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Full of emotion, Liverpool's dream can become a reality

Published on Apr 27, 2014 1:28 PM

"Great print," the short man told me every week and we both knew he was lying. Yet I couldn't avoid him. For it was in his shop, in a small, anonymous lane that turned at right angles off Calcutta's most fashionable street, that I found Liverpool football club.

On the walls of an otherwise bare room in 1986, standing at silent attention, was a library of video-tapes. All pirated, all full of jerky images (so much for "great print"), all devoured. He had movies, TV serials and, once in a while, as if to slake my thirst for sport in a nation where so little was telecast, he had football. Almost inevitably, Liverpool football. Not because he owned a special affection for Liverpool but because Liverpool, in those days, had a unique affection for trophies.

By sheer, stumbling accident - quite the sweetest way to start any love affair - I discovered a string of proper nouns which recited together made for a short anthem: Rush, Dalglish, Whelan, Lee, McMahon, Grobbelaar. Eventually I stopped asking for football, only for Liverpool. Eventually I also learnt an early lesson: nothing stays in sport as Manchester United are discovering. Managers err, stars leave, teams stutter, legacies fade, irrelevance comes. Failure, we learn, is the only guarantee.

Liverpool were league champions 11 times from 1973 to 1990. From 1991 to 2013, not once. It is a slow descent from champion to afterthought, from victory to wilderness, so slow that you finish school, attend university, court a girl, find a job, have kids, and there they are, still your team, still losing.

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Background story

Get the win, get the glory

There is to sport one, basic, impenetrable reality and perhaps Gerrard gets it: nobody deserves anything. Nobody deserves a title. Nobody has a rightful claim just because they have a hard-luck story.