It’s been a hot one here in Southern California. Specifically, in my corner of So Cal, which saw a mild week when temperatures were between 88-95 degrees for the entire week and only saw one day in triple digits. My cooling bill is terrible and my wallet is worse because of it. I am looking forward to the coming of fall.
Thankfully, as it stands, we are a week away from the official first day of sweater season, pumpkin spice everything, and the opportunity to sit in a season that is what I imagine the world to be like if it were always melancholy. It is, in a word, a season made for me.
But before then, we’ve got one last gasp of summer to face. Usually that means one last blast of hot, hot heat before temperatures really start to fade back down. For Liverpool, that means a trip to a hotter part of the continent, Naples, for a start to this year's Champions League campaign. One last European Summer Night.
I’ve written often about how much I look forward to fall. And as noted in the pre-amble above, there’s extra reason this year with it being incredibly hot for so many days this summer. Fall had always been a respite, then. Now, it feels like a rescue.
For Liverpool, it’s a bit of an inversion: things are as good with the club as they’ve ever been. At least, I feel confident in saying that when framing it within my own personal history as a fan of the club. Because having come on during the debacle that was Roy Hodgson’s tenure means that being crowned Champions of Europe felt like a pipe dream.
I mean, I knew at that point that we were only a few years removed from our last moment of real triumph. But seeing how quickly it crumbled and given the words of fans with more history and more knowledge of the game who seemed to believe this might spell a true end to Liverpool’s time among Europe’s elite, I could not conceive of this turnaround.
To be here now feels like an absolute gift. To have a squad that boasts the likes of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Virgil Van Dijk, and Alisson Becker. A coach like Jurgen Klopp. And to be owners of Europe’s most treasured prize? Too impossible to believe back when I was watching Joe Cole wheeze up and down the pitch.
So looking at Liverpool’s impending match with Napoli, at this moment of seasonal transition, feels a bit like truly saying goodbye to that brief and blissful and carefree time when we were Champions of Europe and only that. Not the defending champions. Not the potential disappointment in Europe. Just the Champions.
One of my favorite memories of summer growing up was when we’d moved into our house. I was about 15 or 16. We’d lived in apartments up until then. I couldn’t believe we wouldn’t have to worry about moving ever again - which, obviously turned out to be wrong, but that’s the expectation when it comes with home ownership, right? This is our Forever Home.
That house had a front and backyard with a nice shady tree that hung over our porch. I was given the chore of watering our lawn to ensure that we could keep our yard looking respectable. So, on hot evenings, I’d wait for the sun to set, bring a book, and sit under the shade while I held the garden hose. It’s an idyllic scene.
Thinking now on what I’d like to hold fast to my memory as we say good bye to Liverpool’s golden summer, I know that the memories of that match against Barcelona at Anfield are high among them. The rush of seeing the bus come down the main turn and seeing the confetti and streamers and flares going off behind the club as Liverpool welcomed home their conquering heroes. The feeling of being able to celebrate all of that with you lovely people here, at The Liverpool Offside. Those are all memories with cherishing and keeping close.
So, with the last heat wave hopefully in the books and the expectation of leaves beginning to turn, I take one last look at that beautiful summer we’ve just left behind. Now, we go again.