南京夜网,南京桑拿网,南京夜生活交流论坛

Powered by Kgazbg!

SPORTING DECLARATION: Walk on to victory

MUCH as it pains me to admit it, with three games remaining in the English Premier League season Sporting Declaration is willing to concede Arsenal are unlikely to finish as champions.
Nanjing Night Net

Given that the mighty Gooners are 10 points off the pace, and there are a maximum of nine points up for grabs, even with my limited mathematical ability the reality of the situation is starting to sink in.

At such times I traditionally search for the positives.

If all goes according to plan, Arsenal will win the FA Cup, qualify for the European Champions League for a record 17th consecutive season and, most importantly, once again finish well above their ‘‘norf’’ London neighbours, Tottenham Hotspur.

All of which would, considering a debilitating injury toll, constitute a reasonably satisfying return.

Nonetheless, usually at this point in proceedings I am also begrudging the success of whatever rival team, or teams, remain in the race for the title.

To hell with this ‘‘credit where it is due’’ nonsense.

But this time I can’t help myself cheering for what shapes as one of the great footballing fairytales of modern times, albeit not involving my Gunners.

When the season kicked off, only the most parochial desperates on Merseyside would have given Liverpool much chance of vying for the crown, having finished their last campaign in seventh place, a distant 28 points behind winners Manchester United.

Certainly it seemed their superstar striker, Luis Suarez, had no great faith. He was desperate to join Arsenal – and who could blame him? – only for Liverpool to reject a pre-season offer of £40million (plus £1) to release him.

Arsenal’s loss has been Liverpool’s 30-goal gain.

Here we are, three games from full-time, with Suarez the league’s leading scorer and Liverpool five points clear of their nearest challengers (Chelsea, who they play tomorrow night) and with destiny in their own hands. Their 24-year wait for another league triumph could soon be over.

This may comes as a surprise, but I have always had a soft spot for Liverpool.

Before I moved to live in England in the early 1990s, whereupon a mate started taking me regularly to Highbury and converted me, I suppose I was a quasi-Liverpool fan, if only because they were Craig Johnston’s club.

I have since travelled through most of the major cities in the Old Dart and can’t recall anywhere as grim and inhospitable as parts of Liverpool.

While the city centre and harbour have been gentrified, my memories of the drive to Anfield are of dilapidated terrace houses, windows and doors barricaded with corrugated iron.

It is a city of almost half a million people, notorious for high unemployment, poverty and crime, where residents are known as ‘‘Scousers’’ after the time-honoured local dish ‘‘scouse’’, advertised in one cafe I visited as ‘‘boiled mince meat and potatoes’’.

For Liverpudlian battlers, even in the toughest of times football has been their inspiration, regardless of whether they cheer for the ‘‘Reds’’ at Anfield, or for Everton barely a kilometre away at Goodison Park.

And rarely has the link between a football club and a community been as poignantly highlighted as in recent weeks.

It is now 25 years since 96 Liverpool fans died in an infamous crowd crush at Hillsborough before an FA Cup semi-final, a tragedy that has been exacerbated by an ongoing quest for accountability and justice.

As British politician Andy Burnham asked the 20,000-strong crowd at a Hillsbrough memorial service two weeks ago: ‘‘How can it be that an entire city was crying injustice for 20 years and no one was listening?’’

It is hard to imagine a more unifying event with such a long-term emotional impact.

The minute’s silence before Liverpool’s clash with Manchester City two weeks ago – the anniversary of Hillsbrough – followed by the spine-tingling rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone was one of those rare moments that transcend sport.

After the halcyon days of the 1970s and 1980s, when they were England’s benchmark club, Liverpool’s success in subsequent seasons has been confined to cup competitions and a memorable victory in the final of the 2005 European Champions League, after trailing AC Milan 3-0 at half-time.

For their long-suffering supporters, a Premier League triumph, a quarter of a century after the club’s darkest hour, would somehow seem so appropriate.

Likewise, it would be fitting to see Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard, whose 10-year-old cousin Jon-Paul Gilhooley died at Hillsbrough, lift the trophy.

Nine years ago, Gerard received a massive offer to join Chelsea that would have doubled his salary.

Instead he stuck with the home-town club he first joined while in primary school, only to watch Chelsea win the Premier League twice, the FA Cup three times, the European Champions League and the UEFA Cup in the ensuing years.

In this day and age of self-serving mercenaries, it would be something special to see Gerrard rewarded for his loyalty with a page in footballing folklore.

posted by admin in 南京夜网 and have Comments Off on SPORTING DECLARATION: Walk on to victory

Comments are closed.