Inspired by David Peace’s Red Or Dead
Eighteen league titles used to mean something round here. Wore it like a badge. In the summertime. In the wintertime. They knew. We ruled. Eighteen times champions of England. Remember that. Eighteen. Magic number.
Then He came boasting. Knocked us off our perch. Chipped away. Year after year. Chewing his gum with furious vigour. Trophies won in driving rain. Or glorious sunshine. Year after year. In the first and last minutes. Or worse. We sat and watched. Eighteen became nineteen became twenty. But we always had five. Five European Cups. What could he muster? A meagre two. Champions of Europe five times, we were.
Then as if He wasn’t there at all, He went. Retired upstairs to repair his hip and drink Himself into retirement. But the damage was done. Too many humiliations. Too many defeats. Too many humiliating defeats. Let’s remember the number five though. Keep clinging to that. With hope. Hope in our hearts.
New season begins. Saturday 17th August. New beginnings season. Stoke at Anfield. Brendan Rodgers has new white teeth as if signalling the end of years of decay. The team: Mignolet, Johnson, Jose Enrique, Toure, Agger, Gerrard, Aspas, Coutinho, Henderson, Lucas and Sturridge. Attended by 44,822 souls, waving flags and roaring themselves hoarse. Sturridge scores the solitary goal. Slow and steady wins the race, so the saying goes. Rodgers smiles afterwards. There is business to be done. Rodgers smiles. There is no chance He will be returning this year. Or any other year. He is retired. Walk on boys, walk on. Five times Champions of Europe. Seven times FA Cup winners. Let’s not forget.
We don’t concern ourselves with Manchester. We concentrate on ourselves. We obsess about Manchester. United. He may be gone but there’s another in His place. A Bitter. A Blue. Another Scot, made of granite with piercing eyes that’ll cut you down at distance. Folded arms pitchside, looking on. Another reason to hate. In the wintertime. In the summertime. Our love defined by our hate, twisting in the wind like a broken back. Manchester does not concern us.
We are Liverpool. This is Anfield. The club that Shankly built. The great man. The one True Scot. A man who died and lived for the game. It was more important than that, though. A man who summoned the young, from all walks of life, threw open the gates to them and allowed them to dream of a better tomorrow. This is Shankly’s club. ’63, ’66, ‘73, three league championships. And more. Bleeding red through his and our veins. Dynasties created. Mythologies. Boot rooms. Paisley, Fagan, Dalglish. Souness. Souness. Souness. One FA Cup, 1992. Michael Thomas rifles the ball sweetly into the net. Success. Souness tasted success. We are Liverpool. After all.
Match number two. Saturday 24th August. Villa away. Team unchanged. Score the same. Scorer the same. Six points out of six. None conceded. Top of the league. Five times European Champions, eighteen times League Champions, seven times FA Cup Winners, won the League Cup on eight occasions. Remind ourselves of who we are. Liverpool are back. United draw two days later. Stalemate. Daylight. It’s still August. The song of the lark is silver, regardless.
Rodgers has a philosophy. An ethos. In we come, he says. Nice and tight. Ok. Everyone together, right, he says. Wipes his nose. Long, hard journeys are spoken of. Ok. I’ve never ever said in all my time here that it’s going to be easy. If it was easy it wouldn’t be worth doing, Brendan Rodgers says. Ok. One thing to remember is to trust ourselves. Trust the supporters. Because they’re the best. He points. You trust your family at home. He holds up three fingers. Three things to remember. Rodgers has a philosophy. Rodgers has an ethos. That’s how we won three UEFA Cups in 1973, 1976, 2001. And five European Cups.
Against His two, three in total. Not five. Sunday 1st September, Anfield. Same team. Almost. Skrtel in for Toure. Same scorer. Sturridge. Twenty-four today. Happy birthday, Sturridge. Happy Birthday, Shankly. Born a hundred years ago tomorrow. Flags are waving, supporters are singing his name. Remembering or never forgetting, it all adds up to the same thing in the end. Football being more than life and death. Nine points out of nine. Three goals scored. None conceded. More importantly, They were defeated. And reminded that we own the perch. Now He’s gone, it’s our time again. Now He can’t do us any harm, watching toothlessly from the stands. Rodgers has a philosophy, we have an honours list. And a twitter account. Not obsessed by United, not in the slightest but we leave playlists of plane crash disasters. Rodgers promises reprisals. His is a benevolent dictatorship. A dictatorship of philosophy. And charitable donations to various hospices in the local vicinity.
Liverpool Football Club have emerged triumphant in the Charity Shield fifteen times. And won the League in 1901, 1906, 1922, 1923, 1947, 1964, 1966, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990. They have won the FA and League Cups fifteen times in total. And have won the European Cup five times. Five times. Liverpool Football Club want their perch back. Top of the league. We’ll keep reminding you. And we’ll continue to walk alone. Pass. Move. Pass. Move. Pass. Move.
Further reading: Liverpool Football Club, 1892-2012 – An Obituary
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