I blame the scarf. Last season, I was the fortunate recipient of a seat on the Lower Centenary from a generous season-ticket holder. So generous that, perhaps under the illusion that I was some wet-behind-the-ears day tripper who was impressed by the ceiling of the Albert, he gave me a bundle of match programmes and a scarf. And a fine chunky scarf it was (is) too, just the right shade of red and no annoying South Park characters adorning its beauty.
TANGENT ALERT! The scarf answered a question that plagued me since I first watched football on the goggle box. Why do some boneheaded fans hold their scarves upside down during YNWA? You can see it when the camera pans down the Kop from behind the fans’ heads. The answer is that the writing is a different way up on each side, which is contrary to ever other scarf I had before this one. Some folk probably hold it upside down anyway, but the majority of those previously accused of not knowing Liverpool from Looprevil are summarily forgiven. TANGENT ALERT OVER!
It was only fair to wear the scarf to the game so that at least one part of that man was at Anfield for the meeting with the Auld Enemy. It didn’t need to be aware of its own existence either for it to have recoiled from that dire 2-1 defeat. It wasn’t the scarf’s fault that Dudek had a complete brain bypass as the game was delicately poised, or that Diego Forlan’s uselessness meant he was standing in what would normally be the wrong position but when a one-in-a-million blunder occurred, it suddenly became the right position. Either way, the scarf wasn’t to blame and it was only fair – again – that when it came to choosing from my three scarves that this one was selected to witness redemption.
How are things between the scarf and its ever-solicitous owner now? Let’s just say that once is unfortunate, twice is careless.
Another inanimate object that will be hoping for better luck on its second appearance at Anfield will be the new scoreboard. The biggest shock of the Man Utd game was that I was actually there, having only discovered 18 hours before kick-off that a ticket was available, which was nice. The second biggest shock was Phil Easton skipping from 9 to 11 on the team sheet without pausing at 10, which wasn’t nice. So the presence of the scoreboard was a distant third in the shock department, which is as it should be, only being a small cosmetic change to the ground.
But while you can rank anything you want vis. anything else, it doesn’t mean the less important thing is unimportant. Yeah, the troubles of Iraq are more significant than the woes of some lone mugging victim in Moss Side, but try telling the victim that their problems don’t matter because it’s less earth shattering than the 21st century equivalent of the Crusades. Similarly, beating the hellish minions on Man Utd is more important than some window dressing at a place that, if everything goes to plan, will be carved up to flog to souvenir hunters in a few years time. But it matters to me, and my concerns are the centre of my known universe.
Scoreboards are an essential part of many sports. Cricket would be incomprehensible if it weren’t for scoreboards – at least, even more incomprehensible than it already is. Most of a baseball scoreboard contains information that is absolutely useless, but they allow boozed-up blue collar slobs to fulfil their secret desire to be rocket scientists as they calculate ludicrously complex stats in their heads. But it is self evident that football doesn’t need a scoreboard. If you don’t know who the teams playing are, you shouldn’t be there. If you don’t know who is playing for the respective teams, you shouldn’t care – it doesn’t matter. If you don’t know the score, you shouldn’t be allowed walk the streets for public safety reasons. If scoreboards didn’t exist in other sports, you wouldn’t invent them in football.
So why Anfield suddenly needed one after cheerfully doing without one for 125 tyears is a mystery only explainable by a desire to fit in with everyone else. At the start of the 2001-2 season, George Sephton took to announcing the scorer of each goal. There’s a reasonable case to be made for informing people at the far end of the ground who whey should be acclaiming / abusing, but in an Q&A with this august website, George admitted that it was being done because everyone else was doing it, that he didn’t think too much of it but he had his instructions and that was the end of the matter. Vive le difference? Vive le conformite, more like.
No, it won’t make a difference to following Liverpool. No, I don’t lament the lost money since I doubt if it would have kept Leeds United in debt servicing for an hour. No, I’m not going to start some ‘rip down the evil scoreboard’ website (I’ve enough grief keeping my current Internet interests up to date). But somebody, residing deep in the bowels of Anfield Road Stadium, took this decision on the basis that Liverpool FC can’t be seen to be different from anybody else. I thought Liverpool defined itself on not being the same as the rest of the world. To see a little piece of that difference pass into history is a sad thing.