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'We can’t think about what it could have been. Liverpool are going to be champions, that’s what we've wanted for 30 years'

Gareth Roberts of The Anfield Wrap explains what Liverpool’s title win will mean to supporters, and whether it is diminished by its happening behind closed doors.

File photo of Anfield.
File photo of Anfield.
Image: Phil Noble

LIVERPOOL SPENT ALMOST  30 years identifying themselves with the English league title and then another 30 being lampooned by it. 

Once the baseline of their success, the title has spent the last three decades as an emblem of Liverpool’s mistakes, misfortunes, and inequities. 

Not for much longer. Liverpool will be crowned champions if they win two of their remaining nine games, and if Manchester City lose to Arsenal on Wednesday, they can win it by beating Everton at Goodison Park a week on Sunday. 

And so this demented longing will soon end, and it will be met by…silence.

The games are back, but the crowds are locked out. 

“It’s definitely not as we planned it”, says Gareth Roberts, presenter with The Anfield Wrap. “But I did like what Jurgen Klopp said. At some point we will be allowed to have a party and have a parade, and we will have it.” 

Gareth is joining Jason McAteer and The42 for a Premier League Preview Zoom event with William Hill next Tuesday at 1pm, which you can join for free by following this link.

Roberts’ first game at Anfield as a supporter was in 1990, albeit in the Autumn, after Liverpool won their 18th league title earlier that year. “I have been to Anfield every season where we haven’t won the league, and some of my friends have said it to me, ‘Maybe it’s you?’” 

He hasn’t seen Liverpool lift the league title at Anfield and he likely won’t at the end of this season either, with games set to be played behind closed doors. 

The dubious part of Liverpool’s longing was meant to be when it ended, rather than how. 

“For three decades we’ve been imaging the party and we’ve had so many conversations on the Anfield Wrap, ‘What are you going to do when Liverpool win the league?’ 

“I’ve heard everything from special bottles of champagne being saved for the moment, cigars that have never been smoked; one lad on the Anfield Wrap says he’s just going to climb a tree and sit up there, enjoying the fact we’re champions of England.

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“There were all of these weird and wonderful plans, but none of them were, ‘Sit inside as your team wins the league behind closed doors.’ So what’s it going to be now, pyro on the porch?” 

liverpool-v-atletico-madrid-uefa-champions-league-round-of-16-second-leg-anfield A banner on show at Anfield in March, during the Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid. Source: Martin Rickett

Roberts agrees that Liverpool’s winning the title behind closed doors somewhat diminishes the experience.

You’ve got say it does, as you always imagined being there. Even this season before the coronavirus crisis began we were talking about imagining that moment when Jordan Henderson does his little pigeon step and hoists the trophy. Imagine how good that will feel? Imagine the ticker tape lying around Anfield, imagine what we’ll sing and imagine what we’ll shout?

“We won’t have that moment of shared joy. We will have to do it over Skype or Zoom, or in a group of six in a park watching on a mobile phone.” 

Still. They’ve been waiting this long, what’s another little while?

“Jurgen Klopp was saying we might have kicked off a new season when a bus will be allowed to travel around Liverpool and hold up the trophy. If that’s the case, we will do it then. I’m on board with that. Everyone will celebrate in their own way and in a way they never imagined.

“But when we are allowed to gather together and go back into bars and go back inside Anfield, I think we’ll have a second party.

“We have to make the best of it, we can’t think about what it could have been or what it should have been. This is life right now, let’s live in this moment. Liverpool are still going to be champions, and that’s what we’ve wanted for 30 years.” 

Although supporters will likely be denied their shared ecstasy at the game in which Liverpool secure the title, taking celebrations outside the ground makes for a more democratic joy. 

“Football is still a big escape for people, including those who are locked out from going to the game as they couldn’t dream of being able to afford to. But they still support Liverpool. That came home to me when we won the European Cup last year. I’m fortunate in that I do go to the game, and I have done for a long time. When Liverpool brought the European Cup home the streets were absolutely packed. 

“There were smiles on everyone’s faces. There were old and young on the streets, people of different races and nationalities, all walks of life. Everyone was enjoying it. Only 55,000 people can go to Anfield every week.

“Football is supposed to be an escape and it’s supposed to put a smile on your face, so when those red ribbons are finally put around the Premier League trophy, there will be lots of smiles in the city.” 

Gareth Roberts of the Anfield Wrap is joining Jason McAteer and The42 for a live Premier League Preview Zoom event with William Hill.  To attend, simply email events@the42.ie and you will receive a link to sign in to the Zoom call at 1pm on Tuesday.

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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