GESET - Paris 1981 Peter C writes
"The Greatest European Story Ever Told" is an epic undertaking started by the brilliant Wooltonian to raise money for The Hillsborough Justice Campaign. It is no longer available in book-form and not hosted anywhere for free access but Wooltonian sent it to us to share with Reds all over the world at LFChistory.net. The Greatest European Story Ever Told (GESET) stands at over 100 pages and covers every match the Reds have played in Europe since Liverpool's first game against KR Reykjavik in August 1964. It tells the stories of the games and interweaves many humorous fan recollections regarding their adventures away from home.
Peter C writes
There were five of us in all. Two were 20 and three 21 years old. And we knew it all. We were veterans of numerous trips abroad to watch our beloved team and between us had visited every First Division ground and quite a few lower divisions with games in the F.A. and League Cups over the last 6 years or so. But this evening we were on our way to The Smoke. The plan, hatched a week earlier in the pub once we'd all secured tickets, was to travel down Monday, have a night with a mate, Billy, living in Hammersmith; up early for the Dover train and Ferry, then into Paris early Tuesday afternoon. A few drinks, sights and scran then once established in the capital of France it was obvious that we'd bag-off with some local beauties. They wouldn't be able to resist our demure charms and would be more than willing to put us up for the night so we'd be refreshed for the Final of the European Cup against Real of Madrid on the Wednesday!
I truly loved these trips. All of us did.
The last couple of years had seen us less attracted to the hooligan lust of our juvenile days and more content with seeing a place, having a bevvy and getting a real buzz from staying a night or two away from the drudgery of everyday life. Anywhere of decent distance from Liverpool was talked up as a potential stay-away. The reality was that we could only afford three or four lengthy trips a year due to varying degrees of employment and family life - Ged already had a baby so was particularly vulnerable to economic circumstance. In fact the last time we'd all been away together was the Cup trip to Tottenham in '79 when Terry Mac scored that screamer of a volley at our end. Once we'd survived the bad Satanism outside the ground, when it seemed that ALL of London had turned out to murder the 7000 Scousers, we had a memorable night in Stepney Green staying with a distant fourteenth cousin of Macca's.
But we all knew that if a few of us had money, either through work or skulduggery, the less fortunate wouldn't be left astray. And we'd all made the effort of sacrificing a few nights out since the semi in Munich, to make this trip, cos I'd recently been accepted into Australia, leaving in early September. This was a last hurrah for all the crew and we'd been everywhere together so this was a special one.
"You'll be back by ****in Christmas" was a popular ribbing, but it wasn't to be.
The trip from Lime Street had, as usual, started in heightened excitement and finished with a boozy awareness that Billy was waiting at Euston for us. Being an Evertonian he got a bit of stick but we could tell that he was genuinely glad to see us. The feeling was mutual; he was a good mate and a funny ******* too, escaping the chronic problems of unemployment in Liverpool by labouring on London building sites. With kit-bags dropped at his digs a few scoops were in order so off we strolled to his local where we proceeded to convince him of the merits of coming with us - sans ticket of course. Drawn to our addictive excitement, and seven brown bitters later, he agreed to join the merry band.
After a sing song that won us a stay behind at the alehouse we decided to get a cab straight to Victoria Street station and doss there for a few hours before the early train to Dover. I've always had trouble kipping on concrete floors, even in an alcoholic stupor, so nudged Tony to see if he would stir. It was about 5a.m. "Wha,wha - **** off" he muttered. But after a few gentle kicks in the ribs, up he got and off we went in search of a cup of George. Wandering around for fifteen minutes we came upon what we swear, to this day, was Buckingham Palace. Gazing upon the decadent residence of the richest unemployed family in the country we couldn't believe that there was a crate of cartoned milk sitting at the locked front gate. Doing our bit to spread the wealth of Thatcherite Britain, cos she certainly ****in wasn't, off we ran, a hand each on the contraband, ******* ourselves with the epic tale already developing exaggeration for our comrades' shell likes. After taking our fill of the cow's finest, with collective Adidas, Umbro and Nike bags stocked for the trip to France, we gave the rest to the stations' hobos whilst suffering furtive glances from the suspicious local constabulary.
