Some call it passion, some religion, the late and great Bill Shankly described it as being more important than life and death. I just visualise it with a plaque replicating that found at the top of the players’ tunnel at Anfield, one which sits incongruously in my living room amongst various canvasses and portraits. Frankly, it does not matter an iota that it looks totally out of place, because it is symbolic of everything that this great club means to me.
Brian Reade has famously written of his 44 year old affair with the same bird, well I hate to admit that this bird could at best be described as polygamous and that age and gender is no deterrent to her.
I am often asked how a youngster born in Birmingham into a famous Caribbean cricketing family ended up following the most famous scouse icon of them all, the Liverbird. It was destined from a very young age in all honesty. My mum was a Liverpool supporter from her days back in Guyana, a time when Bill Shankly had just taken his place at the club which was in the second division … she just liked the name! If that was not enough, I found myself sat on the lap of the great Terry McDermott at the age of four as a few of the Liverpool players arrived at Wallasey to watch a charity cricket match in which my dad was playing.
A passion was ignited that afternoon that burns brighter today than ever. When you think about it, 30 years of travelling up and down the country has been some commitment, but one that has been absolutely worthwhile. The Kop was an incredible place to learn about football and the great history of Liverpool Football Club.
As a youngster, school started every Saturday at about 9am when leaving Birmingham for the journey to Liverpool. It would start with the Geography lesson of getting there, followed by the treasured History lessons which took place for at least an hour while we were queuing up for the Kop as the older generation regaled us with stories of glorious feats gone by. It ended with a mixed double period of mathematics counting all of the Liverpool goals combined with an English lesson of sorts trying to learn the unique dialect that is Scouse. I was a pretty good student in school to be honest, but this was where I was at my best, and my recollection of great Liverpool moments has remained where simultaneous equations long disappeared from memory.
Somewhere, my mum still has every shirt that I have ever had. They range from red to white to grey to yellow, black, green and the famous ecru of 1997. They also range from size 4 year old kid through to about 4 times extra large!! One of the funniest moments I recall was spilling curry on my red shirt on the evening before the FA Cup Final in 1992. Never has a seventeen year old ran through so many sports shops so early on a Saturday morning to find a replacement before still making it on to the train to Wembley … just!
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