Author Topic: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times  (Read 10212 times)

Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« on: May 20, 2010, 09:36:58 AM »
Five years ago today, an army of red men was wending it's way across the breadth of Europe in a modern day crusade to wrest back something which we believed to be ours.  They travelled by boat, plane, train, taxi, bus and finally on foot across the dusty plains to a date with destiny.  May 25th 2005.  Istanbul.



Rafael Benitez and an unlikely team of misfits sealed their place in the pantheon of Liverpool legends with that improbable night in Istanbul.



To mark the occasion we have resurrected from the RAWK archives a group of excellent pieces written at the time.  Starting with MichaelA's "Taxi to Ataturk" and Farman's "Pleasure to the point of pain".  Give them a read they're great.  Then if they have whetted your apetite we have loads more Istanbul Memories that RAWKites have contributed in the last week. 

Fill yer boots with red nostalgia.  Today is Istanbul day.  All doom and debt shall be driven from our minds for at least 24 hours.

Feel free to add your own memories and comments below.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2010, 04:42:39 PM by Veinticinco de Mayo »
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Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Taxi to Ataturk by Michael A

Dark peaty waters swirled around my foot, breaking and bubbling as it dropped away into the plunge pool six foot below me. I stood poised, Karate Kid style, one foot on the edge of the waterfall, one foot in mid air, arms balanced, ready to take a leap into the unknown. Common sense and self-preservation dictated that I really needed to concentrate on this, but I was thinking about Istanbul.

I was thinking about being in Istanbul with a broken leg. I was wondering why on earth I had thought that a canyoning trip, three days before the European Cup Final, was a good idea. I was wondering why I had thought that a canyoning trip was a good idea, full stop. But mainly I was thinking about Istanbul. The European Cup Final in Istanbul. I jumped...

Read the rest here


« Last Edit: May 20, 2010, 03:46:41 PM by Veinticinco de Mayo »
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Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Pleasure to the point of pain by Farman

Since returning from Turkey, football supporting and non-football supporting friends alike have been asking me how it was, what it was like. What can you possibly say in response? My only reply was that the right words have not yet been invented to describe the emotion I and so many thousands of others went through in Istanbul. Yet now here I am trying to put the words to it.

Euphoria, incredulity, utter joy and happiness…all fair efforts, yet none quite catch it. There is only one word that I can think of which comes close, a word I learnt the meaning of as a GCSE student. My memory of most things from school is sepia-tinted at best, but I remember quite clearly one English lesson when we asked our teacher what his favourite word was. ‘Ecstasy’ he replied, without even thinking. Surprised, I asked him why he’d choose such a common word which was also, topically at the time, associated with a media-demonised drug. ‘Because most people don’t know the actual beauty of what the word means’, he replied. ‘What does it mean?’ came the natural response. ‘It means’ he said, looking directly at me, ‘pleasure to the point of pain’.

Read more here
« Last Edit: May 21, 2010, 11:40:15 AM by Veinticinco de Mayo »
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Bill Shankly - 'The socialism I believe in is not really politics; it is humanity, a way of living and sharing the rewards'

Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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OK, folks here are some more stories from five years ago, again all dredged from the RAWK archives.

I stayed at home by Hinesy
It's 7am and the wind blows cold at Edinburgh Airport. In my hand but a second ago were 2 pieces of paper. Make that 2 pieces of gold etched with diamonds. On them bore the markings “Champions League Final”. And I had just handed them over to my regular Champions League travelling companion Michael. The final trip he’d have to do with his brother and others. I couldn’t go.

It is only after 3 and half months that I feel I can finally put away the counselling books and face up to the reality. I didn’t go to the final. And yes I had a ticket. Or two to be precise. Michael has elsewhere superbly detailed his travels to the final and as his companion in all the home games and one away, he and I both knew that the final was to be a touchy and delicate subject.  But now, fortified by a 12 yr old Glenmorangie, I can face up and on behalf of us left behind, remember my evening at home. Watching the CL Final on a tiny 14” screen in a rented flat not 100 yards from St James’ Park of all bloody places.  Armin, Michael and a variety of other RAWKites had texted and rang and multimedia’d their way around Europe. I on the other hand had spent all day making an episode of Byker bloody Grove.
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Istanbul: My Generation by  APB
Reds of my generation, or more precisely my age, have a curious relationship with the European cup. In 1977 watching the reds was a rare treat for a six year old. For a start only two matches a season were shown live on television, – the FA Cup Final and the European Cup Final. So May of 1977 was a little bit special for a variety of reasons, but mainly because it was a first glimpse of the reds in live action. First up in the space of four heady May 1977 days was the FA cup final - Liverpool v Manchester United, with its unhappy and unjust ending. It was an uninspiring game and the fortuitous 2-1 milltown win, resulted in a junior apprentice scouse tantrum, as the garden hedge received a frenzied kicking. Fortunately, a glorious reprieve was only days away.
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Istanbul - Our Time by Mark P
The setting was a French bar a stones throw away from Monaco’s Stade Louis II ground.  As Reds were oiling up with French lager ahead of the group game against the principalities’ side various songs were being belted out.  A lone voice started a familiar tune, but had everyone scratching their heads trying to remember the name of a venue that would become forever etched in all our brain banks.  “We’re the greatest team in Europe and we’re going to …” was the cry, followed by the first silence of the afternoon.  An alert Scouser shouted the name of Istanbul and the chant was carried on.  It’s fair to say that at that moment, and especially after Javier Saviola’s goal had beaten us in Monaco after a lethargic display from the men in yellow, the city that twins Europe and Asia was a million miles away from our thoughts.
The rest

And, finally, Nige's poem "In Istanbul, by the Bosphorus"
http://www.redandwhitekop.com/forum/index.php?topic=106967.msg
« Last Edit: May 23, 2010, 08:56:23 AM by Veinticinco de Mayo »
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Bill Shankly - 'The socialism I believe in is not really politics; it is humanity, a way of living and sharing the rewards'

Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Fed up of reading?  You want photos?

http://ootball.fotopic.net/c729620_13.html
« Last Edit: May 23, 2010, 08:25:30 AM by Veinticinco de Mayo »
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Bill Shankly - 'The socialism I believe in is not really politics; it is humanity, a way of living and sharing the rewards'

Offline Red_Mist

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In the summer of 2006, I tied the knot with the love of my life on a fantastic warm and sunny day. As my new father-in-law finished his speech to a great round of applause, I rose nervously, but thankfully relatively soberly, from my seat, cleared my throat and told the following ‘joke’:

“Ladies and gentlemen, I was just sitting here gazing at my new, beautiful wife [loud cheers] and looking around the room and seeing my closest friends and family, and I thought to myself, ‘Phil old son, this must be the happiest day of your entire bloody life’” [more cheers].....[dramatic pause]....”then I remembered that 12 months ago I went to Istanbul”....boom boom.

Luckily, the missus took it in good heart and was still speaking to me afterwards. Luckier still, her family (all Man United fans unfortunately) and most of the other guests thought I was joking and gave me the sort of sympathetic laugh designed to give nervous grooms and best men the early boost they need. But looking round the room, I could tell by the smiles on the faces of some of the Liverpool lads that at least a few of the guests knew 100%, without ANY shadow of ANY doubt, that this (as Rafa might say) had simply been a statement of fact.

Of course, I could have added that I was also thinking of the day in Cardiff when Michael Owen bagged a couple of late goals to condemn us all to those bruises on the calves and shins that only appear after moments like that...but I didn’t want to push my luck, so kept that one to myself.

So, Istanbul. Did it really happen? The memories are strong and yet already fading with time. As much as the final itself, it was the run of games leading up to the final that made it so incredible. The 3-3 was unbelievable, the highest form of footballing drama, but it was the nature of the campaign as a whole that makes it all seem like a dream; the best dream you could ever imagine.

My journey to Istanbul started at 5am on a chilly morning outside Anfield. As I joined the queue of hopefuls, I was praying there were no more than 1,000 people in the queue in front of me. My four mates who I’d be travelling to Turkey with were presumably all still tucked up in bed, dreaming peacefully of a large silver pot with great big ears, tickets already secured due to having more credits than me. This was the last chance saloon; less than 2,000 left according to the Echo, and the number of credits needed reduced by 1 for as long as supplies last (which we all knew would be about five seconds).

There was plenty of time, four hours at least, till the ticket office opened to serve the lucky few. Plenty of time to try to count for the fifteenth time the number of heads between Shanks’s statue and the corner Kop entrance where I’d joined the back of the wide snake of Reds; a fat anaconda that was rapidly uncoiling down towards the Centenary stand. “I’ve got no chance”, I thought. “Why didn’t you get here at 4am as planned, you idiot”, I silently berated myself. “And why didn’t you buy a bloody paper to read?!”

In the end, time passed quickly. Strangers became accomplices and stories were shared to ramp up the excitement levels. One lad had been in the bar in Leverkusen when Rafa had popped in for a pint. We’d been in Germany too, but in the wrong bar, damn! But we’d still been ecstatically ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’ by the end of the match.

I shared our stories of Olympiacos away, where the warmth of the Gate 7 fan club had overwhelmed us after we’d paid our respects at the memorial; where we’d blagged our way into the stadium bar the night before the game to watch Liverpool train and been given free beers for our trouble; and where it nearly all ended in disappointment on the night of the match when the half bottle of ouzo hidden in my shorts had fallen out and smashed on the floor right in front of the coppers at the entrance gate. “Oops, sorry lads, don’t know where that came from”.

...And suddenly the queue lurched forward. This was it. No more stories, just anxious faces turned towards the ticket office windows and a thousand minds silently urging, “Keep serving, just keep bloody serving...that’s it, and another one, keep it up, nearly there...YEEESSSSS, GET IN!!! Look at that! WE’RE ON THE MARCH WITH RAFA’S AR-MY...!!! COME ON!!!!”

The journey to Istanbul was via Berlin; fairly straight-forward compared to some. We left first thing in the morning the day before the game and by early afternoon were walking through the terminal of Ataturk International, getting a nice souvenir stamp in the passport, nerves and adrenaline bubbling nicely just under the surface.

Before carrying on, I need to point something out here. This trip wasn’t going to be your normal Euro away trip, i.e. bag the cheapest flights, then worry about a bed later or just kip on someone’s floor/on a window sill/in a bathroom/or forget sleep altogether but make sure you blag the ‘free’ breakfast the next morning. (This last comment is in honour of the Cologne hostal owner the morning after the Leverkusen game looking all confused, scratching his head and saying to his missus, “Zer must be 60 people in zee restaurant Helga...und vee only have 7 rooms!”, as another fella shouted, “Two more teas and some toast over ‘ere please love”.)

Anyway, as I was saying, this one was going to be different. The ‘tour leader’ was Andy or ‘Wack’ as he’s better known, an incredibly loyal home and away Red since the early 80’s, euro away veteran, and most important of all, a good mate. He’d organised everything and to be honest it was all a bit mysterious...in a good way. Nobody really bothered questioning him about details, we just knew that the word ‘boat’ had been mentioned somewhere along the way.

As the boss of a steel company, one of his biggest suppliers is based in Istanbul. So when we got to the final, phone calls were made and favours called in and that was that. Suddenly we were on a corporate jolly, something that was completely new to me, Jason, Dave and Rob, but that Wack seemed to think was fairly normal and just repeated, “Trust me” to the occasional request for more details. From some of our mates those words would have instilled scepticism or downright fear, but coming from him we were all reassured.

So that’s how we came to be met at the airport by someone holding one of those signs (always wanted that to happen!) and led by our driver to the type of van the A-Team would use if it were remade for today, complete with blacked out windows, leather seats and a fridge stuffed with cold cans of Efes. For some this might be no big deal, but for us it was all too much and kick-started the party that was to last for the next 48 hours or so. De de de de de der der der! Wack just sat there looking pleased with himself.

About an hour later, we arrived at a small harbour area down by the river. Out the van, “Thanks mate, nice one”, and there’s Wack’s supplier, all smiles, arms wide open, “Welcome to Istanbul”. Top fella, instantly likeable and who cares if he’s just doing all this to get some more business! Introductions over, he lead us over to our digs for the next two days...and a nice looking vessel she is too. About 70 foot long, dark green hull, wooden deck and ‘bridge’ and with two tall sail-less masts. The excitement levels went up another notch...this was getting so good it was becoming surreal. It was the first time in my life I’ve thought, “I’m going to wake up soon” and actually believed it.

The Sloop John B

We piled onboard and discovered there was a crew of three. Just as well really as none of us had ever ‘driven’ a boat. There was the cook (a bloody cook!), the cook’s wife, a thief and the wife’s lover. Sorry, couldn’t resist. There was the cook and his missus, whose main jobs seemed to be keeping our glasses full of Efes at all times; and also the Captain, a weathered looking fella with a pony tail and a constant grin.

For the rest of the day, we cruised up and down the Bosphorus, taking pictures of the various sites along the way and getting steadily more unsteady on our feet as the Efes kept flowing. At one point, Wack asked the captain if we could hoist the new flag he’d made for the final and five minutes later there’s a great big ten foot wide red banner flying from the top of the mast – LIVERPOOL FC, THE LEGEND RETURNS – complete with two Liverbirds, a European Cup and four stars. Nice work Wack. This was the life. If you could bottle one moment and get it out to relive over and over again, this would probably be mine. Yes, the match was incredible, but my heart couldn’t take it again. No, this was the moment. We were absolutely buzzin!

We passed under the massive bridges linking Europe and Asia, saw Beşiktaş’s ground nestled into a valley by the river and passed close by a massive building where there seemed to be some sort of cup final-related press thing going on with possibly the two teams in attendance and loads of cameras and lights. (There was a great moment when we got back home and watched the match build up that somebody had recorded for us, and there’s this bit where they’re filming an interview with someone at an event down by the river the day before the match, and this big green boat goes past in the background with a huge red Liverpool flag flying from the top of the mast!)

Cap'n Pugwash and his crew

In the evening we pulled into a harbour in the southern part of the city and went ashore for something to eat. The restaurant owner and waiters were great and let us hang flags up and didn’t seem to mind that we were stumbling a bit as a result of the free-flowing Efes. The way we were having trouble with our land legs you’d think we’d been at sea for months. As we did our best to show them gratitude and friendship, so it came back to us ten-fold. We felt proud to be fans of Liverpool Football Club, European Cup finalists, and they seemed genuinely pleased to be our hosts. This seemed to be most people’s experience of Istanbul and made the trip all the more special for everyone. Thankfully, none of the scare stories beforehand were found to be true.

There wasn’t much nightlife around the harbour area, so after a couple of bars we got back on the boat and ended up drinking way too much Raki and singing Liverpool songs until the not so wee small hours of the morning.

And so 25th May 2005 dawned bright and sunny (too bright and sunny if truth be told). Staggering out of our beds and up onto deck, we were greeted by the ever-smiling captain and the ‘crew’ who had kindly laid on a huge breakfast for us. The problem was, like all Englishmen, our stomachs had been trained over a period of several decades to expect, post-session, the healing properties of a couple of fried eggs, a sausage or two and some rashers of bacon; plus any combination (or preferably all) of the following: mushrooms, fried bread, half a grilled tomato, baked beans and black pudding (plus the all important mug of tea to wash it all down and big pile of toast to put an airtight lid on the whole shebang).

Sadly, the plates of olives, stuffed vine leaves, hummous and cold meatballs (plus a large bowl of unidentifiable brown sludge) that was now in front of us, delicious as it might well have been under different circumstances, presented us with a serious challenge. Namely, how to a) satisfy the hunger of our howling, acidic bellies, whilst b) showing our gratitude to our hosts for their generosity, without c) chundering spectacularly over the side of the boat.

In the end, some delicious round frisbies of unlevened Turkish bread came to the rescue, as did a rallying call from the tour leader, Wack, that went something like, “Come on boys, this is it, the moment we’ve been waiting for, the day the legend of Liverpool FC returns!” (I think he was just trying to justify his slightly cryptic choice of words on the new flag there! but anyway...) And with that, a tray of ice cold Efes appeared and we were off and running.

