Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Second Liverpool FC Match Experience

Circa year 2001 was when I registered my first attendance to an English Premier League match held at St. James Park. I remembered the whole lot of us pull together a huge sum for tickets and set a plan to buy the tickets from the ticket counter at St. James. In order to do that, we had to wake up and be there at an ungodly hour. It was at a time before the sun rises. We had to queue around the stadium for more than 2 hours before it was our turn. And when it was ours, the ticket attendant gave us some wry look when we wanted 9 tickets and asked the possibility of purchasing tickets of the visitor side. With a curt answer, no, we resigned to the fate and just agreed for a normal home side section.

I remember having some nap time in the afternoon after the gruesome queue before dawn. And in the early evening, the Toon Army turned the city into monotone. At every turn you make, you cannot fail but to surmise that, everyone suddenly has the fashion sense of a prisoner.

Our seats were as high as the stadium would go, and in front of us, are typical obese and burley Geordies. It was raining and visibility was poor due to the rain, our blocked view made of fats and the unfair distance allocated to Asians. Newcastle beat Liverpool 3-1 and on that night I wondered why we have to spend that awful sum for such an experience.

16-July-2011, Liverpool FC Asia Tour 2011. Legendary is a given. A historic night no less. Liverpool FC making their debut visit to Kuala Lumpur to meet their koppites from Malaysia.

Knowing that it was a sold out event, chaotic traffic is unavoidable. I planned to be there few hours earlier and to park my car at Sri Petaling with a brief walk towards Bukit Jalil. At every corner you see tons of fans in Jerseys marching towards the stadium. After meeting up with my friends and a quick lunch at Endah Parade, we too made our move.

The noise emanating from the stadium was unbelievable. It’s puzzling why the cheers and the Anthem is being sung few hours earlier from the match time. Upon reaching close to the stadium, it was madness. There’s a huge bazaar selling Jersey replicas for RM30 and scarfs for RM15. I wonder from where they were manufactured from. Vietnam, China, Malaysia? Shit, the quality of copying is astounding.

The hot sun had quickly drenched us in sweat and also we had to push through the crowd to head towards the turnstiles. With 2 hours in spare, the stadium was already almost half filled. We still have plenty of options to choose our seats. Stadium is spacious and the problem of the front row blocking your view eventhough the guy in front of you is standing does not occur. Took my time to let the atmosphere soak in and the sight of the sea of Reds packed this stadium is a sight to behold. The multi-racial crowd also made this a 1Malaysia moment as well.

The fans erupted at the sight of a Liverpool player emerging. Noise was unbelievably boisterous especially with the constant plastic horns. I could hardly hear the whistle.

The match was entertaining with a total of 9 goals. To their credit, Harimaus put up a good performance with notable performances from the captain. Number 7 and 8 stole the limelight. The free kick swerving to the side netting was just unbeatable.

Liverpool FC was gracious enough to change all 11 players for the second half. And with this, 22 players were showcased in this tour.

Joe Cole pulled a Harimau player’s shirt to catch up when he lost the ball and was rightly booed strongly by all. I somehow don’t quite see him fit in.

Adam was magnificent. In fine form and looked sharp. Absolutely dictating the midfield and has excellent devastating passes. He has sealed it as one my top 3 favourite players.

Carroll was slow and seem lost in the field. Everytime he ‘runs’ you feel you want to hit the ‘dash’ button to make him move faster.

Aquilani was dazzling with an array of mesmerizing passes and setup a few goals with his ability to read the game. He reminds me of Alonso.

Spearing, Meireles, Soto, Kelly wasn’t quite themselves and was poor on their touches. They also seem slow compared to Harimaus.

Maxi was always on the mark with clever runs.

Ngog showed speed where Carroll was obviously lacking. But again he’s not as clinical a finisher as I would have liked.

Flanagan showed clumsiness in keeping up with Gunalan and threw in some unnecessary rough tackles.

Kuyt was consistent, controlled the right wing of the field and showed fine technique when he collected a wayward ball at the lower right flank to thunderous claps from the fans.

Insua seems strong and his left crosses were decent.

The echoes of cheers from the stadium during the lap of honors after the match was nothing short but amazing.

The Anthem that was sung after the match was haunting and did not disappoint. Indeed Anfield was in Kuala Lumpur that night.

Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart.

And you’ll never walk alone.

You’ll never, ever walk alone.

See you again in year 2013. I’ll be there.