Moments after I had clicked on "Publish Post" after completing my previous entry, Luis Suarez walked on to the pitch at Anfield. 16 minutes later, he'd scored his debut goal and Liverpool's second of the night. I was delighted and so were many, many others.
But if we reversed back into time to just over a week ago, there would be a lot less happy faces and it was all because of Liverpool. Well, the journey to Liverpool to be more precise. You see, although the ferry we were in was arguably one of the largest car ferries on the Irish Sea, the seas were so bad that morning that even this large vessel was effected along with the people in it. My friends and I didn't do too badly but you could see a few people literally turning green with nausea and another few permanently located in the gents throughout the trip.
By noon, we were back on solid ground in Holyhead, got past immigration (who don't ask a lot of questions if you make it obvious that you're over in the UK to watch a match - glaring red jersey helps), continued to follow the Red crowd (the travel agent's rep wasn't actually great in communicating things) to our bus and were well on our way towards Liverpool. We weren't expecting much out of the journey but all three of us agreed that the scenery was quite breathtaking. On certain stretches, you'd have snow-capped mountains to your right while the raging sea was just a road barrier away on the left side of the motorway.
Two hours later and we were in the middle of Liverpool. The bus dropped us off a stone's throw away from the imposing Royal Liver Buildings with a reminder to return to the same spot in four hours to head to Anfield. I'd say if a match was on at 3 pm, the bus would have driven us straight to Anfield and we would get to explore Liverpool city centre after the match instead. Having been to Liverpool a couple of times before, I was appointed our little group's guide for the day. Thankfully, I didn't get us lost and we made it to our first intended destination, the Liverpool ONE Superstore.
Having hoped to get some bargains at the official store, we were fairly disappointed with the expensive prices as well as the merchandise on offer. The kids' stuff weren't the best quality (there's a Disney store nearby with far better quality stuff) while there wasn't much difference between the price of replica jerseys sold in Dublin sports stores and the official store. Nevertheless, as my old Liverpool scarf was buried somewhere in the attic, I still came out of the store with £21 less in my wallet. Here's what caused the damage:
- European Cup Scarf: £8
- Gym Bag with Towel: £5 (originally £17 and was one of the few items that was on sale. It's the same bag that I got free when I bought my jersey online)
- Stationery Set: £5 (for my 4 year-old son as he's been pestering me to get him one for ages)
- Match Programme: £3
Having completed our shopping spree, our tummies reminded us that we had to get some food before the match. Stadium food was expected to be tasteless and grossly overpriced so, we opted for a very early dinner in town. Before we knew it, between the meal and some quick sightseeing, the four hours had almost gone by. So, off we headed to the Famous Pig and Whistle to catch our bus to Anfield.
Traffic was surprisingly good that evening and we arrived at Anfield about half an hour later. The bus brought us right past the stadium itself but continued towards the other side of Stanley Park. At that stage, we were actually closer to Goodison Park than we were to Anfield. A short uphill walk across the park and we had arrived at the Shankly Gates where we were greeted by policemen on horseback, the continuous flash from cameras from wide-eyed fans like ourselves and a sea of Red. Sam made his way to the Main Stand whereas E and I eagerly made our way towards the heart of the stadium, the Kop.
We were finally at Anfield.