Monday, 12 January 2009

I need to stop (epic post alert)

I don't even know how many of the most recent posts I've done have had something to do with Valencia in some way or another. I guess it's just because I haven't been seeing so many Liverpool games lately. I miss the CL, it needs to hurry up and come back so I can watch them play and remember what I'm missing out on. The last time I saw a Liverpool game live on the telly/internetz was Boxing Day, which is way too long ago. I know that I spend a lot of time ranting about Valencia on this blog, and this is because I see them play almost every week. Although it may not really seem like it sometimes, Liverpool are and will remain my first team. It's just that lately, I've been thinking about what would happen were they to play Valencia at any point in the future, and I think I can safely say I would not know what to do. I don't want either team to lose, but I want them both to win. Impossible, huh?

Anyway, seeing as I haven't really paid much attention to them lately, I figured I'd do a post on all my recent (and not so recent) memories of Liverpool just to let them know that I still love them and I'm still very much a fan. I guess the best place to start on this post is the beginning. I first started watching Liverpool when I was 11 years old. It feels strange that I have been following this team for nearly half my life. It all began with Michael Owen, as you will most probably remember from this post. In fact, it was so long ago, the Liverpool site doesn't even give results back that far. It starts from 1999. I became a fan in 1998. Back then, I didn't understand much about football. I think it's pretty safe to say, I understood nothing. It was just this sport I watched from time to time, but the more I watched, the more I fell in love. I don't even remember too much of my first few years as a Liverpool fan, I was still learning about the game and the players. All I seemed to care about back then was the looks, the talent didn't even cross my mind. I'll be the first to admit that when Steven Gerrard first made it into the Liverpool line up, I wasn't particularly a fan. It wasn't until the 2000-2001 season I finally started seeing past the looks and to the talent. That was the season Liverpool won the UEFA Cup, Worthington Cup (now the Carling Cup) and the FA Cup and it's probably one of the first memories I have firmly embedded. Michael Owen was still my favourite player at that time. Steven Gerrard became my new favourite the season Rafa came to Liverpool and Owen left for bigger things. The Real Madrid subs bench mainly. I never did understand that decision :(

I went to my first live game at Anfield at the start of the 2002-2003 season. Well, I say start of the season, it was actually the pre season friendlies against Lazio on 30th June 2002. I still remember the game (sadly), Lazio won 1-0. I was sat right near the match control room, and saw the goal really rather clearly. I think I swore, but that may just have been the Kop letting the Lazio players know what they thought of that scoreline. This was the season Liverpool beat Manchester United to lift the Worthington Cup. I remember watching that final, I went crazy screaming when Owen scored the second. Sadly, that year, Liverpool finished 5th, just outside the Champions League places, meaning they had to be content with a place in the UEFA Cup for the following season.

The 2004-2005 season is the next one I have big memories from. Rafa B arrived at the club from Valencia (and I think that's another reason I like Valencia so much, they gave us Rafa) and performed miracles to get Liverpool to the CL final. Who could forget that? It had everything. Drama, goals, lucky breaks. At half time, 3-0 down, I really thought that was game over. A small part of me still believed they could do something, ANYTHING to lift the cup, but I didn't think it would actually happen the way it did. I was ready to put my pyjamas on and go to bed when Gerrard got the first. I decided to sit and watch a bit more, and when Smicer got the second just minutes later, I just KNEW that cup was coming home to Liverpool for good. In a crazy 6 minutes in the second half, they got the score back to 3-3. Since then, I don't think I have been as nervous about any game. The FA Cup final the following year came close, as did the Spain-Italy shootout in the Euros in 2008, but Liverpool-Milan tops them all for me. I got so drunk that night, I think I turned up to my exams the next morning with more alcohol in my bloodstream than I had blood. Probably why I failed them really...
They finished 5th in the Prem that year, and only the CL win gave them entry to the competition the following year, on the condition they played from the very start and qualified. Everton weren't best pleased of course, but who gives a shit? They got knocked out of the first qualifying games of both the CL and the UEFA Cup. There's only two teams in Liverpool boys. Liverpool and the Liverpool reserves. The great man Bill Shankly said so himself.

Rafa's second season at Liverpool brought more silverware, this time in the form of the FA Cup. The final that is now known as the Gerrard final because our captain was immense. Say what you like about the man, but his heart and soul goes into every game he plays and you can see how much each win means to him. I would say something cliche along the lines on 'cut him open and he'll bleed Liverpool red' but er...duh! We all do. If you don't, go to the doctor. Seriously, there's something wrong if your blood is not red. The game was again, full of drama. It had many similarities to the CL final the previous season, and the scoreline was the same come the final whistle. Two seasons in English football, two trophies. Not bad going for a newbie.

The 2006-2007 season saw Liverpool once again reach the CL final, where they would once again meet AC Milan. Sadly, this game didn't quite end the same way as their previous meeting. In all fairness, Milan deserved to win the 2005 final and Liverpool deserved to win this one, so justice was served. Over that summer, the boss was busy in the transfer window and the start of 2007-2008 saw a new arrival at the club. Fernando Torres. His first season in the Prem was an absolute blinder. He was easily the best player for me personally that season. He became the highest foreign scorer in his debut season, an honour which had previously belonged to Ruud van Nistelrooy. Had it not been for Cristiano Ronaldo and his many free kicks and penalties, Torres would have been player of the season. He was outstanding in every way that mattered. And then, to top off a great season with Liverpool, he went on international duty with Spain and scored the winner in the Euro final, giving Spain their first major trophy in 44 years.

And so we get to the present season. The closest run race for the title I can remember in years. It's not just a two horse race this year. And the best thing of all...Liverpool are one of those horses. Sitting pretty at the top, they've had some memories to be proud of so far this season. Beating Man U and Chelsea for starters. This is the most points Liverpool have gotten against the other teams in the big 4 since Rafa B arrived, and there's still 3 more games to go! Fingers crossed it all goes well, and this IS the year we win #19. I know I can't wait to see how this will all pan out. Despite all the frustrations against the likes of Stoke and Fulham this year, it's the best I've seen Liverpool play in a long time. They're more confident, it's the strongest team I remember watching in my 10 years as a fan and they're hungry to win things. Ok, so that last point is not much different from other years, but this season, they're showing that hunger on the pitch and (mostly) getting the results when it matters. And when they don't, the other contenders (mostly) slip up too.

I realise this post is about 55000 words long, feel free to wake up now. I just felt the need to get all this off my chest because see for yourself how much attention Liverpool have been getting lately. Ever since I started working weekends, it's basically been...none. I promise I will try to change that.


Misty Stilletto said...

I enjoyed reading that Gina, it's nice to know how other people feel. I can't remember much about the 2005 CL Final, it's all a bit of a blur for me.

Owen was my first footie love too. Still love him now.

I have faith we're good enough to win everything, but this year I'm praying we finally get that league trophy.

Vanilla Bear said...

A great post Gina! I need to do more Liverpool loving too, I think I'm just nervous about our season falling apart so I don't want to get my hopes up!

The Milan final, omg. I remember watching that with my dad but he had to go to work at half time and was like 'Well at least you'll get runners up medals' and I was like 'You mean Milan will!' sort of half jokey, and when it happened I was all :O

And I can't wait for the CL ties this year either, I do love the CL :D