Dreams Are Not Greater Than Reality

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The long-awaited arrival of EPL giant, Liverpool Football Club into Australia was finally a reality back in July 2013. (I know! SLACK SLACK SLACK)  We (#boyfie and I) are HUGE Liverpool fans and we could not wait to see them play, live, in front of our eyes.  Having missed out watching a game while I was in the UK (being off-season), this was going to be the next best thing until I could save enough cash to get back over there during football season.

Months had passed and my ticket was just waiting to be scanned so I could see my Reds play.  A week or so before the game, a rumour of a closed training session was surfaced and tickets went in a flash.  Not realising until after they had all sold that it was even on, I was super disappointed we weren’t going to have the chance to go.  I searched high and low over Ticketek to try to find if they were to release more seats but I couldn’t find a single date.  I ended up on the Official Melbourne Liverpool Supporters Page on Facebook and asked if anyone had spare tickets or couldn’t go, I was willing to pay for the tickets (as they were free at that stage if you has the right password).  I ended up buying two tickets from a member of the group and hoped to god (pardon the wording) that he had not ripped me off and the tickets worked.

I had sneakily bought #boyfie a new jersey for his birthday (even though that is in August) and planned to give it to him on the day of the game.  That ended up not happening and I  gave it to him a few days earlier.  He LOVED it.  His shirt had our new star “Coutinho – 10″ on the back.  I also got myself a new jersey with my favourite player ”Agger – 5″.

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A few more days after that, the training session turned into an open session and tickets went on sale with all proceeds going to charity.  We got 2 more tickets; one for #boyfie’s dad and his best mate.  The training session was the day before the game and I managed to find #boyfie’s dad while I was lining up to go in.  #boyfie and his  buddy were running late so it was up to his dad and I to find good seats.  We ended up on a wing side, right near a corner.  Not many people has crowded around us yet so it gave us a moment to relax and for me to set up my camera.

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Fast forwarding to when the players came out; I think they would have been expecting a decent sized crowd but not the reception they actually got.  Fifteen to twenty thousand people showed up just to watch a football squad train.  It was insane.  I was a little teary when they came out but tried to get some decent shots.  (I really need to get a good zoom lens for my Canon.  I was running an 18-55mm lens and a 55-200 lens and it was just that little bit too short.  If I had a lens of 70-300 I would have got some more decent shots… Back to the story)

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I decided to get my merchandise while the training session was on, so I wouldn’t have to wait in the crowds tomorrow.  We had already passed some stands outside in which I got our match programs and a tour scarves.  I did however, want a jumper if possible.  When I got to the shop, there were people everywhere.  I found the jumpers and what I expected was a reality.  No small sizes.  JOY!  However, they did have youth sizes left.  I tried on a large and wait for it… YAY, it fitted.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t any cheaper but I still wanted one.  I ended up with a jumper, t-shirt and beanie for an amount in which I cannot remember but probably too much. Where I has purchased the scarves and match programs, they had these amazing flat peaked hats but I was indecisive about getting one.  Eventually I saw enough people walking around with them on for me to decide that I wanted one.  I asked #boyfie if he wanted one and he told me no, so out I raced and got my hat.  After that, he kept pinching it and wearing it.  I said I has asked if he wanted one but he kept saying no so I didn’t  bother.

The team ended up finishing training with a small sided match which happened at our end and then it was all over.  They clapped and thanked fans for coming out and left.  If tonight was a thrill, what was tomorrow going to be like when the stadium will be filled with 5-6 times more people?

MATCH DAY

Words cannot describe the feeling I had when I woke up on match day morning.  Excited just didn’t make the cut.  I’d had a count down at work from 10 days until the match and today read “Match Day :D”.  Ony a select few at work shared my excitement.

After work, I went home with a friend from work and went to dinner with her and her husband as they were going to the game as well.  I got changed and we set off to find a restaurant near the MCG so we wouldn’t be late. I was almost too excited to eat but I scoffed down some yummy Indian buttered chicken then we ventured outside and walked with the masses to the infamous MCG.

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The crowds outside were insane.  People frolicking around everywhere.  Seas of red and specks of navy for the opposition.  I managed to get a platinum seat which was on level 2 at the Liverpool “Supporter End”.  Kick off was nearing and I finally found my seat.  Smack bang in the middle of a row, completely already filled with people.  As my knee was still not diagnosed, lateral movement was still an issue.  I tried so shuffle across the best I could but I still ended up twisting it when I accidentally stood on someone’s foot because they wouldn’t move.  I was in a lot of pain but tonight was going to be one night I wasn’t going to forget and it wasn’t going to be due to a painful knee.  Liverpool Football Club.  In MELBOURNE. I had a ticket and it was going to be the best night of my life!

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#boyfie and his dad were in another section and honestly I was wishing that I could be with him to share this experience but it was okay.  I knew he would be excited.  Maybe even more excited than I was.  We would be able to discuss this experience of a lifetime for many weeks, months or even years after the final whistle.

The suspense was finally lifted when the song began to play.  “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.  This is a club tradition.  It is played before every home game at Anfield and that stadium holds around 45,500 people.  Imagine 40,000 plus people singing that, in tune, perfectly, word for word. Now that is in your head, imagine double that number. 95,446 people attended the game and I believe there was not one single Liverpudlian with a hushed voice.  The song boomed around the MCG with a sea of red banners and scarves lifted in the air.  Half of Melbourne would have been able to hear us and that’s what we wanted.

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The starting line up was announced and I was so disappointed Daniel Agger wasn’t starting.  I’d been waiting to see him play and Rodger’s has sidelined him.  I could only hope that because it was a friendly, more than 3 substitutions would be made.

Melbourne Victory held their own for the first ten minutes but a simple mistake cost them.  Liverpool pounced and dominated after that.  Steven Gerrard popped the first goal (36th minute) into the top corner and the lead 1-0 going into the second half.  I tried to snap some photos during the game but I didn’t want to miss anything so I ended up putting my camera away and soaking in the atmosphere.

During the first half, #boyfie sent me a text saying there was a free seat next to him and his dad, if I wanted to move next to them.  There was also a spare seat next to me but not 2 seats so  his dad could sit there.  I took advantage of people moving around at half time to shuffle through fewer people and hobble across to where they were sitting.  Their seats may have not been as comfortable as mine but they view of the game was just as good.  The night was ALMOST complete now.  I was sitting with him and we could watch our “Reds” together.  The only thing that would make it perfect was my favourite player being substituted on.

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At the 70th minute mark, the score was still 1-0 to Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers (the coach) made the call.   Almost the entire team was substituted.  My night was made complete with Agger being subbed on.  I beamed at #boyfie and he smiled.  I was beyond happy.

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The game went into extra time and that saw Luis Suarez put through a cross for Iago Aspas and he slotted home the shot for a 2-0 lead at the 93 minute.  That sealed the win.

The only thing that will top this night will be watching a Liverpool match at Anfield.  That will happen.  It won’t be tomorrow and probably wont be next month but it will happen.

You’ll Never Walk Alone,

C. x

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