It definitely was not the farewell that all of us at Anfield wanted on Saturday evening, with a 3-1 home loss to a well deserved Crystal Palace side that have done well since the return to South East London of local boy and former player, 53 year old Alan Pardew from the hell on Tyneside in January.
He has been taking anger management classes after some daft rantings and ravings in the North-East and has worked wonders with his club. Anger management classes for the fans of once dominant Liverpool might be in order after this latest shambolic performance. The loss of Luis Suarez and his many goals has taken its toll since their splendid second place finish and Champions league football reward last May.
I arrived at Liverpool Lime Street station on the Trans-Pennine Express about noon. It has been tarted up with broad curved steps down to St. George's Square-but they could have cleaned up the seagull and pigeon poo for my visit. Through the city centre and the many fans bedecked in red and white attire, pop up stalls selling both Liverpool and Everton fanwear and a collection of elegantly painted ducks,,, maybe a dozen or more, included a blue Everton and a red LFC one.
The sun was shining as I passed through the multi levelled LIVERPOOL ONE shopping mall with its upmarket (WELL for Merseyside anyway) restaurants and down to the River Mersey and the ALBERT DOCK, a cultural gem with shops, restaurants, bars, great museums and even greater architecture to rival THE THREE GRACES next door, including the ROYAL LIVER BUILDING, CUNARD BUILDING and PORT OF LIVERPOOL BUILDING at Pier Head that predated them. Now a Liverpool Maritime and Mercantile UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE. I had to hold on to my hat as the sea breeze was more like gale force.
I caught the No. 917 bus to Anfield from the side of St. George's Hall and couldn't believe it !! There was Steven Gerrard in his jersey two seats in front of me, OR WAS IT ? I looked around and there were at least a dozen with the same named jersey !! At the stadium it was buzzing outside with big lines to buy the special edition match programme and I went to see the gigantic scaffolding behind the main stand that will double its size and the gentrification of the whole area.
Inside I was on the front row of the CENTENARY STAND at the halfway line using my friends season ticket. GEORGE SEPHTON has been The Voice of Anfield for almost 44 years and with the help of fans had chosen 36 songs to blare over the loudspeaker: CHANGE, AINT NO SUNSHINE, ANFIELD ROW, BREAKFAST IN AMERICA, BYE BYE LOVE, CALIFORNIA DREAMING, COMING TO AMERICA, HEART AS BIG AS LIVERPOOL, L.A. WOMAN, LEAVING ON A JET PLANE, MERSEY PARADISE, QUE SERA, STEVIE, RING OF FIRE, LET IT BE..... We all held up white or red cards to spell CAPTAIN while THE KOP spelled out S 8 G in red, white and yellow as he and his three young daughters walked through a guard of honour formed by both teams and the match officials.
IT ALL WENT DOWNHILL FROM THERE, THE EPL's answer to DEFLATE GATE, deflated fans not the ball. Adam Lallana opened the scoring but 3 Palace goals, the second offside and the third dodgy...but they deserved the 3 points. In the second half Gerrard blasted a free kick into the Kop. "What the f....g hell was that" chanted the fans,in a lighthearted way. Jordan Henderson seems to be the only one fit to take on the captains role. There were many below par performances with big gaps to fill as Stevie G goes off to LA LA LAND.