|Sunday 10th December 2000|
Written by TimS on Wednesday, 9th Dec 2015 11:05
Dear diary, what were you doing 15 years ago on 10th December 2000? Doing a bit of Christmas shopping? Still having a bit of a post-Millennium personal hangover?
It was 15 years ago this Thursday when I was privileged to watch the best Town game that I (still to this day) have ever seen.
Games come and go. Even East Anglian derby matches can melt into each other like a cremated box of chocolates in the sun. You do not know what are the strawberry creams or the toffees.
Very few games stand out on and off the pitch. But for me, Liverpool v Ipswich on Sunday 10th December 2000 will remain one of the most memorable games which I have had the pleasure to attend.
It is a bold claim. Let me explain. I am a 35 years old at the moment. I was 20 in 2000. I was born in 1980. People were telling me in 2000 (and still in 2015) that Town were a pretty decent team in 1980.
Seeing as I was about five years old, I had to gabble that I could not remember the Robson days. I did not really appreciate Town in the top flight in the early nineties. Every match seemed to be a struggle leading to a messy embarrassing end in 1995.
History will tell about Town’s seemingly never-ending ‘exciting’ play off battles in the late 1990s but there was a lot of dross to sit through; games that seemed pointless before kick-off, and even more bizarre at the end.
I enjoyed the Wembley play-off final, I would have been crazy if I didn’t but that game passed in a blur.
The start of the 2000/01 also seemed to lack intensity for me. Town were playing Tottenham on the first day of that season and lost 3-1. I was not surprised. It was when I began to get personally involved in the season that I began to realise that every week did not necessarily mean that Town would lose 9-0.
I was studying in North Wales at the time so had the chance to catch Town in the North West of England, a trip to Goodison Park at the end of September 2000 started the fun. -3-0 on my Gran’s birthday! I remember spending most of the match marvelling at the main stand at Goodison Park which seemed to finish roughly where the clouds started.
I was a child of the 1980s. Liverpool merely seemed to take the pitch and win games before a ball was even kicked. Anfield with the ‘Never Walk Alone’ atmosphere, Gerry Marsden emotion, roar of the Kop and the home of players like Dalglish, Hansen and Rush, who seemed to score goals every other second.
The kids at school said no to Fisons shirts and opted for Candy. The first game that I can remember was not a Town match but Liverpool in the 1986 FA Cup Final on the family black and white Pye TV, I could not understand why Motty was shouting “RUSH!!!” every other second as another shot was seemingly palmed away by Neville Southall.
I can tell you that Sunday 10th December 2000 was perfectly misty and dank pre-Christmas Sunday. I was travelling with an Everton mate of mine to provide a bit more edge to the trip. Travelling through Caravan Colditz of Rhyl, Abergele and Prestatyn, I can still remember the foreboding Shotton steelworks with its Chernobyl-styled grey towers.
The train ride took forever making me even more hysterical. We were stopping at the mate’s family home at Hooton on the Wirral. I tried to hold appropriate conversation as if I had just returned from Sunday school but what I wanted to do was finish the food as quickly as possible and head into Liverpool.
I can remember that we were running late. We arrived at Sandbanks at station and ran through empty dank streets full of boarded up houses to Anfield. It seemed that night had started at three.
The match had already begun which seemed to be a disaster to me! I can remember the big bright spotlights on top of the stands and what seemed to be a dark noise hole behind Sander Westerveld in the far goal. I can remember Robbie Fowler running at the Town defence, but I also feeling surprised that Liverpool had not scored by half-time.
The Town goal from Marcus Stewart took me by surprise. It was a surprise for other Town fans. It was only when the players celebrated that we began to jump around the stands. The game descended back into a blur, I can remember Fowler et al running at the Town defence but Liverpool just did not score.
The home fans were getting angry. Although Liverpool did win the FA Cup and UEFA Cup that season, the club faithful were going through one of many difficult periods between themselves and Gerard Houllier.
We ran into the city at the final whistle. I was talking as if I had swallowed helium. I can remember Liverpool fans congratulating me for Town winning that afternoon, something that I felt embarrassed to claim credit for.
Train services in the North West of England were very limp and unpredictable on Sunday nights (or seemingly every night) in the early 2000s. My friend guided me back to the train. I would have not cared to walk back to Bangor. I can remember that our trains did not connect at Chester station and we ended up on a train from another age to take us back along the coast back home.
I can also remember jumping on a poor young student. He had been hoping for a quiet Sunday evening snooze back towards Holyhead and Llandudno. He actually had a crazed tall bloke babbling about a team and game that he did not understand. I think that I slept that night.
I understand that all of us have our favourite moments of Town in the Premiership. I know that I had been privileged to be at Anfield that Sunday afternoon. I wish that I could have bottled up that game and atmosphere, because I could have flogged it for millions in Suffolk.
This was my first experience of seeing Town playing a member of world football’s aristocracy. I had not expected Town to win that day. When they did, I felt like the conqueror of Merseyside. It was a truly awesome experience. It was my moment, and something to bat back to all those fans who would wax lyrical about the FA Cup Final of 1978 or UEFA Cup Final of 1981.
The material still works today for all those people who still tell me that Town were a good team ‘once.’
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