Before we set sail (or at least started the engines), we were joined by Wack’s supplier and his mate, both keen to join in the day’s festivities with us. We were told the rough plan was to sail north up the Bosphorus, back the way we had come the previous day, then get something to eat at this restaurant they knew right on the river. “Okay, sound” was the general response, although we put in a request for an afternoon visit to Taksim Square where various text messages were telling us ‘the mother of all parties’ was taking place. Other text messages politely inquired as to why we were still ‘dicking around on the river’ with several variations on the theme of ‘come on captain pugwash/birdseye/ahab, get your arse down taksim pronto’.

To be honest, the call of Taksim Square was strong...but not strong enough. Here we were sailing up the Bosphorus, enjoying seeing the huge mosques and minarets and general Turkishness of the city skyline, admiring the gigantic Fenerbahce flags hanging from balconies and waving and singing at the other boats, some with huge footballs balanced on top of them as a reminder of what lay ahead and most of them absolutely packed with Reds enjoying the sunshine and the cooling breeze. This wasn’t something that happened every day, so we kicked off our shoes, lay back on deck and set about trying to demolish the never-ending supply of cold Efes.

By the time we reached the restaurant, we were in full swing. The word ‘hangover’ had been deleted from the dictionary, a process that had been fast-tracked along by the sudden appearance out of the magic Efes fridge of some nice bottles of vino collapso. It was definitely time for some food, but first we had to get ashore, no mean logistical feat when you added a fast-flowing Bosphorus to a lack of any sort of dock or harbour, divided this by the square root of no ladders up the river wall and multiplied the whole lot by seven pissed idiots.

Disaster waiting to happen

This complicated equation was solved by anchoring the boat 50 feet off shore and using a rubber dinghy with a powerful outboard motor to ferry us across to the...er...ladderless sheer concrete river wall. The scene that followed was pure slapstick and was witnessed by the entire restaurant who looked on disapprovingly from the terrace above us as we were dragged up the wall. Once inside we were shown to a table on the terrace overlooking our boat, flag flying proudly in the breeze. “Can you believe that’s our boat?” I asked nobody in particular. “It’s not really our boat is it softlad” Dave corrected me, then added, “Can you believe that’s tonight’s ref sat on the table next to us?” I couldn’t, but it was, maybe. Only one way to find out.

Minutes later the match referee, Manuel, and one of his linesmen had been dragged over to our table for photos, predictions of the match result and enquiries as to how much it would take to throw the game in Liverpool’s favour. (Quick caveat on the remote chance that a UEFA official is reading this – the questions to the ref regarding the throwing of the game were obviously asked in jest...and anyway, we were told that the £3.57 on offer was not even enough for an indirect free kick).

UEFA Corruption Scandal - Exclusive Pics

We finally let him get on with the more important business of enjoying his pre-match meal and did likewise ourselves. The excitement levels were spiking at this point. The booze, and just being there in Istanbul, with your mates, and the boat, and the ref, but above all else, the knowledge that we were very soon going to be on our way to a European Cup Final made for a fairly raucous table. I was feeling almost dizzy with excitement, anticipation and pre-match nerves and had to take a few moments out every few minutes to calm myself down. I wanted to take the whole thing in and for it to last forever.

During the meal, Wack received a text from one of the lads in Taksim Square asking if anyone needed a spare. Retreating to a quieter corner of the restaurant, he phoned the lad to find out what the deal was. Apparently they’d met this Turkish fella with two tickets; seemed genuine enough and the tickets looked spot on. He wanted 200 euros each for them, a bit steep but you couldn’t blame the man really. A quick chat with us using hand gestures to get our agreement on his cunning plan, and the deal was done. Some hard bargaining had got the pair for 300 euros (an image of the lads offering the full 400 and the fella going, “Aren’t you gonna haggle?” jumped into my mind) and 300 seemed a very small price to pay between the five of us to give the two Turkish lads a nice surprise and to say thanks for organising such a brilliant trip.

They took the news in typically restrained Turkish fashion, leaping up and down and punching the air and immediately got the driver of the A-team van to come and pick us up and take us straight to Taksim Square. By the time we got there, it must’ve been about 4pm and was still packed out with Reds. The atmosphere was one of excitement and fun, songs and laughter everywhere. Seeing many of the familiar banners from previous trips seemed to have a calming effect on us and we wandered around soaking it all up, supping some more Efes and joining in singing the back catalogue of scouse hymns, anthems and tributes to players past and present.

Happy happy happy happy Turks

At some point we secured the two tickets but the lads we got them off didn’t hang around as they wanted to get up to the ground nice and early. After a while we crossed the road and went into a big hotel with a bar overlooking the square. We settled into some comfy seats, ordered more beers from the waiter and started the pre-match discussions in earnest.

At around 6pm I got the first of a series of worrying text messages along the lines of, “Sky are sayin it’s takin 3-4 hours to get from the city centre to the ground...hope you’re on your way lads”. I showed the text to the others but the general response was, “Relax, we’ve got the A-team van, he knows a back route apparently, seven more large beers please garcon”. But a seed of doubt had been sowed in my mind and I wandered over to the window to view the scene in the square. The crowds were definitely a lot thinner than two hours earlier and I noticed some mad scrambles to get on buses or into taxis. The scene was generally still calm, plenty still enjoying the build up in the bar, but as the minutes went by I kept returning to the window to check the square and noticing fewer and fewer fans and a definite quickening of the step of those still leaving the square.

At 6.45 we still had three hours before kick off; loads of time under normal circumstances. But I repeated that I thought we should get going. A similar response as before from the lads made me feel like I should just relax, but I couldn’t help it. I knew from past experience how many games we’d missed the start of by having that extra beer (or four) too many in the bar, including the last European final in Dortmund. Previously it had always been just a laugh, part of the day and par for the course. But this was the ‘big one’ and the thought of missing a single second of it was in danger of putting me in full on panic mode.

Finally we were ready to go and thankfully my worries drained away as quickly as the first can of Efes drained down my throat in the back of the van. We were flying along the motorway on our way to see Liverpool play AC Milan for the biggest prize in the game. Life didn’t get much better than this. What the hell had I been worried about.

Thirty minutes later we were in the maddest, funniest traffic jam we’d ever had the pleasure to be stuck in. Nobody cared, not even me. The sliding side door of the van was flung open and we joined in the party that was going on in the buses and the taxis and on the tarmac itself as we all crawled slowly along, singing our hearts out. We didn’t have our usual Euro away regular Mark with us to start up the songs from the past. He’s forever “walking down Lime Street swinging his chain” and “doing the Liverpool boot walk” the aul get. So having exhausted every Liverpool song we knew several times over, we resorted to new songs, made up songs...ok, utterly shite songs if we’re being completely truthful about this!

There’s was one about Galatasaray, to the tune of “where’s your mama gone” in honour of a car load of Gala fans next to us. Another one started in Sami Hyppia’s honour, “Big Sami’s got his boots on, hyp, hyp, hyp-pi-ay, big Sami’s got his boots on and he’s comin out to play”. Terrible, but we didn’t care. Then came perhaps the worst, but one we sang for the rest of the journey, “Win the European cup for me, we’ve come all the way to Turkey, win the cup by beating AC, it’s the cup that drives us crazy, win the European cup for me, NAA, NAA, NA...repeat ad infinitum.”

An hour later, most people seemed to be giving up on their vehicles and marching off across the wasteland towards the stadium that was looming in the distance. But our driver had different ideas. Off a sliproad he went, then down a bumpy single track road, then down another and before we knew it we were in some sort of shanty town with kids legging alongside the van shouting at us. This was mad and funny and humbling all at the same time. Then we were in the middle of nowhere again and all out the van for a piss wondering where the hell the stadium had gone. Then finally, back in the van, round a corner and back onto tarmac...and there it was!

Incredibly the driver had found his way to the stadium car park...and with a full hour to spare before kick off. We piled out, heaping praise on our hero of the hour and marched off into the huge sea of redmen that had gathered at the Liverpool end of the stadium.

The hour before kick off is fairly hazy in the memory now. What I do know is that we all had tickets in different parts of the ground and probably because of this we ended up getting separated at the entrance gates. I’ll always regret that we didn’t realise that once inside, we could have all just walked round the concourse and met up with each other. It’s common knowledge, you never bother with your allocated seat on European aways. We’d been to enough of them to know this. So why did we suddenly feel the need to find our correct seats in Istanbul?

Whatever the reason, it very quickly became a minor detail that didn’t matter in the slightest. In fact, for Liverpool fans everywhere, events on the pitch rapidly made everything else that had previously existed in the entire world shrink to virtually nothing in comparison.

I remember it in snippets of time. The goals, the saves, the songs. I remember the fella next to me haemorrhaging blood from his nose after we went 3-0 down. I remember hugging the girl behind me so tightly when Vladi got the second I thought we must’ve known each other for a 1,000 years. And I remember the tears of pure joy, an emotional release like I’d never experienced before streaming down my face and thinking “get a fuckin grip”, then seeing that everyone else around me was in the same state and we no longer cared. I remember opening my mouth to sing but no sound coming out, just a strangled croak and I remember jumping up and down and swirling my scarf round and round and round above my head, laughing and crying as the cup was lifted up.......and I’ll remember all of this until the day I die.

[you can see the rest of Red_Mist's pics here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/46948998@N08/sets/72157623992736765/]
« Last Edit: May 23, 2010, 08:52:42 AM by Veinticinco de Mayo »

Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

  • Almost as nice as Hellmans and cheaper too! Feedback tourist #57. President of ZATAA.
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« Last Edit: May 23, 2010, 09:18:31 AM by Veinticinco de Mayo »
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Bill Shankly - 'The socialism I believe in is not really politics; it is humanity, a way of living and sharing the rewards'

Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Some people will tell you that football is all about the 90 minutes or even that it is a game of two halves.  They're wrong of course, football is about moments. Crystalline pockets of time where everything stops and the world waits as destiny is decided.  For me Istanbul started with one such moment.

Anfield is a cauldron of noise, not singing, just the pure white noise of desire. It's nine thirtysomething on the 3rd May 2005 and thanks to an earlier one of those "moments" Liverpool are leading Chelsea 1-0 on aggregate in a Champions League semi-final. We're deep into injury time and under pressure. A Chelsea equaliser here will send them through on away goals.

Another hopeful Chelsea punt falls to Eidur Gudjohnsen in the box, he kills the ball, sets himself and drives a fizzing low shot goalwards. Time stands still. A moment frozen. Dudek at full stretch trying to tip it away. Carragher rushing back a look of anguished terror on his face. The Kop gulping, inhaling, praying. Sound, briefly, suspended. The new Anfield clock, seemingly installed for just this occasion, broken.

Then. A slow acceleration. The ball fizzes between Dudek's despairing hand and Carra's outstretched boot and... YES! Past the post and wide. Dudek lifts his face to see it pass to safety. Carragher looks like a death row inmate who has just received his pardon.

....And breathe.  It was over. We believed. We knew the game was won. Perhaps just as importantly they knew the game was lost. The wall of noise resumes but now tinged with expectation and celebration rather than just the raw desire and passion of a moment ago. The final release is near. The FINAL is near.

As we sat elated yet deflated in the Cabbage after the game then winning the thing was not the issue. We were going to a European Cup Final.  Back on our fucking perch?  Oh you'd better fuckin' believe it.

No time to for basking in the glory though there is planning to be done.  Favours were begged, three days unpaid compassionate leave was granted, so no week long jaunt around Europe for us and just look at those prices. "Can we afford to go?" was heartily defeated by "Can we afford not to?" LFC fezes were made, LFC fezes were left at home when it became apparent our hosts would not approve.  Tickets were obtained.  We were going to see Liverpool play in THE European Cup Final.

As we all know, the night before the game is always the most fun and I'm sure that our story of aiding the Turkish economy through a sudden jump in sales of Efes followed by drunken carousing is much the same as many of the others who drank on the streets surrounding Taksim that night. So I'll leave it to a few pics:



It all started quietly enough, we even thought about eating, but you just knew it would end up like this:



I'm glad to say the copious ale consumption was not our only contribution to the Turkish economy though.  We also helped this feller to what must have been the most profitable night of noseflute busking in living memory.



He was making a few coins here and there playing his traditional Turkish tunes but in the spirit of "teach a man to fish" we taught him the brass refrain to Ring of Fire and watched proudly as he waltzed up the street to loud cheers at every bar.

So we wake on the morning of the biggest red letter day for 20 years and how do we feel.  Nervous?  Elated?  Invigorated?  Nah!  We feel numb, we are nursing the mother of all hangovers. A hangover that even three Turkish coffees cannot shift. We wander listlessly around Sultanahmet, mingling with the smattering of Milan fans gathering there. 


Three men in a hangover


Red Man, Blue Mosque

We finally clear our heads and head up to Taksim Square, and marvel at just how many Reds have made the trip before embarking on what will probably always remain the strangest bus journey to a game I have ever known.  The residents of Istanbul had been the most welcoming of hosts since we arrived but the crawl in a convoy of buses through the outskirts of the Turkish capital to the ground will probably live forever in the memory of everyone who undertook it.  Whole estates seemed to have turned out to line the roads, partly to gawp at the strange red army that had descended on their city but also to wave and cheer us on. It was bizarre, it was humbling, it was bloody moving.  We grinned, we gurned, we waved back, we sang, we drank, we realised that the journey was taking hours and that there was no toilet on the bus.  A cleaning bucket was found and we slopped out.  One lad fell out of the emergency exit...  we assume he took a minute to regather his pride before hopping on a later bus.  Finally we arrived, or we arrived within sight of the stadium at least. Like everyone else we lurched from our vehicles and set off across the desert on foot. Being in sight of your dream but not moving towards it too much for us all to bear it seems.

You all saw the match, we all, wherever we were in the world rode that same rollercoaster through the wind and the rain of Kaka's destruction of our game plan.  Half-time. Shell-shocked. Beaten but unbowed.  I think had we expected to win then things may have been different, but really given our meteoric rise under Rafa we weren't yet spoilt, we were just happy to be there.  All we wanted now was some defiance and pride from our team in the second half.  Give us a goal to cheer. Let us go home tomorrow to face our blue and manc adversaries with our heads held high.  Even as we sang it, I don't think we really dared dream of a golden sky, never mind sweet silverware, we just wanted the team to raise an umbrella to shield us from the worst of the storm. 

Six minutes of mayhem later and it's a different story. We're not just glad to be here now. No fucking way. We want this.  It's deep into injury time. Carra is playing through the pain of both his groins. Gerrard is showing Maldini what a world class fullback looks like. Even Djimi is defending like a lion. We are under the cosh, our energy spent in that amazing comeback and it is time for another of those moments...

Dudek saves brilliantly from Shevchenko but our cheers are stillborn in our throats as the rebound falls straight to the most lethal finisher in world football.  Time once again spools to a halt as Shevchenko stabs the ball past the helpless Dudek.  So cruel, to rise again so valiantly, to get so close, only to be vanquished anyway. Well that's what should have happened but the footy gods, capricious as ever, intervened. A reaction. A hand. A deflection. A save. We are saved. The ball defies all rules of Newtonian motion and flies over the bar. We roar. And just as at Anfield 22 days earlier we roar with new belief. Any team that can defy the laws of physics is not going to fail in the lottery of penalties. The Milan players know it too, if only they had looked closer when they touched the cup as they walked out, they would have seen that the name on the cup, OUR CUP, was Liverpool FC. 

Penalties a blur. Delirium. Tears. Turning to the missus and her saying "Yes, THIS is the best day of my life too".  All too soon we're back on the bus.  Not the rocking party bus you might think but a quietly contemplative bus of people on the ultimate comedown from the ultimate high.  The common trait is the dumbest widest grin on every face.  We catch up with texts from home. I'd not looked at my phone since before kick-off so I had the full gamut of regretted taunts, disbelief and grudging respect.  Along with more random drunken shreiks from red mates back home.  We fail to persuade the driver to take us straight to Taksim and get dropped at our hotel in Sultanahmet.  We try briefly to find a cab to the other side of the Golden Horn but finally opt for the hotel bar that our kind Gala supporting staff had decked out in red with a Liverpool Campione! banner over the bar. We drink whisky and smoke cigars. we ply the staff with whisky and cigars. We watch the news channel and see the team running to Dudek. We see Stevie G lifting it high. We sing. We dream. We remember.  We hear the call to morning prayer. It's time for bed.

