I darted upstairs and took my trousers off. School jumper off. Panting frantically, I put my red Liverpool shirt on. It always had to be a red one on days like this. My ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ scarf wrapped around my neck like a boa constrictor. I often changed in a hurry when I got home from school but this day was different. I’d barely been home when my dad said we’d be going to the trophy parade in Liverpool. Barely five minutes later and I was in the car, impatiently urging my sisters to get a move on. I remember Radio City was on, reliving the incredible moments of the night before. A night when history had been made.
It had been a long, arduous, often miserable 21 years since Liverpool had won the European Cup and this was our chance to witness a piece of history. Dad wasn’t even a Liverpool fan, he was a pretty passive football fan but he recognised the significance of this historical moment, both to the city of Liverpool and to the new generation of supporters who’d never seen their team crowned European champions. Until now.
I found a bin, slipped my foot into that little gap at the top of it and hoisted myself up. There were already droves of people and height had never been a natural advantage of mine, definitely not at 12 years old. There were people up trees, on lamposts, rooftops and every other conceivable place where they could extend the glimpse of their heroes that they would get. I didn’t want to miss my opportunity so here I was stood on top of a bin that could have been filled with all sorts of s**t but I didn’t care.
As the open top bus approached, I craned my neck and looked mouth wide open at the swathes of red-shirted fans spilling onto the road like a nest of red ants had just been toppled over. The bus snaked its way through until I could see my heroes face-to-face. There was the silver trophy gleaming in the reflection of the Merseyside evening sunshine. There was Rafa still in his suit and of course, there was my favourite player ever, Steven Gerrard. The goalscorer in many of our biggest games and the trophy-lifting captain from the night before, I put my thumb up and to this day, I swear he put his thumb up back and gave me a smile. That made my day. In fact, my life!
Suddenly swathes of supporters were surging down the road in my direction. The shock and momentum unbalanced me. Suddenly, I was knocked from my temporary perch, grabbed my flag and without a second’s hesitation, joined the school of Liverpool-supporters forlornly pursuing the back of a vinyled Arriva bus like desperate commuters I’d seen in many films. I was joining them. Fuelled by adrenaline, I felt like I could have chased that bus all the way as it slithered its way through the streets of Liverpool sustained by a million fellow adoring supporters.
Suddenly, I was panting frantically but this time my top stayed on. My scarf still clung tightly around my neck. Proud and loud. I never wanted to take it off. We were champions of Europe again and boy did it feel good!
If you haven't read it yet, don't forget to read PART 1: Istanbul as You've Never Heard it Before: through the eyes of an AC Milan fan who was there, featuring: how he couldn't understand the Liverpool fans, Pope John Paul II and the life lessons that he learnt on that day.