End of an era
"There's something that the Kop wants you to know
The best in the world, his name is Bobby Firmino
Our number nine
Give him the ball and he'll score every time
Pass the ball to Bobby and he will score"
I have been a Liverpool fan since I was six years old. I ended up supporting them almost by accident. Our family were not a football family but we sat down to watch the 1977 FA Cup Final between Liverpool and Manchester United. Red was my favourite colour so, for some reason, I picked the team playing in white which was Liverpool that day. Liverpool lost 2-1 but my love of football and the team stem from that day. My son is now also a big Liverpool fan.
We were fortunate enough to go to Anfield earlier in the season. Unfortunately it was the game Liverpool lost 2-1 to Leeds.
When it was announced that Roberto Firmino and James Milner would be leaving at the end of the season I wanted to get tickets for the last home game of the season against Aston Villa. I tried but couldn't find any. I check a bunch of official sites - the club and partners - but no luck.
Then one day on the off chance I check one of them again - Sportsbreaks - and they had two tickets available that I quickly snapped up. It included a night in a hotel after the game - the "Knowsley Inn and Lounge".
Parking near Anfield on match day is also not always fun so decided to try JustPark for the first time and booked a parking slot on someone's drive nearby. This worked really well and will use this option again in future.
We did the Boot Room hospitality directly from Liverpool for the Leeds match. That consisted of a meal and then tickets at the Anfield Road end. The meal was okay and the seats were okay but it was the only way to get tickets at the time.
These tickets we bought gave us hospitality access to the Code Lounge. This included a free drink at half time but there was no pre-match meal. You could buy drinks and a standard burger or hotdog if you wanted. I much preferred this as it was a nicer environment and we didn't need the meal - we were more focussed on the match.
Before the match we saw the bus arrive and then Mark Lawrenson, the ex-Liverpool defender and TV pundit, spoke for about five minutes. We then took our seats in the L11 section. Excellent view in line with the goal - quite near to the away fans. They were quite loud but it added to the atmosphere. The seats were padded and so much more comfortable than last time.
As for the match itself, the atmosphere was really good even if it didn't go as we planned. Villa missed a penalty and then scored. We had a goal disallowed (wrongly according to most of the pundits).
After about 70 minutes Roberto Firmino and James Milner came on for their last appearance at Anfield. The atmosphere went up a notch. About a minute before the final whistle, Mo Salah crossed the ball and Bobby nipped in and finished at the near post. The place erupted. What an incredible way to sign off - "Pass the ball to Bobby and he will score".
It finished 1-1 so it wasn't quite the complete fairy tale but I was so glad we were there. Something to talk about for years to come.
After the game there was a guard of honour for the four players leaving at the end of the season - Firmino, Milner, Ox and Keita. After that all the players, staff and their families did a "lap of thanks" around the pitch. I found that quite emotional - especially the send off the two main players got from the kop.
Leon, my son, has always loved the way Firmino plays and has had his shirt and even a painted picture on the wall of his bedroom. I have always admired Milner due to his whole professional approach to the game and his attitude. He may not be the most skilful player but he is someone who is always giving everything. Both of them thrive from making those around them better - and that for me is such an incredible trait.
Thank you James and Bobby for everything.
And now on to next season ...
As a side note, the Google Pixel 7 Pro 30x zoom was pretty impressive. It got photos I would never have got before although it was a little hit and miss in terms of pixelation (as you can see above with the player pictures). In the past I would not have even bothered to try taking them.