We woke to  our tour rep telling us that there was mayhem at the Airport and that rather than transferring us across at 930 as planned and leaving us to wait in a tent all day we should go and have a wander round the city and come back at 3pm.  I will always thank them for that because it meant we got to see a bit more of the beautiful city when we could really enjoy it.  We went to the Blue Mosque and the Ayia Sofia. That's me with the scarf at the entrance before getting inside and being mobbed by schoolkids shouting Liverpool Campion! I hope that somewhere in Istanbul there is a teenager that still treasures that scarf.



We finally make it to the airport and wait hours for a flight back to Liverpool. In the pic on the right Aldo is buried in the middle of the crowd somewhere. Behind him is the never changing departures board from which you could pick your favourite flight from the array of options available, all displaying  "Liverpool - Delayed".  The organisation was chaotic, we finally got called from the tent and went through passport control and security only to be stranded once more.  Kudos here to my mate Mark who then went out of the emergency exit, across the track to the tent, bought a round of drinks, and then came back the same way, completely bypassing airport security.  We finally got told to jump on any plane going to Liverpool.  It wasn't clever but who gave a fuck?  In a season of moments, we were going to savour this one. We had witnessed history, and had a stamp in our passport to prove it. More impoertantly we were the Five Times Champions of Europe.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2010, 09:12:27 AM by Veinticinco de Mayo »
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Bill Shankly - 'The socialism I believe in is not really politics; it is humanity, a way of living and sharing the rewards'

Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Relive the trip as it happened in modern "rolling news" stylee:

http://www.redandwhitekop.com/forum/index.php/topic,65734.0.html
« Last Edit: May 25, 2010, 07:43:10 AM by Veinticinco de Mayo »
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Bill Shankly - 'The socialism I believe in is not really politics; it is humanity, a way of living and sharing the rewards'

Offline Corkboy

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I was going to start by saying that me and the missus were sitting at home watching the action from Istanbul, but it was mostly pacing at home. She got to the first goal and decided she had stuff to do in the kitchen. The rest of the first half was sort of a blur, I think I lost the capacity for rational thought after the ref gave nothing for Nesta’s handball in the area. We didn't actually play that badly, but everything Milan tried came off, or at least that's how I remember it.

Anyway, my brother was living in rural Brazil with no internet, about three miles away from the nearest bar and he was going there to watch it on account of them having a satellite dish. I rang his house at half time, just to see if he’d gone and his wife answered. I told her the score, outlined my views on the situation in colourful language and in typically laid back Brazilian fashion, she said everything would probably be fine. For fuck’s sake, I said, what the fuck do you know? Then I hung up and the wife gave me an earful for being rude to my sister in law and anyway, I should be supporting my team no matter what the score. Women. What do they know, really?

I settled back down on the edge of the sofa, seething at the world in general, and women, AC Milan and Harry Kewell in particular. Some small chink of light started to appear with Didi’s entry into the fray and then the Ginger Ninja swung that ball over into the box and onto the bit of Gerrard’s head where his forehead should be, and everything went a bit blurry again. When we hit three all, goodwill flooding into my veins, I picked up the phone to call my sister in law back and to my surprise, my brother answered.

What the fuck are you doing there? Weren’t you down the pub?
Meh. Wasn’t going to stay looking at that shit.
Do you know the score?
No. Has it gotten worse?

I told him the score and then held the phone away from my ear as a rich admixture of invective and rejoicing spewed forth. I suggested to him that he get his arse back down the pub. “She’s gone with the kids and taken the fucking car!” he said.

So we agreed that I would call him back with updates, and eventually had him on speakerphone for the penalty shoot out. My wife had returned by this stage and suddenly acquired the ability to predict whether someone would score just by looking at their body language. She got every one right, and when it got to Shevchenko making the walk up the pitch, his head sort of bobbing, she turned to me with a half smile and shook her head. Brother was all “what’s she saying, what’s she saying” and when I told him, he started celebrating before the peno was taken.

After that, I kept shouting down the phone, I can’t believe we’re Champions of Europe again, and he kept shouting, I can’t believe I left at half time!

Soon after, I found the photo below somewhere on the interweb and eventually managed to buy two colour glossy prints off Reuters. I had them both framed and now one hangs proudly in my house while the other does likewise in my brother’s house in Brazil. What I love most about the photo is the varying reactions of the players. Luis is clearly convinced we’ve done it, two paces ahead of everyone, whereas Djimi still has doubts and Vlad doesn’t seem to know what’s going on at all. Lovely.

royhendo

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This was my write up from the morning after when I used to write for Motley Fool (an investment site). Oh, and the people on here who know me know I was raised a footballing Mormon (I still go to see Dundee Utd, 10 mins walk from my house) so it'll explain the reference on Xabi's pen. ;) Wools eh?

Thinking back, it was a beautiful sunny day in London and I walked from the office at Holborn up to the Sports Books shop on Charing Cross Road to pick a t-shirt I'd ordered up and dump it back at my desk before heading out in earnest. Walking the streets, even in London, you could sense the atmosphere building. People walking the streets in Liverpool shirts. Smiles and nerves.

I left for The Hogshead with my Swedish mate. High Holborn, Hatton Garden, Cowcross Street, and a duck and a dive, and we're in the boozer a good two hours before kick off. We watched the Juve second leg there, so the omens were good. A short while later another mate, an Aberdeen fan with a habit of trying to wind you up when you're stressed, turned up. As it happened, his wind-up attempts took on a kind of mystical power on the night, at least in my eyes.

We started scooping the minute we got in, and as the pub filled up, we took to ordering pints in twos, and marked out our slot on a little recess tucked in behind the bar. From that spot we had a clear view of four or five massive plasma screens - no worries if some big bastard comes in and decides to stand stock still right in front of us.

All this was two years before I ever signed up on any of the forums. I only joined to see if it was true that Rafa was planning to start Zenden in Athens.

:)

----------------

The view from the Hogshead, Farringdon, London

Well, my throat is fractured. Seal noises galore.

I had what is now recognised as my lucky Toffs shirt on (they've never lost when I've worn it) and I was in the boozer a good two hours before kick off. There were loads of reds in and one girl had the 1987 goalie shirt with the proper "1" on the back - could have been off Grobelaar's back, so I walked over and asked, and it was. Everyone was talking about "name on the cup" but there was a lot of worry about Rafa selecting Kewell before Hamann. The girl said "It's about time he earns the right to wear that number 7".

Anyway, YNWA, and the game starts. Then a freak goal - there's no way they meant it. The ball was behind Maldini although he did strike it well, but I was saying to my mate "They always had to score, nothing's changed". Then Kewell starts dancing around his handbag and wanted off to polish his toenails and I'm shouting at the telly saying "for f_ck's sake Kewell, run it off, it's the biggest game of your life!" and other unrepeatable bile (the stuff coming out of the young lady's mouth was pretty blue in retrospect - questioning Kewell's parentage, his sexuality, his mental health...) but my mate Graeme, bless him - he says "Watch though mate - I bet you Smicer changes the game for you".

Then it's a penalty [Luis Garcia] - I don't care what they say - we had a stone waller and the Spanish ref got some similar treatment to Kewell's 15 minutes earlier.

Then in a flash my f_cking head is in my f_cking hands and I'm hunched down on by the floor. You know those moments when you feel like you're under water? It was kind of quiet in my head. Graeme says "2's a tough ask against Milan, son".

Then Kaka produces a moment of sublime footballing brilliance and Crespo produces a Romario-esque finish - beautiful goal. I am completely calm by this stage and just shrugging my shoulders. I'm thinking "God Rafa get Hamann on and save your dignity". My mate's saying all the way through half time as he's ordering our pints: "What do you say in the dressing room?" We had a good old debate but it was the usual - let's just win the second half and let them know they've been in a game." A former smoker, I walk across the bar and pay £1.00 for two Malboro Lights (they don't sell cigars at the bar) which I pocket for later.

It was a different game from the off in the second half and it gave you heart, didn't it? I was happy that we were pegging them back. But then a flash, and the ball's in the net, and the first seal bark of the night. When Stevie G was rousing the fans on the way back to the half way line, I turned to Graeme and said: "Hold on son - something's happening".

Then Smicer? Graeme's prophecy came true. I was all over the place and that's when I did the first major damage to my tonsils.

Then Gerrard bursts into the box? I wasn't sure if the ref had given the pen, if Gattuso had been sent off, if Gerrard was getting booked; I had no idea what was happening. And then Xabi is placing the ball and I'm jumping up and down. Graeme says: "You're celebrating too much, he could save it". Dearie me.

When Dundee Utd won the Scottish league in 1983, the winner was a carbon copy of Xabi's penalty - keeper saves, defenders are closing in, Xabi slams it into the roof of the net. I'm shouting (in a kind of joe cocker style now) "It was just like Eamonn Bannon! It was just like Eamonn Bannon!" and Graeme, who also hails from Scotland, knew exactly what I meant.

I chain smoked the two cigs and my hand was shaking so much my pint was spilling all over the shop.

At full time, I went back to the same guy and told him he was lucky, and paid him £1.00 for two Malboro Lights, which I put in my pocket.

Extra time was a blur. When they brought Serginho on you knew it was Ancelotti's last throw of the dice - Finnan's off, so he thinks he'll put the hare down the left side. Gerrard was incredible. The challenges he made? Incredible. I was shouting "Keep the ball! Will you just f_cking keep the ball!" But they were knackered, weren't they? Carragher showed Kewell how it's done when he played through his groin strain.

Traore and Carragher clearances, Dudek's flapping at fresh air for corners one minute and I'm shouting "Come on Dudek, will you just be good for a few minutes!" and Graeme, bless him, says: "You watch, it'll go to pens and he'll win it". I kid you not - I actually kissed a grown man at the end of the match - he deserved it because he made Smicer and Dudek do what they did (in my little world anyway).

The double save from Shevchenko? Gabriele Marcotti was on the radio this morning and he said he'd interviewed Sheva after the game. Shevchenko said that after the saves, he couldn't stop thinking about it. He said that if he had those chances 1000 times more, Dudek would maybe make those saves one more time. He couldn't get it out of his head. So Dudek must have seemed 11 feet tall when it came to his penalty.

Anyone else just believe that it was won when the final whistle came? Somehow after the double save, it seemed impossible to lose and that some higher power had taken hold of the reins. I'm not religious but sometimes things get spooky, don't they?

Dudek will forever be a hero to me now - his performance in the latter stages of that match were legendary. I know Rafa's signed up a Spanish replacement, but I'll always have happy memories of the bloke now. He made himself big on the goal line and moved around - it would have been hard for Serginho and Pirlo. Apparently he was off his line but the ref never asked for a retake - end of story. :)

I think Carragher had a word in Dudek's ear telling him to do a Grobelaar wobbly legs act, and it brought the house down.

The rest you know about if you saw it and if you didn't there are already DVDs on ebay showing the whole game. On the way home I was everybody's best mate and spoke to more people on London public transport than I've ever done in my life.

Football is the greatest game in the world.

Offline The 92A

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OUR HISTORY IS STILL BEING WRITTEN
 
The tannoy pierces the conversation on the phone. Unoccupied maisonette, Reading Street, Stanley Road.
‘Sorry love we’ve got to go now.’ 
‘But if you ring off now, I can’t guarantee the holiday, I’ve got it on the screen and it’s ready to book.’ 
     
There was nothing we could do; we had seven days in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria for the six of us for two hundred and sixty quid each.   By the time we phoned back two hours later the cheapest deal for Sunny Beach was getting on for five hundred pound.  After last night’s semi with Chelsea, it seemed half of Liverpool was going to Istanbul and we had nothing booked. We'd been prepared to go via Sunny Beach, despite none of us having the week off, while it was cheap but now we might as well go for one of the trips being organised straight into Istanbul. It went against every bone in our bodies but the only option seemed to be the ‘rip off’ tours being advertised in the Echo.  I reckoned they wouldn't sell out at those prices and there'd be bargains to be had if we waited, I was now being proved wrong. Every time we phoned up these trips were filling up and price was were going up, a decision had to be made and that’s how we end up getting charged over five hundred quid to go to Istanbul for three days.

 
NINETY SIX MINUTE WALL OF NOISE
 
Last night had been special. I'd been forced to admit to some of the youngsters the atmosphere was up there with St Ettiene. The intensity almost forced our will onto the players on the pitch, we weren't mere spectators we'd transcended that, we were full participants. Before the match I'd arranged to meet in The Arkles. Only two of us made it. They'd been knocking Scousers back on the door. The place was heaving with Chelsea, I'd only got in because I was wearing a blue T shirt. The arrogance of some of their fans was unbelievable. We'd been to Stamford Bridge and knew it would be tight but some of them thought they just had to turn up tonight. I was talking to some of them and graciously conceded that football wise, they were a great team and would be favourites but thought we might pinch it with the atmosphere. These Nouveau pricks had no class, with us outnumbered a hundred to one, they started laughing saying Anfield was nothing special and they were too good for us. I kept thinking about them today, because none of them could have been prepared for that ninety six minute wall of noise. If I'd gone to another ground and witnessed that, I'd have a grudging respect for them fans for producing the extraordinary.

We got off the plane and things seemed good, At Sabiha Gokcen airport the tannoy was playing an instrumental version of YNWA as mood music, these people were making an effort. Our passports were stamped with UEFA Champions League Final, Istanbul. I couldn’t help smiling to myself, thinking no blue would ever have anything similar in their passports, I was thinking that I'd photocopy it, blow it up and send it to a particularly bitter blue we worked with, I never got around to it but even looking at it today, it's a great stamp to have in your passport. The ‘rip off’ firm had only given us the name of our hotel on a scrap of paper and no taxi driver had a clue where it was so as we wondered at the never ending forest of high rises we headed into town and was dropped off around the corner from a place called Taksim Square
 

THEM SCOUSERS AGAIN

As we walked down we could see a large red banner, as we got closer we could began to decipher the words ‘Them Scousers Again’ with these words our mood was summed up in its entirety. I turned to my mates as I read the words aloud, we realised this was going to be special. We sorted the hotel by hook and crook, it was in Europe and apparently we were in Asia, we jumped a taxi marvelled at the sight of the Bosphurus and got another taxi straight back to Taksim Square. The Square that night was the stuff of legend, Tree-boy, the singing, the banners, the Effes, the warm Asian evening all contributed to one of the best 'night befores' I've ever known. While I took the opportunity to buy an unbelievably good Kebab of one of the street vendors, one of the lads came back in wonderment, The MacDonalds serves MacTurk Burgers, each to his own, no one got it wrong that night. It was one of those times were you know you’re contributing to our living history. As one of the lads, who posts on here as 'Pissing all over the world' said; Taksim that night was the last great European square night, after that all the whoppers started taking over the squares. I had to phone my arl fella, and share it with him, he'd started me on this journey as a kid in the sixties and it didn't seem right he was too old to be here. I had to thank him for passing on this heritage, I didn't have to say it in words, I knew he'd understand. 'Don't worry we'll win it tomorrow, it's in my bones' he said. He knew I'd be nervous, I always am before big games, but this time it was different, I wasn't scared of losing like normal, I had a strange calm about tomorrow, not cockiness just calmness. The party lasted all night.
 
The day of the final and we were amazed at how the red tide kept washing up more and more of our supporters. You kept bumping into people from your past, people you hadn’t seen for ages, we got talking to Vegard Heggem who’d made his own way over as a fan.  It was weird but I kept thinking back to the footage of the Leeds fans who died in the same square and thinking how strange it was we were having such a contrasting time in the same place.

As I explained I wasn’t my normal nervous self. Since the comeback against Olympiakos, I’d just had this feeling that things were going to be all right. I’m not superstitious but I’d kept the same blue shirt on for every game, home and away, rationally I can't explain why.  Today I didn’t have it on, somehow it didn’t seem necessary to wear it, despite us playing AC Milan who I wasn’t taking lightly and  totally respected as a football team.


