Arriving in the North West last Friday lunchtime I wondered what Anfield would be like on the Sunday. I had for the first time in years managed to get a ticket for the Manchester United game. Walking through the city centre I noticed that there already seemed to be a buzz in the air. Was it because I was back in the city that I loved and or was it because HMS Illustrious was in port, either way it felt good.
I went down to the Pier Head and after walking along and taking a look at the ship. I stood and watched the flypast. My dad was a Royal Navy man and I know he would have marvelled at what was in front of me. Arriving at my hotel, I set about planning my weekend and due to the kick off time - it transpired that I would be at Anfield most of the day - did I care - no way.
Friday passed quickly, I had spent the afternoon walking around the city and going over some memories. The evening was spent at the Pier Head just staring at the Mersey - something I find very relaxing.
Saturday came and I did some shopping in the LFC shop as I always do, although I could not get the belt my granddaughter wanted. I spent the afternoon watching the Helicopter displays on the River - I have never witnessed the Mersey so wild - but it was wonderful to watch the waves as they thrashed to and fro. The big day was now dawning so after having a late dinner I went to bed.
Sunday arrived and going to my window, I noticed how serene the River was and the sun was shining. I quickly had a bite to eat, packed my case and made my way to Lime Street. After placing my case in left luggage, I could not make my mind up - taxi or bus. The taxi won - I love a bit of banter with the taxi drivers and believe me I got it. It was the usual subjects, Lucas, zonal marking and Jamie Carriagher. I was dropped off just after the stadium, although not long after 10 a.m. Anfield was already busy. Walking around the outside of the stadium , I did as I always do and paid my respects at the Hillsborough Memorial. Dabbing my eyes, I eventually arrived back at the main stand and decided to buy some lunch to take it with me. I bought some sandwiches from the LFC snack bar - they were very nice but I love sandwiches that only half full with no butter - not. I then went around to the Directors entrance and stood and waited to see who went in. There were of course the usual corporate visitors. I really dont know how people can do that - you have to be with the true supporters to experience what going to a game is all about. Several ex players went in, including Jan Molby who I had a conversation with along with Bobby Charlton. Deciding at that point to leave to where my turnstile was I made my way back around to the front. Things were beginning to get busy, there was a steward who told me that The Spirit of Shankly , were going to have a march. I am a member of that union but I honestly do believe that they are going down the wrong route with some of their protests. I stood chatting to a very friendly steward, then the announcement came, that the turnstiles could now be opened.
I arrived very quickly at my seat on the kop - I hate the last minute rush to get in.
Looking at the pitch - my first words were - I am home. It was strange, the atmosphere in the ground was definitely different to that when I attended the Hull game. Was it because it was Manchester United, or was it because of the enormity of the game - one that Liverpool had to win? I sat and ate my lunch and then waited for kick-off. The warm up was fun, yes the teams were on the pitch - in fact apart from Pepe Reiner, Manchester United came out first. What made me laugh was that Andre Mariner and the other 2 officials came out and did their own exercises - I hope Fergie noticed and bit his tongue.
Very Soon Peter McDowall read out the teams and the noise when Torres name was announced was absolutely amazing - relief I guess, I will admit to screaming myself. I looked around - the stadium was now full and I am sure I felt the presence of Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley - my dad's spirit was definitely there - he has a habit of doing silly little things and ensures I notice.
The start of the game was not far away and the singing of You'll Never Walk Alone filled the air - It was loud and believe me, wonderful to hear. Then all of sudden the sound of Spanish beach songs started coming from the back of the kop - It was obvious what was going to happen - I know it was wrong but those few minutes with the beach balls was quite funny. It was far better that the kop did it and not the Manchester United fans.
The match started and the singing on the kop was like I remember from the 70's and 80's, everyone was singing their heart out. There were some Norwegians behind me who were doing their best and believe me it was wonderful to hear. I was on cloud nine, the match was going well, my chest infection was annoying me, but I was going to sing no matter what. In fact I did not just sing, I screamed, I shouted, my beloved team had to win that game. Knowing that Tom Hicks and George Gillett were in attendance, I looked across towards the Directors box several times - it was as though they were surrounded by a massive block of ice. They did not appear to be communicating at all, which confirms what people and the press have been saying.
Finally, half time came, and I sat down and had a drink to ease my throat and chest. I did not really get a rest because by then everyone was buzzing and you could sense something special was in the air. We all chatted and waited for the match to resume.
The 15 minutes passed quickly and as the players came out, we began to sing again. Everyone was in a great mood and Liverpool were playing at the kop end. I will admit to trying to put off Van Der Saar with my shouting. Did it work - that I will never know? Our saviour was going to do what he does best. Torres scored and the kop went wild, we were singing, hugging, kissing, jumping up and down - it was fantastic. Then came the moments that any football supporter dreads, play resumed down the other end and Manchester United seemed to have a couple of chances. Thankfully Jamie was back to normal and did what he does best - he blocked Michael Owen. You could sense the urgency in United's play but did we care. We were the twelfth man and thoroughly enjoying it. The clock was now ticking over and the 70th minute arrived , Rafa still had not made any substitutions but then he did, the noise when Torres was taken off was amazing - Ngog came on and little did we know then what an effect he would have on the game. The team were playing really well and I took a few minutes to look at Lucas. I have never seen that lad look so happy. He had, had an amazing game and was clearly enjoying himself. Then it happened, Ngog had a great run, kicked the ball and the back of the net was found. We were now 2-0 up and due to beat our old rivals. At this point I will admit to forgetting I am a lady. Everyone went wild and the stadium was in pandemonium. It was absolutely fantastic, and looking across to the Directors box, Tom Hicks was actually jumping up and going mad - was this for show or was it because he does finally have feelings for the club. That is something only he can answer. I have now sent him two emails - will I get a answer somehow I doubt it.
Injury time of 5 minutes was announced - I still cannot work that one out - Fergie was doing what Fergie does best and pointing to his watch. Did the kop care? No we were just waiting for that final whistle, and when it came, the feeling was fantastic, I was hoarse with an extremely sore chest - Did I care no.
What I had just experienced was Anfield as it should be, every game. The twelfth man, did us proud that afternoon.
I arrived back in the city and walked down to the Pier Head, my memories of the afternoon firmly entrenched in my brain. That is a game I will never forget. I knew I had a train to catch and wandered back into the city centre, bought myself some wonderful fish and chips and sat facing the LFC shop in Williamson Square. You could hear and feel the atmosphere coming from the surrounding pubs and how I wish I could have been part of it. I sat for as long as possible and then made my way to Lime Street. London and the South East awaited and I will admit to shedding a tear as the train pulled out. I did not want to leave the city I loved and am more determined than ever to find employment and move up permantly.
All in all, it was a wonderful weekend and Anfield was as it should have been, and I hope the supporters on the kop keep it up from now on. It helped the team I am sure.