“There was a lot more to that song,’ said Sam, ‘all about Mordor. I didn’t learn that part, it gave me the shivers. I never thought I should be going that was myself!’
‘Going to Mordor!” Cried Pippin. ‘I hope it won’t come to that!’
‘Do not speak that name so loudly!’ said Strider”
Horace turns up in a Beanie that looks like Ena Sharples hair net. I’m sorry for that really old school reference that will escape the notice of most of the Yungs that read this madness. Ena fucking Sharples. That face screwed up like she’d been gargling battery acid. It was a prescient look for Young Horace as at the end of the game most of the Liverpool fans sidling out of the ground also had that look. It wasn’t great, nothing about the match was great to be fair. But hey! Fucking hell, we haven’t been to an away match for ages. We try to find out where the driveway was we had booked for parking the Motor. Horace is knocking doors in some Godforsaken new build street about 100 yards away from Anfield. A Glaswegian answers the door to one. You know how they mangle language, even though I am sitting in the Car I can tell what Horaces face looks like and I’m nearly bent over double with laughing. It’s dark around this ground isn’t it? There is a gloom that seems to stick into every piece of brickwork, every slab you tread on. The faces of these people of Liverpool are grey and sad in direct juxtaposition of me and daft lad laughing our bollocks off about anything and everything on the way to the ground. People are turning around and looking. We have thick unintelligible Wolverhampton accents. Horace is deaf as a post, so am I. We have to shout at each other to be heard. We are daft old bastards.
“Wolves wankers”. I think that’s what this bloke said but he scurried away sharpish when I smiled at him. I laughed a bit louder. Horace didn’t hear him or there would have been street ballet, pavement performance, the sad spectacle of grown men rolling around in the dim light of those ends. We see beautiful people from back in the day. Have chats while we navigate the throngs of Scouse energy. My mate Fischer says “People from Liverpool don’t like Wolves” ah, really. Even Fischer a German Jew with a penchant for antique books knows this……”people from Wolverhampton are too happy” he continues. He’s right of course. Scousers ‘famous humour’ is dwarfed by the naked comedy of men from Low Hill and Woodcross. Anfield despite it’s rich history is a place where the eyes of God seldom rest now. This Liverpool team are not a good one. It reminds me pretty much of how we play lately. Giving the ball away too cheaply…maybe there is something up in the land of the Baytuls etc. I don’t know or care. But in the ground the Announcer sounds like he’s been doing Ket all day. Talk about fucking monotonous. I was drifting off into sleep, rudely awakened by a warm up shot from Raul skimming of the protective netting behind the goal straight for my head. Raul dude, I have been nothing but supportive! I laugh. But this is Mordor for sure. If Old Trafford is a great Red Tomb then this place is surely that dark land Tolkien told us about. Scousers as Orcs congregating in groups of surly youth dressed in Nike slave wear. Horace wants to take a photo of me by the Anfield Gates. ‘You’ll never walk alone’ in a large wrought iron scroll across the top. I tell him to fuck off. This isn’t a theme park, an attraction to me. If the gates had been toppled over into the street I would have wanted a nice photo, but not like this dude. He bobbles his head. He is Ena Sharples to my Albert Tatlock. We think, therefore we Yam.
We walk into the ground past lines of Security Gonks and Cops. Some of the Cops have dogs, not Nazi attack dogs but fluffy waggy tailed things, a Labrador and a Cocker Spaniel. That’s weird I think to myself. Cocker Spaniels and dopey Labradors don’t strike me as attack……bollocks. Sniffer dogs. Shit. So I’m thinking to myself thank fuck I didn’t bring a Cosmic one skinner for the trip back. All I have on me is a bag of sweets, me Vape, me emergency tenner, a Phone and about 20 dogshit bags. One of the dogs loves me, it’s big brown eyes look at me with a bit of love, it wags it’s tail and follows me. Bollocks. The Sniffer Fed cops me. Escorts me over to a table where my goods are deposited and searched. The Security Gonk is cool and the search is cursory while we chat about weed. He says the dog keeps coming over to him and having a snuffle. We laugh, I pick my belongings up and we move into the glum interior of Scouse Mordor. We are not far from the Liverpool fans. They are an arms length away. They look like us of course but they have Scouse energy. They are irate already and nothings fucking happened on the pitch yet. What’s wrong with them? It’s a Pantomime of course. The Great Scouse Pantomime where grief is exhibited as a badge or a shirt. It’s pure clowning, the angst, the insults and the rage all as false as the Liverpool legend itself. They deserve their Manager of course, he is the same as them, false emotion, mental illness, the archetypal Victim energy layered thickly over everything.