BORO AWAY

Football can be weird like that. I know it’s not logical but when things are going against you on the pitch sometimes it can bring about a feeling that nothing ever goes right in your life, your destined to be one of the unlucky ones. The failure of Houlliers team from Middlesborough away, which I missed due to illness, had coincided with some bad times in my life and this unexpected resurgence under Benitez had coincided with everything begining to fall back into place outside of football, not wearing the blue shirt was my way of proving to myself that my happiness was not dependent on football, I could rise above this. My way of rebelling from a negative fatalism that I knew was nonsense, I'm logical, I couldn't let superstition get it's hidden claws into me.

We’d already had experience of Istanbul Taxi drivers; One instisted on driving with his eyes shut for ten seconds, after we'd told him to slow down, one had mounted the pavement wacky races style to beat his mate who he was racing back to our hotel. So when we decided to get to the ground it, couldn't be the free buses it had to be by taxi. What a journey it was, the route was lined by ordinary Istanbul people genuinely wishing us well. They all seem football mad and there first words they tell you is who they support. They don't have much materialy, but it was if they wanted to physically be part of the experience of this final, it was humbling. We gave away scarves and shirts to some of the kids and realised how lucky we are to support a team that can dream about getting to events like this.


PLATINI'S FOLLIES

As we left built up suburbs and approached what looked like a spaceship abandoned on a planet strewn with rubble, the mood of joy and hospitality we had encountered from the ordinary people of Istanbul dipped. We entered the UEFA fan zone, constructed with the purpose of displaying their 'partners' advertising, with the fans welfare well down the list of priorities. Welcome to the world of corporate football, The food and drink had ran out hours before for those of us who were stranded here in our holding pen. What a disgrace someone had had their palm well and truly greased to hold the Final here. While we were fighting for the right to buy a bottle of water, which was all that was left, I noticed in stark contrast, the UEFA hospitality tent groaning from the excess's contained within it. The security around this tent was serious unlike the security to get in the game, again I returned with a unused final ticket as we were waved through the turnstiles. The stadium was a soulless concreate bowl and the noise of the fans was lost into the air and we had to compete with the unfeasibly load tannoy system. Still we didn’t care we were here to shape our destiny.


REMEMBER BASLE
By half time we were in total shock. The wind up texts were coming in from Blues and Mancs and I literally had my head in my hands speechless for five minutes. I was telescoping what it would mean for us. Gerrard’s probably off and this would be our last chance to stay with the money teams in the premiership. Ironically I hadn’t thought we’d played that badly and I still thought we had a chance at 1-0 but you had to admire Milan they’d been clinical, the best I was hoping for was that we wouldn’t be totally humiliated in the second half. I turned to one of the lads and said, ‘remember Basle, you never know’ and as I heard myself say it, I felt ridiculous, never in a million years could we get back into this, we were playing for pride, no more. I was content to just put up a good show in the second half. I couldn't get that blue shirt out of me mind. Surely someone who’s as logical as me can’t allow everything I know about the world to be turned on it's head because of a silly superstion. But it kept playing on my mind, was this my fault for leaving that stupid shirt off.

What followed was undescribeable, as we got the coaches back to the city the mood was surreal, we were emotionally drained but we couldn't stop smiling, we'd won the European Cup for a fifth time. We got back to our hotel where we noticed that in the next hotel there was a massive banner 'Champions leauge, We're having Kebabs' it turns out it was the the lads from the Valentine pub in Aintree who run coaches to all the aways, we know loads of them so we dived in to join their party. We still were in a state of shock. We’d just seen our team win the European Cup in the greatest final in its history. In the land of Midnight Express there was more green about than Celtic Park, all of it being smoked by scousers but the lot of it all put together couldn’t compete with the natural high I was feeling after that match. We savoured every second, I walked back listening to the call to prayers from a mosque, rarely have I felt so totally happy to be alive. Istanbul is a beautiful city and as I made my way past the Mosques and markets, it seemed fitting that this wonderful place was the backdrop to this increadible football high. I remember thinking I want to come back here to see the city in it's glory without the demands of a football away.

HOMECOMING

Apparently there was chaos at the airport, we never saw it, we walked on to our flight on time with no bother, we even bunked one of the lads who had a Dublin flight back to Speke on ours, he reckoned he got on our plane with showing a saveaway bus ticket. On the flight home the crew give us free champagne and the flight was bouncing all the way back. We got into Speke and realised we could just make it to the homecoming if we were lucky. We didn’t need luck as we had this totally clued up Blue taxi driver, who could have shown his Istanbul colleagues a thing or two about making progress, despite half of town being cordoned off, he used his ingenuity to get us there in time. Thanks to that lad we’re in Lime Street with our bags watching the team bus show off our trophy, the turnout was phenomenal. As I was watching kids climb up the outside of buildings, perching themselves on ledges adorning the cities architectural heritage.  I remember thinking about past homecomings,how we as kids defied death to find a better view, this measured up in every way. Shanks would have been proud tonight.
 

CARRA'S MATES

We ended up having a drink with a mate of ours who works on one of the doors at the Revolution, when he tells us the team are all in the Sir Thomas Hotel having a home coming party. We make our way down there and the place is in lockdown so we ring the bell. One of the doormen comes out and he’s weighing us up. We tell him we’re mates of Carras, we’ve just got back and can you go and get Jay and he’ll vouch for us. He pauses thinks about it and is about to invite us in when one of the lads miscalculates and fills the silence with ‘Yeah and we haven’t had a drink since we got off the plane.’ In one sentence our credibility crumbles. The bouncer blocks the door smiles and say’s ‘they’re all in Aldo’s bar, lads.’ So near to the perfect ending, ruined not by luck or superstition but by an ill timed remark, still whose complaining, I certainly wasn’t, Istanbul had shown me our glories not just about our history and in the past, Our history is still being written and the people who write it and shape it are ourselves, the ordinary fans.





 
« Last Edit: May 24, 2010, 04:56:31 PM by The 92A »
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Istanbul

Mad. Chaotic.

It’s funny really, as 2004 passed to 2005 I think more people found out where the Champions League Final was to be that season. My reaction was something like “Istanbul? Eh? … Rome, London and Paris are far superior”.

With hindsight, Istanbul was perfect;  perfect for the mayhem that happened that night.
A city that has changed it’s name over the years (like Cantrill Farm), providing a stop-off point for Crusaders only to be razed to the ground as thanks.

I wouldn’t have had it in any other city.

Me and my mate got there about mid-dayish on the Tuesday.
Word was out – get to Taksim Square.

It was good to see that as the sun set so, the banners were put out to hang over the shops in Taksim – like bats that find their roost as night approaches, so the feast began – an orgy of songs, local beer (whatsitsname?) and merriment.

Wine for my men, we ride at dawn.

“Scouse Power” is a phrase that sometimes makes me cringe – like a lot of clichés, when over used, it loses its sense of meaning.

However – seeing how we took over Istanbul was a magnificent display of Scouse Power. The traffic jam leading to the ground, and people just deciding to walk with their cans of ale and banners on their back, was the scouse way. Cosa Nostra.

What happened in the ground was Scouse Power in neons lights - blasted down the loud-haler of every television network in the world; where it is estimated that over 109 million people were watching.

40,000 Uri Gellers - bending will, twisting fate, and turning the tide – so much so, that this tsunami of honour, pride and victory was able to sweep from the edges of Asia, bypass the Mediterranean and wash up on the mudbanks of the Mersey. Where it would stay forever.

We all know what happened that night.

Me and H met up with another mate for a few drinks the afternoon of the game; he was/is mates with John Power who joined us with his brother and Dad. Me and my mate weren’t bothered; there were more important things going on that day. All we were arsed about was whether he was gonna get a round in.
I believe later, by the ground he was dive-bombing two men in sumo suits, when I think he was due on stage.

We bumped into a pretty wild bunch of young lads, who were pointing at their mate with the local paper – a picture of his face was next to the heading on the front page???
On the left was a picture of Maldini, and then on the right was this scal’s picture??
I think the journalists must have had loads of photos and thought he was Carragher or something ?? Mad.

2 things from the match stand out for me:

10 minutes into the 2nd half, Milan was surging forward on about their 5th attack of the 2nd half – I just heard H say “..this could be 5 or 6…”. My heart sank.

The penalties – I was that proud we hade taken it that far, and made them sweat and panic; that I felt we had already achieved the moral victory. I was so calm during the pens – a strong sense of fate can be more calming than a handful of valium.

We were very lucky after the match – the first flight that appeared on the screen at the airport was ours. I was quite glad of that as my blood-shot eyes were almost totally red. There’s something about that colour though.

I have a framed collage of photos from that day, all us together, punching the air, holding banners etc etc – with the match ticket embedded in there.
It’s funny, because I have a brother who’s not heavily into footy – when he saw the photos he goes “So, they were all taken after the match?”……. It hit me that question; they were all taken before the match.

It was what were were all doing.............our thing...........cosa nostra.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2012, 07:12:52 PM by Effes »
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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2010, 06:01:08 PM »
Where to Begin? I almost feel like starting this on May the 3rd, 2005, sitting on the kerb outside the Paisley Gates, yeah, I’ll admit it, sobbing like a school girl in the early summer night. “We’re going to a European Cup Final! No, can’t be true?!? Did it go over the line? Who gives a shiny shite! How did Gudjohnsen not score? Again, who gives a shiny shite. Destiny? Fate? Faith?!?”

21 days later, and thanks to some blind determination, we’re sitting in the airport bar, pints in hand, at 7 in the morning completely unaware that our names are being called out over the P.A. (I don’t think they do that in airports anymore, do they?). “Lads, you’s don’t know a Mr S***** and Mr Mc******? They’ve been calling their name’s for nearly 20 minutes”, we’re asked by another Red. All of a sudden, and long before Usain Bolt has ever been heard of, we’re pegging it to the gate, smashing all human land speed records, half drank scoops sitting on the table behind us. Everyone on that plane wanted us dead for holding up the show. Screw it. We’ve made the flight and the whiskey and coke is helping the embarrassment.

Touch down in Istanbul. This is our digs for the next 2 nights. I’ll never forget that feeling, sitting out the hotel room window, 7 stories up. You can smell the afternoon heat. You can smell the street below. The Mosques that break up the skyline are calling out for prayer. Red banners hang from adjacent hotel windows, no breeze to ripple them in to life. This is an adventure. Is this the furthest I’ve ever been from home? Enough with the contemplation you twat, lets get some jars in.

We get a taxi through the frenetic, sandstone lined streets with a mental case driver who shows us the kebab skewer that he keeps in the front for “gutting Milan fans”. I bet it’s the same one he guts the Liverpool fans with when he has Milan fans in the back. Who knows, maybe he has two? Either way, we pay the nutter and gingerly walk off to meet the rest of the lads at their hotel. I’m sure there’ll be a few reading this who’ll remember the Irish bar, ‘Fado’, the night before the game. Thousands of miles from home, in a city of 20 odd million, where east meets west and thousands of years of history collide on the banks of The Bosphorus, we end up at an Irish bar. Typical, and sounds about right. The smiling face behind the bar can’t believe its luck. Struggling to keep up with demand, he passes over 10 paper cups at a time, a finger or thumb in each drink. This Efes stuff seems to be the going prescription. Is there any choice in the matter? No. It’s not half bad though, is it? Think I could get used to this. The Reds outside Fado are in full voice and 100 yards up the street, Taksim Square is buzzing. ‘Supercroatigorbiscanusedtobeattrocious’ hangs from the roof of McNasty's. A drunken whippet of a scally hangs from a tree. If that branch snaps, he’ll have both his legs broken. No one worries for him and he doesn’t seem to be worrying for himself. Euphoria has taken over. The songs are rolling one after another. This is a party of epic dimensions and it’s not even the day of the game. The last thing I remember is meeting Des Lynam’s Turkish double. He doesn’t know who Des Lynam is but it’s funny to us anyway! The local shop-keepers are gonna have to stock up on this Efes for tomorrow, BIG TIME.

Pizza Hut and Efes for breakfast. We’re on our holidays and it’s 5 O’clock somewhere. We pass the bars on the way up to the scene of last night’s party. “For those of you watching in blue and white, this is what a European Cup looks like” drapes from one of the pub balconies. “May as well stop in there for a couple. Looks like a bit of craic”. Taksim Square is now buzzing again. THIS is the Red Sea! Turks and Reds mingle, everyone having a laugh. Locals try to make a few quid by selling warm cans of Efes. They’re gladly welcomed by some. Jesus, it’s a warm day. Thank god I didn’t bring my jacket with me. This statement will come back to bite me 12 hours later. Beeping taxis try to navigate the now spontaneously pedestrianised square, flags and scarves flapping from their windows as they find a gap in the crowd and tear off. All this seems to be getting to one of the lads, but I won’t mention any names, as much as I’d like to. He shits his undercrackers. “I have to go back to the hotel mate! I’ve had an, erm, accident!” To this day I still thank the Gods of Football that, through the uncontrollable pointing and laughing, I managed to give him the advice; “Go over to that hotel there and survey the damage” (I may have been in this situation before and may have been speaking from experience). He does and by an act of fate, he’s found again in the crowd. He has the fucking tickets!

Our gang is now reunited, albeit one set of boxers lighter. Somehow the Kop is now standing on the steps of Taksim square. ALL the old standards ring out. Between the singing and chants, the laughs come like machine gun fire. Everyone is on a high and nothing is gonna bring us down. Somehow the idea of having to play AC Milan in a European Cup final fades into the back of the consciousness for a while. We’re Liverpool in Europe, and we’re going to have some fun. Flares burn on the impromptu Kop and a young lad shimmies 40ft up a flag pole to tie a scarf. Could Scousers actually be the finest climbers known to history or is it the same fella who was hanging from the tree last night? Who knows, it’s time for the off license and a bus. There’s a match to play after all. I sometimes wonder have the Turks ever taken that scarf and HJC sticker down.

There is a stark border between civilisation and nothing here. One minute we’re passing car dealerships and blocks of flats as we head out of town, the next we’re, well.., in the desert! The bus rocks from side to side as we sit stationary in a snaking column of all different modes of transportation. ‘Poor Scouser Tommy’ and ‘Fields of Anfield Road’ belt out as cans are drained of Efes and refilled with piss. The snaking traffic slowly slithers over a plateau and the Ataturk gradually emerges on the landscape like something straight out of fuckin’ Moonraker. I’ve never been to a football match on the moon before but I’m enjoying the experience. I wonder if Doctor Evil is home? “Come on lads, we’re walking!” What the....,? How far away is that stadium? It’s impossible to tell. Perception of distance is skewed in this moonscape and the Efes isn’t helping judgement. All the other busses however, are evacuating and like some biblical scene, a red exodus trundles its way across the sandy rubble and shitty grass and in the direction of this alien cathedral.

We make it to the strange oasis and although Lennart Johanson had laid on a spectacular of fun and refreshments for his UEFA Fan Festival, (there may be sarcasm in that last line), we have to finally address the elephant in the room. Somehow the tickets we have are for the Milan end. We say goodbye to the rest who are in the north stand and realize a plan is needed. A plan so cunning in its ignorance, only the most stupid could carry it off. Easy, walk in, brazen as you like, and when the stewards realize we’re not where we should be, slip them a score and ask them to get us in the other end. It didn’t come to the twenty however. As we walk down through the Milan supporters, a steward comes racing down to us. “You CRAZY! What you two doing?!? You guys CRAZY!”. God bless that man. He walks us back up to the top of the Milan end and turns his back as we scurry off in to the west stand, no barriers or anything. Suddenly things get real. No matter that there isn’t a seat for our arses, the gravity of the situation takes hold and some serious sobering up commences. These aren’t butterflys, these are Terror-Fucking-Dactyls! The thoughts of seeing three sides of that stadium all wearing Liverpool Red will spike the hairs on my neck ‘til the day I die. This is Gladiator shit going on right here. This is a battle cry.

