I came across this article I wrote in 2005 and seeing as Chelsea performed a bit of a Lazarus to win the Champions League on Saturday, I said I would post it.
Liverpool is mostly famous
for football and music and this is a badge of honour the locals wear proudly,
and rightly so. In terms of identity, you’re either a Liverpudlian or an Evertonian
first, English second.
Picture this - a group of Connemara lads in
Liverpool witnessing one of the greatest comebacks in
European football history. Men who had once as kids played soccer in lumpy
lawns commentating as Gaeilge and pretending to be Liverpool
stars were now standing shoulder to shoulder with the locals on a night when
near doom turned to euphoric drama. As I stood there soaking it all in, I knew
it would be a memory I would always cherish.
Yes, like the rest of the fans who filled the streets in celebration that night we basked in a famous victory, but the sense of occasion wasn't wasted on us either! We knew we had witnessed something unique and we were just glad to be there. The city was festooned with red flags, balloons; bunting and even some cars were spray painted in the colours of
Liverpool football club.
Even now as I write this blog I have a smile on my face as I picture my mates Peter and Keith singing at the top of their voices "Rafa, Rafael, Rafa, Rafael, Rafa, Rafael, Rafael Benitez". They wore fake Afro wigs in honour of the Scouser stereotype.
This was one of those once in a lifetime moments when unwritten rules of the football fan came to the fore - giving a complete stranger a hug or professing undying loyalty and love to your friends. You will know what I mean if you love football - it's just one of those things.
The atmosphere last night was simply electric and I am still buzzing if the truth be known. Joy and happiness engulfed the air as it does on these occasions and people were happy to park their life's worries for the greater good. The only poor souls who seemed to be working on this particular Wednesday evening were the bar staff in the city's hostelries or the police who were also in a jovial mood carrying out their duties.
Nationality meant nothing as long as you had the Liver bird close to your chest.
As the afternoon turned to evening and the match unfolded in front of us, you could sense the disappointment creeping into the place. As Maldini and Crespo's goals went in you could really sense hope was fading away. But we remained positive and kept singing, we're Irish and that's what we do. Our confidence was well rewarded all the same with what happened subsequently. A truly magical night, the stuff of legend really.
My friends and I will always reflect on last night as one of the special occasions in our lives. Oíche den scoth i gcathair thar sáile. On that balmy night in May it all seemed to make perfect sense.
And to cap it all off we were photographed by the BBC at the airport as we departed for home and it was published on their website. A bunch of Connemara lads and John Lennon's statue together for the entire world to see on a glorious night for