’m a fan in the normal sense of the word, but because the City means a great deal to me. It’s a part of my life. A part that has brought me great joy, sorrow, laughter, tears, frustration, disappointment and bloody annoyance at times. It’s as if the team has taken on the guise of a family member, a son, daughter, brother or sister. You love them. On occasion, they get on your nerves but overall, you only want the best for them and that’s why there’s a need to vent at them from time to time. There are loads of other teams. Loads of other supporters, but I really only care about my own. That’s what support means and that’s where my heart is.
I can’t remember the first game I watched. It was that long ago – just that I always wanted to see the Liverpool result at the end of World of Sport and watch them play on Match of The Day on Saturday night or The Big Match on a Sunday afternoon. I can remember most of the players names. I can remember through the black and white TV the pitch was always heavy and muddy. Kevin Keegan and Steve Heighway, Ray Kennedy and Emlyn Hughes were always covered in mud and that they wore shin pads with the same dimensions of cigarette boxes but yet, never seemed to get injured. I also remember my fury that Peter Shilton was always seemed to be preferred in goal for England to Ray Clemence. Unfortunately and sadly, I also saw the Hillsborough disaster unfold at the time and the disbelief at how what was first described as some “overcrowding” leading to the game being stopped, to some people being injured and finally to 96 poor souls losing their lives. RIP the victims that day. YNWA…
Since Rafa Benitez and the team that won the European Cup, or Champions League as it’s now called in 2005 and the Super Cup in the same year, there’s not been that much to shout about for Liverpool Fans. There was an FA Cup win in 2006 but that’s been about it. The sale of the club to George Gillett and Tom Hicks was probably not the best move the club ever made and found itself in sever financial difficulties because of it. Even to the point when the RBS tried to force the sale of the club. I recall Rick Parry, the Chief Executive at the time using the expression: “You only sell the family silver once…” – an old phrase for prudence – when referring to the saga that became the sale of Liverpool Football Club, only to sell to the two US businessman. Well, he made a good job of that didn’t he?
To cut a very long story short, Fenway Sports Group, led by John W. Henry have come in and rescued the club. I have always been a supporter of FSG and the way Henry has gone about rebuilding the club. The debts are now under control and there are firm plans in place to redevelop the Anfield ground. They have had similar experiences in their running of the Boston Red Sox baseball club and they have used that experience to improve the mess they bought from Gillett and Hicks. What’s more, in Brendan Rodgers, they have brought in the best manager the team has had arguably, since Bill Shankly. Yes, there’s been Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Kenny Dalglish. Not to mention Gérard Houllier Rafa Benitez. I’d even include Roy Evans in that list, despite the fact that he only won a League Cup whilst in charge.
All of the great managers I’ve mentioned above in fairness, have inherited great teams. Continued to build on solid foundations that were laid before them and they’ve done so in exemplary fashion. For Rodgers, he’s taken over a broken old banger. Go Faster Stripes that are peeling off and bald tyres. A noisy gear shift and fluffy dice that went out with the Ford Cortina. A loud exhaust that hides the fact that this jam jar just isn’t all that. Rodgers has given the club back it’s pride. He’s restored the importance of Anfield being not just our home ground, but our place, and we defend it. Like life itself. New methods have been brought in that have totally changed the team’s approach to games. Returned to a focus on developing the young players and ensuring that those who have made the grade know who and what they represent when they pull the red shirt on. This new beauty is being rolled out of the garage. It looks good in it’s individual paintwork and the engine sounds as sweet as anything I’ve heard in a long while. So far, it’s driving like a dream too.
If Liverpool win the league, I’d be made up. Simply because of what the club has gone through and where it is now after so long in the wilderness, roaming about like a lion without a pride. All the false dawns and the near misses. The bravery that the club now shows and the perfect blend of old and new. If Liverpool win the league, I’m sure I’ll have a “bevvy” or few.
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