Well, things started well, didn’t they! The grand old Dame of Italian football wraps his right boot around the end of a Pirlo free kick cross. The net ripples. Most don’t know what to say. Some blame Djimi for giving away the free. 50 odd seconds gone and we’re one down. Fuck it, that leaves 89 minutes to score more than them. We’re Liverpool FC and this is why we exist. Crespo has a different slant on things however. He tucks away a square ball from Shevchenko for Milan’s second and 3 or 4 minutes later, he’s made it 3-0 with his second goal that in all fairness, is pretty special. The Milanese roar and all that can be heard around us is the bleeping of text messages being received, sent by bitter people, many miles away. I remember my phone is off. My battery was running out and I needed the juice in it for meeting up with the lads later. This is now devastation. This is that shellshock that soldiers speak of. Thousand yard stares all around. This is what being truly empty feels like. Disconsolate, dejected, defeated? The half time whistle blows. I try to string a thought together but all I can hear in my head is “FUUUUUCCKK!”. It’s like white noise. A feint melody emerges from the static however. You’ll Never Walk Alone emanates from the north end and rumbles through the other two stands. What must the Milan supporters be thinking? “Are these fuckers right in the head?!? Don’t these know when they’re beaten?”. This is the beginning of a miracle but no one knows it yet. Not the voices singing it, not destinys sitting ducks in the south end either. For the guts of that 15 minutes, that song is sung with every ounce of its meaning being bled dry. Is it pride for the fact that we got here anyway? Is it defiance? I’ll never be able to tell you. Probably depends on person to person.

The Kaiser’s on and Stevie Finnan’s off. That affable Spaniard has been at his strategio again. We’re starting to get our foot on things. Just get it in to the box. We’ve NOTHING to lose. Riise try’s a cross. It comes back to him and he swings at it again. The ball hangs in the air as the Milan defense stand static. Stevie rises to meet it. Things have now changed. Consolation tinges my roar. I haven’t yet started to believe. Others have though. ‘Our’ Milan grabs the ball from the back of the net as our Captain tries to lift the other 10 on the pitch and the sea of Red humanity in the stands. What seems like moments later (writing this now, has me buzzing like MDMA), me and dozens of people around us are screaming “DON’T SHOOT!”. Hang on, Vladi’s only gone and put it past Dida! And only from about 30 yards. I love you, you little Czech bastard! Seriously, what the fuck is going on? There’s belief in the roar this time. This is footballs uncharted territory. Time is relative now (in hindsight anyway). Who knows what’s happening. Humans aren’t built adequately to compute these senses. Stevie surges into the box and Gattusso clips his ankle. PENO! Again, humans AREN’T built to compute these senses. The relativity of time comes into question again as about 21 years seem to pass by while Xabi stands over the ball. The Basque right foot, the Brazilian save. The Basque left foot, the roof of the net lifts. I’m now three rows down from where I was a few seconds earlier. I’ve never heard an official estimation of how many Reds were in the Ataturk that night, but every single one to a man, now believes. Time passes. Slowly then, quickly now. Carra cramps up, giving every last drop to the cause. For a spell, if I remember right, Gerrard gives the world an unplanned demonstration in how to be a world class right back. You can shove yer fuckin’ Cafu up yer arse! Shevchenko, the name that had us all shitting ourselves back then, skys the ball over the bar from about 3 inches out (or so it looked from our end at the time). Our name’s on it now. This time, Big Ears is ours to keep.

Penalties. They’re being taken down the end of the pitch where we are. The same end where the six goals of normal time have gone in. The same end where the Milanese are. Serginho, the Mario Van Peebles looking motherfucker, sends his over the bar. Didi, not a bother on him, places his past Dida. Cold as ice. Each penalty the Rossoneri take and miss, I expect the ref to resit the ball. How in hell is Jerzy getting away with coming so far off his line? Dida saves Riises’ peno in what I still think to this day, is the finest penalty save I’ve ever laid witness to. Pity it won’t be remembered as that. Kaka scores his, but so does that little Czech fella. I love you even more now Vladi! Shevchenko steps up. His shoulders are drooping as he walks up to place the ball on the spot. You can see it from where we’re standing and we must be nearly 70 yards away from him. No conviction. Time actually does stand still now. Shevchenko takes his run up and Jerzy lifts his right hand. All hell breaks loose.

The next hour or so is an absolute blur. There’s hugging and kissing, crying and laughter. I shed a few tears. It seems a lifetime since I’d done the same, sitting on the kerb outside the Paisley Gates. That’s only 3 weeks ago. Everyone is shattered as the adrenaline tapers off. The cup is lifted. The lap of honour completed. Djibril strips down to his undercrackers in front of us, throwing every other item of clothing into the crowd. “CISSE, CISSE, CISSE!”. I don’t really remember leaving the stadium. We’re outside it now though and fuck me, it’s Baltic! I realize how cold it gets in the desert at night. I could have easily carried my jacket around with me during the warm day. Who really cares though. Pizza Hut is about 12 hours ago and a kebab wouldn’t go astray. Who really cares though. The 2nd miracle of Istanbul takes place and we find our bus. I turn my phone back on. 28 unread text messages! Some of these are priceless. I scan through a few. There’s one from a manc I know. –HA HA! AL THAT MONEY FOR 1 MIN! HA HA!- A little later, he’s sent another. – MAID UP 4 YIZ LADS – I’m somehow not feeling the sincerity in that one! My phone rings and it’s another manc, calling to congratulate me. Gerry’s a decent one though, and this time there’s nothing but grudging respect. I have to cut him off though, as me battery is dying, but the sentiment is appreciated. A bottle of Vodka is passed ‘round the bus. We get back to the hotel and pass a young Milan supporter coming out of the lift. There’s that thousand yard stare from earlier. The poor fella is distraught. I hope he made it to Athens two years later. They’re a decent bunch. Never had nothing, or received nothing but respect, off and for them. We get to the hotel room to take a few minutes before heading back down to Concert.., sorry, Taksim square. The mini-bar is raided and we turn on the BBC world news. HOLY SHIT! Jerzy actually saved that Shevchenko shot down the far end! I’m reminded of the bit in Pulp Fiction when the fella unloads his six shooter at Jules and Vince. “This was divine intervention! You know what divine intervention is?......., that’s what it means. That’s exactly what it means! God came down from heaven and stopped the bullets.” We head back out to the bars around Taksim Square. Conga lines and Efes, Vodka and Champagne. Back in the hotel bar, everyone is dancing on the tables. Some fella opens a mini keg of Efes. The barman couldn’t care less. The sun is up and the Mosques are calling to prayer. We have the holy water flowing here though.

The sun is beating down the next morning. I feel like a fucking prune. Walking on air though! All the Turkish papers are bought, Josemi’s face adorning every front page. The coach to the airport is put back by 6 hours, and I just hope the flight is too! We hear that there’s still lads and lasses waiting in the airport for their flights since last night. We could be in a much worse position, I suppose. A cure or three is sought and the shakes subside. We take a stroll through a bazaar. It’s in a building that’s probably 800 years old. This is some city. They have fruit and veg markets in what would be national listed in any western country. Put it down to an abundance of history.

We get back to the hotel and the bus is there to take us to the airport holding pen. Because that’s what it is – a holding pen. I’ve 2 cans of extra strength Efes in my bag, being kept at a moderate 28 degrees celsius. They go down like tar. Locals sell split scarves for 20 quid. I buy one anyway. That will look absolutely boss on my wall! People are doing anything they can to get on a flight. I’ve since heard of people landing in Luton instead of JLA. We get on ours eventually. A Slovenian charter flight to Dublin. The airhostesses are stunning but they look like they’ve been on smack. We’re told that we’ve to take an unplanned diversion to Slovenia as the flight crew and hostesses have been on duty for 22 hours straight. How reassuring! The plane lands sideways on the rain soaked runway and even the atheists bless themselves. We take off again with equally stunning, but fresh looking airhostesses. The whiskey and coke goes down well and a few hours later we touch down to reality. Did all that really happen? Djimi Traore – Champions League Medal Winner 2005. Stranger than fiction, that.

« Last Edit: May 24, 2010, 07:16:50 PM by macco »

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2010, 06:04:50 PM »
I remember it as if it was yesterday. I was like a kid on Christmas morning, massively excited and not quite sure if I could believe what was happening. It was 8th May 2005 and I had just watched Arsenal hand Liverpool a footballing lesson in our second last league game of the season. I wasn’t happy we’d got beat, far from it, but on the way to catch the metro home from the pub I got a phone call from a mate. He said he had been offered two tickets for the Champions League Final by another mate and did I want to take one of the tickets. Without hesitation I told him to put my name down for it. And that was the ball rolling so to speak.

At the time I was studying in Valencia as an Erasmus student, something which I had to do for my Spanish degree at John Moores University. After trawling the internet, the only viable option to get me to the Final was a flight from Madrid leaving on Monday and returning on Friday which wasn’t cheap. Chance of a lifetime and all that, so I went ahead and paid the €600 for the flights. The timing worked out well as I knew two of my mates would be there on a package trip from Liverpool from Monday to Thursday. With that in mind I booked a cheap hostel in Istanbul and I was set to go.

After what felt like two months and was actually only two weeks, Monday 23rd May had arrived and I was off to Istanbul. I arrived in Istanbul on the Monday evening and got off to a bad start. The taxi driver who dropped me in to Taksim Square conned me and took all the money I had which was 50 lira and €10 even though the meter only read 19 lira. It was either give him the money or he was taking me to the police, and I didn’t fancy a night or two in a Turkish police cell. I was raging about what had happened but it was a lesson learnt and one that came in handy for the rest of the trip.

Monday night was spent doing a bit of a pub crawl round the bars near Taksim Square and ended with a singsong in a kebab house at about 5am. There were a good number of reds about but nothing compared to the droves that descended on the square on Tuesday and Wednesday.

As I had booked a cheap hostel in the Sultanahmet area which was a bit out of the way, I decided to kip on a sofa in my mates hotel room which was just off the square.

Tuesday started unsurprisingly with a hangover and a search for somewhere to get breakfast that didn’t involve kebabs! After breakfast we were stopped in Taksim Square by a tv camera and reporter who asked to see our flag. The girl wanted to do a quick interview with us. I politely declined partly because I was half pissed  / half hungover and partly because my parents were unaware I was in Istanbul and I didn’t want them seeing my mug on tv. I didn’t mention I was going to Istanbul to them because they wouldn’t have been too pleased I was spunking my student grant on a football trip. I thought they’d be a bit more understanding if I told them after we’d won the cup (so I’d hoped). The reporter said that it would only appear on Granada Reports and as my parents live in Belfast they would never see it. So I answered a few quick questions on camera and that was that.

Or so I thought. I started getting text messages that afternoon from people back home in Belfast saying they had seen me on the ITN lunchtime news. Ah well, my folks were going to find out sooner or later. By that night we had heard that we had been on a few different news channels and the BBC website. Famous for 5 seconds eh!

After being interviewed we decided to go out to the hostel I’d booked into to pick up my bag and bring it back to the hotel in Taksim Square. Job done and we took a wander through Sultanahmet past the Blue Mosque down towards the main road to get a taxi back to the square. Unexpectedly we heard a few familiar songs being belted out by a group of reds and went to investigate. We came across a street that looked like a building site with about 30-50 reds have a singsong outside a hostel/bar on the street. We went and joined them and the dirt cheap beer was flowing.

Apart from the match itself, the Tuesday afternoon in Sultanahmet was the best part of the trip. We met reds who had come from all over the world (South-East Asia, New Zealand, Fiji) to be at the match. After a few beers I was convinced that the barman was the spitting image for Luis Garcia and started torturing the poor fella. I’m not sure he even knew what I was talking about at first but soon enough he was being carried on peoples shoulders to the tune of Luis Garcia, he drinks sangria......

We got back to Taksim Square in the evening and the place was swarming with reds. We decided to do what most others had done and bought a load of beers from a nearby off license and picked ourselves a spot amongst the masses. Some of the locals had joined us and we got talking to a bunch of sound Galatasaray supporters who were trying to teach us some of their songs and vice versa. The night ended in the early hours with a mass congregation outside one of the bars and a cracking rendition of the Gary Macca song which for some reason stands out in my head.

Wednesday morning and the day of the European Cup Final was finally here. The sun was splitting the trees and Taksim Square was resplendent red with all the flags, banners and shirts. We took our place on the steps and basked/baked in the sun. A few mates who were on day trip packages came and met us for a while before getting back on their coach to get to the ground. We were due to be picked up by a bus at the hotel at 5pm so we left the square and bought 24 bottles of beer for the journey. The bus still hadn’t arrived by 5.30pm and we had heard from other people that it was taking ages to get to the Ataturk so we flagged down a taxi. 2 brothers also waiting on the bus decided to share a taxi with us, which unfortunately meant 5 of us squeezed into a small taxi. Anyway, we were off to the Ataturk. The first 20-30 minutes of the journey was straightforward and we were wondering what all the fuss was about. Then we hit the wall of traffic.

From what I remember the taxi took about 2.5 hours with some laughs on the way. With the traffic moving at a snails pace, piss stops weren’t a problem. Although one of the lads in our taxi did see a fella crouched down behind a rock having a dump. If you gotta go….

Our taxi driver didn’t refuse the offer of a beer and by the time we’d got out he’d had at least three or four. God help his next fare! We could see the stadium in the distance so we decided to get out and walk the rest. It still took another 20 minutes to get to the fan zone outside the stadium where we bumped into Vegard Heggem and took a quick photo.

The so-called security corden outside the stadium may as well not have been there as I walked past police with about five or six bottles of Carlsberg sticking out of every pocket I had. No sign of them asking to see tickets either. Stupidly, my mates automatically assumed police would take their beer off them and so put it on the ground before going through the police corden. Then I reluctantly had to share out the beers I had.

Beers consumed, into the ground we went. As my ticket had come through the UEFA ballot two of us were in the supposed neutral section down near the Milan fans. But like the majority of the ground we were surrounded by reds.

Everyone knows what happened in the first half, we got tore to shreds. Maldini’s goal – I was pissed off at our bad start but thought that it’s better to concede in the first minute rather than the last. It was an uphill struggle but not impossible. We settled in to it a bit after that but then two quick goals before half time and we were left needing a miracle. I have to admit my first thought at half-time was, I just hope we don’t get embarrassed here.

We were almost at opposite end of the ground to where the main body of Liverpool supporters were behind the goal. To me it seemed like You'll Never Walk Alone started like a murmur from the other end and quickly spread across the ground. With each word of that great song the volume increased and so did our belief that something great could happen.

3-1, Gerrards goal – we needed an early goal in the second half if we were going to have any chance of doing this. And there it was. Spirits lifted and we’re back in this. Get another one and they will be rocking. 3-2, Smicer. I was never a big fan of Smicer and I can still remember shouting don’t shoot when Vladi picked up the ball. I thought he was too far out. Thankfully he did shoot and it flew into the bottom corner. The place erupted, game definitely back on.

3-3, Alonso. We were on the crest of a wave and I think we all knew that an equaliser was inevitable. Gerrard broke into the box, went down and the Spanish referee obliged. Xabi struck a good penalty but Dida got down well to save. Then followed the longest two seconds of my life. Xabi got to the rebound and bedlam ensued. I think I ended up about two rows down from where I first started.

I thought we were unstoppable and should have pushed for a winner but the game settled down again. The rest of the game including extra time was a bit of a blur apart from that Shevchenko chance. It was at the opposite end of the ground from us and I saw him bearing down on goal for what looked like an unmissable chance. Shevchenko blocked my view of Dudek and when I saw the ball go 20 feet in the air instead of the back of the net I hadn’t a clue how it happened. Even watching it now I still can’t believe he didn’t score.

Our players were on their arse during extra time but they got us through to penalties. I didn’t think I could watch the penalties and as Serginho started his walk towards the box I turned away from the pitch. That lasted all of about three seconds. Fuck it, I had to see this.

Our lads hit great penalties, even Riise who had his saved and it all came down to Shevchenko who was possibly the best striker on the planet at that time. I didn’t think there was a chance he’d miss but we still had another penalty after that to win it. Shevchenko hit one of the worst penalties I’ve ever seen, Dudek stuck out his hand and we were CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE!!!!!!

