There was a moment in the never ending goals that I thought of a cousin and a friend Shaun McDaid and Dessie Larkin gone long before their time, both fanatical ‘pool supporters ’ who would be in their absolute element had they been here or anywhere near a telly on Sunday evening. I was sitting high in the new stand looking down into the Kop as Liverpool recorded a historic win over Manchester United.
I’m a Spurs fan myself, and have been since I was 8 years old. I paid in for my spurs rig every week in to the late Billy Doherty, to his sports shop in the Port Road with money from a paper run selling the Evening Press for the late John Crearand.
In all these years I never once have seen Spurs play live, the team I have supported all my life. On Sunday it was my third time at an English premier soccer game, each time Liverpool played. The first was in the late eighties in Wembley. I didn’t go over to see the game. I was covering an athletic event, where Finn Valley Athletic was competing in. Patsy Mc Gonagle took us on a detour and at half time the gates were opened in Wembley Muck like Finn Park at Home in those days and we slipped in and watched the second half of the Charity Shield where Wimbledon played and were defeated by Liverpool.
When our three sons arrived on the scene I had them all signed up in the Spurs Supporters Club but their uncle Peadar convinced them all to join Liverpool. Over the years we had a good few holidays in England, always taking the car on the ferry because of my dislike of flying. And our boys always wanted to include a drive past Anfield and get a tour of the stadium if possible. Ten years ago we went to our first Liverpool game when they played Norwich and defeated them.
As always we sailed from Belfast in the overnight ferry to Birkenhead in Liverpool, back then it was the Norse Irish Ferry that did the crossing, now it is one of the two massive ferries that Stenna runs across the Irish Sea on the eight hour crossing. Even when I’m not going on a boat trip and heading into Belfast I love to spot the funnel of one of these ferries docked at the port or coming or going into Belfast harbour as you drive in the M2 motorway into Belfast. It’s so inviting when you go on a trip and it makes the journey a bit part of the holiday.
On Saturday night as we headed for the ferry we realised that we would be going through Derry just as the crowd was leaving Celtic Park after the GAA game against Dublin so we headed for the new bridge rather than getting caught up in the craigavon bridge in the city. We left Letterkenny a bit earlier just to be on the safe side and we were glad we did because when we arrived into Belfast the motorway was closed and the diverted traffic caused further delays and tailbacks on our journey to the ferry. We had a very little wait after check in after checking and soon we were rolling onto the ferry and getting parked up for the night.
We had cabins booked on the way out and after a few late ones at the bar we turned in to get ready for the early morning start. Birkenhead and Liverpool were very quiet on an early Sunday morning which gave us good peace to figure out where we could park up our car for the game. At 9 am we planned to go to Stanley Park, which was reserved for season ticket holders only, but one of the stewards suggested that we try to park down at Everton’s ground as their game was away that Sunday.
Do you know Seamie?
We happened to see a man with a bunch of keys at a carpark next to Goodison Park and one of my young fellows went over to have a yarn with him. And the key holder was quick to spot our Irish registered car with the Donegal plate and asked if we knew Seamus Coleman, their club captain, aye sure we know him well, sure he just lives up the road from us. I have never seen the distance from Letterkenny to Killybegs shorten so quickly! The key holder told us that the stewards would not be here for another few hours but sure to pull your car in there and face it for home so you will get out handy at the end of the game.
We walked from the carpark up through Stanley Park and watched as the massive stands of Anfield came into view. I watched the boys walking in front of me full of excitement and anticipation as we arrived outside of Anfield and enjoyed all the memorial and the murals on the gable walls. We found a hotel with a beer garden deck out in the Liverpool stuff, and watched the crowds landing before the game and made sure that all four of us preserved enough battery life in our phones so the turnstiles at the pitch would read our digital tickets and let us in. one of my sons send a snap chat to one of his friends to which the reply came back “Magic, who’s the idiot in the blue hat in the middle of the crowd” “ah that’s dad with a Galway rally hat”.
“Brave man” was just the reply.
We watched live tv on the big outside screen and the cheer went up when Everton went a goal down to Nottingham Forest, that was followed by a few chants towards Seamus Coleman, which was a bit hard listening to about a fellow Donegal man.
As the clock ticked nearer to kick off we just happened to be on the right road into Anfield that the teams arrive from and we joined the crowds to watch the visitors and then Liverpool to cheers and smoke crackers as the big red bus made it way past a mural of Ian Rush on the gable of a nearby house.
We were soon in and up in our seats and prepared for the worst and hoping for the best. A goal before half time lifted the hopes and we were a bit disappointed to be standing eating hotdogs at the takeaways when Liverpool scored their second. Just after half time. The second half was like something out of a dream as the next five goals rattle the net right below us and the crowd never stopped signing. We even all joined in a Beatles song “I feel fine” as we emptied down the 12 flights of stairs , keeping time to the song tapping our hands on the bannister as we filled the stairwell with song.
It was a rainy night outside Anfield but no one seemed to worry, thousand walked across Stanley park to line of buses from everywhere as we made our way back to our Donegal.
Registered Ford parked at Goodison park. Even the traffic jams didn’t seem to bother us as we made our way under the Mersey and back to Birkenhead where the “Edda” Stena ferry was waiting for arrival. We made the crossing knowing that there would be no cabins available and after a few suggestions that my two older boys was going to put the wane in our family, now 6 ft 3″, down the child slide that he always enjoyed as a child twenty years before in ferry crossings we settle down for the night on any nearby side surface to get a bit of a sleep before the journey home.
Happy Motoring Folks.