A Quarter of a Century of Liverpool FC in the Premier League Era, 1992-2017, Part 9
Her Sad Captain
The next instalment of this major series on Dynasty continues with this poetic tour de force of the impact of a club legend on a Liverpool supporter.
Originally a series of articles covering the period 1992 to Klopp’s arrival in 2017, it was written by TTT Subscriber Anthony Stanley, serialised on The Tomkins Times and then published by TTT as a book called A BANQUET WITHOUT WINE - A Quarter-Century of Liverpool FC in the Premier League Era.
The book is available from https://www.amazon.co.uk/Banquet-Without-Wine-Quarter-Century-Liverpool/dp/1521850674. It remains a definitive matter of record of Liverpool FC during the period in question.
In her dreams, he never slips. The grotesque twist of fate never takes place, none of it takes place. Her mind has ejected the entire game from her memories; there is no pass from Mamadou Sakho, there is no Demba Ba, the countless attempts at atonement from Stevie don’t occur, there is no tragic denouement as a former Red breaks clear for Chelsea.
She has, almost subliminally, airbrushed those ninety minutes from her brain. The build-up remains, the parade of red and white, the heaving throngs bedecked in red, the coach arriving, carrying the heroes to their date with destiny, to the Premier League title.
The final memory she allows herself is of Stevie as he waits in the tunnel. She savours his eyes set in concentration; she knows the formidable intelligence and the brooding intensity that lurk behind those crinkly eyes.
Then there is a mental blink, a slip in her consciousness, and as she lies in the early morning sun, as a stream of light meanders through her blinds and into her apartment, she mouths the words, paraphrasing as a tear slowly rolls down her cheeks:
‘Another sunrise with my sad captain.’
The song ‘My Sad Captains’, from Elbow’s album The Take-off and Landing of Everything, is a constant soundtrack to this grief. It is the day after Crystal Palace and every fibre of her being screams at the injustice of it all.
“Another sunrise with my sad captains
With who I choose to lose my mind
And if it's so, we only pass this way but once
What a perfect waste of time.”
Steven Gerrard – her captain – will not get a Premier League title. Not now. Fate has again conspired against the Reds. The cruelty of it is rending, a slashing knife, a scythe from a robed spectre. It has consumed her every waking thought.
There is another mental blink and suddenly she is transported to a pub in the city centre. She is sitting with her father – a Liverpool season ticket holder and the person most responsible for her obsession – and his brother. The pub is packed with supporters who could not make the trip to Newcastle this soon after Christmas, jubilant at another convincing win for Rafa’s Reds. She is nineteen years of age and enjoying the warmth of a pint and the delicious feeling that Liverpool are top of the league.
Her father turns to her uncle, while simultaneously gathering her by her shoulder, welcoming her into the fold. He knocks back approximately half of his pint, his Adam’s apple bobbing furiously, and then exclaims:
“I’m fucking well telling yous, Gerrard’s the best in the world at the moment. You can take your Ronaldinhos or your Rooneys…Stevie’s better than the lot. That was the best I’ve seen from a Liverpool player since Kenny in his pomp.”
She nods in silent acquiescence, her pride at hearing these words from the one man that can rival Stevie in her affections, robbing her of her speech. Instead she mentally probes the highlights of the game for the umpteenth time since the final whistle as she raises a glass to her lips.
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