This match was another intelligence gathering exercise by Julen for sure. He is watching and adding to his May ‘Kill List’ when we find out that half this squad will be off somewhere else. I think half the squad know they will be off too judging by the lack of energy, the piss poor pressing and the sight of Adama falling over again…and again….and again. But the fact he was one of the small groups of players of whom you could say were a bit energy, a bit exciting says everything. We lacked purpose and we lacked desire. I watch players off the ball and see how they are reacting to play other places on the pitch. They weren’t interested. Sagging shoulders 40 minutes in is not a good sign. It seemed like although we matched them in the first half we were in fact matching a very poor team. They were as dysfunctional as us. Raul flopping around in the box was a succinct and honest look at how we played. Nothing really came off, nothing sparked into flame. Our possessions were always short lived. It seemed like we trapped the ball, moved, got pressed, lost the ball and cue the relentless charge upfield again from Liverpool who although massively dysfunctional compared to years passed were at least moving as a unit. Every ball they put in the box had 3-4-5 Liverpool players waiting to convert, waiting for the ball. In direct contrast to Wolves who when they attained a chance to put the ball in the box there was rarely anyone there.
There isn’t anything to worry about I don’t think but you could cut the angst in the away end with a knife. Some of us old lot have been here before of course and we feel that shiver up our back, that familiar feeling, and we are trying to force it back into the darkness of our minds before it pops up again like a stubborn stain. Our team are too good surely? I idly think during periods of dull play that perhaps it would be nice to play the Lulus again, teams in the Championship, mad away days again to towns that look like parts of the Ukraine. I think about Julen getting his red pen out back at Compton and adding a few names to the list. I know who I would ice out of this Wolves team. I’ve watched them longer than Julen. I may not have the tactical expertise to analyse movement, assist statistics, goal statistics, performance etc but I am a good observer and I watch them very closely indeed. I’m not going to name the names I want shifted but they have exasperated me week after week, pulling me fucking hair out, swearing. I don’t name names because it’s not polite to slag someones inability to run when I can hardly run myself I suppose. Plus at the end of the day they are human beings with partners, wives and kids and I don’t want them to read my words castigating them. But we know who they are of course. They never really fitted in. Or they suffered so badly under Sellars and Lage that they have some sort of Post Traumatic stress disorder under Julen. The football tremors. Shellshock.
But we can see what he is trying to do of course. There are subtle shades of some decent football being played by the Wolves even if the end result is recycling the ball back to the Red Orcs who then steam up the pitch again and it’s all hands on deck as the ball bobbles around in our box. There is some pantomime from our side too. Rolling the ball around dribbling, some weird side foot passing with a bit of spin on the ball, some passing that was sublime and beautiful. Pornhub football. Beautiful people doing beautiful things under hot bright lights for our nascent pleasure which is ultimately devoid of passion and sadly always ending in a solitary feeling of disgust and a sticky sadness. We didn’t press, we rarely fought to get the ball back. Most of the time we ended up on our arses flapping at the grass as another Wolves player stumbles, slips or just poleaxed themselves into the green nothingness of the Anfield turf. Did the subs kill the game? I’m not sure. It went off the boil for sure, the shape gone and any idea of how we were going to get back into the game.
Every game we play now is a Cup Final. We cannot depend on other results to make our position more tenable. But we are not dead yet of course. The team, our team is full of great football players. We have a great Coach and backroom team. The smell of Sellars at Compton is slowly being Yankee candled out of existence but I think the stink of him and his mates is still lingering in these early days of Julens tenure. Julen of course is tired out. He is not burned out by any means but he is working very hard. He has new lines on his face which is a little bit greyer than it was before which means he is working on his Grand plan of sorts, an idea of a team. It’s transitional again my friends. A work in progress and we have to wait again and the wait is watching shit dysfunctional teams like Liverpool dominate us for large periods of games when we should have been putting them under the cosh. Yes, there will be players moving on. I reckon 6 at least. Big names, and if Julen sees what I see then some will be a bit shocked at the exits.
Coming out of the ground at full time me and Horace are yamming again. We are trapped in a throng of Scousers. Some are happy, a few. Most still have that worn out sad look about them even if their team just won a game. They are not stupid these Scousers, as daft as they are they know their football and even if it was a win for them they know that something is dreadfully amiss in this team of theirs. Their faces keep turning around and watching us laugh at each other. How dare we laugh and joke after our team just got destroyed but going to the football isn’t always about victory and the feelings we have after that victory. It’s about the joy of just being there sometimes. We are doing OK. At least Julen and Jeff have some sort of a plan in operation, there is something happening….we just haven’t seen it yet. Be strong, we only have one job as Supporters and that’s to support our team. The next few months are going to be as strange as fuck my friends, peaks and troughs as we battle to the end. Try and leave negative thoughts behind as best you can and get behind the squad….believe but get ready to fight.
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