Saturday, 16 May 2009

Never in my lifetime...

Sunday 26th April 1992. I was settling in front of the tele at my Grandma Holdsworth's house. I was still only eight years of age and the Football League was coming to the end of the first season that I really, truly, properly remembered. Others had been a blur, a mish-mash of random memories. I knew I was a United fan, but this was the year when it finally took hold. Things really started to matter. And, even by then, even at this tender age, I knew what winning the Championship meant. I knew how big a 25 year wait was for the title. Jesus, 25 years, that was a lifetime to my childhood mind! And so, I knew how important it was to win at Anfield and keep the title chase alive.

One thing that hadn't sank in at this point was the hatred for Liverpool Football Club and everything around it. The significance of eighteen titles hadn't hit home. Just winning the damn thing once was all that mattered at this moment in time. All that, however, was about to change. Two hours and two goals from Ian Rush and Mark Walters later and I felt sick, I was dizzy... And my hatred for Liverpool FC had been cemented. Forget any other aspect of the history between the two clubs, my feelings for those down the other end of the East Lancs can be traced firmly back to that day.

Twelve months later and I'm back at my Grandma's house watching an Ice Hockey game, I believe, on the BBC using small portable tele in her bedroom. Nerves are, again, taking hold and it was mainly an exercise in keeping my mind clear. And then - it appeared at the bottom of the screen. "Aston Villa 0 - 1 Oldham Athletic 1. Manchester United are the Premier League Champions."

We'd done it. 26 years of waiting over. Fantastic, wonderful, let's go to Anfield and crow about it. And crow we did, apart from one banner sticking in everyone's throats.

It'd gone from "fucking hell, we'll never win the league" to "fucking hell, we'll never catch those scouse twats up." Catching up and overtaking them seemed a long way away. Add that to 4 European Cups to our paltry one and... Well, it makes you sick just thinking about it, doesn't it?

Fast forward to the 16th of May 2009. Lots of things have happened. Liverpool have added one European Cup to their total, but haven't won the Championship since 1990. Manchester United, on the other hand, have not only won an unprecedented treble, and added another European Cup on top of that, and have the chance to defend that title in Rome and win it for a fourth time and have won two World Club Championships, but also, more importantly... Have just won their eigtheenth English Football Championship.

18 times. It's something that I've heard so many times growing up. It's a day I've long since looked forward to and prayed for. I've felt sick when we've not won it and looked back thinking "well, if we'd won it then we'd be level... And if we'd done it there we'd be ahead." It's a day I thought would never come, that seemed so many, many years away. And now we're there. Equal on Championships with Liverpool and, domestically, the most successful English side ever. You could argue that, with the two World titles in there, we ARE the most successful English side ever. But that won't be accepted until we're at least level on European titles.

That, in itself, is another post altogether. Growing up with 4-1, then 4-2 and then 5-2 being thrown at you was sickening. Suddenly, though, 3 seems a lot closer to that second magic number and with a 50/50 chance of one more... Well, sense prevents me from getting carried away. The most important thing to remember and enjoy at this moment in time is the fact that, after many years of suffering, abuse and crowing from all at Liverpool FC... Manchester United Football Club are Champions of England for the eighteenth time. And that is a fact.