By David Poulnot Jr.
“Liverpool is special in a way that only those who are lucky enough to experience the club close up can understand.” – Pepe Reina
No Pasarán: Goodbye Jose.
It’s 5pm and I’ve just arrived to Lime Street. I sit up and roll the Economist into my backpack, stretch and collect my thoughts. The December weather is as you’d expect in Northern England: shade above 40, light drizzle, winds gusting over 20. It’s the sort of conditions that make you realise what spurred the British into colonising the world, the kind of interminable, conspiring greyness that defines the Nietzschen abyss.
I alight the car to find St. George’s visibly to my left, move that direction, and begin to feel it: I’m finally on Merseyside. As I tighten my scarf, I amusedly consider the pertinence of a recent article I’d read: half the world’s wool production comes from the Commonwealth. I exit under the British arrow of indecision and pause for a moment to wonder if camping in Stanley Park is permitted: it’s still over 24 hours to kick-off and I’m so close I can taste the Scouse pie.
As I walk I realise that I can’t exactly explain how it all came to pass. Istanbul was perhaps as fitting an occasion as any to begin a love affair. There was Jamie Carragher, the very embodiment of Scouse, too beset by cramp to properly stand and celebrate Liverpool’s fifth European Cup(1). And Steven Gerrard, a Red since seven, shifted to control the match from right full-back, before lifting Big Ears into the Bosphoran night. But despite whatever [intense] tangible pride I feel, I can’t claim it as my own. Same goes for the 2001 Treble or even the 08-09 campaign, its title tilt, the Masch/Xabi/Gerrard midfield, and the otherworldly connection between number 8 and 9. I’m very proud of it all, as I am of Duke University’s 1991 and 1992 National Championships … but they’re hard to claim as my own. The scar tissue you collect suffering along the road to success is simply non-existent. There are no occasional “what if” panics, the kind of insane notions that somehow in this very instant I’ve just realised the past is singular, existing only in my own mind, and that I’d merely dreamed Jerzy Dudek turned into a brickwall or Grant Hill into a quarterback and that, in reality, Milan and Kentucky were Champions, not Liverpool and Duke. You see, I understand these truths through reading it factually in black and white rather than living each excruciating second in colour.
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