A Walk Down Memory Lane With Liverpool Football
It seems hard to go a week in the Liverpool world without being reminded of the achievements of last season, and perhaps further back than that even. I have found however a multitude of anniversaries to memorable games to have fallen in the last week.
No Liverpool fan will need refreshing details on the most recent one; many in fact would not believe that the game is now more than one year ago.
As Coutinho punished Kompany’s mistake, Martin Tyler put it best: ‘Liverpool lead again’, he exclaimed – and he was not only referring to the game itself, but the bigger picture of the title race. As I said, nobody neither needs nor probably wants to be reminded of the events of that day and how they went on to mean so very little, so it’s worth looking back on it from a different angle.
I feel that one year on it is worth looking upon the stands, rather than from them, to admire and reflect on the atmosphere, rather than performance, at Anfield last year. The Manchester City game played host to the peak atmosphere following huge support in the weeks leading up to it, with fans lining the streets for miles around to welcome in the bus with a concoction of flairs and noise that perhaps helped invigorate the players into some of the performances we saw last season.
Fast-forward twelve months and the Reds are closer to 6th than they are 4th and the atmosphere has been reduced to only a fraction of what it was last year.
Nevertheless, if there’s one ground that brings the best and loudest out of fans its Wembley, location of the Reds’ next game. The national stadium also hosted another game I was reminded of this week – a 2-1 semi-final win over rivals Everton at Wembley was just what Kenny Dalglish needed as his side struggled for form in the league.
Falling on the 14th April, so again within the last week, the game did not get off to the perfect start from a Liverpool perspective. Nikica Jelavic took advantage of a defensive error from Liverpool to temporally crush the Dalglish’s hopes of a second Wembley final in a year. But of course, this was a time when Suarez was at Liverpool; you don’t lose games quite so easily with Luis Suarez in the team. Everton defender Distin helped deliver this message, with his slip up letting the Uruguayan escape to finish past Tim Howard.
Then, as the game seemed to be fading into extra time, it was time for £35 million worth of talent to put itself to work. As Carroll rose to meet Craig Bellamy’s free kick, the Liverpool end of the ground rose with him in celebration, as the ball struck the net. Having myself been at the game I feel I am well placed to say that (in that moment) nobody wearing red that day cared how much the Geordie striker had cost, because – however narrowly – Liverpool had got the job done.
The third and final game that sticks in the memory from recent years in this week however was one where the Red’s did not in fact get the job done.
In the days of Rafa Benitez Liverpool were truly a force to be reckoned with in Europe, and were not afraid of going anywhere across the continent and giving the opposition a game. However, on the 14th April 2009 the only journey Liverpool needed was a short trip to London and Stamford Bridge. Needing to win by 2 goals scoring at least 3 following defeat at home, it would have taken a brave Liverpool fan to predict victory over the tie. It would have taken a mad one on the other hand to anticipate what actually happened: even though the game was truly up when Lampard’s finish tied the score at 4-4, the entertainment value of the game bewildered many beyond anger and disappointment.
The situation in the Premier League at the moment is not so different, and again it would take a brave man to anticipate Liverpool even reaching Europe next season, so perhaps all we can hope for is games with similar entertainment levels as that night in London.
Despite all of these ties being remembered in this week, they pale into insignificance against the anniversary which really matters. Wednesday 15th April 2015 marked 26 years since 96 fans never came home, an event which served to put football into perspective, and changed the face of the sport.
So whilst it is worth looking back at games which thrilled us, it is necessary to remember events which shook us, and continue to support the people who were most deeply affected.