I have spoken of my love of sports. I have spoken of how sports and my brain and my life intersect. I’ve also spoken of my recently found fondness of Liverpool Football Club (LFC).
I have also spoken of my current inability to watch Warrior games in full. There is something that occurs in me that just makes it TOO hard.
This past Sunday the English Premier League (EPL) played its final match of its very long (10 month – 38 match) season. The EPL is a force. The 1960s brought us “The British Invasion”. I believe the 2020s are bringing us, in a sports context, a 2nd British Invasion, the EPL. AND the EPL, warts and all, gets IT. Championship Sunday is played out over 10 matches involving all 20 sides that kickoff at the same time. BTW, not surprising this is at 11 AM EDT / 8 AM PDT. And, when it is imagined by the marketing staff, the matches matter on multiple levels. You see, there is the championship itself. And there is the Champions League qualification, Europa Cup and Europa League qualification AND, perhaps biggest, the battle to stave off relegation. All of these contained a high level of drama. Incredible.
My side, LFC, were in it for the quadruple (there are four “cups” competed for by the top EPL sides – Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup). No side has ever “held” all four at the same time. NONE! And no side had ever made it to this point in a season with the possibility still alive. UNTIL this past Sunday. LFC won the League Cup and FA Cup in the past month by the narrowest of margins – shootouts won against the same side Chelsea (I refer to them as Chelskey – a moniker I use to deride their ownership, Roman Abromovich). Could they capture the EPL crown?
So what happened? How did it play out? At halftime (remember these matches occur nearly simultaneously) LFC were tied at 1-1. AND Manchester City, the machine owned by the sovereign nation wealth fund, were trailing 0-1 to Aston Villa (if you need further context and drama, “Villa” are managed by LFC legend Stevie Gerard). AND as the matches proceeded toward the 75th minute “City” fell behind 0-2, while LFC were still knotted up 1-1. LFC were pressing and simply needed a goal and results to hold for them to “raise the cup”. AND IT WAS NOT TO BE. At least for me. City, in the way that true CHAMPIONS do, went on to score an amazing 3 goals to win 3-2, while LFC got their winner and an extra and won 3-1.
What is truly amazing for me to observe? ME. Yep. I watched it play out in its entirety. It reminded me of the boy I was at 10 when I was blessed to watch amazing wins and crushing defeats (I was that child crying in his Dad’s arms in the stands) by Da Raiders at the Oakland Coliseum with Dad and Steve and Mike. No angst at all. Just the sheer joy and the crushing sadness that I enjoyed and was crushed by as a child. I’m not really sure why, just yet. Is it my newness to LFC and EPL? Is it the lack of expectations I have that worry more about the agony of defeat versus the thrill of victory (shoutout to the Wide World of Sports!)?
My morning started again early. And as is my tendency (still dark and too early to wander), I went on my phone to catch up on Bleacher Report (perhaps my favorite App?). And I’m spending a lot of my time there enjoying the noise around the Dubs and LFC. I made my way through several clicks and found my way to a 5+ minute video interview of VVD, the beast (Virgil Van Dyke – LFC Center Back). He might be the hub in the LFC wheel. He was being interviewed by Rio Ferdinand (retired Manchester United (MU) center back legend). He was VVD before VVD was VVD! AND that is not easy for me to say about a Red Devil, as MU are LFC’s most despised rival. Greatness knows greatness. For those of us watching, we can only imagine. The interview is really well done. It meandered and found its way to a discussion of the quadruple. And this is where the magic occurred for me. VVD answered the question of how much time LFC spent discussing the quadruple in the “changing room”. He said, none. And went on to explain this was due to the Boss (Jurgen Klopp). Sure, they all were hopeful. Yet, they can only do their best. Results are not guaranteed. And regardless of outcome, “WE GO AGAIN”.
Maybe, just maybe, I will be able to watch all of tonights Dubs game?