Author Topic: RAWK Advent Calendar #12 Leverkusen 1 Liverpool 3 CL 2005  (Read 4350 times)

Offline Red_Mist

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RAWK Advent Calendar #12 Leverkusen 1 Liverpool 3 CL 2005
« on: November 26, 2013, 10:02:20 PM »
Rafa and the Status Quo

Some games are seared into the memory for their excruciating tension or their blood pressure-raising controversy, others for an incredible hat-trick or a sublime goal. Occasionally a big, shiny pot gets lifted into the night sky as a red and white chequered corner flag waves in the foreground (you know the one), and the match that went before it becomes immortal. This particular victory for the Reds had none of that, but it still managed to be another special moment during the cup run to end them all.

The morning of the match started in one of those old breakfast rooms you only get in a European ‘pension’...all net curtains, yellow swirly-glassed windows, dark wooden walls and red paper tablecloths; a slightly musty background smell competing with the large plate of garlic sausage on the sideboard next to the jar of Cornflakes.

The German proprietor and his wife were in and out of the room doing their best to try and satisfy the tea and toast demands of around forty hungover Liverpudlians, whilst trying very hard not to make an issue out of the fact they only had seven twin bedrooms. “How can zis be? Ver haf zey all come from?” we imagined his complaints as he refilled the teapot, although why he’d be speaking English in an ‘allo ‘allo style fake German accent is anybody’s guess.

The talk from a lucky few was all about Rafa and his appearance the night before in a nearby pub. Nobody seemed sure why he’d turned up, but by all accounts he’d enjoyed being part of the impromptu party to mark the unceremonious (but not uncommon) dumping of Alex Ferguson onto the hard shoulder of the Champions League.

At first it sounded like a tall story, but no, others soon confirmed that El Señor had indeed wandered in, bold as brass through the front door, straight up to the bar and ordered 178 pints of lager for the assembled Kopites.

Not long after, when Hernan Crespo looped a peach of a header over the hapless United goalie, the somewhat over-enthusiastic response of those watching inside the pub had possibly, ever-so-slightly rattled the watching Spaniard. His timing had been impeccable and he was in danger of being held directly responsible for the goal and carried aloft around the bar like the Rafatollah we didn’t realise he was soon to become. Luckily for those nearby, he’d apparently kept his cool and stayed and chatted for a while, but it wasn’t too long before he’d drained his glass and waved “adios” to his admiring (soon to be adoring) subjects.

Okay, perhaps he hadn’t responded quite as generously as suggested to the chants of “Rafa get the ale in”; but just by being there with a pub full of fans he'd added another coal to a fire that had been lit three months earlier when a certain “beauty” had left the end of Steven Gerrard’s boot and proceeded to “get in”. Rafa Benitez was gradually becoming a legend.

After breakfast, the hours before the game were spent in typical fashion, wandering around doing a little bit of sightseeing, but with a much greater thirst than you seem to have in normal life. This thirst was unquenchable, despite stops along the way for the odd glass of Pilsner and the sightseeing was finally ditched in favour of a serious attempt at rehydration.

The pre-match discussions were all about the need for a classic European away performance. Possession, tight at the back, a perfect bore draw and we’d be through to the quarters. The last gasp consolation goal for Bayer at Anfield meant that what should have been a walk in the park had the potential to be a long night. Defeat at the hands of the same opponents in the same competition three years earlier was fresh in the memory. Plus the Olympiacos game had provided enough nervous excitement to last a whole season. What we wanted was clinically dull.

Unlike the game in 2002 (when I'd spent a frustrating but eventually successful couple of hours standing outside the stadium car park asking every single home supporter for a spare), our little group this time all had tickets, so there was no need to cut the thirst quenching short and head to the Bay Arena in search of ways to get in.

Instead, the beers seemed to do what they always do in Germany and kept growing in size as the day wore on – in the last bar, the barman knew exactly what he was doing when he produced the daddy of all steins from below the bar and held it aloft with a questioning single raised eyebrow. “Oh aye, eight of them please mate.”

As the match approached, time sped up as per usual – one minute you’re enjoying the largest glass of lager known to man and wondering if you can squeeze another one in, the next you’re rattling along in the carriage of a packed train singing Poor Scouser Tommy.

Just a quick question - How does that happen? I mean, usually when you go somewhere by train, it takes a little bit of planning. It helps to know where the station is and what time the train’s leaving. You usually have to spend a moment or two checking which is the right platform and it helps to know roughly how many stops until you have to get off.

So how come none of that seems to matter in an unfamiliar city, with kick off rapidly approaching and all the signs in a different language? The strange thing is that in Europe, if Liverpool are playing nearby, all you need to do to find the stadium is 1) leave the bar singing loudly, 2) put one foot in front of the other (can be tricky), 3) stagger down the nearest staircase, 4) jump on a train without a thought for which direction it’s going in, and 5) hey presto, there’s the ground! Works every time (probably due to our half Scottish/half Scouse travelling companion Mark who is usually in charge of herding).

