Saturday, 6 November 2010

Steven Gerrard

On Thursday night, for 45 minutes, Steven Gerrard did something that I was starting to wonder if I'd ever see again.  He lost the chains that seem to have held him back for two years and just played the game his way.  When that glorious effort late on was lifted over the keeper and struck the back of the net he looked like the Stephen Gerrard of a few years ago, weight lifted, beaming smile and for a fan, that's something we've not seen for an age.

It was a lift, personally, as well.  Sometimes your football club can do that for you.  I've written here plenty of times about how often despair and loss have been eased by my team.

Where that Gerrard has been for the last two years is anyone's guess.  Whatever has gone on in his personal life, has I suspect, been added to by the misgivings about where the club were heading but maybe, just maybe, that's started to turn around.

At half time on Thursday we were one nil down, playing poorly, with a side full of kids.  It wasn't a great watch either, but then we haven't been for a while.  For a long time, the club fed off of Istanbul, that feeling that whatever the odds, you kept at it and didn't give up, but that seemed to have gone since we failed to catch United in the race for the title two seasons ago.  Alonso leaving didn't help but you wonder whether the effort of getting so close, only to fail, after losing only one game all season just took its toll on everyone.  That if that crop of players were going to win the League, that would have been their year.  I truly believe that no one at the club feels that more keenly than Gerrard.

He's been a fan since he was a kid.  Lost a cousin at Hillsborough.  He walks out onto that pitch as captain knowing exactly what the fans feel, how much the club is about pride and about lifting people.  I'm not going to tell you that's unique.  I know it isn't.  But it is rare to have a player who embodies all that and one can only imagine the pressures that come with carrying that out on to Anfield on a match day.  My guess is that for the last two years that has felt like a burden and one he's not been able to carry.

So 1-0 down at half time.  On comes Gerrard.  The game changed almost immediately, he just took it by the scruff of the neck and throttled it.  His hatrick is never going to go down as a classic in terms of the quality of the goals but the first, in particular, was about never giving up.  And that's what, as fans, we needed to see from our captain.  It's what the youngsters needed to see from their captain.  It's what John Henry, the new owner, needed to see from our captain.

In Istanbul, five years ago or so, Gerrard, for six minutes drove a game and changed the clubs history.  In a Thursday night match at Anfield in the EUROPA League, Gerrard came off the bench and sparked something.  Anfield sounded right again.

The third goal was a moment for me.  A fuck you to a bad week.  It's weird to be able to share the same feeling with someone you've never met but I'm absolutely certain that as Gerrard wheeled away after completing his hatrick it was a massive 'fuck you' to the doubters.

Thanks Stevie.  You'll never know how much what you did on Thursday meant to a guy in Southampton sat watching on Channel 5, but when I needed you most you came through for me.

Whatever happens against Chelsea tomorrow, whatever happens at Liverpool in your career Stephen you gave us this and we will never forget you for that.  You'll Never Walk Alone, thanks for reminding me that I don't either.

Hit the YouTube tab on the mobile site to view the video.