The reds...and the blues.
I was at Anfield yesterday, home of Liverpool Football Club. On Merseyside, where I was born, you decide early on if you're a "red" (support Liverpool) or a "blue" and cheer for Everton, the other great football team from Liverpool who play at Goodison Park. The two teams are at opposite sides of Stanley Park although both are in the process of getting themselves new stadia.
My dad was a huge Liverpool fan and I grew up an ardent "red". My first serious boyfriend was also a Liverpool fan and for several years we both had season tickets on the Kop, I will never forget the first time I climbed the steps to the top of the ground and emerged onto the Kop; the sights and sounds took my breath away. I also remember asking my boyfriend in a puzzled way why the steps were wet when it wasn't raining!! In all my time on the Kop I was always treated with great courtesy by the male supporters and no-one ever wee'd down my coat - I'd been told this was standard practice at football matches!
When i got married I remember Dad and I waiting alone for the wedding car to take us to church. Dad got hold of my hand and looked at me and his eyes filled - I knew he was going to say something emotional. "Dad, don't make me cry!" I said - thinking of how my mascara would run! "Ok love," he replied and at once turned the conversation to the latest Liverpool performance :)
The thing was though, I married a "blue". Phil supports Everton, as does his dad. In the Liverpool area ours is known as a "mixed marriage". Phil even took me to watch Liverpool once (he liked me more then I suppose!) but after Dad died I was very isolated in my support of the Reds, especially as Kate grew up a true blue.
So, eventually I came to sort of support Everton. To be honest, the Liverpool Football Club of today is not the one I grew up with. Everton is far more like the traditional club of former times and the manager, David Moyes, has integrity and character (and he's friendly too, I've met him!)
It was an emotional day - the ground was empty and the Kop is now all seats (standing areas at football grounds in the UK were abolished after the Hillsborough tragedy)but looking around me I could almost hear the crowd again and feel the excitement. The crowd on the Kop roared and moved and reacted like one body - and the singing was something to hear. I'll never, ever forget it. Yesterday I walked out of the players' entrance, past the sign reading "this is Anfield" with my heart full of memories and my eyes full of tears.