Disclaimer: Due to the fact that nobody has a sense of humour anymore and offence is taken at absolutely EVERYTHING the Cutter would like it to be known that none of its editorial staff are in any way responsible for what follows. It was sent to us anonymously (though we have an inkling from the email address) and we are simply publishing in good faith and humour. Enjoy.
LIVERPOOL IN KYIV: A PLACE AND EXPERIENCE ALL LIVERPOOL FANS WILL REMEMBER FOR ALL TIME MORE THAN FANS OF ANY OTHER CLUB COULD POSSIBLY EXPERIENCE OR EVEN IMAGINE IN THEIR WILDEST DREAMS
We’re different. We just are. Wiser, sometimes older, often better, but always different. Other fans will deny it, but deep down they know it. They ache with longing, envy, jealousy. From the estuaries of the Wirral to the steep ascent to the Hawthorns, from the banks of the Seine to the far-flung bars of Rome. Yes we’ve been to all of them, and more. Pioneers in every sense of the word.
Some say that as gold-seekers prospected in the wild west and England saw the dawn of the industrial revolution, there were already Liverpool fans planning their first trip to see their beloved red-shirted heroes in action. Yes it was 1840, but Liverpool fans have never been restricted by schedules, fixture lists or the actual existence of a football club when conquering foreign lands. We’re a family. It’s what we do. #YNWA
And that’s how it was in Kyiv (note the spelling). We came from all corners of the earth. From Liverpool, obviously, but also Paris, Dubai, Ireland, the Galapagos Islands, Aberdeen, Ireland, Helsinki, Ireland, and beyond. Epic journeys across continents, the likes of which had never been seen before.
We’ve sung about conquering Europe but the reality is — just like the Shankster prophesied himself — we’ve only gone and conquered the bloody world. Just by turning up and drinking beer in bars and making our own flags. It was that simple, apparently.
Liverpool have torn through Europe like never before, a trail of glory that we will tell our grandchildren about. And your grandchildren too. Whoever you support, this was a tale for the ages. Beating one of the world’s best teams and a few other teams too.
Take Dave, who had travelled from Cork. In Ireland. Dave has had a terrible year. He lost both his legs in a combine harvester tragedy in January, the use of both arms after holding up a Liverpool scarf for 17 hours consecutively, and his wife left him in March for a fax machine salesman from Limerick.
I asked him about his injuries. “Tis merely a scratch” he bellowed, and we all laughed at his ingenious quoting of The Holy Grail. On a nearby table, a Ukranian woman laughed too. She did not speak English, but she understood. She understood Scouse. A common language, spread across the globe. She got it. We shook hands, and over an ice cold Carlsberg, stories were told, bonds formed, and memories forged like never before in the history of humanity.
Dave had hopped to Dublin, before stowing away on a ferry, hitching to Folkestone, getting a job as a plate washer on a ship to Tallinn, before hot air ballooning to Moscow, then uni-cycling to Kyiv (note the spelling). He set off last November. Commitment to the cause unique to the Redmen tribe.
The city of Kyiv (note the spelling) had never seen an invasion like this before, and was ill-prepared for such numbers, such passion, such wit. Hotels were full, and alternative plans had to be made. Me, Micky, Shagger, Dobbsy and Smithy stayed in the apartment of a Ukranian family. I think perhaps at first they were somewhat overawed by our passion for football and coarse humour, but by the end of our three day stay, we had friends for life.
We broke the ice with stories about Avaline, Joey, Freddie and the other Boswells. “Gotta get up, gotta get out, grab the world by the throat and shout allez allez allez!” sang the young girl in the corner with glee. Ten minutes previously she didn’t know a word of English, but now she was one of us. We sang Yellow Submarine until dawn, regaled our hosts with tales of other epic journeys and even discussed Fred Talbot’s derelict weather map in Albert Dock.
Elena asked us about Liverpool’s proud history. About John Aldridge’s moustache, and why he called everyone nuggets. King Kenny, and those t-shirts for Luis Suarez. We explained that human flesh was a delicacy in Uruguay, and she nodded with complete comprehension. She pretended to bite my arm and we laughed until we could barely breathe. We talked about the Klopp philosophy and why other teams do not understand the bond we have with him. I explained, with just a tin of beans and the Cyrillic alphabet, how Bertrand Russell once said that science is what you know. Philosophy is what you don’t know. I felt it was then that Elena had her life “eureka!” moment.
