Oh Captain, My Captain

tumblr_nogj90ACFc1tjid03o1_540This has got to be one of the hardest goodbyes in football. That 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace is Steven Gerrard’s last match at Anfield, after some 17 years and 10 trophies amassed. He is the heart and soul of Liverpool, and his departure will leave a gaping hole in central midfield. Thanks for the memories, Stevie. You are my hero.

About Last Sunday…

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Fernando Torres captioned this photo as “Liverpool family”. I can’t even muster any eloquence to describe what the All-Star Charity Match (a.k.a. everyone’s chance to say goodbye) means to the fans. This club is making me weepy again (apart from the huge blows against Arsenal and that club made of manure).

Start the year with a tear

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This has been the toughest decision of my life and one which both me and my family have agonised over for a good deal of time.I am making the announcement now so that the manager and the team are not distracted by stories or speculation about my future.

Liverpool Football Club has been such a huge part of all our lives for so long and saying goodbye is going to be difficult, but I feel it’s something that’s in the best interests of all involved, including my family and the club itself.

I’m going to carry on playing and although I can’t confirm at this stage where that will be, I can say it will be somewhere that means I won’t be playing for a competing club and will not therefore be lining up against Liverpool – that is something I could never contemplate.

My decision is completely based on my wish to experience something different in my career and life and I also want to make sure that I have no regrets when my playing career is eventually over.

I can’t thank Brendan, the owners and everyone at the club enough for how they’ve handled this and I am leaving on great terms. Also, I would like to thank my teammates and all the staff for their help and continued support.

It is a very special place to be part of. It is my sincere hope and wish that one day I can return to serve Liverpool again, in whatever capacity best helps the club.

One point that is important to make is that from now until the last kick of the last game of the season, I will be as fully committed to the team as I ever have been and giving everything I have to help Liverpool win games.

My final message is for the people who make Liverpool Football Club the greatest in the world – the supporters.

It has been a privilege to represent you, as a player and as captain. I have cherished every second of it and it is my sincere wish to finish this season and my Liverpool career on a high.”

– Steven Gerrard

It is an end of an era, indeed. Steven Gerrard *is* Liverpool.

We need more of this.

To say that Liverpool has had a rocky start to the season is a bit of an understatement—and the gaggle of debate for plausible explanations will not die down anytime soon. As for me, I’m just glad Adam Lallana finally got on the score sheet in a Liverpool shirt… and that Jordan Henderson is indeed Vice-Captain Fantastic.

This is Manila.

(Apologies are in order for the delay of this post.)

As a Filipino Liverpool fan, it is quite hard to get a fix of your favorite football team in the country. Merchandise is limited; there are hardly any marketing efforts, and people in the country probably associate Liverpool with only the Beatles at best. Perhaps it didn’t help that when football had a resurgence in the Philippines, Liverpool was languishing at the middle of the table, prone to have uninspiring games and second half meltdowns.

Maybe it also helped that because we were so few, we bonded over a shared love for a club that stood for something ultimately bigger than the wins (but still finding time to remind everyone else that we have the most number of European championships among English club), a group of people who experienced the same highs and lows, and yes, even the unlucky slip.

We sought for our Liverpool fixes in dimly lit bars, perhaps surprising a couple of expats that, hey, there are Filipino Liverpool fans. Anything more than the televised game was sought for in other countries—there are those who meticulously plan visits to Anfield and pray to win the ticket lottery, and there are those who brave the thousands-strong crowds in any other Southeast Asian country to see the Red Men on their Asian tours.

Forgive us when we got too giddy over an invitation from the British Embassy for cocktails in honor of Liverpool coaches Phil Oliver and Colin Wilson, who were recently in the Philippines for a series of football clinics through the efforts of folks from Standard Chartered.

Speaking before a small group of Embassy staff, media, and Liverpool fans, coach Phil Oliver, in that distinct Scouse accent, remarked, “It’s been a fantastic experience. Liverpool value their partnership with Standard Chartered thanks to events like these. We hope that the children we taught would have the ambition to grow (as footballers). As long as the children have that ambition and passion to grow, football is obviously going to grow in the Philippines.”

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“It’s also fantastic to see so many Liverpool fans with the red shirts,” he continued. “There’s a lot of ambition and passion for Liverpool, and that’s something that we’ll go back with and tell the Academy.”

Meanwhile, Nimmi Kamal, Head of Corporate Affairs of Standard Chartered in the Philippines, shared that they have received “amazing feedback” from the boys that were trained by the Liverpool coaches, noting the unwavering passion of the students and their parents—despite the heat. “It’s been a good start, I would say. The objective is to grow the passion for football and for Liverpool,” she stated.

Consider this baby steps to Liverpool’s foray into the Philippines—and for a small initiative, it was received quite well.

For us fans, the evening reception was quite a treat, with Liverpool pins and cake pops as giveaways, coupled with tasty pub grub and maple bacon ice cream.

While the hope to get the first team to fly out to Manila remains quite distant, having the Liverpool Academy coaches was already a big deal. “This is the closest I’ll get to Steven Gerrard!” remarked a certain writer.

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How important was this for us? We had “This is Manila” shirts made for the Liverpool coaches, and coach Phil was kind enough to share a photo of the shirt finding its way to Anfield.

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Sure, these are baby steps for Liverpool in the Philippines, but these are equally baby steps for the Philippines to be put on Liverpool’s radar.

Bonus: Some items up for grabs in a silent auction—a shirt signed by the entire first team and a ball signed by Jordan Henderson!

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Thank you, you Red Men.

We may have won 2-1 versus Newcastle last Sunday, but we fell short of the EPL title race by two points to Manchester City. You can throw all the “slip” jokes you want, but I have never been prouder to be a Liverpool supporter. I beg to disagree with the commentator who said that the dream is no longer alive when Samir Nasri scored the opening goal of City versus West Ham.

The dream is alive, and it is just the beginning.

Thank you, you Red Men for a wonderful season. It was not defined by the losses and draws that sealed us to second place. Rather, it showed to all of us who have been supporting you of what you can do, of what we can do.

This is just the start, and we all look forward to next season (the transfer window will be closely watched).

We go again.

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The Dream is Alive

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Liverpool defeated Manchester City last Sunday, 3-2. That was definitely one of the most intense, heart-stopping, let-me-take-a-swig-of-my-beer matches as of late.

We needed those three points, and we got it.

One more win to secure our Champions League spot, and four more to win the League. We can do this. WE ARE LIVERPOOL.

I waited five years for this.

Last night, Liverpool beat Manchester United at Old Trafford, about five years since they last won in that stadium.

Steven Gerrard scored a brace off a couple of penalties and planted a big wet one on the camera. Luis Suarez debuted his new Adidas boots in style. Simon Mignolet had about one good save and that was it—that’s also because you can probably count with both hands the number of times United made an attempt to score. Also, Joe Allen won’t stop running. SAS had great link-ups. DStudge can outrun the entire United team, but still not find the back of the net. Agger got a black eye from Mignolet’s elbow, but it’s all good (who needs enemies when you got friends like those?). Jon Flanagan hated United more than I did, and I could feel it halfway across the world. Lucas Leiva: The Return of the Comeback. Iago Aspas came on garbage time, and we were seriously trolling United.

SAF’s long face. David Moyes is a football genius.

I look at the numbers on the table and I get goosebumps. We are title contenders.

Make us dream, you Red Men. Make us dream.

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