- This is a personal piece by guest writer Robert Lawson:
I’m a very lucky boy. I got to go to Madrid with my 18-year-old son, which was his first Champions League Final. The whole weekend was probably one of the best weekends of my life – apart from the few hours surrounding the match and the aftermath.
I was one of the lucky few that managed to get hold of a ticket, but unfortunately I could only one. After having an absolute ball on Saturday afternoon watching Neil Atkinson whip up the crowd with John Gibbons in the fan park, watching Timo Tierney, John Power, Colin Murray and finally Jamie Webster singing the 50,000 plus crowd into a frenzy, it was time to hand the golden ticket to my son.
I watched him and my mate Paul Lambert go off to the match together, suddenly realising that I was on my own. Not only that, but I was left feeling more alone than i have felt in a long time, all whilst being surrounded by 50,000 plus other people who were there for the same reason as me.
I’ll be honest, I sat and had a big cry. I’m not a crier. I don’t even know why I was crying, but the feeling of being on my own and having watched my son disappear off to the match just hit me.
I worked hard to pull myself together and set about the task of finding a TV to watch the game. Those of you who were there know how hard this was and after hearing back from the people who I thought I might be able to watch the match with, I managed to get hold of David Easson.
I’d had the pleasure of meeting David last year when I watched the Kiev final at Death Row Diner in Liverpool, so I trekked across Madrid to a bar he had told me about. When I got there I was confronted by a queue that was about 20-30 people deep, compounded by the fact that it was operating a one in, one out policy.
Fearing that I would miss the game if I stayed there (after all, how many people were likely to be leaving?), I spent another hour walking trying to find anywhere to watch it. Eventually I found myself back in my hotel room, trying to get it my the phone and once again being hit by an immense feeling of loneliness.
Why was I feeling like that? I was in a city that had been taken over by Liverpool fans, yet the ones that I knew had all managed to get themselves tickets into the ground. I’d gone to Madrid knowing that I wouldn’t be able to watch the game with my son, but expecting to be able to stand in a bar or pub with a load of mates and watch it instead. I couldn’t do that, so I was suddenly afraid that this incredible moment would be taken away from me.
I got on Twitter and I saw a tweet someone had sent to Jay McKenna telling him about a casino sports bar that was showing the game, so I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and head there, given that it was right next to my hotel. Could the football help get me out of my funk and lift me from the low ebb I was at?
The game goes as it goes: Mo scores, I worry walk the casino balcony, change TVs, change vantage points and finally drop to my knees as Divock Origi scores the winner. After being so worried about being on my own, I still have a big hug and cry with a lad as the final whistle goes. Despite not knowing each other, we were ready to watch Jordan Henderson lift the trophy together.
The the casino decides to turn the TV off.
I was expecting a riot, but instead people simply file out and I managed to find a hotel lobby to see Jordan lift Old Big Ears in.
Then I was off into the night to catch up with my son and heir and Lambo, bumping into and having the pleasure of sharing a wine and drink with Rob Gutmann, who had the same dilemma of having only one ticket and giving it to his eldest son.
Eventually I found our Matty and Lambo about two hours after kick-off, which would probably have been earlier but our Matty and Robbie Fowler (not that one) knew everyone in the stadium and hugged them all). We hugged and cried and ended up back in the casino sharing a drink with fellow Liverpool and Spurs fans, discussing the game.
We are 6 time European champions and I know that this should be the best thing in my life, but it isn’t. I never got to celebrate, to enjoy it and to have that burst of emotion with anyone i knew and that left me empty. I was filled with a lot of different emotions inside, a sense of guilt, a hollowness and an emptiness because I don’t feel like I had the win because I didn’t get the let off with those iI know and love. To make matters worse, I know that I never will, so it somehow feels like it didn’t happen.
I went to Madrid because I was convinced that the important thing was to be where the action is, but. I was wrong.
The most important thing is to be with the people that mean the most to you, to be with your mates and your loved ones because it is always them who make these things magical.
Sometimes being in the heart of things feels like the most amazing thing in the world, but sometimes it can leave you feeling alone in a sea of Red. I’m glad our Matty got to see Liverpool Football Club win their 6th European Cup, but I’m also sad that I didn’t get to watch it with him, stood arm-in-arm. Those are memories that last a lifetime, so cherish yours if you have them and seek them out if you don’t.
You’ll Never Walk Alone is the club motto, but the reality is that sometimes we do.
Next time you go the game or you watch it in a pub, have a look around and see if there’s someone that looks a little lost. You don’t know what a difference you could make just by saying hello.