|Happier Times for Scott and Cole|
Liverpool-lovin' Scott owes the Bossman a beer -- preferably craft:
This one is hard to write. But, for posterity, my memoirs and pursuant to several clauses in my farlieonfootie contract, I am obligated to recount at least some of the events that transpired on Monday night at Sunlife stadium. My son Cole and I, along with Ajax supporter John and his son, planted our tailgating flag in a barren, easily-found patch of parking, ignoring the consternated gesticulations of the parking staff who preferred we wedge our car between several behemoths already there. Correspondent Ed arrived late sporting a vintage Spurs jersey and a cooler of craft beer, perhaps equally vintage. The Bossman blamed the weather and the NSA for an arrival that was so tardy as to rule him out of our rain-spattered tailgate. Correspondent Mark, however, emerged from a sleek, black SUV, supported by a substantial family entourage (thank you for the cookies, Theresa) and waxing positively poetic having just returned from a English multi-stadium tour evidenced by four ill-made Man United t-shirts, an out-of-focus Chelsea poster (since discarded) and one photo of Steven Gerrard's shirt/locker that started a bidding war on eBay.
Despite the inclement weather and lack of a soccer ball to kick about (big shout-out to the nice gentlemen who loaned us one), our group found shelter under our surprisingly large pop-up tent for an earnest discussion of which of Chelsea, Manchester United or Liverpool Mark and his progeny should support. Cole and I were emphatic with our Liverpool case while John, ever the contrarian, half-heartedly supported the Evil MU Empire. Alas, while the subject was not definitively decided, I fear the result of the ensuing game may have influenced the final decision.
This was my first live Liverpool game. So it goes without saying that it was also my son's first game as well, and his excitement was not to be contained. Having refreshed his memory of all the words to "You'll Never Walk Alone", and sporting a Gerrard shirt and hat, my 10 year old was nothing short of effervescent as the lineup was announced during our bathroom pit stop (I did mention the craft beers). Much relieved, we found our seats just behind the goal where Liverpool was warming up. Unfortunately the first of several disappointments then descended on my little Liverpudlian fan as the warmup abruptly ended to make way for a somewhat entertaining but thoroughly deafening firework display that blanketed the pitch with a smoky haze which never seemed to fully exit the stadium.
Through that smoky setting, our mood was lifted, though, when we heard the first strands of "You'll Never Walk Alone" wafting through the speakers and select members of the more intelligent audience. With my arm around Cole's shoulders and both our heads tossed back, father and son emotionally belted out that Rodgers and Hammerstein Carousel classic, later covered by Gerry & the Pacemakers (among others), with giddy anticipation of the crescendo chorus at the end. But then, suddenly, with inexplicable cruelty, as if Darth Ferguson himself were gleefully manning the P.A. system, the Liverpool anthem was cut off prematurely to be replaced by a silly, crushingly loud ditty during which one could occasionally distinguish the word "United." I had no answer for the offended and questioning incredulity on the face of my son.
Later, on the field, Liverpool were much the same – grasping for answers to Manchester United’s better finishing. Despite playing very well at times, Liverpool seemed intent on proving true the predictions of inevitable collapse due to lack of scoring Post Suarez. Rickie Lambert, in particular, seems to have read, and been influenced by, too many articles on the subject. His scuffed open shot in the second half might well consign him to the bench when the season starts. Raheem Sterling and Jordan Ibe, on the other hand, showed just how dangerous they can be, even if the latter still lacks the final touch.
Despite the nearly masochistic persistence of the Liverpool contingent behind us, who gallantly, if defiantly, bellowed the whole Liverpool chant repertoire, and much to the chagrin of my teary-eyed son, the "good guys" lost by an unquestionable differential. To spend such money, "with hope in [our] heart", only to feel such sorrow was a harsh lesson to learn, but one that will steel Cole's character, much like Hammerstein's 1945 lyrics, in part, remind us:
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone
This is farlieonfootie for August 6.