Naturally, you’ll want to know about the match, but that was not the point of the trip. Yes, the scoreboard said 3-1 at the end. Some who fail to see the romance in football will point at that and say Liverpool lost that match. So naïve. But at 5am the following morning, as the party continued unabated, and I told a transfixed Sergei, son of our host Elena, about the time Liverpool swept past Cardiff in the League Cup final on penalties, it transpired to me that Liverpool did not lose the Champions League final. No. They just weren’t victorious in traditional terms. Nor did they draw. But they didn’t lose.
Perhaps there’s an argument that two Champions League trophies should be handed out this season to acknowledge the brilliance of Liverpool’s performances? A re-match would be fairer, but I can’t see that happening.
Any proper Real Madrid fan will acknowledge though that this was a match that was, to all intents and purposes, except for the actual score and the record books, a draw. A match where Liverpool once more failed to get the decisions, as seen throughout this remarkable cup run. An arm lock not out of place in WWF, a vicious elbow, a goal scored with a high foot (dangerous play) and a goalkeeper allowed to play on with concussion by the corrupt UEFA despots. No matter. I had always said the result was not important, and so it proved.
We carried on singing long after the full-time whistle, saluting our Redmen heroes. It is said that our flags could be seen from space. Wouldn’t surprise me.
You don’t get relevance from trophies alone. If anything, they distract from relevance. They make you *less* relevant. Relevance is earned not bought. It’s gained organically, in the bars of Kyiv (note the spelling), in the journeys of guys like Dave, in historic success in the 70s and 80s only, in having the biggest flags and in YNWA hashtags. Things money cannot buy. In a way, perhaps Liverpool are almost *too* relevant now. It would certainly explain the bitterness and rancid glee from rival fans with little to look forward or back to. They can’t create what we have – nobody comes close (you can say that again – Ed).
What we did win was the hearts of a city and a country that will no doubt now adopt Liverpool as their second, or maybe even their first team to support. A red invasion we can all get on board with. In fact, it may be best to disband all local clubs, now that their support will be pretty much non-existent. Might as well be Manchester City.
By the time we left the apartment of Elena and her family, they were now part of our family. The Liverpool family. Elena had painted the whole apartment red, 4 Liverpool flags hung out of the front window (BOOZING WITH THE BIRD WE’RE CHOOSING, SALAH MAKING REAL CHICKEN IN KIEV, 70% OF THE WORLD IS COVERED BY WATER, THE OTHER 30% BY JAMES MILINER, and JURGEN’S GOT A HUGE DIJK), and Elena had quit her job to travel the world with only a flag, hope and 50,000 Ukrainian hryvnia to sustain her.
As we left to head home to our spiritual home, I hugged Elena. To both our surprise, a solitary tear rolled down her rosy cheek, and dropped to the floor. We both stared at the floor, in shock. Then we both cried like never before. Literal goose bumps. You may think a solitary tear means very little, but to us, it meant so much more. It was a symbol. A symbol of unity, of never walking alone (unless you’re in goal for Liverpool), of conquering the world, of new friendships, of pioneers. All the stuff I’ve already mentioned basically. We came, we saw, we conquered Kyiv (note the spelling).
The trip had one more surprise to throw at us though. It took four hours to get the airport. Not because of traffic or a broken down car. No, everywhere we went, locals would fling themselves at our feet hysterical with emotion. One man with no teeth showed me his new Liverpool tattoo, and tried to pair me up with his daughter. A woman ran alongside our car singing “you’ll never walk alone” for over two miles. You’d think this was all a dream or over-sentimental tosh if I hadn’t witnessed it for myself. One man even pleaded with us to take him back to Liverpool. We politely declined, but not before donating a flag emblazoned with “WE DID IT SIX TIMES. LIVERPOOL ARE BOSS” to him by way of an apology.
Late that night I finally returned home. It seemed like I had been away for years. I had changed, the people of Kyiv (note the spelling) had changed, we were all different people now. Older, wiser, happier. The draw with Real Madrid would go down in history. Books would be written. And the poetry. The endless poetry.
Last night I phoned Elena to catch up and reminisce. Her number seems to be temporarily out of action, which is a shame, but we’ll no doubt catch up properly soon. Perhaps Elena and her family will come over to Liverpool to see their new favourite team. Perhaps they’ll never leave. It wouldn’t surprise me.
I sat down, and re-watched the match. How unlucky. But never mind. Next year is our year. And then I started to whistle, and a little song fell out…..
Gotta find it
get us a share
makin’ bread out
of nothin’ but air
Ridin’ high but
hittin’ the ground
catchin’ the penny
but missin’ the pound
Doesn’t matter ’cause
we’ll soon turn it around
soon as we get home
it’s why we’re tryin’, home
instead of cryin’, home
YNWA Carla Lane.