I was in residence for this one, so long read ahead.
26 April is a special date in the Liverpool library. I was there in 1986 when Gillespie scored his hat trick against Birmingham. We handed Leeds the title in 1992 when Ian Rush opened his account at home to the mancs and Mark Walters finished them off. While in 2016, the jury at the Hillsborough Inquests delivered JFT 96. And this year, (excluding Christmas/Bank Holidays) it gave us our first Friday night league game at home since the last game in May 89 when the title was up for grabs.
It's up for grabs now as well, but there was no shocks or surprises in this one. It was a gift of a game at a time like this, and it took 15 seconds to win it, to return to the top of the league. More of which anon.
I arrived at the stadium about 5 hours before ko, for a stadium tour. I had never done it at Anfield before, so even though you think you've seen it all down the years, every time you discover something new. Last time it was sitting in the Kop, this time, it was coming out through the players tunnel, while the tour guide reminded the group of his own tales of the standing Kop, how 2 (male) toilets would have to cater for 30,000 fans, and those who couldn't hold it in long enough used to create what was known as the "Yellow Mersey" on a weekly basis. Though I don't think Health and Safety would take it very well nowadays.
As this was the first and last game I could attend this season, it was essential that we won. Winning the game justifies everything imo. The build up, the flight bookings, the long and painful searches for tickets, and all the other expenses and stresses that have to be experienced in order to attend 1 home game, let alone 19 per season.
As well as being the first home league game on a Friday in 30 years, it was my first ever night game, and credit to everyone there who gave us an atmosphere to remember. Within 15 seconds, the game was effectively over. It's our fastest ever goal in the EPL, and despite the odd sloppy moment at the back, we looked like we could step it up at any time and score as many as we wanted or as few as we needed. Mo and Mane are 1-2 for the Golden Boot, TAA and Robbo are still contesting the Assists category, while AOC launched his comeback. It was my first time to watch VVD live, and he was playing like a coach out there, constantly barking orders to anyone in earshot, launching attacks, cleaning up other's mistakes, and basically at the centre of everything. Hopefully tonight, he'll be collecting his first major trophy of the season and he richly deserves it.
It finished up 5, it should have been more, it could have been anything, and after 2 years unbeaten and 18 points collected from the last 6 home games, we've gone top of the league by a point after a game more played, just like we did that day in 86. Then as now, we won 5-0, we had 2 games and a League/Cup double was still on. The decades may go by, but at Anfield, some things never change.