My Saturday Ritual – watching the match on telly
My favourite football team is LFC – Liverpool Football Club!
The English Premier football season (soccer season, if you are an American) kicks off in August and continues through to the end of May the following year. The very last Premier match being the cup final played at London’s Wembley Stadium.
All those Saturdays and Sundays from August to May, (as far as I’m concerned anyway) are the most important two days of the week. And because we’re five hours behind England over here in America, it’s not unusual for me to be slouched back in the recliner at seven o’clock on Saturday or Sunday mornings waiting for the first match to start.
People over here think I’m crazy getting up so early just to watch twenty-two grown men kicking a ball around a patch of grass.
“Why not record the matches,” I’m always being asked.
“Then you can at least stay in bed a bit longer.”
“But it’s not the same, is it?” I tell them, “especially if it’s Liverpool that’s playing.”
“OK, but why six-thirty, the match doesn’t start until a quarter to eight?”
“Yes, I know that. But if I don’t get up then, I’ll miss the pre-match build-up; all the singing and chanting. I enjoy all that stuff, especially when the players come out onto the pitch and the fans start belting out You’ll Never Walk Alone – I can’t miss that now, can I? And anyway, it’s the nearest I’ll get to actually being inside the ground.”
Here’s my youngest grandson Jude, he was very excited to be attending his 1st match at Anfield with his Dad when this photo was taken just a few weeks ago early in the 2017/18 season.
Jude absolutely gets what makes me get up early to watch the match!
I’m lucky enough to have almost 8000 friends over on “The Twitter” (a large number of those being fellow Liverpool FC supporters) I don’t have quite as many followers as @BettyMWhite yet, but I’ve got no clue who she supports.
The thing is, LFC fans have connected with me on Twitter from all corners of the globe, some from places as far-a-field as Australia, Russia, Hong Kong, and Africa, just to name a few. I’ll bet, any given Saturday, every last one of us would give pretty much anything to be inside Anfield Road stadium watching the Reds play though!
I used to keep notes of all the upcoming games in a little black notebook. Problem was, I kept losing my little black book. I’d put it down somewhere, and two minutes later I could not remember where I’d left it. Short-term memory loss, I think they call it. That was until my daughter Debbie taught me this little bit of technology, she explained how I could “book” the games in advance in the on-screen guide. To make sure I do not miss any of the upcoming televised matches, I get them all booked-up well in advance of match-day using the remote control. I do this usually around the beginning of the week, on a Monday or Tuesday, no later than that.
I’m hoping we can update this family lineup, at Anfield of course, with young Jude in the picture too.
So that’s on my bucket list for next Spring, and even though 3000 miles is a long way to go to watch a match, it’ll be well worth it. Not to mention, I’ll be able to get a decent pork pie!
Liverpool FC: My first match
I’ve been an LFC fan for most of my life. Well, ever since I came out of the army in 1953, that is (that’s me on the right the photo was taken in Egypt when I was doing my National Service). Up until then, I’d never been inside a football ground.
My brother-in-law, John Griffiths and his father, who were staunch Liverpool FC supporters, invited me along to join them one Saturday afternoon. And it was on our way to that match that I asked John’s father what year it was he started going to the match. “1920,” he said, “When footballers were getting paid around five to eight quid a week.” Eight quid (that’s 8 pounds) a week! Can you believe that? How times have changed. Some of the top player’s wages today hover around the cost of a newly built house.
Ask any LFC fan you like, young, old, male or female, what it’s like to be standing in Liverpool’s famous Anfield Road Stadium ‘watching the Reds beat the-you-know what’ out of their opponents. But since moving to the States, I do miss going to the match on Saturday afternoons. Meeting up with all my old football mates for a drink in one of the local pubs near the ground.
Still, I can’t complain, thanks to my grandson Neil and his lovely wife, Joanna, (baby Naomi is a bit newer than the telly but she’ll be an LFC fan too I’m sure). It’s because of those two dear people that I can now sit back and enjoy all the footy matches on the new 42” flat screen they bought me four years ago for my 80th birthday. What a lovely surprise that was and what a nice thing to do for their old grandad. I mean, the screen is so much larger and so much clearer than our old 27” telly. Just one quick click on the remote control and it’s like I’m right there already. Right inside the ground, joining in with the forty odd thousand spectators singing at the top of their voices “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, which, I should mention, never fails to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up!
It’s a brilliant example of 40 thousand “Kopites” in sync. For the life of me, even after all these years, I still don’t know how they do it, just that I’m awful glad they still do. I mean it’s so brilliant, so inspiring and so amazing that I suspect they always will. Having said that, there’s just one thing I really do miss, and that’s the delicious juicy hot pork or steak and kidney pies they sell at the ground. My mouth’s watering just thinking about them.
Going back to my first match though, it was standing room only in those early days, so it was crucial you arrived at the ground at least forty-five minutes before kick-off. That way we’d be sure of finding our usual vacant spot directly behind the Kop end goal, midway up the steep concrete steps. Once there, while waiting for the players to come out onto the pitch, we’d raise our red and white scarves high above our heads and join in with the singing.
Now, before I forget, before I go any further with this story, I must tell you what happened at one of Liverpool FC’s home games I attended a long, long time ago.
The year I’m talking about, if memory serves me right, it was either 1963 or 1964 when prior to the game starting the Beatles latest hits were blasted over the loud-speaker system for everyone to join in.
I do remember this incident quite clearly because I’ve been telling people about it for many years. And I do love this story because it’s not only funny, but so typical of the Liverpool sense of humour.
The incident took place just a few minutes before the game ended, when the opposition’s main striker suddenly went down with a severe leg cramp. Now, I know this doesn’t sound very sportsmanlike, but as far I was concerned, it couldn’t have happened to a better person. I mean, this guy was good, and by that, I mean REALLY GOOD at sticking the ball into the net. In just those few minutes that were remaining, it was quite possible for this world-class striker to score a couple more goals. Therefore potentially, bringing the game to a very disappointing draw and ruining the whole bloody match.
Anyway, I’ll put you out of your agony and tell you right now that is not what happened that day. The thing that did happen is what makes this stick in my memory to this day.
The opposition’s trainer raced onto the pitch as fast as he could in an effort to get his star player, who was now rolling in agony in the middle of the pitch. He wanted his striker back up on his feet and playing again, A-S-A-P as they say here in America. The trainer slides to a stop, goes down on both knees, unzips his little black bag, takes out a bottle of what must’ve been linament, un-screws the top and splashes some of the liquid onto the palm of his hands and begins vigorously massaging the player’s thigh muscle. What happened next could only happen at Anfield, one of England’s most famous football stadiums – something the Liverpool FC supporters are famous for the world over. Twenty-eight thousand of them instantly began belting out, in complete unison, “HE LOVES YOU, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH!”
The phenomenon was so impressive it was featured on a segment of the BBC’s news show Panorama. This video is well worth watching right through but I’d encourage you to at least check out what they’re singing at right about the 1:00-minute mark and I promise you’ll see what I mean.
They say music is a memory trigger and I believe that’s true because whenever I hear “You’ll Never Walk Alone” it invokes images of being with my mates at Anfield Road singing our hearts out and it does still always make me just a little bit homesick as the hair on the back of my neck stands up. Likewise, whenever I hear the Beatles song “She Loves You Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” I have a pixel-perfect picture in my mind of the trainer rubbing that guys leg!
All the best!