That’s how it seemed anyhow. In fact, the Bay Arena wasn’t right by the station, but after a quick walk through a park we joined the large throng of Reds outside the ground, a throng who were in fine voice, no doubt partly due to the appearance throughout Dusseldorf, Cologne and Leverkusen of the FMS (f**kin massive stein).

We clicked through the turnstiles and were hit by the full force of the stadium PA turned up to 11. The music was terrible and in that moment we realised how much of a match made in heaven had been David Hasselhof at the Brandenberg Gate in 1989.

As the Hoff impersonators faded out and the Champions League anthem ripped through the air, the teams lined up with the likes of Riise, Finnan, Hyppia, Carra, Biscan and Hamann suggesting our hopes for a workmanlike draw might be satisfied. Any lingering nerves were shrugged away as the match kicked off and Liverpool went on the attack, Milan Baros galloping across the turf like a riderless horse in the National.
 
Within half an hour Liverpool were 2-0 up! This was largely thanks to our tricky number 10 who’s Sangria drinking habits and modest stature were being described at full volume by the packed away end (or side as it was).
 
Nobody seemed capable of working out exactly how many, but Bayer now needed a lot of goals to make it a contest and, although you can never quite relax where Liverpool are concerned, the fans decided to do just that and enjoy the feeling that only a 5-1 aggregate scoreline can bring. Broad smiles all round. Bellies full of Pilsner. Party time.

After the break, Baros put the tie beyond any doubt whatsoever and the fiesta in the away end continued, now with the addition of a stark bollock-naked fan risking life, limb and the family jewels by climbing up the perimeter fence and sitting proudly astride the spikes at the top. The German fans looked on, some amused, others bemused as he presented his hairy backside to the pitch and slapped it enthusiastically in time to the songs being sung below.
 
And then, a moment that anyone who was there will remember for a long time, a moment of sublime timing and surreal but perfect song selection. Bayer scored a consolation goal to make it 6-2 and the home fans responded with the type of half-hearted, ironic cheer reserved for this type of goal. The stadium announcer had different ideas though. This was a moment to celebrate and what better song to play at full blast than “Rockin’ All Over The World”.

There was a pause of about a nanosecond before wide grins spread across every face in the away end. Those who weren’t doubled up laughing at the daftness of it all started to join in with Francis Rossi and the boys. Air guitars all round. By the time it was faded out, every Liverpool supporter inside the Bay Arena was singing and bouncing (or rather rocking) along to a song that was to be heard for the rest of the match and way beyond.

As the game drew to a close, we were as good as through to the quarter-finals of the European Cup, so what harm would another Leverkusen goal do? Liverpool possession was suddenly being booed by Liverpool supporters and Leverkusen passes cheered as a naked arse was slapped in time to Scouse chants of “Le-ver-kusen”, urging our hosts on in the hope we could all “la, la, like it” one more time.

The locals looked on and wondered what the hell was going on. Others went to have a word with the stadium announcer to ask what the hell was going on. Liverpool’s fans looked for all the world as though they couldn't care less what was going on. But looks can be deceiving. As the ref blew for the end of the game, another joyful rendition of a Quo classic echoed around the ground. Supporters young and old began to take in the fact that we were just two ties away from the European Cup final. Dreams long suppressed were being allowed a few moments to flourish in amongst the laughter. You could see it in peoples' eyes.

A memorable night and a great time to be a Red.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdcJe6f9fRo 

:)
« Last Edit: November 26, 2013, 10:33:26 PM by Red_Mist »

Offline Corkboy

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #12 Leverkusen 1 Liverpool 3 CL 2005
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2013, 10:42:36 PM »
That was very enjoyable.

Offline Red_Mist

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #12 Leverkusen 1 Liverpool 3 CL 2005
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2013, 08:25:21 PM »
thanks corky, likewise on your Fulham memories. There was a song being sung on the way out of the ground that day, over and over again, but I can't remember which one. Wondering if it was rafa la bamba or maybe the ring of fire? I remember the excitement was infectious at what we'd just seen in that 2nd half, especially from Xabi.

Offline Hinesy

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #12 Leverkusen 1 Liverpool 3 CL 2005
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2013, 11:58:36 PM »
Great read. Well written and thank you mate!
Yep.

Offline ScouserAtHeart

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #12 Leverkusen 1 Liverpool 3 CL 2005
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2013, 02:04:38 AM »
After the break, Baros put the tie beyond any doubt whatsoever and the fiesta in the away end continued, now with the addition of a stark bollock-naked fan risking life, limb and the family jewels by climbing up the perimeter fence and sitting proudly astride the spikes at the top. The German fans looked on, some amused, others bemused as he presented his hairy backside to the pitch and slapped it enthusiastically in time to the songs being sung below.


 :lmao :lmao :lmao :lmao That has to be one of the best things I've read in a long time
"Jürgen Klopp is bringing Liverpool's 'fuck you' back. And I can't wait."

