It’s that time of the year again
The time when the streets are full of monsters, zombies and flamingos (???), when you argue with your spouse over whether you should buy sweets or mixed nuts for the kids (sorry darling, but I did at least go for cashews this year), and when you turn off all the lights, draw all the curtains and ensure a total black-out of the house at 7pm.
It is, of course, my favourite of the pagan festivals – Halloween
So to get us all in the ghastly, terrifying spirit of this year’s festival of the dead – I’ve put together my 5 most horrifying memories of past Liverpool matches.
MANCHESTER UNITED 4 – 0 LIVERPOOL – April, 2003
To get us off a truly terrible start, we go back 15 years. Liverpool traveled to Old Trafford nearing the end of an underwhelming League campaign. They needed to win, or at least draw, in order to keep pressure on Chelsea in the battle for fourth place (this is something we will get to again a little bit later).
It took a total of 5 minutes for things to go tits-up for the Reds. Van Nistelrooy found himself alone in the box, Sami Hyypia wrestles with him and Ruud goes down faster than a ten-bob ‘Dam lady of the night. The Liverpool captain is given a red card. It’s harsh; maybe a penalty, maybe not. But a red card? Not on your nelly.
Back in those days, the BBC were based in London rather than Salford as they are now – so their coverage was a little less infected with Manchester bias. Here’s a small snippet from their match report that day:
So it’s nice to see that nothing has changed with the standard of officiating over the course of the last decade and a half, good job lads.
He converts the penalty, we replace Baroš with Bišćan – leaving Emile Heskey as the only striker for the best part of 85 minutes, and United score another three. The final nail being duly hammered home by Liverpool supporter, and baby-faced bellend, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
STOKE CITY 6 – 1 LIVERPOOL – May, 2015
A more recent one this time. And this, as disasters go, was a real disaster. All that needs to be said here is that Stoke are 5-0 up at half time. It was, genuinely, as bad as that.
Liverpool improved (though honestly, they couldn’t have been any worse) during the second half, and Steven Gerrard – hero, captain, legend – actually managed a goal in his last ever game for his beloved Reds.
The problem is, for me at least, that this goal was 100% gifted to us by a merciful Stoke team. Have a look:
I haven’t got the patience, willingness, self-hatred, or motivation to look at who that defender is – the one who slows down to a walk when Gerrard runs past him – but he’s a good bloke with plenty of sweet, sweet karma coming his way. But really, do we want a pity goal from Stoke? STOKE! Of all teams!
Also, as if allowing Lady Fate to twist the knife just a bit more, big Crouchy then decided to say ‘bollocks to all of that respectful mercy carry-on, I’m getting myself a goal here”.
It was a bad season, and signaled the beginning of the end for Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool, so maybe (just maybe) there was a silver lining somewhere in all of that.
ARSENAL 4 – 2 LIVERPOOL – April, 2004
This one was less about the result or anything particularly embarrassing, it’s more that the game remains, even to this day, a football-related traumatic event for me personally.
I was, and still am, a big fan of Sami Hyypia. The big Finn represented everything I loved about football when I was a kid – strength, composure, a dominant figure in the air and on the ground. I was obsessed with the man. So to see his team, especially his defense, made to look so desperately amateur by Thierry Henry that day was a bitter pill to swallow for 13 year-old me.
We were leading twice in that game, and Sami himself scored the kind of goal that typified him – a diving header.
Ok, so it wasn’t a great goal – but the fact remains, Hyypia was a boss centre-half. Here’s a bonus clip from a few years later:
We were winning 2-1 at half-time and all seemed to be going swimmingly. But then Theirry ‘party-pooper’ Henry decided to switch it on.
Having already scored a nice goal in the first half, the Frenchman turned the second half into what is essentially a gang-bang at the expense of the Liverpool back-four – Sami Hyypia’s back four. I won’t show you his second goal as it makes Carragher look like he won his place in the team at the Christmas raffle.
I remember watching this game absolutely dumb-struck, unable to comprehend how one man can make my hero’s defense look so ordinary. Or how one man can make the game look so easy.
LIVERPOOL 1 – 1 BASEL – December, 2014
This game is something of an outlier because we didn’t actually lose. This was the single best representation of a Brendan Rodgers team when they go to Europe.
After the breathtaking displays witnessed at Anfield during the previous, oh-so-close season – I remember being pretty hopeful about going to Europe in 2014.
Fast forward a few months and it was a disaster – we had gained 5 points from 5 games in a relatively easy group. We didn’t deserve to go through but had the chance to against Basel at Anfield. It was supposed to be Olympiacos 2004 all over again, a full ten years and a day since that fateful night.
What actually happened was the most anti-European-night-at-Anfield match I have ever witnessed.
The crowd tried their best to spur-on the team but it was a lifeless performance. Lambert started up-top and was replaced by Marković at half-time. The young Serb was then sent-off for what can only be described as absolutely nothing.
We managed 61% of possession that night, and even with 17 attempts, never really looked like scoring. Gerrard did ping in a beauty in the final 10 minutes, and Henderson did almost nick the win at the end, but it wasn’t to be. It took us 81 minutes to decide we needed to score and those 9 minutes plus stoppage time were simply not enough.
Liverpool managed one win in the Champions League that year, 2-1 – courtesy of a Gerrard Penalty in the 93rd minute – against Ludogoretz. This was our much anticipated return to the European Cup after a painfully long hiatus.
Brendan Rodgers, even now, has no idea how to play in Europe.
CHELSEA 2 – 1 Liverpool – May, 2003
This game was dubbed ‘the £20m match’ back when £20m in football was a significant amount of money and not the cost of one of Neymar’s hemorrhoids.
The winner would qualify for the Champions League and the loser would get ridiculed by a place in that other European competition.
Both were level on 64 points entering the final game of the season, with Chelsea 8 clear in goal difference. Liverpool needed to win.
11 minutes in and we were a goal-up, and who scored it? You bet your bottom bollock it was my man Sami again.
Two minutes later, Desailly equalizes.
Ok, strange but whatever.
13 minutes after this bizarre anomaly, Jesper Gronkjaer brushes off Riise like he’s made of soft Norwegian cheese and curls a nice effort into Dudek’s far post.
We’re losing, somehow, but there’s plenty of time left.
Well, not really – we didn’t create very many scoring chances. Owen and Baroš were dwarved by Gallas and Desailly and couldn’t catch a break. The game passed very, very quickly (especially through the eyes of an impressionable 13 year-old), and we lost.
A month later, Chelsea were bought by a certain Russian oligarch for a 140 million
blood monies pounds. There were some rumours that Roman was waiting to see who would emerge victorious before deciding which team to turn into the most hated team in the world for the next ten years.
I’m not sure how true this is, but personally, I’m glad he went with Chelsea. After-all, they really needed the supporters.
There we have it – Five times Liverpool have horrified me
It is always important to remember the bad times, as you can only then truly appreciate the good. Enjoy your Halloween night!