It’s 01:00 and me, my little brother and my dad are squeezed together on a graffitied stone bench, eating in stunned silence. It’s only broken by the intermittent rustle of chip bags as we tuck into a well-deserved feast from a late-night chicken shop. Liverpool have just won their sixth European Cup and the city has exploded into unparalleled merriment. Unfortunately, my brother can’t join in: he’s sitting an A-level exam the next day and needs a good night’s sleep. So, having finished our meals, we soak up as much of the intoxicating joy as possible on the walk back to the car. On the way I ask my brother, “Are you glad you came?” To which he responds, “I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life.”
I’m happy for so many different reasons. The first is a selfish one: I have seen my team win their first trophy since 2012’s League Cup win. The second is for the city itself: Liverpool is an amazing place full of culture and friendly faces. The third is my brother: his blind faith that I chose the right team to back at the age of 12 has been fully rewarded and we now both have a shared experience that we will never forget. That’s bigger than football.
The actual match-watching experience itself was a strange one. After trawling up and down streets and alleys for what seemed like hours, our oasis on this warm summer night was Fly in the Loaf, which was almost full as we arrived. After manoeuvring our way to the bar to get drinks, we scoped a spot to watch the game from and managed to find one directly under the air-conditioning unit with an unobscured view of a TV: perfect.
I was in a trance-like state up until the referee’s first whistle, when the bar exploded into fierce roars of encouragement. These roars were still being heard when a moment of madness from Tottenham’s Moussa Sissoko meant that Liverpool had a penalty within the first 50 seconds of the game. Mohammed Salah quickly dispelled any worries we foolish mortals might have had by thumping the ball as hard as possible past a helpless Hugo Lloris.
I don’t remember anything about the game between that moment and the 87th. Then Divock Origi gets one chance on his left peg and ends the contest once and for all. The countdown to the final whistle was accompanied by singing until the very end, when the entire bar broke out in a rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone. That will stay with me until my dying breath.