So I know he won’t appreciate me telling you all, but I have a really great boyfriend. He is caring considerate and very good to me. However, I am safe in the knowledge that I have to share his attention with his other love and that is Football. So when I was thinking of a special Christmas present I couldn’t resist booking a little trip across the water to see his team Liverpool play. Now we are both big St Patrick’s Athletic Supporters and although I have been to football games all over the World, I have never been to an English Premiership match.
Having done a bit of research I found that travelling across the sea for a game was running pretty expensive. Flights can be up to 5 times the price on match weekends than on non-match weekends. Hotels too can run up to the hundreds for very basic rooms and that is before you have even factored in the cost of match tickets!!Another alternative is a group tour, but these can also be expensive, leave very early in the morning and some don’t even include tickets to the game.
One of the great things about the UK is that they have a really good train system. Add to that the huge number of locations for Ryanair to fly into and you can actually organise a footie trip for cheaper than you might imagine.
For our trip to Liverpool, I chose instead to fly into Manchester which is only 45 minutes by train from Liverpool. A return ticket only cost £11 so this was a very accessible way to get to the game without forking out too much on flights.
Arriving in Liverpool Lime Street on the morning of Match Day is a real treat and the entire city is aware that there is a game on. The culture of football is so strong in a City like Liverpool and there is tangible excitement in the air. Designated staff is on hand to guide you to the correct bus to take you to the stadium and even though the queues can be long, they are so effectively managed that everyone can get onto the buses quickly and smoothly.
Arriving at the grounds you can easily see how important Football is to the people of Liverpool. Crowds swarm around the stadium wearing red hats and scarves and munching on hot pork pies. Some are not even there to attend the match, but rather to listen to the live music. The fans provide a welcome distraction from Anfield’s otherwise bleak display of boarded up houses and decrepit takeaways.
Inside the stadium dozens of flags give a quick lesson on Liverpool’s long and rich History. More live music to entertain the fans and a selection of hot food and drink to sustain you through the next 90 minutes.
I have a very keen interest in the tribal like behaviour of football fans and so a part of any game is listening to the songs and chants in the stands. The passion with which the home fans sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was just hauntingly beautiful and you can feel that this is more than just a song to these fans.
The first half of the game was fairly uneventful with Swansea defending tightly and Liverpool hardly having a shot on target, so a 0-0 score at half time was hardly surprising. But, after a short half time break, Swansea came out roaring scoring twice in quick succession. Liverpool scrambled back with two goals to equalize, but it wasn’t to be, Swansea stole a third and final goal gaining an unexpected win. The game itself was very eventful but sadly the result didn’t go our way.
Apart from the teasing I got for being a jinx, I must say I really enjoyed my first experience at a premier league game. While I won’t be betraying my League of Ireland roots just yet, it does make a change from standing on a cold terrace on a Friday. That being said, the standard of football on the day left a bit to be desired!