Offline Hazell

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #12 Leverkusen 1 Liverpool 3 CL 2005
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2013, 04:31:08 PM »
Great stuff mate.
We have to change from doubter to believer. Now.

Offline Yorkykopite

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #12 Leverkusen 1 Liverpool 3 CL 2005
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2013, 08:17:14 PM »
Lovely job that mate. The bit about the 'allo allo' accents is superb.

I saw this one in a pub in south London. It was great fun because the place had two screens. One was screening us beating Leverkusen and the other had Arsenal going down to (I think) Bayern Munich. The place was rammed. We were going absolutely crazy of course. The Arsenal fans were even more silent than normal. You could see them casting envious glances over to us every time we celebrated a goal.
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Offline Red_Mist

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #12 Leverkusen 1 Liverpool 3 CL 2005
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2013, 09:56:30 PM »
Great read. Well written and thank you mate!
You're welcome mate, it was a pleasure going back there!
:lmao :lmao :lmao :lmao That has to be one of the best things I've read in a long time
I blame the size of the beers!
Great stuff mate.
Cheers Hazell
The Arsenal fans were even more silent than normal. You could see them casting envious glances over to us every time we celebrated a goal.
nice  ;D

Offline MakeUsDream2005

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #12 Leverkusen 1 Liverpool 3 CL 2005
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2013, 10:12:08 PM »
These are brilliant mate!

Offline cowtownred

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #12 Leverkusen 1 Liverpool 3 CL 2005
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2013, 10:24:50 PM »
Probably the best ever Euro away I've been to.

Great account mate.

The trip to and from Leverkusen was a memory in itself  (come in blert);  the meet up with other previously unknown Rawkites in the sportsbar near the stadium was just incredible  (pizza slices and steins and songs with us and the excellent BL 1904 fans) before the game.  First time I met Tetti and others... as well as Gera and Lahs...

The game. Astonishing. We could actually relax and enjoy after Luis put us in front after no time. Brilliant that.  2 excellent performances in that tie... one of Rafa's finest in my opinion.


And the bar in Koln.  Who can ever forget that night. Just beyond words what happened.

And then the songs. Quo...that was so so funny at the time.

And the 'Ring of Fire' leaving the stadium as we were held back before getting the train to Cologne. We were at the Ibis equivalent.. and I recall sitting on the floor of the bar (seats were taken) arguing with another Red that we were no way good enough to go any further.  I met him next on May 25th at Ataturk.

And the 'Ring of fire' next day in the airport.  Mind you we were in Weeze airport miles from anywhere... but a few of us got it going.  What a massive anthem that turned out to be.

A few others sadly arrived late to the airport (5 minutes after us) and got turned back... having to spend a night in a small German village....




In fact, the only regret I have in 2004/5 is that I drove the hire car too bloody fast from Leverkusen/Cologne to Weeze airport.  I would have LOVED an extra night in mid Germany with good mates and a load of beers.  But unfortunately I got the flight home.

Offline Red_Mist

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #12 Leverkusen 1 Liverpool 3 CL 2005
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2013, 10:41:54 PM »
  But unfortunately I got the flight home.
haha!

Flew back from Weeze as well. Remember the stewardess having a real face on and saying that the plane was going nowhere until everyone stopped singing. Took a while but we got off the ground in the end....to a massive cheer, and a sing song!

Offline Jonathan Hall ☆☆☆☆☆

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #12 Leverkusen 1 Liverpool 3 CL 2005
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2013, 10:43:54 PM »
I remember getting to THAT pub too late, me and Tetti were getting off a plan in Koeln. Also, the IBIS Milanbarosplatz went a bit the shape of pears the night before (i think) when they moved the chairs and Gareth aka Hoonin kicked off and i thought he was getting kicked out and i was sharing with the fucker.

Think i got a taxi to what is now Stadioneck bar just before the ground, which is now run by very good friends of ours who are due over next month for beer and a game.

Met the Leverkusen lads in the sports bar after and left sometime in the early hours in a taxi back to hotel (or another bar as it turned out to be).
Right which bastards eaten me Tapas?

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #12 Leverkusen 1 Liverpool 3 CL 2005
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2013, 02:11:01 AM »

Brilliant read, thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you.

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #12 Leverkusen 1 Liverpool 3 CL 2005
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2013, 01:13:34 PM »
Supporters young and old began to take in the fact that we were just two ties away from the European Cup final. Dreams long suppressed were being allowed a few moments to flourish in amongst the laughter. You could see it in peoples' eyes.

A memorable night and a great time to be a Red.

Thanks for reliving those memories - I remember being sent a picture of Rafa in the boozer and posting it on RAWK to widespread disbelief and amazement. Everything that season had a sense of mania and destiny.


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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #12 Leverkusen 1 Liverpool 3 CL 2005
« Reply #14 on: December 25, 2013, 12:02:40 AM »
Bump for Christmas
Yep.