A doze on the train and then specs in the lower decks of the ferry to Calais.
Waiting for the bar to open we got the cards out.
"First jack deals and picks the game, once round the table." Macca won,
poker it was. Richie went with Billy to see if there was any spares on the ferry. He refused to play cards with us ever again when we started knocking his infuriatingly neat piles of slummy off the table.
It used to drive us nuts, especially when he was winning, so when one of us got up for a **** or stretch or whatever his columns of dosh were accidentally scattered.
"Sorry Rich" the culprit would tut, feigning contrition.
"***** ," he declared coming back from Forest a few weeks ago, and he stuck to his non card-playing word.
They came back with no ticket, naturally, but a round of drinks and a report on who was who on the boat. There was a few lads we knew from previous excursions so we said we'd catch up with them later.
We settled down to an ale. Richie kicked it off with something he must have been baking for a while and diverted attention away from the cards. "What we need is a forward pairing that rolls off the tongue like Hunt and St. John, Keegan and Toshack, Morecambe and Wise, Hinge and Brackett." We all laughed. Good one. But we knew that it was a serious point too - who do you put with Dalglish? We'd all been impressed with the young lad Rush who had made his debut in the League Cup final replay with West Ham at Villa Park, but for all his prodigious scoring records as a youngster, he had failed to notch in the remaining league matches. His potential was obvious but the jury was still out.
If only we could have known what lay in store in the coming years!
For the umpteenth time we analysed the season just gone. Given the incomparable standard - the '78-'79 team was the best I had and probably would ever see - it was a poor performance in the league. Only four wins away from home and Dalglish and Davie Johno netting a paltry 16 goals between them had sparked the question about our forward pairing. There was no question about Kenny, by far the best player I had watched week in week out. In fact during some of the more mundane fixtures, especially at home, I simply watched Dalglish. He always did something above the norm, something worth paying the money to see, something only a tiny percentage of players who ever pulled on a pair of boots could dream about doing. I remember one particular night at Anfield when the opposition was Middlesborough. Not a mouth watering prospect which was reflected in the crowd of under 30 000 in attendance. Boro's manager had done a Sybil Fawlty and stated the bleeding obvious by announcing in the press that to stop Liverpool scoring you had to stop Dalglish. So he was putting Craggs AND Madden on him. After an hour of Kenny not getting a sniff in a boring encounter Clemence mopped up a Boro attack on the edge of the box at the Kop end. Trying to shake his markers, Dalglish had drifted to the left wing near the half-way line. Clemence threw the ball to the facing Dalglish. With said defenders up his **** he took the ball on his right thigh controlling it instantly and, with a swivel of his hips, he feigned a turn to his right. Craggs and his mate, buying the dummy completely, nearly ended up in the Paddock as Kenny turned the other way and played a fourty yard inch perfect pass into the path of Johnson on the Kemlyn Rd. wing. We watched in the Paddock, standing about 6 deep, that night with a view at about player height. It was sheer ******* brilliance! An indelible memory I can enjoy forever. That was Dalglish for me.
Nonetheless, as poor as we were in the league Europe was a different matter. We seemed to be able to go up a gear or three with our encounters in Europe. The two best efforts were against Aberdeen at Anfield when we battered them 4-0 and Alan Hansen sent a message to the **** -wits who refused to pick him for Scotland and in doing so ignored the best defender in Europe; and the second leg semi away at Bayern Munich when Paisley masterminded the 1-1 draw to get us through, even having the balls to substitute the substitute, Howard Gayle!
Billy, sick of the football talk and who could blame him, surprised us by producing a camera out of his bag. In all our travels we'd never brought a camera. Lord Lucan guided us to the deck were we took turns at the front of the ferry, standing on the rails doing our impression of the talking figure-head on Jason and the Argonauts and trying to prevent Ged from introducing his three for a bob to the group photo's. We passed the remainder of the channel crossing discussing this and that, taking the **** - especially out of the other passengers - and generally basking in our own conceit. A few more drinks and miniatures to get us in the mood , off the boat, through customs and onto the Paris train.