I know its clichéd but it’s hard to find words to describe that feeling. Everyone was going nuts, hugging anyone they could get a hold of. I remember shouting “we’re the fucking champions of Europe” non-stop for about 30 seconds.

We watched Gerrard raise that beautiful trophy above his head and there were grown men with tears in their eyes as You’ll Never Walk Alone rang out over the Ataturk Stadium again. The journey back to our hotel was a bit strange. We ended up on a Norwegian supporters bus as we had arrived there by taxi and just jumped on one of the first buses we thought would take us back to the square. It was a pretty quiet journey, I think most people were just sitting back and taking in what had just happened. Tiredness was playing its part and it was around 4am by the time we got back to our hotel. In hindsight we probably missed out on a great party not going to the square after the match but I think all of us were dead on our feet.

My two mates had to head back to the airport early on the Thursday morning and I headed back to the hostel I had booked thinking I would catch up on some much needed sleep. I think I got about 2 hours kip when I heard a couple of scouse lads getting ready to go out again. I decided to join them and off we went to Taksim Square again. More drink followed as we watched the homecoming on a TV in an Irish bar.

Early Friday morning I started my journey back to Valencia. After arriving in Madrid I picked up a few newspapers to see what they were reporting about the match. The two main sports papers Marca and AS had quite a few pages dedicated to the final and it brought a massive grin to my face when I saw that Marca had translated the Luis Garcia song in to Spanish. It seems the Spanish people had fallen in love with Liverpool FC and were trying to stake a small claim in our success due to the Spanish connections.

I arrived back on the Friday evening and after a quick shower and change, I went to a beach party. I was exhausted but took great delight in telling everyone the stories of what had happened in Istanbul. I was three days short of my 22nd birthday and had just experienced the best week of my life so far. It still hasn’t been topped and it’s going to take something spectacular to do it.

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2010, 07:06:42 PM »
May 25th 2005 was the day that the word Istanbul took on a new meaning for so many of us. Once upon a time Istanbul was a place, but it is now a place, a date, a time and an experience. A shared experience that was so powerful that 5 years on someone simply has to say "share your experience" and loads of us rush off to write them - not thinking of the time it will take or the effort involved but revelling in the tiny details that might pop up and bring that whole experience flooding back. May 25th 2005 - the best day of my life.

But this story begins after the semi-final second leg against Chelsea. I had been saying all day that despite the amazing feeling of that semi-final day that I wouldn't be going to the final. Truth be told, I really couldn't afford it. And now I can admit that I probably shouldn't have gone if I had my logical head on. The strain on my finances as a result of Istanbul could have sent me on a terrible spiral if it weren't for a lot of luck, a very supportive girlfriend and my family. However, the second the final whistle went against Chelsea and the euphoria began I knew deep down I was going. I felt physically sick at the thought of missing out.

The next day I was all over the internet trying to find the cheapest way to get out there, stay there and get back. I've never been one for the day trips so I decided on a Monday-Friday trip. Meanwhile I had absolutely no idea if I would manage to get a ticket. Call me Septic Peg if you like because at the beginning of the season I'd been telling anyone that would listen that fancards and loyalty would never take off. I'd been to every home game in the run that year which would have been enough for a final ticket at the time (hard to believe now) had they been recorded on a fan card. In fact, I think final tickets may have gone down to only 2 credits but I had no fan card and no credits. I knew I had to be there anyway and booked flights via Amsterdam and Hamburg (in the wrong order) and a cheap-ish hotel that had the minimum requirements necessary (it had space for us).

By the age of 22 (as I was at the time) I had enough experience to know that printing out the confirmation email with your hotel address is not always enough to ensure that you get to your hotel in the best of time. I still do it to this day though, and in Istanbul it was clear fairly early in the taxi ride that this might not be a simple journey. The first clue was when we got into Sultanahmet and the taxi driver pulled over at a taxi rank, grabbed the paper back off me and proceeded to engage in a long and loud conversation - with numerous gesticulations from the other taxi drivers, none of which seemed to erase the look of confusion on the face of our own taxi driver. While this conversation was going on I took a phonecall from Mivi asking where we were. I explained that we were in an abandoned taxi and that the driver had no clue where the fuck he was taking us. Mivi took this news with his usual grace and supportiveness, laughed saying "bell me when you get here" and hung up. Rhi and I were starting to panic and think we'd never make it when the driver pulled over a second time to ask for more directions, however 5 minutes later we arrived at the ludicrously named Hotel Sidera Palace. Pros: 3 bed room which allowed us to let Graeme kip in with us for a couple of nights and reduced the cost a bit, it had a roof and the shower worked (intermittently) Cons: The decor was awful, the room tiny, the beds uncomfortable and they tried to charge me 3 times for the same already overinflated charge which led to some of our problems later on.

Once we'd unpacked we headed out into Sultanahmet. It was a humid night, we were tired from the travelling which had taken the best part of the day and really just wanted to get a feel for the area. First impressions were that it was hugely impressive - lots of cosy side-streets, big imposing pieces of architecture and when we turned one corner the surprisingly not blue Blue Mosque. We were stopped 3 or 4 times on this short walk by locals wishing Liverpool the best of luck. We got another phonecall from Mivi saying he was having a boss time and to come and find him. You could hear the Liverpool songs in the background where he was calling from but in the immediate vicinity there was nothing. We thought we were onto a needle in a haystack job finding where to go until a fella turned the corner singing Liverbird Upon My Chest who pointed us in the direction of the red contingent - which was already larger in number than I'd imagined with 2 days to go until the main event. What had meant to be a quick stroll lasted a good few hours as we sang, drank and caught up with mates and compared notes on our respective journeys. The trip of a lifetime was off to a flying start.

The next day I awoke earlier than planned to the sounds of chanting from the Mosque conveniently situated around 25 centimetres from the Palace. We had planned to do a bit of sightseeing with the others but the fates conspired to give us another job that day. Leading up to the final Rhi and myself had both been racking our brains for a banner idea - something of our own, something worth doing not just a banner for the sake of saying we had a banner. As we walked out of the hotel in glorious sunshine Rhi struck up an unusual conversation:

"You know that saying red sky at night, shepherd's delight?"

"Yeah?"

"Red Sky at Night, Turkish Delight. We have to make it"

"Too right we have to make it, that's genius."

We went off to try and buy some material and supplies to make the banner, and figured the best place would be the Grand Bazaar. If you haven't been to Istanbul and decide to go some time in the future, this place is an absolute must see. A bizarre experience as you walk into what must surely be the first example of shopping mall. A must see, I should add, assuming you're not looking for plain and simple materials on a tight schedule. That said, I wouldn't swap the time we spent looking around there for anything, and if I ever go back I'll be spending a lot longer than an hour or two in there. By the time we'd finished we were exhausted and only a completely unsuitable panic-bought red pashmina closer to making the banner. First shop when we came out of the Grand Bazaar was an art shop which sold (amongst other things) glue, paint and scissors. If only we had some proper material it would have been perfect, but it wasn't meant to be. Or so we thought. The very next shop sold plain material by the bucketload - perfect for a banner. We came back with a load of material, glue and scissors for the equivalent of a fiver. We wasted no time in cracking on with the banner - writing down exactly what letters we needed and tracing the outline of whatever letters we could from Rhi's pre-existing Carra banner and basically fudging the rest. Thankfully, it came out looking OK and we left for Taksim Square that night with the glue drying on a banner that we both remain proud of. A personal triumph against adversity which was maybe a sign of things to come, or perhaps just two knobheads wasting a day in a boss city. If it helps, I'm still glad we made the banner.

Taksim Square that night was the first time in an already excellent trip that it really felt like something special. The main square was swimming with reds, McNasty's was swarming, the park was rammed, the back streets were packed. Everywhere you turned someone was dreaming of a team of Carraghers or wondering if the ball went in or the ball stayed out. It was a superb night. We started off in the main square with a crate of Efes bought from an off-license nearby (although locals were turning entrepreneurs as they bought crates from the offy and attempted to sell them on for more amongst the crowd). We sang some songs, heard some boss stories of the glory years from a couple of older reds, before heading off down the back streets to try and find some more familiar faces. On the way we saw the only Milan fans of the entire trip, bar those at the opposite end of the stadium obviously. They were giving a good account of themselves considering how vastly outnumbered they were and engaged in some harmless banter with us as they went past. We ended up at a bar where some Fenerbahce fans had been adopted and taught us a lovely ditty regarding our Mancunian neighbours - which was sung with gusto for much of what remained of the night - Who is Manchester? Who is Manchester? Oh Manchester I fuck your sister! Trust me, it's catchy. The rest of the night, bar offering Graeme the spare bed in our room, is a bit of a blur. I suppose even the trip of a lifetime has its moments that you can't remember properly - but amongst that particular haze I remember laughter, song and a feeling. A feeling that we were part of something truly incredible. A red army like I'd never seen before.

The fans festival, an alcohol-free zone designed to encourage fans to arrive at the stadium early for the promise of entertainment, food and drink was a shambles from start to finish, but an enjoyable shambles nonetheless. Stick 40,000 reds out in the sunshine with a final in the offing, nevermind our first European Cup Final for 20 years, and we're pretty adept at making our own entertainment. Nevertheless there were some shocking decisions involved - for instance whoever it was who took the decision to have one food and drink stand for 40,000 supporters hopefully got fired as a result. This was perhaps offset by the entertainment provided by one infamous and panicked individual who sounded like he was curled up in a ball underneath the stage rocking back and forth. With the entertainment over and the final still hours away a number of fans took to standing on the stage, which made this gentleman with a comedy voice take up a microphone and announce to the crowd that they must get off the stage as it was about to collapse. This stage was solidly built and was never coming down but the panic in his voice suggest an implosion any minute. This hilarity only led to the fans on the stage bouncing and singing, and his pleas becoming more and more desperate. He tried to tell us that the game was about to start, that the stage would go down and that all of this was "seeeriously daaangerous to your heeeaalt." I'm not sure it was doing much for his health either but it's definitely a treasured memory for most people who witnessed it.

With the entertainment finishing early the mic was given up to people who wanted to find people they'd lost in the crowd, though this clearly became a front for any dodgy deals going on, while a couple of people used the opportunity to lighten the mood still further; "Jose Mourinho if you're not doing anything tonight could you tape Emmerdale Farm for me?" and "Could Paolo Maldini please come down and collect his losers medal?" were two personal favourites. Around this time we decided we wanted to get into the ground and so made our way to the ever expanding queue at the gates, which was already fairly large. This queue was terribly organised and if it weren't for the party atmosphere things could have kicked off on ocassion, not least when a fella behind was trying to push in. One of our group stood up to him and wouldn't let him past, at which point he swung at him, missed and caught Rhi in the face. This fella was in his forties I think, big fella but has probably never looked smaller than when he hit a young girl in the face. Only for a lot more sensible reds stepping in was a proper kick-off averted.

When we first walked into the ground it was an amazing sight. Hundreds of banners were already placed proudly across the front few rows, and we went down to the front to find space for ours. Stewards had already begun taking banners off fans to lay on the running track - the backdrop to that famous photo of Carra stood in front of the fans at the end of the game. In the distance you could see the kind of land that many fans had walked miles across in order to get to the ground in time, but this just added to the sense of the destiny that was building up. The opening ceremony only served to prolong my agony and excitement and kick-off seemed to take an age to come. Any sense of destiny, as you all know, was speedily wiped out as Paolo Maldini stroked in a volley from a free-kick in the very first minute. As per usual, we responded by increasing the vocals and getting behind the team - although sadly some people let the side down when Kewell came off to a chorus of boos from large sections of our support. However, the atmosphere remained positive until Crespo struck just before half-time. I remember being livid beyond anything I have ever before experienced at the handball in the lead up to the second goal. If you've ever watched 'One night in May' one of the celebs interviewed talks about how people were still shouting as the second goal went in - I was definitely one of those voices. It took a few seconds to register that the goal had gone in and that just re-fueled my fury. Many around me, however, looked dejected and I have to say I couldn't blame them. It was supposed to be a glorious night and it was quickly turning into an embarrassing one. The third goal which arrived only a couple of minutes later seemed inevitable at the time. Our lads looked shell-shocked, as one our fans seemed unable to raise ourselves and were fearing a rare ocassion on which we created a record we didn't want - the worst defeat in European Cup Final history.

At half-time I was trying desperately to keep myself in a bubble outside reality where we were still in this final. I kept telling Rhi that we scored 4 in the second half against Fulham and that we could do it here. I have to be honest, that wasn't something I can say I genuinely believed could happen but reality was too much to bear. I'd spent what was at the time a fortune to me and I was soon to be travelling back not with tales of glory but tales of how it felt to be embarrassed before the watching world. Eventually Rhi snapped and said "That was Fulham. This is AC Milan." Her face, and her tone said it all. "We're fucked. Accept it." was the paraphrased version and for that moment I knew she was right. Seconds later, someone started to sing You'll Never Walk Alone. I have no idea who that was but it definitely wasn't a large group and I believe to this day there's one person in the crowd not far from me who can take credit for pulling me out of that slumber by beginning to sing our anthem. I agree with Kelly Dalglish that as soon as more people joined in it became like a prayer. There was an added desperation to that sound that I have never heard before or since - and it gave me a second wind, some resiliance and probably some pride back. "Fuck it," I thought "you may never go to another European Cup final so you might as well enjoy it. Give the lads the support they deserve." Then someone began to sing "we're gonna win 4-3" and we laughed because let's face it, that wasn't going to happen. But even though we were subversively mocking ourselves with that chant I definitely think the mood was lifted for the second half.

Towards the beginning of the second half I remember Alonso firing a shot across goal that fizzed just wide, and as it went past the post I was thinking that one goal back early on and we might have the slimmest of chances. I felt that shot was going to lead to some momentum, but it never really materialised at the time. Milan began to dominate for a time and Dudek had to pull off a quality save from a Shevchenko free-kick. I was back to hoping for respectability. A minute or so later that all changed when Gerrard powered in a header from Riise's cross. I was stunned that we'd scored and convinced myself that it was going to be disallowed for something ludicrous (such was my opinion of the ref in that game). But everyone was celebrating, the ref was jogging back to the centre and I actually remember seeing Steven Gerrard trying to gee us up. We had our hope back. Minutes later and we had belief as Smicer rifled in a shot from 25 yards that to this day I think Dida probably should have saved. That was one of those genuinely frenzied celebrations when you can't quite believe what you're seeing. The smiles were back on the faces of those around me - there was still over a half an hour to go and only one goal in it. Game on. There was no need for the full half an hour as we all know as only a few minutes had passed when Carragher slipped a great ball in to Steven Gerrard who was brought down just as he was about to pull the trigger. Again, I had no faith that this decision would go our way and I was half right as the penalty was given but somehow Gattuso managed to stay on the field. I remember questioning why the hell Gattuso was allowed to stay on the pitch but only as the celebrations died down for the spot kick itself. I think a lot of people don't look when a penalty is taken but I didn't see many people looking away. It was enthralling stuff, we'd brought ourselves back from the dead and in those famous 6 minutes we had restored our pride, whether the penalty went in or not. As it was, I turned away the second Alonso missed the penalty. That's right, I missed the third goal. As it went in all I saw was the large belly of the fella behind me crashing into my head as he and everyone around began celebrating wildly. I didn't know how or why but it was 3-3 and I didn't care. Not just about how the goal was scored, but at the time I thought that I didn't care in the slightest what happened from now on in life because that was as good as it gets. Rhi tried explaining to me about Alonso bagging the rebound but she had to compose herself. Anyone who's been in goal celebrations that mad knows how it can take the wind out of you (especially when you follow it by belting out a song or two) and we'd done that 4 times in 6 minutes (I am of course counting the celebrations when the penalty was awarded as well as the goals themselves). It wasn't until full-time that I really found out how that 3rd and ultimately decisive goal went in.

