Yesterday, of course, was Anfield. And, in particular, the Kop.
Arriving early, and after a short walk across Stanley Park, I found myself in the Liverpool club shop. Astonishingly, I also found myself quite unable to resist buying and wearing a Liverpool shirt. It felt good, though, and at £39.99, it was obviously a snip.
There was then opportunity for a quick drink in The Albert, just adjacent to the ground, which was packed with fans clad in similar scarlet attire. I saw a couple of girls in Steven Gerrard number 8 shirts, and it struck me, as last year, that there is something incredibly arousing about a girl wearing a Steven Gerrard shirt. Like a girl, but also like Stephen Gerrard, at the same time.
Standing in place in the minutes prior to kick-off, the enormous Liverpool flag appeared (as if by magic), and, pulled by the fans beneath, descended over the top, and down the face of the Kop. There was a rousing tribute to the murdered 11-year old, Rhys Jones, whose mother was in attendance, and then 'You'll Never Walk Alone' was delivered with familiar gusto.
The Kop offered a fabulous view of the game. The seating therein, however, is crazy: I spent the first 15 minutes with my right knee jammed against the seat in front, and my right foot off the ground. The Kop rises to its feet, however, when Liverpool mount an attack, so the game is spent getting up, then sitting down, then getting up, then sitting down, etc. etc.
Most impressive player in the match was Yossi Benayoun, who was full of skillful flicks, tricks and eye-of-the-needle passes. A couple of late goals from Dirk Kuyt made him look good, but, like Crouch, he squandered a number of other excellent opportunities.