What, we wondered, would this great, historical, cultured city have in store for us over the next couple of days!!
Our previous forays onto the continent were great; this was to be the best.
We wandered the train and re-acquainted ourselves with a few lads we knew from away matches. Such were the times that your thoughts never strayed too far from trouble, but everybody seemed positive about the prospect of a lumber-free good time. Some older and more experienced lads - flat cap and sheepy brigade - had accommodation booked ahead but most were like us and would worry, or at least give it a passing thought, once ensconced there. There was safety in numbers and in case of an unwelcoming committee we congregated as we pulled into Saint Lazare station. The inevitable butterflies led to a loud and aggressive "LIV-ER-POOL LI-VER-POOL" as the stations' acoustics amplified the chant to what sounded like hundreds instead of the 60 or so who alighted. Alas, the only committee was a score of scallies who gave a rousing rendition of "On the dole, Drinking wine in Paree". This was a flagrant, Up-Yours reply to the establishment and its gutter press who were already well on the way to pillorying Merseyside and its people.
Leaving them to tales of escapades since their arrival, we scuttled off, first to the money exchange, where we swapped pound Stirling for notes adorned by such historical luminaries as Robespierre and Marie Antoinette, and then to "Information" - the same, we brilliantly observed, in French as it was in English. Here we secured a couple of lockers to deposit our kit-bags. This was a trick picked up on a trip to Belgium and it saved you the problems of carting around said luggage. With passports and filthy lucre safe in jeans pockets, we then grabbed a couple of tourist maps and were told to: "Go Metro" by the smiling, gorgeous looking lady at the counter. Never missing an opportunity to impress our talents upon women, we displayed our mastery of the language by shouting "ALLEZ METRO. ALLEZ METRO," to the tune of 'Allez les Rouges'. Already thinking that she might put us up for the night and imagination running riot in a nano second, we resigned ourselves to accepting her embarrassed laugh and shake of the head as a good start.
The Metro, of course, was the Paris Underground. Over the next couple of days we would appreciate what a well resourced and well-manned public transport system could do for a city. There was a station every 500 metres and trains ran every 3 or 4 minutes. It was like a breathe of fresh air, so to speak. Anyway, we loved it!
Scrutinising the maps it was amazing how many names were familiar.
"See if we can find the places in "Where do you go to my lovely?" was suggested.
"See if we can find a ****in alehouse first" Macca responded.
With a sprightly gait, we strolled down la rue to find a ****in alehouse. We stumbled upon a street of working girls who advertised their wares in the shop windows. Billy couldn't help himself and started taking pictures
of them. Immediately hiding their faces with their hands, the girls disappeared from the windows. Billy didn't get it until confronted by a bloke in a bad white suit with sidies meeting his handlebar muzzy. A pimp!
Billy stepped back into the cobbled side-street as the pimp made extravagant gestures and then lunged for his camera. So he did what any normal lad would do - he chinned him.
All hell broke loose. Two other pimps emerged from darkened doorways between us and Billy. Ignoring our threats of "Eh, eh, now behave your ****in selves" they moved in on our retreating mate and, again, he did what anyone else would have done and legged it. With us chasing the pimps, "Leave him alone, ya ***** " who, in turn, were chasing Billy, it must have looked like a Benny Hill sketch. But they were no match for the labourer's fitness and after running past a Gendarme car they quickly stopped. We thought it might be on for young and old but they mustn't have fancied the odds as we slowed down and faced them. We weren't strangers to a bit of how's your father and it must have shown - they kept their distance, leaving us with obscenities. Catching up with Billy, we departed down the stairs of the nearest Metro station and, adrenalin pumping from the fracas, relived it over and over, laughing in nervous excitement. Ten minutes we'd been there. A couple of stops later we found a cafe cum pub in what was obviously the business district. Settling down to a Stella, we decided to have a scran, our first proper meal since the corned beef and piccalilli sandwiches had been polished off somewhere near Crewe. That Carr Lane East education paid off as I could understand most of the menu, but with such under-developed palates we skipped the salads - perish the thought - and plumped for steak and chips. MacDonald’s had yet to permeate its frugal and bland offerings to the culinary world, so the French Fries were a big disappointment. Coming from families where it was strictly two chips to a spud, we moaned about them being thin, but were impressed with the lovely thick steaks and loads of crusty bread and butter to mop up the juices. Yum!!! Full as fat ladies socks, we walked around the city centre for a while taking in the sounds, colour, smells, and then decided to do the touristy thing. So off we went on the Metro again.