The minutes after that felt like hours. After another surge and a Riise shot which Dida saved as comfortably as he should have stopped Smicer's earlier, the game seemed to slip into the old pattern where Milan dominated possession. But something was different now. Before we had seen the players standing off and admiring the ease with which Milan were cutting them open, now they were truly heroic in the defensive cause as Traore cleared one off the line and Carra made last ditch tackle after last ditch tackle. Pride oozed through me, but the tension of the game was soon back upon me. Pride was important but I wanted to go home knowing that Liverpool had been crowned champions of Europe and that was a distinct possibility once again. I'm convinced, even though I've watched it in full a few times since that extra-time was more like an hour than 30 minutes. It felt like an absolute age. When Gudjohnsen missed that chance in the semi-final, time stood still. When Alonso missed the penalty I turned away. When the reboud fell to Shevchenko I was ready for the net to ripple and for it all to be over - but there was no slowing of time, no turning away. I realised straight away that Dudek had saved it, but again I didn't understand how. Unlike Alonso's penalty, I still haven't figured it out.

We had made it to penalties. At half-time we all knew this was going to be the time to attempt to take defeat graciously while we were churned up inside and yet here we were - a few kicks away from immortality. The noise was deafening as Serginho walked up to take the first spot kick - the boos from out 3 sides of the stadium must have put him off because he's normally very composed from 12 yards. He ballooned it and I celebrated like we'd won the cup. That was the moment I knew for sure, and the next 3 penalties did nothing to assuage that view. Even Riise's miss didn't really shake my belief that this was actually going to happen. What I absolutely did not expect was that Shevchenko would be the one to miss the decisive penalty. When he did, our end erupted. People were running from their seats into the aisles and we did the same, hugging everyone as we went. It was pure chaos, pure magic. I particularly remember one lad with his shirt off hugging me and Rhi - he must have been about our age, maybe a bit younger. He said "This is my first European Cup final". You could see there was another sentence in there somewhere but the emotion got the better of him and he hugged us again and carried on walking along the aisle, tears of joy in his eyes. I still think about that lad now and then.

Outside the ground we were jubilant, and there was a real party atmosphere. TV cameras seemed to be everywhere trying to get the reaction of the fans, but we just wanted to be back in town. We stayed a bit longer than most because we couldn't track down one of our group and she wasn't answering her phone. Eventually we got through and found that she was already back in town, so we got onto one of the very last coaches and headed back to Taksim Square. I remember an arl fella on the coach back telling everyone to cheer up, and that we'd just won the European Cup. No-one on that coach was sad, though. Just exhausted. Mentally and physically that was the most draining night of my life. I don't think I even had it in me to smile at the fella as he said this, I think I just nodded and kept staring into space. "Did that really just happen?"

Taksim Square was no different. There were no wild scenes of celebration, no songs, no dancing. Just a group of people who looked dazed and tired, standing around in groups and trying to convince each other that this wasn't a dream. We didn't stay long. We got back to Taksim Square around 2:30am and were in bed by 4. We didn't know it yet but there was a proper celebration around the corner, albeit an expensive one. Meanwhile we tried to sleep, and even as tired as we were it was tough to get to sleep. We began to do impressions of the man who was convinced the stage was going to collapse earlier in the day, but in different situations like if he was an air steward or if he was doing the 'Operation Anfield Exercise' announcements, which is a great way to pass the time if you can't sleep by the way. Every now and again one of us would say "That was amazing", or "Did that just happen?" or "Five Times" and we'd all wonder how on earth we were ever going to get to sleep.

Sleep did eventually arrive, and we woke up late the next morning. We had very little planned, so got up in a leisurely fashion, found a quick bite to eat and went looking for copies of the UK papers (with the obvious notable exceptions) to get some reaction to the match. When we couldn't manage this easily we found an internet cafe and went in there to read some of the press and fan reactions. We obviously weren't entirely with it because during the visit Rhi managed to get her purse stolen. The staff in the shop were helpful and managed to get a policeman up there who we could report it to. Rhi meanwhile rang her Dad and asked him to cancel her cards. We could do no more so we carried on walking round Istanbul and came across more of the gang further up the road, who had managed to find the newspapers. Shortly afterwards the same policeman who we had reported Rhi's stolen purse to arrived to return it. We were a good few hundred yards from where it was stolen and nearly an hour had passed, yet he had managed to track us down. We were touched and thanked him for his efforts. Before the final, many people had warned us about Istanbul but my own experience was that of a tremendously friendly, vibrant city - and this was the crowning glory. We sat and read some more before deciding that more food was on the cards. We found a nice restaurant and about twenty of us tucked into our meals with gusto. This seemed the perfect way to end our trip, but fate had something else in store.

There were some lads at the table next to us who we got talking to and they told us that there was a big screen not far away re-showing the game. We decided we couldn't miss that so finished our food and made it across. With perfect symmetry it was the same spot we'd spent our very first night in Istanbul. The big screen was out in the open air and it was packed and tough to see what was going on. We actually managed to fashion our own Kop at the back because what I didn't say earlier is that this street was basically a building site and there were bits of wood, steel barrels all over the place, there was even a JCB. Stood in our home-made Kop we began the mother of all celebrations. We danced, we sang, and we drank (boy, did we drink) until about 5am, when we headed back to the hotel. During that time we made friends with a journo (not from the scum rag I should add) who was amazed at the fervour of the celebrations and I think enjoyed them every bit as much as we did. We put scarves around the locals, and taught them our songs. It was the perfect night, but our flight was at 8. Had we had some forethought, we'd have gone straight from the hotel to the airport and caught our flight pissed. Unfortunately, we had zero forethought and went to bed. Rhi had set an alarm for 6 and we were convinced that it would all be OK.

I woke up with a pounding headache as Rhi kept talking at me. Eventually I twigged what she was telling me. It was 8 o'clock and we'd missed our flight. "Fuck" was the only word I could muster in response. Repeatedly.

We dressed in a mad hurry and took a taxi to the airport. We checked the departures board in the hope of a miracle delay to our flight. After all, miracles do happen. But alas, this was one miracle too many. Our flight had left. I mentioned earlier the perilous state of my finances and with Rhi having cancelled all her cards before her purse was returned the task of booking another flight was going to be a tricky one. We found a flight relatively quickly, and in an amusing twist it had one less change and was due back home before our original flight had been. It was also almost a hundred quid cheaper between the 2 of us, making a mockery of the pricing of tickets used by the airlines in the build up to the final. We'd spent the best part of a day to find longer, more expensive flights and about 10 minutes in Attaturk airport and we'd found cheaper, simpler ones. To pay, we had to use our remaining Turkish Lira, whatever sterling we had on us, and a mixture of debit and credit cards. Rhi was genuinely panicked because she'd had to use her cancelled cards and although the transaction went through she was convinced someone was going to come in at the last minute and escort her off the plane. We were hungover as fuck, tired and we fell out for the only time on the trip. I tried to convince Rhi that it would all be fine and much like half-time on the Wednesday she was having none of it. Only once the plane took off (and I had struggled desperately not to ruin my record of never having used a sick bag on a plane) did the tension between us seem to lift a little. In the build up to the final that year there were famously a load of omens which fans had spotted that meant it was destined to be our year. Ken and Deidre getting married and the Pope dying were the two most famous but there were many more. Throughout the trip we had spotted numerous more supposed omens - a truck with 5 stars on it that said 'Dudek' being my personal favourite. Rhi struck up a conversation, which made me flinch a little since we hadn't been getting on too well that morning. "Do you realise that we've now been to five cities in five days?"

"Five cities in five days?" I replied, "It's an omen!". Our mood lightened as we got closer to home and that friendship, along with many others endure to this day. Football brought this group of people together and this is the story of the greatest time we shared. Lives have moved on in the five years since then but those friendships are still there. They'd probably still be there if we'd lost 5-0 but there was something special about the time we shared in the Attaturk stadium - the only downside is that there's so much of our lives left and we're unlikely to ever top that high.

What is probably becoming clear by now is that while the final itself was magic, the memories of being there were the big ones - the goals, half-time, a few key highlights and how it felt to be there. Equally enduring are the memories of the time spent in the city, the friendships that began there and the existing friendships that will forever have those magical five days etched upon them.

We'll always have Istanbul.
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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2010, 08:24:26 PM »
I'll be honest with you, everytime I see or hear anything to do with the Istanbul final I am filled with a mix of emotions. I am obviously filled with joy and pride becuase my team won the European Cup, and did so in the greatest final of all time. However, I didn't get to go to Istanbul, and for this I will always be sad. I would love to say I tried my best to get there, but I didn't. The simple fact was that I couldn't afford the trip. I went to every home game in the Champions League that year and witnessed Anfield in all its glory on numerous European nights, but I simply couldn't afford to make it to the final.
 
I remember watching the match as if it was yesterday. I had family and friends come over to my house, and prior to the match we were all buzzing. 45 minutes later and the house was in stunned silence, and echos of Martin Tyler's Monkey's "Game well and truely over" rang through the house. A lot of people have given him stick over that sentence, but in fairness it was what we were all thinking. I'd love to say that I had faith in Liverpool and that I was confident that we'd score three or four goals and still win the cup, but I didn't. I was more worried about us getting an absolute hammering. When Gerrard scored it felt like a consolation, and it wasn't until Smicer scored that I thought we had a chance. When Alonso scored I remember jumping around the house like a mad man, it was amazing. The rest of the game is actually a bit of a blur, except for when Dudek made 'that' double save. Once the match went to penalties, I was actually confident that we'd win (I still wish Riise would have just smashed his penalty in though!)
 
I guess the one good thing about not being in Istanbul was that I got to be part of the homecoming parade. I stood outside Anfield for hours, there were people everywhere and the atmosphere was top class. Once the bus had made it's way past Anfield, me and my mates walked into town. We stood outside St Georgres hall for what seemed like a lifetime, but I'll never forget that night. There were people hanging out of buildings, hanging of lamposts, standing on walls etc. all singing songs and waving banners. I've never seen so many happy people in one place. When the bus arrived, the whole of town went mental and we partied well into the early hours of the next morning.
 
Although I wasn't in Istanbul to see Liverpool win the European Cup, I'll still look back upon those two nights with fondess (albiet with a touch of sadness and regret).

Offline El Ninos Black Eye

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2010, 08:37:54 PM »
For some reason and it’s still my biggest regret to this day, but I didn’t want to go to Istanbul (I chose Athens 07 instead). I just thought that I wanted to celebrate this Cup, if we win it, in Liverpool. Although I say it was my biggest regret, in a funny sort of way, the way things turned out that night I was also glad to be in Liverpool. I took the Wednesday and Thursday off work. No way I could’ve worked that day, and I wasn’t going into work with a hangover on the Thursday. The Tuesday in work was a right off, had to drive to Scarborough for a quick job, was there in back in no time. I couldn’t concentrate on anything else but the match
.
Most of my match going mates had gone to Istanbul. So there were only two of us going into town to watch it, my other mates where staying at home and where coming into town if we won. My mate Pete came round to mine at about 3. We had a couple of beers and then got into town at 4:30. In the taxi on the way to town I remember saying to Pete, that if we lose I just hope we don’t get embarrassed. We didn’t really know where we were going. We ended up in The Goose in Derby Square. Don’t think it was called that then, can’t remember. It was fuckin chocca, even at 4:30. In fact the whole of town was a sea of red like a European away game. All the seats had gone in the pub and the standing room was a mare already. I don’t know why I was so surprised it was so busy, it was are biggest game for 20 years after all. It was then for some reason I just had this feeling that this night, was going to be a nightmare. We stayed there for about an hour, and then thought fuck this we need to go somewhere else. I was now really starting to wish I’d gone to Istanbul. We came out the Goose and went over to Trials. Bumped into to some bloke from Granada Reports, who was with a film crew, can’t remember his name, think he’s on MOTD now. He wished us both luck, and we went on are way. Trials was the same, chocca. “Fuck” I thought, “This is getting bad”. Then my Mrs rang and said she was in the Met Bar in Queens Square and it wasn’t too bad. Now the last thing I wanted to do that night was watch the European Cup Final, with my 5 months pregnant Mrs and her mates. But beggars can’t be chooses and she was right, it wasn’t too bad in there.

Right here we go then, beer in hand, ready for the kick off. COME ON REDMEN!!!
As Djimi gave away that free kick way, I just knew they where going to score.
The rest off that half, like most of that game is a blur to me. Obviously I know it minute by minute now I’ve watched it that many times. But all I can remember of the first half at the time though is, screaming at Kewell when he limped off, their 2nd and 3rd goals and are penalty claim before they scored. I was just in a daze.

Now I’m no quitter when it comes to Liverpool and I would never have walked out at Half Time had I been there, but I wouldn’t have a go at those who did, it must’ve been hard. But I just couldn’t be in that pub in anymore. I just wanted to go round to my old man’s and sit in his and watch it with him in peace and quiet. I told my mate I was off, he tried to persuade me to stay, but I couldn’t. I asked my Mrs if she was coming and she told me “No, I’m stayin with my mates”. Thanks for the support love! I rang my ald fella to tell him I’d be there in 20 minutes. Taxi to West Derby it is then, or so I thought.  Could I fuck get a taxi. “Come on there must be some blue shite taxi driver on the road” I thought. But no, fuck all. The twats were all probably celebrating. “Fuck it, train back to Huyton then, I’ll watch in mine on my own”. The train was chocca, lots had done the same as me. I just sat quietly on my own and kept thinking about what I’d said Pete earlier, that of course I want to win, but if we lose I just hoped we don’t embarrassed. These words where haunting me. Because now here we were, on the verge off possibly suffering the worst defeat ever in a European Cup Final. How would we ever live this down?

Suddenly my mobile goes, it was my old man, “3 – 1 lad, Gerrard”, “Nice one”, I said. I relayed the message to the rest of the train, there was more a sigh of relief than anything else. Next thing someone shouts “it’s 3 – 2”. Everyone on the train turns and looks at me, “ring you ald fella lad, we won’t believe it until you tell us”. “Thanks for putting the pressure on me” I thought, they best have scored or there’s going to be a lynching on this train. So I rang my old man, and he’s going mental, so I knew it was 3 – 2. No more sighs of relief, the train is now bouncing. Huyton station couldn’t come quick enough! “I need to get to the nearest boozer, NOW” I thought. As I’m getting off the train a couple of blues are mumbling about how where all part time fans, and how we’ve suddenly changed are tune. “Fuck Off” I thought, “You wouldn’t have a clue”.

Walking through Huyton Village, my mobile goes again, it’s my Mrs, now all I can here is loads of noise and the word “Penalty”. I say "Who to", and I could've swore she said to them, but then the phone’s goes dead. A bloke behind with his Mrs, who’d also left town, said, “What’s that lad”. “Penalty to them I think mate” I said. So whilst the the whole of Liverpool is celebrating the fact we've got a pen and could be back on level terms. I'm at the depths of despair and probably in darker place than I was at Half Time. Due to the fact that after having all my dreams back in the palms of my hand, that phone call from my Mrs had now ripped them to bits. I was gutted and thought I may as well just go home. My ald fella rings again, “please say they missed” I thought. 3 aaaaallllllllllll, alonnnssssoooo”, “what the fuck” I said “I thought they had a pen”, “no it was us” he said, “get in”. I go ballistic, the bloke with his Mrs goes ballistic. Where all kissing and hugging and jumping up and down. FUCKIN GET IN!

We ran to the Rose & Crown or the Wheatsheaf, or whatever names it was going by at the time. My mate and my Mrs are now ringing me begging me to come back to town. “No way, I’m a jinx I’m staying here on my own,” I said “I’ll speak to you after the game”. I found a nice little spec in the pub and watched the rest of the game. Again I don’t remember much of it, up until the penalties, I was still in a daze, but a better daze than before.

As soon as the penalties came, I rang my mother. Now in 1984 I was only 8 and I remember watching the match with my Mum and my Grandmother. My grandmother for the whole of the shootout sat on the toilet. She has now gone, so I said to my mum, “your going to be the Grandmother soon, you need to sit on the toilet”. She duly obliged. I only ever watch are pen’s never the oppositions. It worked in Cardiff in 01, so I thought I best do the same again. Every time a Milan player stepped up I was on my knees in the middle of the pub, praying to Pope John Paul that he had to help his fellow Pole (I prayed to my late Spanish uncle a year late to help Pepe). I like to think I played my own little part there, like we all did, in are own superstitious way. It worked we where Champions of Europe for 5th time, and this one’s for keeps. The pub went mad. After a while with place bouncing. Me and the bloke who I celebrated the 3rd goal with in the middle of Huyton, found each other and had quietish pint and reflected on what had just happened. We where like to long lost friends. Shook hands and went are separate ways. It's funny how football brings complete strangers together.

