A Dash Of Red In A Sea Of Gold And Black
Okay, so I'll set the scene. It's about 4 o'clock when me, me fella aka Rich (Wolves), me mate Josh (Wolves) and my old friend from school Plim (Wolves) all show up at the pub of choice - actually half pub, half bowling alley, ready to get some drinks in and settle down for the build up.
After a few games of Match Of The Day and 1 vs 100 on the quiz machine and some deliberation, i decided the seats we had chosen were at a bit too bad of an angle for the liking of my neck. Not only this but shortly after i had sat down, a man at the table next to us decided to start chanting "Utd,Utd,Utd!" to which i muttered "shit" unfortunately, his mate realised and told him then it was the whole "did she just say shit?" so i said "yes", blah blah blah several moments later from the Manchester United?/Wolves fan? ... "So are you like a proper fan then?", "What dya reckon the result will be?" so on and so forth, i answered, he seemed quite bewildered at my knowledge of the defense and then said "it doesn't matter, Wolves are gonna do you anyway", right. To be fair, it was all a good bit of banter but i still felt a little uncomfortable, and to be honest it was more to do with the ridiculous position of the television in comparison to my eyes.
Roughly 5 o'clock and we opted to shift tables in front of another TV in the bar, preferred this position but after Plim pointed out an annoying light which kept reflecting on the TV screen i was beginning to wish we hadn't of moved. Nevertheless, we were set. I'd checked and checked as the room started to fill up and i was THE only Liverpool fan, to be completely honest if it wasn't for my gender I'm pretty sure i would have been "sorted out" by some of the hardy fans. Despite this, they "put up with me" as it were, didn't seem exactly happy about it but i couldn't care less.
I love the looks i always get from a lot of naive football fans, mainly when I'm spotted in a pub watching a game, expecting me to not know what the hell I'm on about and that I'm only watching because i fancy Gerrard or some bull crap. It's a different story when they hear me shouting and discussing the game mid way through with me fella though. I still think now before i continue though i should point out, they were all good sports.
So, kick off. In all fairness Wolves were matching us for at least the majority of the first half. We had our chances and so did they, although it appeared at times they were the ones having more of a damaging affect on the defence.
With Gerrard, Torres and Johnson all being unsuccessful in the first 45minutes, it was beginning to have a taste of just another one of those matches. Wolves fans had already appeared to have singled out the problem though, they weren't very happy with the referee and felt they had been hard done by on a few occasions, namely (their words) a Torres dive and a Lucas challenge.
Looking back on those decisions, it is probably right to say that they did have a point, especially on the Lucas challenge but at 0-0 why did they feel any need to already be falling back on excuses? Would it have made a difference if Lucas or Torres had been shown the yellow card? We shall never know.
Onto the second 45 minutes. The first incident to highlight is definitely the first yellow card given to Stephen Ward for a tug on Yossi Benayoun. This reveals it's importance later, not only for Liverpool fans, but also a disgruntled Wolves fan.
Liverpool came out second half in the same manner as they did in the first. The play still looked very balanced. Gerrard was looking more and more lively although Torres unfortunately was looking very drab, it was clear he was unfit. With Aquilani making his first Premier League start, i had no complaints with his passing and determination plus his ability to get himself into space. Benayoun also was a great choice from Benitez to start instead of Kuyt on the right and although he hadn't had much of an effect in the first half he was beginning to show his colours.
Back to Stephen Ward, that's Stephen Ward Mr.Marriner, not Christophe Berra. After Ward again finds himself out paced but this time by Lucas Leiva he again carelessly goes for the shirt pull. Illegal challenge, yellow card, nothing to argue about - aside from the fact that Marriner almost let Ward get off scot free after showing the yellow to the Wolves defender Berra, only after a discussion with his linesman and a plight of correct Liverpool players was it that he made the right decision and Ward was sent off.
Funny really, nobody said a peep in the pub when the yellow was shown to Berra...
Now this was arguably the turning point of the game. Did it give Liverpool a lease of life? Maybe it did. Would we of needed this to happen to eventually go on to win? Maybe. Can Wolves use it as a valid excuse? No.
Yes, it had a big effect almost straight away to a strong looking Wolves side but our first goal looked pretty unstoppable in my eyes.
Steven Gerrard, came rocketing into the area poised for an inward bound cross from Insua on the left, he jumps and beats the two Wolves defenders in style, leaving them for dead and sending home a perfect header. Elation.
At this point i had literally jumped out of the chair shouting "YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSS GET IN STEVIE!" i was met with silence. I then followed up with a chant of Steve Gerrard Gerrard and then another shout in my boyfriends face, looking back now that was probably a bit harsh! Although he's a top bloke so all was forgiven for my moment of sheer joy.
So there we were 1-0 up against a 10 man Wolves, at Anfield, and there i was, in a pub full of Wolves fans biting my nails and STILL not feeling confident. All i knew is that we needed to get another goal (which seems so vital lately) to truly feel like we could go on to win the match.
69 minutes and step up the Israeli magician, after providing himself with enough space a deflected shot was sent goal bound. Now it was time to feel secure. Firstly because now there was only 20 minutes to hold out but more so perhaps that in the minutes between our first and second goal, Mick McCarthy had decided for whatever reason he saw fit to remove Doyle (their top goalscorer), Milijas (another big threat) and replace Ebanks-Blake with Iwelumo. In all honesty the only decision there i can deem right was Ebanks for Iwelumo, but hey what do i know? I just felt it was the wrong attitude for a Wolves side that were still causing problems.
So as the threat fizzled out and the clock ticked down Rafa gave minutes to rested Kuyt and youngsters Pacheco and Spearing. I must say it was great to see Pacheco again, he seems full to the brim with confidence. Certainly one to keep an eye on.
And that was pretty much that. I did get the last laugh and boy did i relish it.
I'd just like to leave you with a few of my favourite comments/reactions during the match.
Fan X - "Ohhhh f*** off you Scouse b******!"
Me - "He's not Scouse, he's Israeli, it's Yoss."
Fan X - "(Pause) ... He's still a twat."
The reason why the referee was apparently biased...
Fan Y - "The ref's a Brummie, that's why he ain't givin us anything."
The worst dis ever after getting annoyed at Fernando Torres...
Fan Z - "Ahhh you big girl."
I can't remember most of the words that were exchanged but most of the time i felt the best response was laughter.
Here's to January the 26th when i shall be at work, sat in the Billy Wright stand, again surrounded by Wolves fans...
God help me.