After staring at the Eiffel Tower and looking down the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe for a few minutes we found a pub and to our great delight there were a load of Reds fans in there. We gave the customary nods of the heads and made ourselves at home. There was a nice mix of office workers finished for the day, tourists and fans and we were soon making ourselves known to all and sundry, with Billy working the place in search of the elusive spare. On a trip to the bar we talked to a couple of middle-aged fellahs, one Taffy one Jock, who were executives for Polyfilla over here on a conference. They came over, sat down with us and talked football. These lads knew the score and were telling us about the great players of the past they used to watch. They remembered Billy Liddell - although we didn't - from a game at Swansea and the Jock said he was at the famous Euro Cup Final at Hampden when the great Real Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3. He talked of Ghento, Puskas and the brilliant Di Stefano and generally impressed us with their footballing acumen. It was like talking to your Dad or uncles. Or your Granddad.
They got a round of drinks in, which impressed us more than any thing, and asked us what was the song we sang about dying dying dying. Dispelling their joke that it was about a Welsh/Chinese fellah, Tony immediately started banging the table with his palms to introduce the lovely, slow tempo, and in a booming, baritone voice :- "Let me tell you the story of a poor boy". Within seconds the alehouse was up, standing on chairs and tables, stamping their feet, clapping their hands. Tony was like Andre Previn, conducting the bar and maintaining the slow beat up to an elongated :- "OOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH IIII AAAMMM a Liverpuuuuudlian....."
This was the proper speed to sing at , not the **** that was being dished up at the games over the last few years. More fans were arriving from outside and before you knew it we were having a great owld sing-song. "The Reds are coming up the Hill Boys", "Underneath the Floodlights", "Those
were the Days" even "We'll drink 6 crates for Big Ron Yeats" got an airing. The executives joined in for a superb "YNWA" and by 8 pm we were sozzled.
By this stage you couldn't get a drink at the bar so we said our au revoirs to our newfound mates, capillaries popping by the minute as they continued the revelry, bear hugs all round, and off again in search of more fun. We stopped at a supermarket where wine - in bottles like the old sterry milk, - was dirt cheap.
Openly friendly and in love with everyone - isn't alcohol wonderful at times - we joined a group of back-packers from Norway who were on their way to Saint Michel, a famous part of Paris we were reliably informed. Sharing our booty with the hippies, one was a spit of Shaggy from Scoobie-Doo, we made it to a square full of statues and fountains and a crowd of people. Loads of them. From every corner of the globe. Europeans, Americans, Eastern, Middle Eastern and Far eastern. Flat caps, top-hats, turbans, berets, balaclavas. Smocks, pants, trousers, frocks, kilts.
And buskers from everywhere.
The richest cocktail of multi-culturism we'd ever encountered. It was ****in great! Passing the nectar round we waddled off to a busker playing a few Beatles numbers. "Twist and Shout" he sang, as we shouted and twisted in front of a crowd, vino in hand, oblivious to the world. "I Once had a Girl, or should I say..." what did he know, we were from the place, as we took over the harmonies.
