From about the ages of 5 to 55 whenever the male of the species gather in a social situation there are normally 3 key questions that they want to ask other and irrespective of whether your closer to 5 or to 55 the question of who you support comes up. Since the mid 80’s my answer to this question has always been Millwall but originally,like most other kids at the time,I was a Liverpool supporter. The reason for my switch was that I was only really a glory hunter by supporting Liverpool but also living in Kent meant there was no way I could ever get to Liverpool until I learned how to drive or even got a job so that I could afford the train fare to get there. I was desperate to be able to go to Anfield and stand on the Kop, sing “you’ll never walk alone” and watch my football hero’s of the time such as Kenny Dalgleish and Ian Rush playing on the hallowed turf of this amazing stadium. Of course they used to make Cup finals which would be played at Wembley but getting a ticket for these games was impossible. When I did start work I fell in with a crowd who used to go to Millwall and went along with them one weekend to a game against their fiercest rivals West Ham and despite the atmosphere crackling with a combination of excitement and fear, I found the whole experience completely intoxicating and would go whenever I could, even if it meant going on my own. For a while I followed Millwall home and away and got to watch them play at Manchester United and some other big clubs before I switched jobs and began working on Saturdays. This of course brought to an end my Saturday afternoons being spent at the cold blow lane end at the den, and instead I found myself standing behind the counter of a record shop beginning my education in the whys and wherefores of why,by and large,the general public of this country are without doubt one of natures dumbest animals.
Years later, and without any prompting from me, my sons Kai and Jordan have become Liverpool fans, this despite the team no longer being the force that they used to be. When Kai was old enough I once managed to get a pair of tickets for us to go and see a match.Finally after what felt like an age of waiting we got to be able to go to Anfield, they played Fulham, it ended 0-0 and even though it was a memorable day for both of us it was actually a rather dull game.A few years later when he was old enough Jordan got to go too.Like many Dads I struggled to think of something good to buy both my boys for their Christmas present last year so given that they are both fans of Liverpool, I decided that I would buy them a pair of tickets for them both to go to the game. What I wanted was for them to have a day out together, travel by train together and have a great day together, one that would bond them even closer as well as hopefully a lifelong memory for them both. I chose tickets for a game at the end of February so that they would have 2 pay days to save up the money for the train, but due to their Opposition qualifying for the Capital one cup final the game had to be re scheduled and brought forward meaning that they would require money to pay for the train. The big problem now was that it was also mid month for me,meaning that I couldn’t afford to pay for their train fare which left only one option:Road trip.
So last Sunday at 8.45am on the dot and with strong coffee’s in hand,we set off on our 500 mile round trip to Liverpool. As soon as we reached the m25 I plugged my iPod into the car and was instantly met with howls of protest from everybody else due my musical taste not exactly being compatible with everyone else’s. Even I winced though as no sooner had I pressed the shuffle button, Motörhead’s ‘ace of spades’ blasted out of the speakers at a good healthy volume.Great song but definitely the wrong time of day. At that point it was decided by everyone that we would have the radio on instead. Cally decided to tweet Absolute radio to get a shout out which duly arrived a few minutes later and despite not really understanding why they played T-Rex 20th century boy for us we enjoyed it and high 5’s were dished out all round. We soon settled into our journey and the first 100 miles was rattled off pretty quickly so we had our one and only pit stop at Warwick services which as services go is just about the smallest one in the world. Sure it has a car park for about a million cars and a fuel station that could simultaneously fill up an entire fleet but the shop bit is about the same size as a conservatory. Sure, it has a burger king that can serve one person at a time,a WHsmith that will happily sell a tube of Pringles for £1000 and a mobile phone accessory shop which will sell you an in car phone charger which appears to be priced at more than the cost of the average car. However all purchases need to be made by card as the only cash machine present had been vandalised by what I assume was a dissatisfied previous customer after having being asked to pay a £2 fee for taking out £10. Robbing swines.
So refuelled with coffee we were back in the car and off on part 2 of the journey with a determination to make it the last stop before Liverpool.Soon after we got started I discovered that the M42 is the natural environment for the group of road users I despise the most, namely middle lane hoggers. These brain dead imbeciles sit in that middle lane like its a crime to use the inside lane and even when I undertake them they fail to look round at you, so focused as they are on maintaining that road position. I know that undertaking is wrong and that two wrongs don’t make it a right which is why I went for the hatrick of wrongs by photographing them all. A selection of them are in the photo below for your enjoyment. If by some twist of fate one of them happens to be you, feel free to contact me so that I can tell you what a massive **** you are.
For the first time ever I found myself on the toll section of the M6 which means that for a fee we could use what appears to be a freshly ironed, lunatic free section of road that has no clapped out broken down cars on it and so much free space that the tailgating Audi brigade has no need to be nudging you from behind but will instead insist upon sailing past,two inches from the door mirror in an attempt to remind you that they’re there. Joyous as this road is, the first of two nasty shocks awaits at the end.First of these shocks is when the toll booth arrives and a plump middle aged northerner holds out a hand and requests a fiver for the privilege of having used it ( the road not the plump middle aged northerner) shortly followed by the second shock which is the carmageddon scene just ahead where all those who have chosen not to use the toll road rejoin it and promptly break down or crash into each other. An hour passes at crawling pace before we finally get going again and start to see road signs to Liverpool and it feels like a sense of relief goes through the car as the fear that we may be late due to traffic problems subside and we now know that the our destination is virtually in sight. Having finally got my own way with the iPod v radio battle, we all settled back for the final part of the journey to Liverpool and with the only coffee I’ve had so far having long since lost any effects a little drowsiness sets in for me and everyone else but luckily without any further fuss Anfield is virtually in sight, so we drop the boys off so they can get to the game while we set off to find something to eat.
So we had roughly two and a half hours to kill before heading back to pick them up so we headed towards the Albert dock area by the river Mersey. As I’ve previously said on here,we like a quick city stop but even by our standards this was going to be the quickest of whistle stops. After parking up we took a quick walk past the Beatles experience and the Echo arena and into the dock area itself which is instantly recognisable from the ‘this morning’ tv programe. The dock is actually quite a nice to take a quick stroll…. so long as you don’t object to the locals walking right through you as opposed to around you. What is that all about? In the 30 minutes or so that we walked around it I must save been barged into 20 times and in the end I just started to allow them to bounce off me rather than attempting to move out of their way. We found a bar to have a bite to eat in and to finally sit down and chill for a few minutes as well as checking the score for the game. A loss or 0-0 draw would be no reward for our long distance drive up there so we were delighted that the score was already 3-0 to Liverpool meaning that the day was not just a trip on the road to nowhere.
All too soon we had to go and pick them back up and begin the journey home. It took us about an hour just to get through the post match traffic before getting back on the (wrong) motorway for home. I’d been so engrossed in trying to sync my iPod to the car that I completely missed the turning home and ended up doing a 25 mile round trip on the way to Manchester so we needed to turn back round and head back towards Liverpool before finally heading home. A quick eyewateringly expensive pit stop at the 200 mile to go point refuelled us with caffeine and off we set for home. We arrived home knackered at just before 11pm having done a 535 mile day trip, 10 hours of it spent behind the wheel but and never have I been more pleased to be able to get out and stretch my legs. Despite the overwhelming tiredness I enjoyed the day. We got to spend some time together albeit in very cramped surroundings and my boys finally got their Christmas present and they got to see their team win 5-0. Now at home, and despite being knackered,I could sit on my sofa pour myself a well deserved beer and turn the tv on before bed. Just in time to watch the highlights of the game on the tv.