A present day colossus will be revered by fans in the future
As I approach the age when my feet smell and my nose runs, rather than the other way round, I often try to put myself in the position of those Liverpool fans of younger years who haven’t had the glorious experience of the 60s, 70s and 80s to soften the blows we’ve often been subjected to in the decades since.
After all, anyone under 28 will have no real appreciation of what it feels like to win the league, let alone regard it as your personal property. Of course there have been plenty of highs in the years since, but it must gnaw at the soul of many young fans that the Premier League trophy is yet to take its place where the old League Championship was practically cemented into the Anfield Boardroom.
The recent celebrations surrounding the 100th anniversary of the birth of Bill Shankly brought this back into sharp relief: while just about every Liverpool fan of whatever age will be able to tell you about the great man’s birthplace, trophy haul, witticisms and love of the Kop, a diminishing number are able to say they bore witness to the true charisma of the man, and felt the bond of passion and unity of purpose that he inspired in all those who counted themselves among the red half of the city.
Those of us who were around at the time were incredibly fortunate to have Shanks’ period at the helm within our footballing lifespan, and we’ll never forget it.
Of course every generation has their own legend; those who went before me will wax lyrical about Billy Liddell in his pomp, who routed defences and bamboozled full-backs until his late 30s in a red shirt.
More recently, Kenny Dalglish established himself among the club’s deities as both a player and a manager and will remain a hero to the likes of me until our dying day, whatever the disappointments of his ‘second coming’.
But if this talk of legends past is making younger readers jealous or regretful that they were not able to witness first-hand the deeds of these Liverpool leviathans, let me tell you right now that future generations will think you equally lucky that you were able to watch the developing career of one of our all-time greats: Steven Gerrard.
Since his debut in 1998; his first goal against Sheffield Wednesday, a twisting, swerving run that still gives me goose pimples whenever I see it; assuming the captaincy in 2003; and scoring countess goals which dragged us back into matches which nearly everyone else had given up on, Stevie G has been a constant source of inspiration, delight and hope.
As he enters the twilight of his career, my admiration for the man continues to grow. We may have seen the last of his box-to-box marauding, but what a joy to watch him controlling the game from a deeper position, spraying 40-yard balls to change the focal point of play.
And while we sometimes are reluctant to share him with the rest of the nation in an England shirt, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one bursting with pride last week as he conducted himself superbly both on and off the pitch as the captain England should have had five years ago instead of the loutish John Terry.
Make no mistake, you’re watching a Liverpool Great here and now. Enjoy it while you can.