By Anthony Stanley (TTT Subscriber Dannyluke10).
It’s a crisp, sunny afternoon as we make our way to the King Harry to collect our match tickets. It feels more like mid-August than October, which is apt really – maybe it’s just me, on a rare jaunt to Anfield – but there seems to be a renewed sense of optimism.
The bar has decided to forgo any semblance of trying to hide what it is: a watering hole for pre-match alcoholic refreshment. There are no trappings or pretensions and evidently tables are considered a luxury – save for one or two which sit in forlorn isolation – this is basically an open space facing a bar. Four women behind said bar – all resplendent in Liverpool tops – joke amongst themselves, hands planted in the pockets of their jeans or sipping from a coffee cup. At two hours before kick-off, this is the calm before the storm but in my mind’s eye I can picture the vast and heaving throngs of red that will fill this cavernous hall. Because that is what this is – I am reminded of descriptions of rural dancing halls from the 1950s, a rustic, anachronistic space in the midst of a bustling, terraced estate.
Except here the business is not dancing; it is simple and deadly, mesmeric and crucial. It is talking football.
There is serious knowledge gathered here.
A trip outside for a nervous cigarette serves as a tutorial for the mind-boggling passion, fervour and expertise of the locals. As I talk to fellow Reds, I have to fight a stab of jealously as taxi after taxi arrives; spilling Kopites towards the King Harry in what is presumably a fortnightly ritual. We discuss the problem of Balotelli and his settling into the team, the void left by Suarez, the vacuum of the injured Sturridge. Moreno, our flying full-back, is generally considered the pick of the summer arrivals thus far though most are of the opinion that, after some highly encouraging recent performances, Adam Lallana may be ready to challenge the young Spaniard for this honour. There is genuine feeling and support for Lambert, a general wash of sympathy at his struggles – he needs to be playing regularly, sharpness and fitness demand it. The argument and debate are ceaseless, the eloquence is jarring, the voices both cacophonous and melodic.
Reluctantly I depart this bastion of footballing understanding; it’s time, after all for the main course.
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