Ray Malone from Waterford City, Ireland has been a lifelong Liverpool fan. This well known local man has travelled to over 600 matches in his lifetime. Having witnessed the glory of Istanbul in 2005 which he did a report on for the local newspaper Ray was hoping for another great story in Kiev, alas it wasn’t to be, however the magic of the fans traveling in their droves and the electric athmosphere of a Champions League Final is described here. The story of one fan’s journey told exclusively to the Anfield Talk’s Robin (@robbiemac72)…
Here Ray takes up the story of his odyssey to Kiev:
“It was an early start on Thursday 24th May as we left Waterford on the 1.30am bus to Dublin Airport to start our epic journey to Kiev. It was the champions league final and my Liverpool side were playing Real Madrid. I had been to many games over the years but none with this amount of travelling.
“Our first flight saw us leave Dublin Airport at 06.45 heading to Munich. Everything happily was on time and we arrived at 09.45 local time. We had a stopover of 3 hours before our next flight which took us from Munich to Istanbul in Turkey. Istanbul for obvious reasons was a nice place to go and reflect on that famous night in May 2005 which I was lucky enough to have seen. Another 3 hour wait in Istanbul and we’re told we needed a visa but could get one for 25 euro. Amazingly they didn’t accept card payments for the visa which was a bit strange but I’m sure they had their reasons. We left that airport at 8.15 heading this time to Ankara, the capital of Turkey. This was a short flight of just over an hour but as usual we had another wait before boarding our last flight at 23.45 to Kiev airport. We finally arrived at 2.15am, just under 25 hours after we had left Waterford.
“We got through security after a while and I scanned the crowd outside waiting at arrivals and finally saw a sign which I knew was for me. It said Mícheál Palin on it so I knew my buddy Niall Kennedy had arranged that. We finally left the airport heading to Niall and his lovely wife Alla’s apartment. This was a blessing for us as accommodation was at a premium in Kiev with a lot of hotels ripping off fans. Over the next day or so we were brought around Kiev by our host and had a great chance to see this beautiful city. There were so many Liverpool fans in the city I was beginning to wonder if any Madrid fans had come at all.
“Onto matchday and the buzz around the city was just fantastic and this was helped by the €1 price for the pints in most pubs so the fans were able to really enjoy themselves. We headed then to Shevchenko Park where the Liverpool fans were congregating in massive numbers and singing the songs the club are famous for. The security personnel were superb all over the city and caught onto the fact we were just there to support our team and have a great time.
“Onto the match itself and the atmosphere before kickoff was just incredible with Liverpool fans outnumbering Madrid by at least 4 to 1 and the noise levels superb. The rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” before kickoff had the hairs on the back of my nect standing up. The actual match itself was very disappointing as you can’t legislate for a goalkeeper having a night as bad as that in his biggest ever match. It was hard to take but the supporters made it a fantastic experience and well worth travelling halfway around the world to get there.
“We stayed on for a few days to see more of this lovely city and I found the locals to be really nice everywhere we went and most had been supporting Liverpool. They asked if we would come back to their country and it was a resounding yes from us.
“Our journey home was a lot easier as we left Borispol airport in Kiev on Tuesday evening at 19.35 heading to Vilnius in Lithuania and after a 2 hour wait we boarded out last flight to Dublin and finally arrived home at 1.30 local time and found my friends car and he drove us back to Waterford finally getting home just after 4am. It really was a trip of a lifetime and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything even allowing for the result.
“As I said the people were lovely out there and I made a lot of new scouse friends over the 6 days. I have supported Liverpool all my life and have had some great experiences and hopefully many more to come over the next number of years under Jurgen Klopp.”