Liverpool supporter Conor Thompson reflects on the lows and highs of an incredible week for the Reds and what it means to him as both a fan of the club and a football lover.
I can breathe now. I can enjoy tonight (Thursday). For the first time, in what feels like an eternity, I am looking forward to watching a game of football without being a complete bag of nerves and an utter nightmare to be around.
Having had today to ponder just what on earth has happened over the past two days, I have now come to the conclusion that Monday and Tuesday could just about sum up my life as a fan of Liverpool, and in a grander sense, a fan of football.
Monday. It’s a Bank Holiday here in Ireland which is probably a good thing. I won’t be stationery at a desk all day filling my head with dreams of a Jamie Vardy winner at the Etihad tonight. By this stage of the season, I have developed a routine for Man City games:
- Spend the days prior to the game preempting the inevitable heartbreak. I keep telling myself that City won’t drop points and that the dream is over. Of course, behind this front, I am still dreaming, I just try to put out that flame and not allow myself to get excited
- Spend the whole day telling myself that I won’t watch the game and will put my phone onto flight mode, ‘you’ll only drive yourself mad watching it, just check the full time result and don’t put yourself through the agony. Que sera sera’.
- Put my phone onto flight mode 5 minutes before kick off – ‘Okay right, I’ll check the result at full time’.
- Check the score at half time: ‘What? It’s still 0-0? This could be on you know’.
- Put the second half on and pray, just pray that the outcome of this game will be different.
But it wasn’t any different on Monday, was it? It looked like Beautiful Brendan was going to pull it off and do the Redmen the most incredible of favours. Vincent Kompany had other ideas however. An absolute rasper of a strike from the City man, left me and every other Liverpool fan feeling down and out. There is of course still the hope that Brighton can pull off a miracle on Sunday but at this point, I’m really struggling to stay positive.
I’ve always been an optimist and have never been one to accept defeat but I have to put my hand on heart and say that I had pretty much given up all hope for this season, at this point on Monday night. This Liverpool side that Jurgen Klopp has built is without a shadow of a doubt the most talented, charismatic and likeable bunch of players that I have ever had the pleasure to support. How could football be so cruel that this bunch of honest lads were on the brink of facing another trophyless season?
It’s 10pm on Monday night. Vincent Kompany has just helped City win their 12th consecutive league game, with his first shot on target from outside the box, since he was playing schoolboy football in Belgium. Slight exaggeration. Tomorrow night, we face a mountain of a task in the Champions League as we attempt to overcome a three goal deficit against the Spanish champions: Messi, Rakitic, and to rub salt into our wounds: Suarez and Coutinho. Whilst I try to remain positive and keep the faith, I can’t help but feel down and dejected. I’m chatting to fellow Liverpool supporting mates on Whatsapp and the feeling appears to be universal. ‘Football is the best and worst thing in the world simultaneously’, I send to a mate on Whatsapp. ‘Worst thing at the moment’, he replies.
Tuesday morning. Whilst the disappointment from the previous night is still there, I slowly but surely start to come to peace with everything. The ‘bigger picture’ mindset begins to prevail. Whilst it looks likely that the season will end without a grand finale, I start to look back at the season. Without a shadow of a doubt, the 2018/19 football season will go down as my personal favourite, whatever happens over the next couple of weeks.
When I look back at this season in years to come, it’s not the moments of deflation that will come to mind: It will be the days out that I had in Liverpool with friends and my Dad. It will be the mates that I made along the way. It will be the falls down rows of seating as late goals are celebrated.
By lunchtime, I begin to feel a sense of excitement for the tie against Barcelona. Whatever the outcome of the tie, I know that Jurgen’s men are going to give it a bash. Of course they are, this is Liverpool Football Club. This is Jurgen Klopp. They’re not going to go down without a fight and I know that no matter what happens, by 10pm tonight I will be warm with pride. 2 hours before kick off, one of the lads asks in the group chat: ‘Anyone else have that tiny sliver of hope for tonight?’. ‘Of course. You’ve got to have it’, I reply.
I need not go into the detail of what ensued. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, you’ll know all about it. By 10pm, I’m in shock. I am absolutely beaming with pride. I am so many emotions. I text that same mate again: ‘Best thing in the world mate’ (In reference to my message the previous night). And seeing Liverpool as favourites against an equally unlikely opponent has done nothing but prolong this feeling.
Above all else, I am grateful. I am grateful that my father introduced me to Liverpool Football Club and to football in general. This season may not end up with silverware but this week has reiterated everything that is beautiful about the game. It reminded me why I love football. Without it, I would not have the memories and stories to tell. Without it, I would perhaps not approach each day with the positive attitude that I do.
‘Anything is possible for those who believe’: Liverpool Football Club once again proved that this week. This can be applied to anything in life.