The loneliness of a superstitious football fan is neither hygienic, nor particularly beneficial to one’s mental stability, I thought as I pulled on the same pair of underpants that I wore eight days ago.
The Tragic Loneliness Of The Superstitious Football Fan And His Underpants
By Matty Lawrence
While my pals were whetting their whistle before the big kick off in a delightfully air conditioned bar in the West Village, I was ensconced in my Upper East Side apartment without enough room to swing a cat..Or even a cat for company.
Why? I hear you ask, and even if you weren’t asking, I’m going to tell you: It’s because this is where I watched the first leg of the Champions League semi-final eight days ago. With Liverpool running out the 5-2 victors in that game at Anfield, there was no way I could change my routine this Wednesday afternoon.
So here I was sweltering, attached to the same underpants (unwashed), lonely and SO bloody thirsty. Sobriety felt good last week with the nerves of the first leg permeating through my bones. Today, not so. I just can’t change a damn thing. Superstition has taken me under its wing and denied me even the slightest sip of alcohol, or the luxury of a less pungent pair of undies.
All this for a bloody game of football? You can bet your life on it. With a three-goal lead, I really should have felt confident enough to cartwheel down my hallway, into the elevator and into any bar of my choice, safe in the knowledge that LFC couldn’t throw that lead away, wherever I watched the game. But I’m a footy fan and a former footy player. And, above all else, have witnessed many a Liverpool capitulation and a seeming desire to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Today would be no different, I was pretty sure of that. I had approximately three thousand superstitions as a player, and I was sticking limpet-like to that mantra.
My ritual of pre-match superstitions would start sometime around Friday night and progress all the way through Saturday and into the actual game after 3pm. Anyone who watched me hopping over the lines at the halfway line where the centre circle bisected it, at every opposition goal kick, now knows why.
Half a banana before the game, the other at half-time, towel folded perfectly like it had just been pressed, more tape around my shinnies than is currently required to keep my knees in place and ALWAYS the left boot on first…and that’s just when I’m watching in my apartment. I kid. Although this Wednesday afternoon I did have exactly the same M&Ms lined up as last week and a couple of litres of water to chug my way through. If nothing else, I would be well hydrated in this furnace of an apartment.
I suppose we should talk about the game itself. The only way that AS Roma had any chance was if they scored first..At least that was my assumption.
When Mane tucked home Firmino’s pass inside 10 minutes, I nearly hopped in the shower, put on my glad rags and headed out in search of throat lubricants. Of course, I didn’t because a) I’m a superstitious cretin, and b) Dejan Lovren So, not just once, but twice within 20 minutes Lovren managed to give AS Roma a boost. Granted the referee’s final whistle of the first leg, and opening whistle of the second, separated this Lovren cameo.
Did he have a few grand squirreled away on an AS Roma victory? Poor, old James Milner is still icing his cheek after Lovren ricocheted the ball off Milner into the back of his own net. The only consolation is we know Lovren didn’t mean it, because he would certainly have missed the target from that five-yard range.
Luckily for Lovren, and my blood pressure, Gigi Wijnaldum restored the one goal cushion in the game a mere 10 minutes later. At this point, Milner’s cheek had toned down from pillar-box red to a dull, dark pink.
Credit where it is due because Lovren isn’t the only clown to be working his magic at the back for Liverpool FC: please step forward Loris Karius. For a guy who routinely struggles to remember to put his hands in his gloves most games, we should tip our caps towards him in the 52nd minute. No fear of those chocolate wrists this time as he had to work supremely hard to parry the ball straight into the path of Edin Dzeko.
Karius managed to ignore every coaching point in the goalkeeper’s manual and instead of tipping the ball around the post, or sideways out of danger, he managed to meet it with steely precision and find the feet of one of the most lethal strikers in Europe.
And, boy, did Karius add insult to injury in the 86th minute just to keep my blood pressure teetering around the Bill Werbeniuk + 30 pints of stout + two grammes of beta-blockers levels. Karius’ misjudgement was so bad that he ended up virtually waving the ball into the back of the net. There is not a chance in hell that I’m letting him park my motor in the nearest multi-storey: he’d struggle to get in the entrance with that skew-eyed vision.
The defensive battle that was AS Roma vs Liverpool wasn’t done there, as a 13th goal came deep into stoppage time and made the tie an excruciating 7-6 to Liverpool on aggregate. Of course this is the result I wanted and of course I lost approximately seven pounds in weight through sweat alone, along with 67,000 strands of hair. Not to mention considering the implementation of hit-men upon certain members of a flaky backline.
But, above all else, I know that this condemns me to be sadly alone when Liverpool Football Club play Real Madrid in Kiev on Saturday, May 26. with no alcohol and questionable personal hygiene on display once again. Just another day in the life of a superstitious football fan, confined indoors, chained to the metaphorical radiator yet again, channelling my inner Terry Waite (Google him, young ‘uns).