The time: Monday morning, 9 a.m. The place: the ticket office at Anfield. A young(ish) woolyback slowly emerges from a sleeping bag, having camped for the entire weekend in temperatures of seven degrees Kelvin to be first in the queue when tickets for, say, Newcastle away go on sale. The shutters slowly rise.
Young(ish) Woolyback: two tickets for St James’ Park, please.
Ticket Office Troll: have you spare voucher A?
YW: what? The sign says they are going on general sale today!
TOT (yawns): sorry, they’re still on voucher. Now if you could please make space for the gentleman behind you…
Season Ticket Holder: Bwa-ha-ha! Twenty tickets for Newcastle please, and put them on my platinum LFC credit card.
TOT: thank you, sir. Oh, you appear to have mistakenly given me your plane ticket to Lanzarote, which happens to fly out on the morning of the game.
STH: that’s right. I’m going to sell these tickets to a tout and finance my trip to Hampden Park in May on the proceeds. Bwa-ha-ha!
TOT (pauses): I’m sorry sir, but…hang on, your credit card has cleared. Here are your twenty tickets. Enjoy your trip to Lanzarote.
STH (sneers at forlorn YW): just time for one more evil cackle to show just how evil I am. BWA-HA-HA!!!!!
YW (sneezes): I think I’ve caught pneumonia . . .
The whole tale you’ve just read contains a small dash of artistic licence, but not much. A young(ish) woolyback did head up to Anfield first thing on a Monday morning in the hope of buying tickets to Newcastle, only to be told that they were still on voucher. This despite notices to the effect that they would be going on general sale that day. Previous to that, this young(ish) woolyback spent £45 on a ticket with a face value of £20 so he could see Sander Westerveld do his croquet hoop impression against Bolton.
Let’s not beat around the bush here. Some BASTARD! of a season ticket holder either gave his/her voucher to some BASTARD! who then touted that ticket or actively touted the ticket him/herself.
This is an outrage. Members of that exquisitely privileged club are ripping off fellow Liverpool fans in the most egregious manner possible. If they were to average £15 for every away ticket throughout the season, they would be two-thirds of the way to paying off their season ticket. The ghosts of Liverpool fans long dead cry out with frustration at this mockery of support for their club.
Yet if you were to read the fanzines or the various Liverpool websites, you wouldn’t think this was a source of concern for anyone. Instead, not a week goes by without a stream of invective from someone condemning woolybacks, day trippers, out-of-towners, bandwagon jumpers, jester hat wearing scum, bandwagon jumpers, glory hunters, bandwagon jumpers and whatever-you’re-having-yourself. We envy season ticket holders more than Claudia Schiffer’s lollipops, and for our pains we get more abuse than a member of the Taliban smoking in the Empire State Building.
Well, this particular woolyback has had enough. Sitting in the Kop when Phil ‘Bloody’ Jevons fired us out of the Worthington Cup against Grimsby, I was moved to think of those unfortunate day trippers who bothered to make the pilgrimage to Anfield for that tripe while myriad season ticket holding fascists were busy composing songs about how much they deserve to be exalted above all others. But before they dislocate their shoulder patting themselves on the back, I would ask you to consider the following…
– Who is it that gets up early and leaves matches? It isn’t day-trippers. If you only got to live the dream every now and again, would you wake up from the dream just because you are nervous that you were double-parked or desperate to get home in time to see Cilla’s Moment of Truth?
– Pity the day-tripper, for suffering is often their lot. Imagine once again the person who travelled to Liverpool to see the Reds play Grimsby. While the season ticket holder gets another chance the following Saturday against Leeds to experience redemption, the day tripper can only regret that they can’t march down to the ticket office and demand their money back. Or better still, the two hours of their life that have been stolen from them, never to be returned. Season ticket holders have no idea of the fear of the day-tripper as they worry whether their special match will prove memorable for all the wrong reasons.
– A season ticket costs around £400-£500. Give an Icelandic Red five hundred quid and they might get to Anfield, if he/she gets a fishing boat to the Orkneys, hitches to Liverpool, eats cold beans from Aldi’s 9p range and sleeps beneath the Scotland Road flyover using the Echo as their blanket – wow, someone found a use for it!
– At least they won’t have sullied themselves with a trip to Liverworld. After all, what have souvenir-buying out-of-towners ever done for us, apart from pay Michael Owen’s wages, and the wages of everyone else?
– While the generosity of day-trippers is one of the miracles of the post-war world, the parsimony of season ticket holders would embarrass a Scottish Jew. In the two months I have been in Liverpool, I have received precisely one (1) offer of a spare voucher. Thirty thousand season ticket holders, three away games, ninety thousand vouchers. I got one. And that was from a season ticket holder who actually bothers going to away games. The rest of ye couldn’t be bothered or were busy selling your vouchers to touts so that they could gouge the likes of me.
– Every weekend of a Liverpool home match, the only sound louder than the roar of the Kop is that of multiple cash registers ringing in the city as day-trippers spend money like it’s going out of fashion. Publicans, hoteliers and taxi drivers fret over what would happen if this army of free spending out-of-towners were to stay out-of-town. Meanwhile, season ticket holders feel they have done their bit for the local economy if they buy half a mild in the Albert.
Some might say that all this bashing of season ticket holders is unnecessarily confrontational (no kidding – season ticket holding Ed.) All I’m asking is for a little more forbearance for the legions of woolybacks that follow the mighty Reds. We don’t just love Liverpool FC, we love the city of Liverpool and its people (the red ones anyway.) We jump to the defence of the place when it is unfairly maligned, we sing the praises of the place to anyone who is prepared to listen, and some of us, the more deranged ones, actually move here. That’s how much we love Liverpool, and just because that love is unconditional, and will survive any amount of brickbats from sneering locals, it doesn’t mean we should have to put up with it.
Can’t we all just get along?