Richie was yelling at us from 20 yards away. "Here, over here!" he demanded. The waft of ganga polluted his neck of the square as Shaggy passed around a spliff the size of a rolled-up Echo. Having a bad magic mushroom in my mid-teens, when the temporary traffic lights started chasing me in Dale Street, I wasn't into the wacky or similar mind alterants, but **** -it, this was Paris. We all indulged and were instantly stoned. We formed a scrum, pledging our faith and loyalty to each other, babbling ***** .
"I love yiz"
"Don't go to Australia"
"Your kid's ****in lovely Ged"
"Come back home Billy"
We peeled away, intoxicated with the comradeship. Macca kicked-off with his Frank Sinatra: "She gets too Hungreeey fooorr, Dinner at Eight.." clicking his fingers, sounding like his Dad.
We were drawn to a crowd up one end, near a fountain. Two buskers, yanks, one on acoustic guitar, the other on a mouth organ, amongst other things. We wanted The Jam, or Clash or Elvis Costello but instead got Dylan.
After the famous unemployment march in Liverpool, a year or so earlier, we had the pleasure of a singer in a pub doing a magnificent version, given the occasion, of "Down on Maggies Farm". We all agreed that it was the best
rendition of a Dylan song ever. But these lads were in a different league altogether.
"Mama, don't take that badge offa Me" - they drew us in as we knocked on heaven's door.
"I Shall be Released" - the growing throng sung for redemption. By the time they got to "Like a Rolling Stone" two hundred people would have eaten ***** out of their hands.
"OOHH Once upon a time You dressed so fine, You threw the bums a dime in Your prime -- DIDN'T YOOOUUU!" Everybody knew the last two words of every line and bawled at the top of their voices.
".........about having to be scrounging .. YOUR NEXT MEEEEAAAALLLLLLL. HOW DOES IT FEEEELLLL"
It felt brilliant. We were higher than the highest kite, looking down on a sea of pleasure, inebriated with the sheer joy of it all!
It went on 'til way past midnight. We formed human snakes as we danced and meandered through the square, into the fountains, over the statues. We Minnie the Mouchered and Oke Kokeed and Tangoed, Waltzed, Reggaed and
Pogoed our way through the night and early morning until we couldn't drink, or sing or dance or grope strange women any more, and crashed totally out, comatosed, God knows where.
It was one of those very, very special nights!
The commuting Paris traffic woke us up. We were in a small park, under a big tree, next to a main road.
Jesus got mentioned a few times as we moaned and groaned, heads in hands, huddled straight-jacket like, as we tried to keep out the morning chill. Did you get the number of that bus?" Tony asked, trying to jolt us out of our booze induced misery.
"The one that's just ran over me 'ead".
Nobody laughed. We were ****ed.
After watching the Parisians on their motorcycles, and chuckling at their bad George and Mildred helmets, it was decided to go back to the station and see if we could get a wash somewhere. Two rough nights - all day benders really - had taken their toll and we stunk. A walk was in order to try and sober-up a bit and get some of the stiffness out of our aching limbs. And we needed a drink - something with bubbles to attack the budgie seed we all had in our gobs. Macca whistled "Sunday Morning Coming down", another of his old favourites. Very appropriate. As we dodged in and out of the traffic and walked along the streets we talked of a hotel room for the night. Where shall we stay? Let's try this one. The Intercontinental Five Star Hotel. We knew we couldn't afford it but the idea was for two to book-in and the other four to bunk-in when it was chokka later in the night. Tony and Ged, being the eldest and least pungent amongst us, decided that they'd do the honours so entered to see what the score was. We thought they must have got a result cos ten minutes later they exited and approached us beaming. No, they hadn't booked a room but they had bumped into the Polyfilla fellas, would you believe, and after tellin them about the events of last night they said we could all go up to one of their suites and get a shower! ****in sound!! We ran to the nearest Metro station, off at Saint Lazare, into the lockers, out with the bags and then back onto a train and up to the plushest, poshest room we'd ever seen. It was as big as some of our council houses. Once we'd all, simultaneously, thanked them, the Executives edged out of the door before getting the mange.