My mum and my old man drove up to the pub, it was great to see them. They then dropped me in town, and I met up with lads. No matter how much I drunk I couldn’t get drunk, I was just to pumped up. Town seemed to close early that night, either all the doormen where blue noses, especially the one who wouldn’t let us in a pub on Matthew St at 12:30 saying it was to busy even though there was hardly anyone in there, I told him he was a bitter blue tw*t as well, or the police decided they needed to clear town. I was back home for 2, my Mrs was in bed asleep. Just as I got in the match was on again, so I watched it all for the first time proper.
This was as good as it gets!

I was up at about 7 the next morning, couldn't sleep I was just buzzin. Went the shop and bought every paper (bar one) and just sat there reading through every column. I rang my Uncle as I wanted to speak him as it's down to him and my dad I belong to this club. He is 70's now and watched the match on his own in his. When he answered the phoned he sounded like he was hyper-ventillating. "You alright Al" I said. He then told me that at half time his tele blew up (thankfully he never did a Rod Hull). He thought sod this and went to bed. He'd only just got up when I rang and had just had his papers delivered and nearly had a heartache when he'd read what happened. The silly old fool.

A couple of my mates were a few of the lucky ones and got back from Istanbul early the next day. I went up to Queens Drive with them and my Mrs to watch the parade. How good was it to see “Ol Big Ears”. We had every intention of then going to town to watch the end of it. But she was knackered with the being preggers, so we just went home and watched it on Sky Sports. Glad we did coz we would never have got near town. Them scenes will live in the memory forever. The feeling from that win was just unbelievable, and it carried on well in to the next season. Just hope it’s not to long before we get it back again.

Although there where many unforgetable images of that night, one really sticks out for me and struck accord with me as soon as seen it that night. Round about when Gerrard is being presented with the trophy, you see Rafa and Morientes smiling and in deep conversation. Now they could've been to talking about anything. But to me it looked like a converstaion between Father and Son, one which most of are Fathers have had with us, and most of us will have told are sons. About how special this club is and how special things happen at this club that couldn't happen anywhere else. Yes they all laugh at us and say are days are numbered. But this club has got to where it is with the help of us fans and Istanbul proved it that night. And with the help of the real fans it will get back to where it belongs again...
"I'm being watched by the Secret Police and wondering when they’re going to come and take me away"

Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #18 on: May 25, 2010, 07:46:50 AM »
So RAWKites.  Have you got an Istanbul story from the time?  Give it a bump, let some new readers have a gander.

You got your own Istanbul Memories that have been spinning round your head for a few years but you've never set them down on paper (pixels?)?  Well, now's your chance post your own Istanbul Memories in this thread.

Also a big thanks to all the lads above who volunteered to write their own story and then put up with my feckless organisation while doing so.  Thanks lads, some superb stories above.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2010, 08:57:14 AM by Veinticinco de Mayo »
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Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #19 on: May 25, 2010, 08:56:26 AM »
Another one, this time from Shanks 1965:

    The world saw what Liverpool are all about that night - we never give up even when everything seems lost. Walk on with hope in your heart - is what it’s all about.

    I had a very emotional night. At half time everyone was devastated and as I went for a piss I shouted at all the people near by "that if you want to win this fucking cup make some fucking noise - its not over" I was going mental. On the way back there were loads of Liverpool lads sat outside the stand and on the stairs in groups with their heads in their hands. I don't know why but I thought I'm not having this so I went around to them all. One by one, telling them the same thing I’d told my son earlier... to "get your heads up”…” have faith”…“believe”, “keep the faiht”, “all we need is an early goal”, “we can still do It”,” remember Olympiacos!” Most of them responded a bit but one group of lads (three of them) told me it was over and to eff . I said to them "I'll see you at the end of the game when we've won".

    When the first one went in everyone went hysterical, I did because I knew it was on. When the second went in I cried. I was so proud that instead of us getting humiliated 4 or 5-0 that even if we did lose at least we had restored some pride and self respect. I didn't watch the penalty, I was knelt, facing the other way with my head on my seat praying to who ever might have been listening. Please score...please score...please score. It worked !

    Immediately behind us were two Milan fans who had suddenly gone quite. I told them at half time it wasn't over, that they were playing the famous Liverpool Football Club, and we never give up. When we equalised I turned around and looked them at them still with tears in my eyes and they were visibly stunned. I took out of my pocket the last two Liverpool badges that I had brought to give to the local kids. I placed a badge in each of their hands and said..."remember Liverpool - we never give in".When the penalty shoot out came I was unusually calm. I don’t watch penalties, I usually run and hide somewhere because I can't handle them. This time though I stood, arms folded, and watched, completely calm, because I KNEW we were going to win. I didn't celebrate a goal or a miss. I just stood almost impassive while everyone around me went mental. When Dudek saved the last one the place erupted and I sat down, put my head in my hands and sobbed uncontrollably, like a little kid. I was inconsolable, an emotional wreck.

    Afterwards my over riding feeling was that I've never in my life been so proud of my roots, my back ground, of being a Scouser and of supporting LIVERPOOL FOOTBALL CLUB.
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Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #20 on: May 25, 2010, 10:27:36 AM »
Want to catch up with what the papers were saying?  Here is a selection from Friday:
http://www.redandwhitekop.com/forum/index.php?topic=68553.msg1074305#msg1074305

I should have added this into our story above, but having arrived back late on Thursday night we awoke on Friday morning to find our faces on the back page of the Guardian.  I gave them a ring and managed to track down the photographer and the picture now hangs in both my and my brothers house.
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Offline guest

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #21 on: May 25, 2010, 10:42:11 AM »
If - Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing faith and casting glances to you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
Believing in miracles - you're one of the few.
If you come on and haven't been tired with waiting,
Pick the ball up on the half-way line,
Don't care about the Daily Mail's rating,
Listen to the fans, what you're doing is fine.

If you can dream and not make dreams your master,
Hold up the ball and let Gerrard's head take aim,
If you can stop the passes of Kaka,
And treat Hernan Crespo just the same.
If you can bare to see Smicer's shot soaring,
Twisting beyond Baros - now Dida's a fool,
Now you can hear those who believed, roaring,
Liverpool, Liverpool, Liverpool.

If you can take one peek at Gerrard winning
A penalty as he goes down in the box,
Alonso scores the rebound and we're back to the beginning,
You'll never breathe a word about that loss.
If you can force your heart and nerve, Shevchenko
Should turn the ball in but the chance has gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you,
Except the roar of the crowd 'Come on!'

If you can look at the crowd and keep your virtue,
And score past Dida with a lovely touch,
Neither Gattuso or 'Sandro Nesta can hurt you,
When Jerzy dances on the line so much.
If you come on after 45 minutes,
With sixty hours' worth of distance run,
Yours is the European Cup and everything that is in it.
And - which is more -



You'll be Hamann, my son

Offline SMD

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Offline Kahuna{=}Berger

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #23 on: May 25, 2010, 11:07:16 AM »
You'll be Hamann, my son

Love that L6! Quality.

Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2010, 11:13:31 AM »
After arriving in Madrid I picked up a few newspapers to see what they were reporting about the match. The two main sports papers Marca and AS had quite a few pages dedicated to the final and it brought a massive grin to my face when I saw that Marca had translated the Luis Garcia song in to Spanish. It seems the Spanish people had fallen in love with Liverpool FC and were trying to stake a small claim in our success due to the Spanish connections.

Aha Brilliant.  I never knew about the Luis Garcia song.  Cracking story that Macco.
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Offline Kahuna{=}Berger

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #25 on: May 25, 2010, 11:34:42 AM »
Aha Brilliant.  I never knew about the Luis Garcia song.  Cracking story that Macco.

 ???

I'm writing under a pseudonym now VdeM?!

My real name is actually Charlotte 'campioni' Bronte ;).

Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #26 on: May 25, 2010, 11:47:35 AM »
???

I'm writing under a pseudonym now VdeM?!

My real name is actually Charlotte 'campioni' Bronte ;).

Aha... what a tit I am.  Ah, well it still stands, yours was a cracking story as was campione's story and the little gem about the Spanish papers carrying translations of the Luis Garcia song.

[heads off to lie down for a bit ;)]
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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #27 on: May 25, 2010, 11:55:12 AM »
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/5Ep6Y-hGf5s&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/5Ep6Y-hGf5s&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;</a>

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/bzactH7VMUw&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/bzactH7VMUw&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;</a>

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/dZI5SjrWUn0&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/dZI5SjrWUn0&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;</a>


Go on - spot yourself in my videos.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2010, 12:05:17 PM by El Campeador »

Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #28 on: May 25, 2010, 11:57:07 AM »
Another excellent post from the time, this time from Jaron:
http://www.redandwhitekop.com/forum/index.php?topic=68662.msg1076038#msg1076038
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Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Offline Red_Mist

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #30 on: May 25, 2010, 01:09:09 PM »
If - Rudyard Kipling
That is great!

Just enjoyed reading Alan Edge's reflections on Istanbul again in Opinion:
http://www.redandwhitekop.com/forum/index.php?topic=73370.0

Offline Kop4

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #31 on: May 25, 2010, 01:36:28 PM »
Great stuff especially L6.

Need I remind folk of the double celebration?  It's also 33 years since the first!

A travesty of a sham of a mockery.

Offline Veinticinco de Mayo

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #32 on: May 25, 2010, 02:01:15 PM »
The equivalent of this thread, first time round, from June 2005
http://www.redandwhitekop.com/forum/index.php?topic=70538.0

Nice bump Terry
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Offline jaygraham

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #33 on: May 25, 2010, 03:31:21 PM »
Happy Istanbul day everyone. For most of us, five years since the greatest day of our lives!
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Online sinnermichael

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #34 on: May 25, 2010, 03:51:33 PM »
am going to watch "one night in may" tonight. i've decided.

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #35 on: May 25, 2010, 03:54:58 PM »
It was round about now that a friend of mine went to get his match ticket from the hotel safe (he'd developed ticket panic as we all do the night before and decided to leave place his ticket in the hotel safe, safe in the knowledge that no-one will be able to get it)
He approaches the the concierge and asks for his ticket from the safe, he leaves my friend and returns 10 minutes later to inform him that "Sir, the safe is broken and we can not get your ticket"
In true scouse friendship we all sat round pissing ourselves laughing getting more drunk as we watched the worst (little did we know it would be the second worst later on) 45 minutes of my friends life. One locksmith, 4 people and one serious amount of panic later the safe was finally prized open. The rest of the evening - from the 'Itstanbul'  flag - to walking across the lunar land scape - to the gates not letting anyone in and having to climb them pissed - from the tears of pain to the tears of happiness - to the early hours dialing 0044161 and them putting any 6 numbers after that and laughing at mancs (city fans where made up to be honest) - to the tent at the airport - to the pillaging of the duty free - to the free champagne and bottles of jack on the way home with all that singing - to finally land get home and be told by me bird that I'd forgotten her birthday! and to telling her I'd had a lot on me plate of late. was just ace  :)
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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #36 on: May 25, 2010, 04:00:56 PM »
Watched 'The Road To Istanbul' on LFC t.v before for the umpteenth time. Normally watch it with a big grin on my face but for some reason today I got quite emotional during footage of the semi-final at Anfield. Lump in the throat and all that.
 It's on all day for anyone who hasn't seen it yet! Road To Istanbul, followed by the final and then The Fans' Story.

Offline jason42

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #37 on: May 25, 2010, 04:17:32 PM »
I'd packed the kids off to bed. My missus was, as per usual when Liverpool are on, banished to the kitchen. The opposition have a terrible habit of scoring whenever she is in the room so she now gets banished.

I settled down to watch the game and before I was even comfortable we were 0-1 down, Maldini scoring. All at sixes and sevens we concede again as Crespo and Kaka run riot. What is going on? This isn't how it is supposed to be......oh no another goal and Andy Gray consigns us to the runners up spot - the game is over in his opinion. I sit there stunned....absolutely stunned. My missus says that I should turn the channel over and watch something else but no I decide to stick around and pray that we come out and play for pride and maybe win the second half at least.

Six amazing minutes and all of a sudden we are level. Another one of my strange quirks is that I will stay sitting in the exact same position if we are doing well even if it means suffering from leg cramps. My legs were aching but I refused to change position in case they scored. Dudek makes that double save and I have a little train of thought that starts to move around my brain - maybe it is our time after all. They penalty shootout was one of the most nervous times of my life. I was sweating and my heart was pounding out of my chest. The adrenaline was well and truly flowing.

It comes down to the last penalty. I could tell from Shevchenko's body language that he was uncomfortable with taking the penalty. I read later that because of that double save he felt that Dudek was huge in the goals. This was our moment of glory, destiny and unforgettable memories. Dudek saves and I actually break down and start crying. My kids came running down the stairs as I had made enough noise to wake them up. We were all dancing and singing YNWA with tears streaming down my cheeks.

One of the best nights ever......
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Offline Kahuna{=}Berger

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #38 on: May 25, 2010, 05:07:33 PM »
Go on - spot yourself in my videos.

Whopper  :P ;)

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Re: Istanbul Memories - Five Years since Five Times
« Reply #39 on: May 25, 2010, 05:15:41 PM »
It was round about now that a friend of mine went to get his match ticket from the hotel safe (he'd developed ticket panic as we all do the night before and decided to leave place his ticket in the hotel safe, safe in the knowledge that no-one will be able to get it)
He approaches the the concierge and asks for his ticket from the safe, he leaves my friend and returns 10 minutes later to inform him that "Sir, the safe is broken and we can not get your ticket"
In true scouse friendship we all sat round pissing ourselves laughing getting more drunk as we watched the worst (little did we know it would be the second worst later on) 45 minutes of my friends life. One locksmith, 4 people and one serious amount of panic later the safe was finally prized open. The rest of the evening - from the 'Itstanbul'  flag - to walking across the lunar land scape - to the gates not letting anyone in and having to climb them pissed - from the tears of pain to the tears of happiness - to the early hours dialing 0044161 and them putting any 6 numbers after that and laughing at mancs (city fans where made up to be honest) - to the tent at the airport - to the pillaging of the duty free - to the free champagne and bottles of jack on the way home with all that singing - to finally land get home and be told by me bird that I'd forgotten her birthday! and to telling her I'd had a lot on me plate of late. was just ace  :)

Brilliant that! ;D

I'd packed the kids off to bed. My missus was, as per usual when Liverpool are on, banished to the kitchen. The opposition have a terrible habit of scoring whenever she is in the room so she now gets banished.

I settled down to watch the game and before I was even comfortable we were 0-1 down, Maldini scoring. All at sixes and sevens we concede again as Crespo and Kaka run riot. What is going on? This isn't how it is supposed to be......oh no another goal and Martin Tyler's Monkey consigns us to the runners up spot - the game is over in his opinion. I sit there stunned....absolutely stunned. My missus says that I should turn the channel over and watch something else but no I decide to stick around and pray that we come out and play for pride and maybe win the second half at least.

Six amazing minutes and all of a sudden we are level. Another one of my strange quirks is that I will stay sitting in the exact same position if we are doing well even if it means suffering from leg cramps. My legs were aching but I refused to change position in case they scored. Dudek makes that double save and I have a little train of thought that starts to move around my brain - maybe it is our time after all. They penalty shootout was one of the most nervous times of my life. I was sweating and my heart was pounding out of my chest. The adrenaline was well and truly flowing.

It comes down to the last penalty. I could tell from Shevchenko's body language that he was uncomfortable with taking the penalty. I read later that because of that double save he felt that Dudek was huge in the goals. This was our moment of glory, destiny and unforgettable memories. Dudek saves and I actually break down and start crying. My kids came running down the stairs as I had made enough noise to wake them up. We were all dancing and singing YNWA with tears streaming down my cheeks.

One of the best nights ever......

I do that too. :)
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