I am exhausted. I am jetlagged. I am freezing. I am excited. I am alive.
As G, J, and I hop out of our taxi, it finally hits me that I am about to knock out Item Numero Uno on my Bucket List. I take a deep breath of the crisp, Antarctic air, and let everything wash over me. How hard I’ve worked, and how patient I’ve been, to get here, how much it means to me to be here with these people. It’s matchday, and I can’t help but soak up the buzz of excitement from the sea of red surrounding me.
As we stroll down the main road, trying to have the proper match day experience, we stop and check out the wares of each street vendor. A few trinkets catch my eye, but it’s too early in the day to commit to anything. What if I see something better at the next tent? I’m starting to get hungry as I was too excited to have breakfast, but I could definitely eat now. Maybe a liquid lunch of Strongbow and black currant, I think to myself. We hit every street vendor in sight, chatting about how far we had traveled, and joking about how we didn’t have funny accents, they did! Satisfied with our spoils, we head to the pub that was suggested to us by a friend. We arrive at the King Harry, early enough to miraculously snag three of the seven chairs in the place, and settle in for a few hours of prematch drinking. The King Harry is dark, massive, filled with wide open spaces to stand and chat about the forthcoming match, a long bar, friendly bartenders, and a decent selection of ales on tap. Slowly, then all at once, the pub fills up with match-goers.
Filling the air is a unique mixture of trepidation, anxiousness, and excitement that only occurs when a group of die-hard supporters come together to support their team on a matchday. Old friends greet each other with enthusiastic smiles and hugs, as if it has been years since they last saw each other, instead of the week since the last match. Some delightfully drunk gentlemen start singing songs and we all joyfully join in. Dressed in my red jersey, I feel as if I belong, even though it is my first time here.
Alas, it is time to head inside. Maybe not for a regular match-goer, but for me it is. It is my first time and I want to experience everything. The first niggle of nervousness hits as we are about to pass through the gates. What if I’ve traveled all this way, and my match ticket doesn’t scan properly? What if I traveled all this way and we lose? Next thing I know, I’m inside. I’m not sure what I expected, but this wasn’t it. Instead of being old, decayed, broken, and dank, the concourse is pristine, walls bursting with pride, history, and tradition, every nook filled with match-goers of all ages. Children attending a match for their first time, like me, and their exasperated parents trying to keep an eye on them while juggling bottles of water and warm meat and potato pies. I need to get one of those pies.
After securing a pie and a bottle of water, we set off to locate our seats. Even though I was inside the stadium the day before for a tour, had been inside the stadium years ago when I studied abroad at the University of Liverpool, it’s different being in your seat. You think of all the people who sat in that seat before you, who saw the teams of legend play, who felt elation when the team lifted trophies, and experienced the heartbreak of crushing defeats. You say a prayer for those fans who went to an away match and never came home, and for those who have fought, and continue to fight, everyday for justice. G, J, and I take turns giddily taking photos, creating permanent memories that we can hang in our cubicles and keep us going when we return to our real lives.
As the players trickle out for warm ups, the crowd claps, and the atmosphere becomes electric. The time for battle is almost here, and we want to show the lads the support they’ll need to emerge victorious. I exude a childlike excitement as the players and manager I spend a significant portion of my life watching, discussing, defending, and supporting are announced by a booming voice over the PA system. I cheer for some players louder than others, because while I love everyone on the team, a girl still has her favorites. I have a moment of sadness as my favorite player is injured and not playing, but it quickly passes as I remember I am here. I’m struck again that a major dream is about to come true, and I become a bit emotional. The entire stadium rises as You’ll Never Walk Alone blares over the stadium speakers, the hair on the back of my neck stands up, and I get goosepimples as I sing along with 45,521 of my closest friends, tears in my eyes. It’s absolutely freezing, but the cold cannot penetrate my buzz of excitement and Strongbow. Anfield, I have arrived, and you are everything I had hoped you would be.
I decided to participate in WordPress’ Blogging University, as a means to get my creative juices flowing, create a daily writing habit, and to interact with the WordPress community. I won’t post much of what I create as the prompts may not fit my vision for this blot, but the words for this post flowed with shocking ease from my fingers and I felt compelled to share them. I love few things more than Liverpool Football Club, and I greatly enjoyed composing my feelings of attending my first match at Anfield.