"We're going for breakfast so see you downstairs and you can use the shampoo in the bathroom if you want" they grinned.
"Only if it's for bouncy hair" we retorted.
Don't know what they thought we had in our bags, but in fact we came well prepared - toothpaste, shaving gear, combs and, of course, a towel each.
Most important the towel. Besides being used for drying purposes it could be used as a pillow, blanket and it had been known to conceal certain items of value in our distant past. Douglas Adams plagiarised the idea from us well seasoned travellers.
The next half hour was ****in mayhem as we had the room to ourselves. Richie immediately jumped into the double bed wanting a kip instead of a shower. Ged came out of the bathroom waving his knob around, making the rest of us run for cover. He got in with Richie who told him to **** -off.
"What's wrong lovee, got a headache" Ged smooched, rubbing himself against Richie, who dived out of the bed, calling him everything. After a six-man piley-on on the bed and mutual slagging about the various decay of each
others socks and boxers, we settled down to cleanse the unwashed flesh. Showered, shaved, and changed into our match gear - assorted Lee, Inega, and Levi jeans with either Mamba or Samba Adidas trainees - we were ready
for the world again. We were clean enough for mass on Christmas Day.
By the time we got downstairs our best mates were checking-out. We told them the room was o.k., we didn't wreck it, so they asked whether we'd eaten. "Not since the steak and chipsticks yesterday" we told them, so they
said we could have breakfast. Walking us over to the dining room, they informed the maitre-de that we could have what we want and to put it on their bill. And then, the coup-de-grace, they produced a ticket for the match for Billy - and it was in the Main Stand! We just looked at them, gobs open, as they said their tara's and off they went. We couldn't believe it. Gobsmacked, astonished, dumbstruck - we were the lot! Someone ****in pinch us! Sitting us down to a snooker sized table with matching legs, the waiter, in
halting English but still better than ours, said that we could have anything we wanted.
Pause, as we looked at the menu.
"Have you got any Rusks?" said Macca. We rolled about laughing.
.We ordered the full monty. Sausages, bacon, eggs -"Runny, please"-, tomatoes, mushrooms, fried bread et al.
"OK, and pots of George all round, s'ilvousplait"
After trying to explain that George was, in fact, slang for tea, as in George Henry, the non-plussed waiter made good his escape returning every now and again to replenish the food and drink as we satiated our appetites.
Not wanting to die wondering, we asked if we could have a bottle of Champagne and some cigars, "Hamlets, if you've got them" for dessert. We could!
So we sat there, sipping our glasses "full o' the warm South", smoking cigars and grinning like the proverbial moggies . We couldn't believe such hedonistic luck.
Vanity stricken, we lounged around, outstretched arms across the backs of the chairs, doing bad Jimmy Savilles and Groucho Marx', making it impossible for us to be unnoticed and, therefore, able to bunk in later.
Prising us out of the hotel with a crowbar, we told the waiters to take a tip for themselves and it was back into a cloudy, Paris late-morning.
The City Centre hotels were obviously out of our league so it was maps out and back onto The Metro in search of some cheaper abode. We found one in a Western District where the girl at reception didn't notice that there was 6 bags between the four polite young men. We booked into two double rooms courtesy of Billy swelling the kitty with the money put aside for his match ticket; the one he kept taking out to scrutinise, kiss, smell and generally stare at to the envy of the rest of us. "Jammy Evertonian *******" was amongst the lighter comments passed throughout the day. However his gesture meant that only two would have to bunk-in later. A doddle.
We spent the rest of the afternoon getting on and off the Metro. We visited the Stade du Parc des Princes where we met our first Madrid fans who were probably getting a similar squiz at the stadium as ourselves, before it would be transformed by the multitudes tonight. And, of course, we frequented the bars, taverns and pubs as hoardes of fans descended upon the city, the Red variety seemingly outnumbering the Whites by three to one.
