The Irish have for decades been staunchly travelling over to the UK for various sporting events, particularly, the Cheltenham Festival and Premier League games. It costs a considerable amount of money just for even a day trip. The determination and dedication of Liverpool fans in Ireland to make this pilgrimage is amazing. Below are the stories of two dedicated Liverpool fans on their pilgrimage to Anfield.
Ray Malone’s Story
Once again it was time to head to my second home which is Liverpool and to watch the mighty Reds take on Napoli with qualification to the last 16 at stake. The European nights at Anfield are so special and I decided I was going to go to every one yet again this season. Last season had ended with a trip to Kiev for the final so I was hoping we could go one better this season. I was travelling with well known local journalist Adrian Flanagan and we had booked our flight to leave from Dublin Airport at 12.30pm Tuesday afternoon. This meant an early enough rise at 6.30am to go get our train to Dublin. Then it was a bus from Heuston Station to the airport. We didn’t realise that this bus would take us on a tour of Dublin before getting to the airport. We finally arrived at 11.40am which gave us 20 minutes to get through security before the gate closes but luckily enough we managed it. I was worried as I had seven tickets in my pocket for friends over there and the thoughts of leaving those people stranded without tickets crossed my mind.
Our flight left on time and we arrived in Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport at 1.15pm. We decided to get a taxi as we were staying in a B&B about three miles from the city centre. We dropped our bags and headed in to meet some friends in Weatherspoons for lunch and relax for a while. Then it was time to head to the ground at 5.30pm. The traffic at that time is awful so we jumped on a bus to take us there and it took 45 minutes to get us the 3 miles to the ground.
The atmosphere around the ground was electric as it always is on big European nights and after meeting my very grateful friends with their tickets we decided at 7pm to go into the ground early to soak it all up. There were a lot of very nervous fans sitting around me and for good reason as we knew if Napoli scored then we needed to score 3. Liverpool started really well but the Italians were very dangerous on the break so we knew this would be tough. Then after missing a few chances up stepped Mo Salah with a superb finish to put us ahead. The ground went nuts and the noise levels increased massively.
Onto the second half and the longer it went on we kept missing easy chances. There was a lot of nail-biting going into the last few minutes and deep in injury time we thought this is it were going out until Allison spread his whole body and saved a point blank shot that kept us in the Champions League. The final whistle came and there were massive celebrations all over the ground, with the final score 1:0. Liverpool on the night were really good but in Van Dijk we have a future captain and leader, he was immense on the night.
Then it was back to the city centre after the celebrations died down so again it was the bus into the city and after some food it was off to bed and I didn’t sleep a wink as I replayed the match over and over. The following morning it was a bus into lime street train station followed by a train to Manchester Airport as we were flying back from there. Everything was on time on the way back and we made our train at 3.15pm with plenty of time to spare and arrived back in Waterford at 5.30pm. People ask how I can go over do often and how expensive it is. It helps if u don’t drink or smoke but our flights were €50 return the match ticket €65 and the bed and breakfast €25 each so I’m sure people going out 2 night a week would easily spend that much so that’s how I’m able to go over often to games.
Right now it’s a very exciting time to be a Liverpool fan and I don’t want to tempt faith but it’s definitely one of the best squads I have seen in my time supporting the club.
Jimmy Ruffley’s Story
I travelled over last September for the Liverpool v Southampton match, with my trip beginning with an overnight in Dublin. Due to having a 6.30am flight on Friday morning it was necessary for me to make the trip up from Galway. I landed in Manchester at 7.30am on Friday morning with one of my Scouse twitter mates (Ste) waiting for me. This guy got out of bed early and made the 40 min or so drive to Manchester just to pick me up. Ste drove me to Liverpool where we had brekkie in a Weatherspoons and of course a pint of cider at 9am.
From there he gave me the grand tour of Huyton, where he lives and went to visit another twitter mate, John in his home also in the area. Ste literally couldn’t do enough for me with transporting me about to and from my hotel and around town, his hospitality to a guy he just met off the internet blew me away. This was to become a theme of my trip with scousers, what a great bunch of people. Friday night we of course had a few beers with more twitter mates, Stacy and John and had an unbelievable night of banter and laughs. Saturday morning matchday, hungover but buzzing. I’d been to Anfield several times over the years but this was the first time I’d ever travelled alone with the view to meeting as many of my twitter mates as possible.
I put on my leprechaun outfit and headed into town for brekkie to meet the gang and another mate, Shazza, aka lifebanta. We had breakfast and a pint with them and once again, nothing but laughs and banter. I’m loving this so far then we headed up to the Flat Iron pub to meet others. Needless to say my leprechaun attire was getting a bit of attention with people stopping me and asking for selfies. We all made our way towards the ground to soak up the buzz and it is a buzz! There is nowhere like Anfield on matchday, it’s electric. We had great seats in the ground just behind and left of the Liverpool dugout.
Naturally the atmosphere was good inside the ground, with the Kop doing it’s thing as usual, then the spine tingling rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ reverberated around the stadium. The first half we were three nil up by half time, courtesy of an own goal, and a Joel Matip and Mo Salah goal.
The job was done at this stage so the second half wasn’t great, mainly due to Southampton having already given up.
Overall the trip cost me less than €500, not including spends. But what I took home from this more than anytime was the love, hospitality and all round awesomeness of the people I met there. Scousers are just different arent they… in the best possible way and I made genuine friends for life over there. Can’t wait til the next trip in 2019!