I first watched Liverpool FC beat Linfield 3-1 at
Windsor Park while still a child, I have had a sentimental
attachment to both the team and the city that hosts
them. When Liverpool became champions of Europe
for the fifth time after a gargantuan struggle to
overcome all the odds against AC Milan, I experienced
a surge of joy I am no longer used to drawing from
club's victory put to rest the terrible ghost of
failure and defeat that haunted the Kop from 1989
when it snatched defeat from the jaws of victory
in the very last minute of the season by allowing
Arsenal to walk off with the league championship.
If there was ever a team that should have been willing
to give all for its fans and a time to do so, it
was the Liverpool team of 1988-1989.
April of that year 96 fans were crushed to death
in Sheffield during the semi-final of the FA Cup.
It was a terrible moment which ruptured the emotions
and ripped the joy from being a spectator. When
the players failed to wear the shirt with the solemn
determination expected of them, the loss of those
lives seemed all the more meaningless. The passion
of the fans was not returned in kind by performance
on the field. The trophy did not belong to the players
but the fans. The players let it go.
time I am in Liverpool, whether to watch a match
or not, I visit the shrine to the dead fans at the
back of Anfield. It is always poignant, bringing
out the same emotions experienced when attending
the resting places of dead republican comrades.
As a result of the defeat at the hands of Arsenal,
there is always a feeling of unfinished business.
Next time I visit the shrine, and silently whisper
'rest in peace', I will come away thinking I have
made a statement of fact rather than giving vent
to a mere wish.
business of bringing back Spartan resolve to Anfield
was completed on a Turkish football field by the
Liverpool team of 2005.