Article by David Rice – @davidjrice83
That final whistle rings out and the reality is the reality. The TV commentator says so. It doesn’t feel real. There’s no crowd, there’s no players on the pitch I actually care about. There are no Klopp hugs, no rousing rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone, but there it is. It’s real. We’re top of the table, and no one can catch us.
I’ve had a long day at work. I’m sitting in my guest room, no one but my dogs around me. I’m building webpages and drinking mineral water. It’s a sad scene. This is not what I envisioned as I stood in the friendly confines of a familiar pub in August, reassuring friends that we would be champions in May.
It seems like a lifetime ago. A different reality. Something else entirely. Some imaginary period, like the way you always hear conservatives refer to a simpler time. I couldn’t have imagined May being an abyss of despair. This was back before you had to think about facemasks, how you visually assess distance and whether or not you had an ample supply of hand sanitizer in your pocket.
August was another century and titles were more important. It was before all of this, all that makes this title just feel like something that has happened rather than something that has been happening. In truth this title is not an event so much as it as it is a tidal wave. A great momentum crashing against the rocks of our collective reality with such force that it shakes the very foundation of shores our opponents have called home for the last three decades.
This is it. Liverpool FC have once again arrived. In the span of six months, they have eliminated any zeros next to their trophy count. Champions of the world and Premier League champions they are now. Critics be damned. Cynics be forgotten. Here we are. Stand before and marvel. We are it. We are champions in any and all senses. Bow before the kings. There are rings to be kissed.
And yet, here I am, sitting in a guest room, watching on a TV I bought in the aughts with no one but my dogs around, the same as I was the night Vincent Kompany slammed home the shot of his life against Leicester City to deny us glory in those simpler times. The final whistle rings out, the reality is the reality and it just doesn’t seem real.
The TV commentary swings back to the studio and they announce the Reds as Premier League winners. I already knew it, but there is nothing short of a victory on July 2nd that will make me accept it. The graphics start, the social media notifications explode, the text tones scream and yet, it all just seems a bit pedestrian. Like a Boxing day that has had some favorable results.
I wait. The pundits give their plaudits. Emotions run high, but I’m basically wondering about the next stage of my kitchen remodel. Nothing more. Friends are calling, they have tears, cheers to offer. Still nothing, I’ve yet to accept it.
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And then he appears. His big German smile, he is happy, he is proud, he is everything. He is talking sense. He knows exactly what it means and he knows you feel it and deep down he knows I need to feel it and he wants us all to feel everything and be a part of everything. The emotion pours over him in a wave and he has to step away from the questions, away from the plaudits and there, in that moment, I am transported to where he is.
In that moment, I can’t help myself. I text friends, we set a location. Despite the overwhelming risks associated with going out, we collectively decide that in this one instance, we are going to meet. We are going to be around each other. We may not hug, we may not dance. But fuck it we’re going to sing, we’re to going to look each other in the eye and take a few moments to see that through all of it, we have arrived. Through the pain, the disappointment, the close encounters and the near misses, we are fucking here. Champions of England, champions of Europe and champions of the world.
Everything he promised, he delivered and everything we wanted, whether it was how we’ve wanted it or not, has been revealed. It’s a strange time in our collective existence. People are dying. Racism runs strong in our society, in the systems that define our lives. People are divided and football seems like nothing more than a game, a distraction from the progress that our societies desperately need.
But healthy change cannot be born from unhealthy people. And healthy people need moments in which they can connect, in which they can love and in which they feed off each other’s emotions and energies. So here we are. On a day that something you have waited so long for, you are asked to be restrained, asked to be something other than you.
I hope you fought it. Perhaps it’s wrong. Perhaps I should hope you stayed locked away in cubby holes, wearing masks and scrubbing yourselves with bleach. But I don’t. I hope you were you today. I hope you looked your friends in the eye the same way I did mine. I hope you felt like kings and queens of the world, if only for a moment, because you are. For every prick who chided you that we hadn’t won the league. For every Manc who told you this would never be. For every blue nose who laughed when we fell short. I hope you were you.
Coronavirus will be here whether you were or you weren’t. Where I live, it’s only going one way and it’s doubtful anyone will feel safe even opening a window come that trophy lift. At least we had today. At least we had this moment, where we were ourselves, if only for a short while.
That may in fact mean as much as any trophy in the short term, especially since no one knows what the long term holds. I hope you were you. You beauty. Up the Champions of England.
Article by David Rice – @davidjrice83