Ah, the ‘teatime kick-off’. The phrase always calls to mind some chimps, stuffed to the gills with iced buns and orange squash, attempting to assert dominance over one another in a zoological gardens. And in recent years this has certainly been the case at the Emirates.
Tomorrow’s cocktail hour visitors are The Mighty Reds, the Scarlet Ponces, the Vermilion Vermin, the Crimson Crackpots, the Ruby Ruffians, Klopp’s Kloggers, call them what you will, they are known the world over as Liverpool Football Club, by some distance the greatest football team Europe, nay, the entire planet earth has ever seen.
Some say that they are high on nostalgia that they hark back to historical events like your boring grandfather after Christmas lunch. It has been said that their supporters are delusional, fanciful nitwits. When they are not boring you with their talk of winning a trophy five times they are simultaneously sending death threats to their own goalkeeper and singing about never walking alone. But not I. I bow down before their greatness, as we all should, and pray that a little of their stardust rubs off on little old Arsenal on Saturday.
Let us remind ourselves of their recent achievements, where despite spending only the low hundreds of millions of pounds, they have won nothing for coming up to seven years. Yet for Liverpool fans it is not the quantity of trophies but the quality. Arsenal’s 13 FA Cups are of course in bald terms more in number than Liverpool’s seven, if you wish to use such a crude statistic, but those seven are of the very highest standards.
For example, we recall their 2001 FA Cup Final victory, when they employed the unorthodox tactic of using two goalkeepers, Sander Westerveld and Switzerland’s Steephane Henchoz.
To ameliorate Liverpool fans’ sense of the injustice of winning no trophies for seven years, I have concocted five imaginary ones just for them and I hereby award them to the outstretched arms of Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson.
1. The Jesus H Suarez Martyrs’ Vase Sponsored by Robinson’s Jam
Liverpool’s Christ-like former striker was metaphorically crucified for eight matches for innocently being racist about Patrice Evra. We hope this trophy goes some way toward making this wrong right.
2. The Steven Gerrard Southport Cup Sponsored by The Lounge Inn, Southport
The Greatest Captain Who Ever Lived was ridiculously charged with affray in 2009, after a disc jockey attacked Gerrard’ substantial fists with his face. He was cleared by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court, but nevertheless this vile act against should be commemorated in gold-plated glory.
3. The Steven Gerrard Memorial Lubricant Shield sponsored by Vaseline
Please, do not laugh at the memory of the Great Leader single-handedly throwing away Liverpool’s best chance of a rare trophy against Chelsea in April 2014. It is no laughing matter, and the replay of this starts to tire one after the six or seven hundredth viewing.
4. The Sergio Ramos Greco-Roman Wrestling Trophy 2018 sponsored by Laughing Gas
As we all know, in the final of this competition, big beefy Sergio Ramos beat little Mohamed Salah quite easily with a magnificent take-down, but we hereby award Liverpool the moral victory.
5. The Jurgen Klopp ACE inhibitors Cardiac Arrest at a Throw-in Cup sponsored by aspirin
We’ve all seen Herr Klopp leaping about like a badger on a bonfire. We have observed the veins bulge in his temples and his neck, and are amazed that he hasn’t yet suffered a heart attack. In the interests of his health, we hereby award him this trophy in the hope that when Liverpool actually win something the stress on his ticker may be somewhat lessened.