In lieu of a proper blog post, I present to you: The Sashi FlashBack (TM) – a.k.a. I Used To Have A Pretty Interesting Life Once, Ya Know!
Commence swirling shapes indicating a trip to the past….
The Date: sometime circa 1998.
The Place: England (that crazy place below Scotland).
It started like this. It had been many months since I last visited Anfield (Liverpool v Southampton, Feb 7 1998 – we lost (!) 2-3). Naturally, I was itching to get back and witness at least a victory. But there was financial and logistical factors to be considered.
For the Southampton match, I had to cough up £85 to a ticket tout who, having discovered that I was from “out of town”, had kindly raised the price by about 5 quid. I couldn’t afford to pay that much again – not unless I planned to give up eating for the rest of the month.
Another factor was transportation. I had actually joined a Liverpool tour group organised by my uni’s International Students Bureau for the previous visit. After the obligatory stops at the Maritime Museum, the Beatles Exhibition (where, even though cameras were discouraged, I took some photos that turned out looking almost… psychedelic..), the Cavern Club, the docks, as well as having taken a ride on the ferry across the Mersey, the tour group decided on a short break. I quickly approached the tour ‘tai-ko’ and asked him if it’d be alright if I headed off to see Anfield (it shocked the hell out of me when I learned that Anfield wasn’t in the itinerary – don’t this people know anything about Liverpool!). He gave me the all clear, before reminding me to meet up with the group at the docks at 6 pm sharp – or the bus would leave without me.
I quickly grabbed a buddy of mine (never venture out into an unknown city by yourself, even in a “friendly” city like Liverpool) and rushed down to the bus depot. We managed to get detailed instructions on how to travel to and from Anfield from a very nice lady at the information desk, and thanks to her, we had absolutely no problems getting on the right bus and reaching Anfield.
That being my first time at Anfield, I just had to pause and take in the atmosphere. After some quick external shots of the stadium and of course, getting my friend to take a picture of me besides Shankly’s statue, we rushed round to the ticket office. Woe is me, the match had already started and the ticket office was closed! Just as I was thinking that I should return to the docks, a short man with silver hair sidles up to me and asks whether I wanted tickets. Well, duh! I said yes, and he “suggested” a price of about £80. I tried to haggle, and eventually had to settle for £85. Yes, I’m the world’s worst bargainer.
Naturally, I had to pay for my friend as well, since I was the one who dragged him there. That’s 170 quid, in case you’re keeping track. We quickly got through the turnstiles and took our seats (Anfield Road End – seats at the Kop End would have set me back a 100 quid per tix). We had missed about half-an-hour of the match and the score was tied at 1-1. For most of the rest of the match, it seemed that it would end in a draw when in the last 5 minutes, the game simply exploded. The Saints grabbed 2 quick goals (that were a result of some horrendous defending on our part which, sadly, was a feature of the Liverpool side during that time) before Owen scored a late, late consolation goal. Those were the days when we had players like Babb, Harkness, Kvarme and ‘Calamity’ James on the team-sheet. Liverpool supporters – moan not of our present situation. We’ve come a loooooong way since those days.
We didn’t actually see Owen’s goal. When Southampton had grabbed that third goal, we filed out of the ground – cos I didn’t want to be caught in the jam and miss my bus. Fortunately, we got back to the docks with plenty of time to spare, and on the bus journey back to uni, I was already planning to make a return trip.
So there I was, at around the beginning of the 1998/99 season, trying to find a way back to Anfield. For those who don’t remember, here’s a brief recap of the significance of that season:
- ‘Twas the season after the World Cup where a certain Michael Owen announced his presence to the world in extraordinary fashion
- Liverpool had appointed Gerard Houllier to work alongside Roy Evans as joint-manager
- United spent nearly £30 million on three players (Yorke, Stam and Blomqvist)
- Liverpool had a very good pre-season, defeating the likes of Celtic and Inter Milan and winning the pre-season Carlsberg Trophy by beating Leeds in the final
So all in all, it seemed an encouraging time in the red half of Merseyside. Surely it was time now for me to return and witness a Red victory at Anfield…..
Next: Sashi goes to Anfield by committing credit card fraud. Stay tuned!