Caught up in the banter, songs and camaraderie it didn't take long to get ****** again. We excelled in it. We loved it. And so on to the match. Their end was white to the core, a cacophony of incessant thumping, Lamberg ******* drum style. Ours was an ocean of red and white; waves of plain and chequered flags, Union Jacks and the odd Tricolor. Scarves, hats and banners, and naturally the singing and chanting. We didn't really have a song for the occasion, but it mattered not. Ours is a rich history, with songs aplenty; a colourful tapestry unsurpassed anywhere, and we, the five of us and many thousands more, sang our hearts out.
Pity about the game, though. It was ***** .
That was until Ray Kennedy took a throw-in down the left with nine minutes remaining and his namesake, Barney Rubble, took it in his stride, beat the full-back and drove it into the back of the onion bag for the winner!!. Our end went berserk as all the frustrations of the previous 80 minutes were emitted in pure, unadulterated pleasure. I kissed and hugged everybody and then cried buckets as we bellowed "We Shall Not Be Moved", dancing on the spot, jumping up and down as the end neared and the final whistle went unheard in the celebrations. Tears again as Phil Thompson lifted the trophy. He would later say that this win meant Liverpool had "..joined the immortals!" We'd done it. We'd won the European Cup for the third time!
Billy was waiting at the arranged meeting gate telling us that sat next to him was Emlyn Hughes. The squeeky voiced ***** had yet to publicly flaunt his Toryness so we were impressed. But we were knackered more than anything. Deciding not to join the lads in painting Paris Red, we instead went the other way. Physically and emotionally drained we returned to our humble sleeping quarters for a quiet few between the six of us. But our plans were
dashed as the joint was full of Liverpool fans. About a hundred, already swinging off the chandeliers, as they say. So that was that. We were up all night again as we danced and sang and celebrated until the place was dry.
The last thing I remember was waking-up, bollicko on the bed, with Macca and Richie giggling uncontrollably as they held a Bic near my shaving-foam lathered pubes. With the youthful high-jinks over, we all crashed out, me ensuring that I was safely under a blanket with my jeans securely on.
The next day we nonchalantly left the hotel and besides bumping into similarly hung-over Liverpool fans, getting thrown out of a porn cinema, meeting Laurie Cunningham and Juanito of Real Madrid in Le Pigalle and trying to get ****** again, nothing much happened out of the ordinary!
So we made for our trek home, sleeping most of the way. Each time I stirred and looked up, one of the lads would have the makings of a wry grin decorating their sleeping dials, obviously reliving one of the precious, riotous moments we'd just had.
We left Billy at Euston where our slumber was interrupted by a typically zealous train guard who was searching for a large basket of mushrooms which had mysteriously disappeared from a pallet of produce on an adjacent
platform. "Rail Plod doth murder sleep" I informed him, but he obviously hadn't the privilege of doing Macbeth for 'O' level, so I left him to his vein throbbing stare and closed my eyes again. Off at Lime Street, where so many great journeys end, into a cab and after dropping off the other lads and sharing the mushrooms out, it was home. Straight to the fridge and guzzling half a pint of milk, I heard the familiar chimes of the News At Ten theme, so went to the living room where my Dad raised his head from the crossword.
"Have a good time, lad?"
"Great. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow". Leaving him to 21 Down, I climbed the stairs and went to sleep, with a wry grin all over my kipper, I'm sure.
Later on that year Ged would get engaged to the mother of his child, Billy would progress to the Isle of White, the other three would resume normal duties and I would leave home for warmer climes, after doing my youthly duty and protesting at the injustices in our neck of the woods, as parts of Toxteth burnt in the riots.
I've returned home a few times since and got together with what's left of the crew. We've often looked back and thought, with the benefit of hindsight and experience, whether we'd do it all a bit different. Maybe visit Longchamps, the famous racecourse in the same park as the Parc de Princes, or marvel at the architecture of Notre-Dame or Pantheon; or visit one of the numerous world renowned museums?
No - fuck it, we'd do it all again and more!
Long live watching Liverpool Football Club in Europe and having many, many adventures.
Copyright - Wooltonian