By James D Taylor
I must say, I originally was to return to America the week before, but extended my stay in Widnes to attend this match and for logistical reasons involving London and Paris.
The excitement leading up the match was powerful. This was a big night, a win and Liverpool would advance. We were all crammed into Claire’s brother’s tiny car (by American standards). For me, it was amazing, seeing the flow of traffic, so many cars headed towards Anfield, so many people who love football and Liverpool. You just don’t see that sort of thing in America, not for “soccer.”
We parked about a mile from the ground and started walking in. Soon, we merged in with all the other supporters head towards the stadium. It was quite exciting, there was a definite energy and buzz about. Going through the turnstiles, buying my program and getting swallowed up buy the swirl of people was entrancing. It had been a dream of mine to attend a football match in Europe, and to be seeing a Champions League match live and in person was still just like a dream come true.
We got to our seats in the famed Kop, a place I had only heard announcers make reference to whenever I saw Liverpool play at Anfield back home in America on satellite TV. To be on the Kop, in a sea of supporters was magical. No one sat, of course, not for European Night. Sami Hyypia was out that evening, but the line up was pretty much the standard lineup, with Heskey, Owen, Gerrard and company all starting. Carragher had moved into the middle with Henchoz, and Stephen Wright played outside in his position.
Then the singing started, “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and it gave me goose bumps. Standing in the Kop, it was deafening. I could feel it in my body, not just hear it in my ears, if that makes sense. The players entered the pitch, and the match started.
Liverpool won, of course, 2-0. Smicer scored on a sweet volley and Wright headed one in. The singing the clapping, the way the Kop erupted with a deafening thunder for the goals was something I can’t describe, the energy and excitement of it. It’s something that has to be experienced.
The following day me, my mate and his dad did the Anfield tour. I have photo of me touching the crest on the way out of the club house onto the pitch. I saw the Hillsborough Memorial, and the history of the club.
When I heard they were taking Anfield down, I was somewhat saddened. That was a special night for me, and the place it happened will be going away.
Thing is, I was not a supporter of Liverpool before this experience. I was indifferent, really. I watched them because my mate did when he was here in America. But my visit to Anfield, the excitement of the match made it all very personal. Now I love Liverpool, and watch every match they broadcast over here, and I always look, when the cameraman flashes over to the Kop, to see where it was I was sitting, and remember what it was like to be there.