It’s not often that you get to fulfil a boyhood dream with your own two boys.
Last Saturday afternoon, I was able to do just that by standing on the Kop at Anfield, home of Liverpool football club, and watch them win a thoroughly entertaining match.
It wasn’t my very first visit to Anfield. Back in 1995, Liverpool played Ipswich Town in the season that the latter were relegated. Unbelievably, Liverpool lost 1-0. It was very disappointing not to have heard at least one celebratory roar from the home crowd.
This time, I prayed it would be different. This time, I was standing on the Kop. This time, I had my boys with me and a lot had changed for Liverpool as a club since that cold. depressing January day in 1995.
Liverpool must have lost the coin toss before kick-off as they were attacking the Kop end of the stadium for the first half. Everyone knows they always prefer to capitalise on the passionate support of the Kop in the second half – especially if they are losing.
Five minutes before half-time, our dream really came true, when Sadio Mane scored right in front of us, to make it 1-0.
That gave us plenty to talk about during the break. Not that hadn’t talked constantly due to the sheer enormity of the occasion. This was a birthday treat to both Isaiah and David and the culmination of literally years and years of talking about “one day, we will go to Anfield and watch Liverpool play.”
One of my clients, Ali – to whom I will always be grateful – had managed to secure the tickets when they were released in July. Now, here we were, driving for five hours, then sitting in a Liverpool supporters’ pub a few minutes’ walk from the stadium, joining the increasing throngs of devoted supporters, hoping for a seventeenth Premier League win in a row.
Boyhood dreams. Where would we be without them?
I guess most of us have had boyhood dreams. Or girlhood dreams – even though you never hear women describe them like that as such.
The truth is I suspect, most of us have far too many unfulfilled dreams. As Denzel Washington has said on a number of occasions, “Dreams without goals, remain just that…dreams. And dreams tend to disappoint.” You can watch a brief video here of him speaking to some drama students about this crucial life lesson.
Goals of course, are what football is all about. and thankfully, this current Liverpool team are very good at scoring them on a very regular basis.
Leicester City – their opponents last Saturday – managed to score an equaliser just ten minutes before the match was due to end. This was not in the plan.
A draw is better than a loss of course but it is a big disappointment when you want to see your team win.
Liverpool won a penalty and then there was more drama as the relatively new VAR (video assistant referee) technology was checking to see if it really should be a penalty. To our huge collective relief, the penalty decision stood.
The whole of the Kop prayed and released their encouragement as Jame Milner – the oldest as well as fittest player in the squad – stepped up to take the crucial spot-kick.
We all stood, as we had done throughout the entire match. We watched as he ran toward the ball and calmly side-footed it in to the corner of the goal.
Anfield erupted pandemonium ensued on the Kop as everyone jumped up and down.
It’s actually not that easy to keep jumping up and down while you have each arm around the person next to you and they are doing the same on both sides. I thought I was going to crash into the plastic seat behind me as we all cheered, jumped, laughed and smiled.
It was enough to win the match and we were all so relieved.
Isaiah, David and I took our time leaving the ground, trying to take in all that we had witnessed. The fellow supporters on the Kop – young and old alike – this was their domain, their world. There were several people like us – not regulars but made to feel like one – as well as those who you could tell this was what they did every other Saturday afternoon.
It was indeed a birthday treat to treasure and hopefully, repeat in the relatively near future.
We couldn’t resist getting a photo together in front of the man at the centre of Liverpool’s revival – Jurgen Klopp – and here is a tiny clip of his unique form of celebration and thanks in front of the Kop and this time, we were there to enjoy it with him.
What dreams have you still got locked up, waiting to be realised? What’s the plan that could turn your dream into a goal to aim for and eventually become a reality?
If it’s anything like as satisfying as the one I’ve just described, the work involved will definitely be worth it!
Isaiah, my eldest son, made a lovely gesture the night before. He had ordered Liverpool football shirts for all three of us – from the era we each first started watching them on TV. I had not worn one of these since I was about nine years old. It even has a number seven on the back like Kevin Keegan! I never did manage to get a number on the back of my first one, so there’s redemption right there!