1st Jan 2014
As New Years Day dawned here in the city, our local paper ‘The Echo’ dutifully reports the arrival of Amaya Christina Duffy, the first new ‘Scouser’ of the year. Many congratulations to Mum Levi and Dad Owen.
We are yet to discover her religion though. Will she be Red or Blue? Although what we can say is that whichever side of the divide she ends up on, she won’t go far wrong. At least on current form that is. Both our teams are slugging it out at the top end of the table, and playing some decent football too. A cursory look at the upcoming fixtures suggests it will remain tight right up to the Derby at Anfield on 28th January.
Amaya’s first day in this world was match day, a sacred ritual in the Scouse calendar, and I went to worship at the Anfield Cathedral. My own progeny greeted the morning with more tantrums and tiaras than an Elton John concert, and come one o’ clock, I was more than happy to leave the house and set off for the game.
It was a miserable day here, and the rain was coming down heavy, so a lift from the old man was more than welcome. I arrived at my pre match watering hole at around 1.15. What the ‘Flatty’ lacks in décor it more than makes up for in tradition, and history. My Dad also took me there before my very first game in ’70’s. So here I was again, and far enough from the dawn chorus of squabbling kids to enjoy a new years day bevvy (or hare of the dog, new years eve didn’t finish until 2 am) with a few mates.
The pub is situated in a run down part of the city, and I’m sure it sees its fair share of aggro. That said on match day it’s a great place to share a beer with fellow reds, and it has to be said the fans of our rival teams. I’ve had many a good laugh with visiting supporters of West Ham, Man City, and Stoke. Touch wood I’ve never seen any hassle, but I did see Jimmy Case in there once. Oh, and some Rugby player was in there when Fulham visited. Can’t remember his name, Rugby is a weird sport anyway.
We took in the remainder of the City versus Swansea game (City won) on the telly, and left for the Kop, and the game against Hull at twenty to three. The old stand has definitely lost some of its impact since that first game in the 70’s. All seated stadia are safer but drabber places to watch footy. The Kop still manages to get it up for the big games, but this wasn’t one of them.
It still retains the community feel for me though. There’s still that feeling of belonging to something bigger than yourself. The camaraderie, and the humour are all still present. A wayward shot from our No. 7 was sarcastically greeted with a chorus of “What the fucking hell was that?” Even the Uruguayan genius saw the funny side prompting a rendition of “Just Can’t Get Enough” by way of apology.
Of course Steve Bruce and his “Big Fat Head” manages Hull City these days. So it was no surprise to hear his song sung aloud. Though it wasn’t as loud as the cheers and applause he received, when he acknowledged the banter by pulling his hood over his head. Fair play Steve.
The first 20 minutes of the game threatened to be as grim as the weather, and a disallowed Luis Suarez goal felt ominous. We needn’t have worried though, as Danny Agger, now restored to the team headed the opener on 36 minutes, and settled the nerves. the thought of three back to back defeats had given me a few butterflies before kick off.
I needn’t have worried though, the game was over in the 50th minute when Suarez curled in a sublime free kick at the Kop end. Liverpool could and should have had many more (again). Henderson and Coutinho fluffed their lines in the first half, but it was left to the Brazilian magician to create the most glorious of wasted opportunities.
With the game almost up, he dribbled is way through what seemed to me to be the whole Hull City team, and found himself in front of goal. The better option was to tee up the waiting Gerrard for an easy tap in. Instead he took the shot on, and the keeper saved. His captain was furious, but surely after such a display of skill the young South American deserved to have a go.
Hull offered little in the game. The whistle finally put them out of their misery, and it was back to the ‘Flatty’ for the post match debrief. The red half of the city could breathe once more. Our win moved us above our local rivals again, after they drew with Stoke, at least for a couple of weeks anyway. More importantly though that run of defeats is over.
So Amaya Christina Duffy, welcome to Liverpool. Which side will you be on, Red or Blue? There’s not much between us at the moment, but whatever you choose, you can’t really lose. You’re a ‘Scouser’ after all.