Wednesday, June 11, 2014
"Which shirt would you like to wear to Mammas today" I yelled down the stairs.
"My Barca shirt" Chips yelled back.
"Liverpool are playing this afternoon" I added.
"My new Liverpool shirt please" replied Chips.
I wandered over to the wardrobe and took his brand new Liverpool shirt out,the one his big brother had brought him for Christmas and my mind went back to a conversation that had happened a couple of days ago when my brother had questioned why I liked Liverpool shirts,he remembered the days when I had supported Forest. The answer was simple but at the same time long....here it is and it's a tale that is very dear to my heart.
When I was a young I loved football. I had a little group of friends who lived on my street and we used to play football on a daily basis. We all supported different football teams Teresa supported Liverpool,Chris supported Man Utd and I supported Forest. It was back in the hey day of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor. Forest won division one and a couple of European cups and we lived close enough for them to be a kinda local team - I loved them. John Robertson was my hero and everything I owned was red and white. I saw them play at the City Ground and when they won The European Cup in the late seventies/early eighties my mum took me and brother to the city centre to watch the team parade around the city in a open top bus. That day my brother got squashed at the front of the crowd,trapped against a barrier and lifted over the barrier by some policemen. I followed him and it was quite scary. Eventually we were reunited with our mum and all was well.
So I liked,no loved Forest but there was something else and at this I smile wryly,I did NOT like Liverpool. Infact that is a understatement,hence my brothers raised eyebrow at the table during the dinner. It almost hurts me to think it now but I really did not like Liverpool,I didn't like Man Utd much either and you know what kids are like they tease each other and as much as they can have fierce loyalties they can also have fierce dislikes and that was how it was between my little group of mates,we liked our own team but boy did we rip each other to pieces if 'their' teams lost. Oh the joy in someone's team losing,I'm sorry to say that it was utter bliss! And at this statement I sit here grinning! I imagine the boys reading this and thinking 'oh mother,nooo' Sorry boys,this is how it was and what your mother was like at the age of ten.
My mother had a theory,she said I would marry a Liverpool supporter. This drove me mad,how could she even think such a thing,it was impossible,inconceivable. Me with a Liverpool supporter....no way.
'Ah but you will just fall for the boy' she grinned.
"Nope" said I,"I would know straight away that they supported Liverpool and that would be that,I wouldn't even go out once with them"
She just smiled.
And do I need to say that I married a Liverpool supporter? No that goes without saying doesn't it....life's like that ....from the moment I began protesting no way, no Liverpool supporter for me I was almost guaranteeing that I would indeed end up with a Liverpool supporter. How my mum must have laughed. Hmmm!
Years passed and my first son was born,a gorgeous little boy known here as Tiger.....Tigs for short. He adored his dad and he adored football and I mean really,really loved football. As soon as he could walk he began to kick a ball around and to this day he still does. He's twenty one now and he still plays in a footy team once a week.
His dad never pushed the Liverpool thing at Tiger but young Tiger soon picked up that daddy supported Liverpool and as lots of young boys do he wanted to be like daddy and when he started nursery and he made friends with a little boy who was also a Liverpool supporter the decision was firmly made - Tiger became a Liverpool supporter.
I brought him a cheapy little football shirt,probably not the first teams current kit and he was proud as punch to wear a Liverpool shirt and be like a real footballer.
By this time I had almost forgot my former dedication to Forest and football in general. I was a mummy now and I had two little boys to look after,a home and a busy job,it took me all my time to pull a brush through my hair,never mind keep up with football,the only football that I really thought about was the football that Tiger kicked around. I was a mum,football for me had gone,pushed right to the back of my mind.
The turning point with footy shirts came when Tigs was about five,up until then he had always worn any old Liverpool kit I could lay my hands on,if the price was right then 'that' would be the shirt I would buy....footy kits were expensive and I had two little boys to feed and clothe. And then Tigs went to hospital. It was just a routine operation but as you can imagine to me as his mummy it was a worry. We arrived at the hospital and as he was prepared for the operation he didn't want to wear his pyjamas,I'm not sure why now,but he started to get stressed and a kind nurse said he could keep his footy shirt on,it was a little cream Liverpool shirt. The doctor asked if I would like to hold him as they gave him the anaesthetic,apparently it's better this way as the child is with his parent. Maybe better for the child but can you imagine how it feels as a parent,pretty traumatic to be honest. You have to pretend to brave when infact you are almost dying inside.
So I sat down on this hospital chair and Tiger sat on my knee and they said he had to count to ten and of course he never got to ten,by the count of three he was gone,really gone. And I felt him go. From my warm alive little boy to a dead weight in my arms,he was so heavy,so not there,it was awful....sixteen years later I still can remember that feeling. The suddenness of my little boy going from awake to asleep - a very unnatural sleep,the sort of sleep no parent wants to see or feel.
The doctors carried him from my arms and placed him on a hospital bed and he was wheeled away and the last thing I saw him wearing was that little Liverpool shirt and as I waited for him to come back into the recovery room I vowed that Tigs would have a proper brand new spanking Liverpool kit with his name on the back and a number every football season.
And he did.
As soon as he came out of the hospital my mum had already brought him a bright red Liverpool shirt with the name Owen on the back and probably the number was ten,but don't quote me on that!
That shirt was worn,washed,dried and worn again,time after time. I never minded that it was all I saw him in,I remembered the promise.
The years passed and my youngest son was born. Tiger was older by then and I think he saw it as his duty to make sure his youngest brother followed in his footsteps and became a Liverpool supporter. So he trained him up! And as soon as he was earning a wage he began to buy young Chips Liverpool shirts. So now I was sometimes washing a whole line of Liverpool shirts! Sometimes the same Liverpool shirt just in different sizes! And this is why I love Liverpool shirts....they symbolize my boys to me and how can I not like/love that? Something that at the age of ten I would never have thought possible but now makes ultimate sense to me.