When first we knew we weren't not entertained there was a slight breeze that could only be end of May. Normalcy plagued the whole rest of the day, but ninety minutes was all it would take. To make fanatic of nothing, to take Red and obey. King Paisley Shanks Stevie stirring, with Fowler guiding the way.
In truth, we never saw Dudek's starfish jelly legs routine live. We arrived at our New Mexican comrade's home, a fellow sah-kerr fan in Billy the Kid's corner of America. Not yet old enough to buy the free ale we drank, but young enough to sigh and turn noses up in place of thanks. The tradition was laughs with some snacks and some Fifa. It didn't take long for the game to catch our attention.
Not yet a full minute to admire those Reebok kits before Paolo Maldini decided to kick off the game. We absorbed the rest of that first half -- the Muscle Formerly Known as Harry Kewell's Groin and all -- as any passing observer would. We ate and we drank and we laughed and we bro'd. Didn't even hear You'll Never Walk Alone being sung until the commercial cut in just before second half kick off.
And at that moment, thousands of miles away, something clicked. These people had been singing. Their asses off. They'd been pouring themselves into this moment, full to the brim, until that bitch overflowed. Commentators confirmed it -- all through the break.
We'd seen some Music City Miracles and been schooled in the ways of Joe Montana comeback drives, but those games were shrouded in a static sort of noise. Those games were won by the players finding a professional focus within the chaos. This was no professionalism. These were athletes reduced to their core, rising up to a moment that had been thrust upon them from the heart of their people. Of their fans.
And in that moment we were their fans. In that moment -- just some silly American yute who didn't know his ass from a divot in the grass -- we got it. We loved it. And no matter how many, nor how few, times you had seen Liverpool play before that moment? We bet you loved it, too.
And here we are today. Istanbul is a full decade ago, with none of those players or coaches or owners still playing or coaching or owning Liverpool. We had plenty of time to grow callouses over the cuts of failure that a person endures during a Hodgepocalyptic reality. It's now at a place with no Shankly, no Paisley, no King, no Stevie, no Rafa -- not even a fit Studge. Which isn't to say we don't have anything. Because, Fowler, do we have something in Jürgen Klopp.
This is a club that embraces its moments. A bear hug for success; a back slapped for the slide. This is the club that reaches across an ocean and grasps the grubby scruff of some imbecilic fledgling's neck and gives him a moment of chills. Gives his whole fuckin spine a conviction. But don't take our word for it, just ask Herr Jürgen.
Things are easier to say than to do on the pitch. Between 82 and 94 minutes you can score eight goals if you want. But you have to work for it. You will find a way if you are patient enough. The nil on the right side is OK, the nil on the other side doesn't give you the same feeling. When you are close, then you have options to play. We have to learn it is we who decide.
The first thing Klopp has addressed as Liverpool's newly anointed Messiah has been this weak, crumbly, feta cheese spine the team has demonstrated in the difficult moments of games. No reason to hide from it -- Suarez and Sturridge had their way that fateful year, but since the halcyon days of Rafa Benitez weak salsa has been an ingrained truth of Liverpool teams playing from behind. Torturously so.
Yet, Klopp has arrived. Nothing is instantaneous or miraculous, but as he's spoken it's become clear again to any who would notice that capitulation is not the norm in football. There's no reason to slam the door in the face of chance when opportunity still hangs in the balance. No reason to stop when time enough remains to work together for a purpose. It takes eleven able bodies to play a football match at the highest levels of this game, but the winning moments? Those crackle with an intangible global energy. With love and with pain and with passion.
So when Klopp makes mention of a lonely moment, of course its a jibe at you -- that is if you are part of this. Aren't you? When Klopp grabs his team to cheer the first moment of proper, fanatically Red thirst at the end of that West Brom match -- that matters. Doesn't it? When Divock Origi professes the emotions of a point-salvaging goal in an otherwise dreary fixture -- that's real. Isn't it?
Don't take the crap from the press. This isn't quirky. This isn't pandering to the crowd. This isn't an unnecessary and passing fad. This is the bit that matters, folks. What Klopp is trying to register here, it is the stuff. It is what gets you cracking those joints and spewing those groans all the way to the percolator on Saturday morning. It is what shushes your loved ones as the post-game presser comes up on the telly. It is was captures the imagination and thrums at your core. It is what's missing from the slicked, whitewashed flats of London.
Don't ever lose this. Don't ever let them doubt your commitment. Don't ever pretend like it's not as important as it was when Shanks was crinkling his wrinkles at muddy draws of reserve team football. Quite the opposite. Keep it safe and tend to its care. Keep it hid. Keep it polished and instilled in your kid. Witness it and revel in its unctuous, beating rhythm. This is Liverpool. This is Anfield. But it is nothing if you don't make it yours.
The yelling of that day was its loudest in the moment that the feed cut out. We had hardly thought of a place called Istanbul before that game, but suddenly it was all that filled our head. What's happening!! How could this!!?? WHY???
By the time the feed cut back in it was post-game, just the highlights. Just the highlights? How dare you? Oh! How we drank them in! Savoring each jerky movement from Dudek, each sweep of the leg from our Reds. Šmicer! Oh, what a day! Who are these men? What is this song? How many blood sacrifices must be made at the next Harvest Moon to ensure this moment never leaves us?
And it never has. No, it never will. YNWA.