GESET - ROMA 2001 Cherith's Story

"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 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.

Cherith’s Story from the same game

Roma 2001
What a nightmare! My car breaks down on Smithdown on Tuesday night – approx 8 hrs before I’m due to drive to deepest darkest Frodsham to meet the lads and girl I’m travelling to Rome with. It’s been dramarama from the word go for so many of us… tickets / British Midland bookings.. and now car trouble. It makes for a crazy start ......

I get picked up in Frodsham at 6 am Valentines morning. Some of you will know that I have a bit of history in this town – up until 2 months ago I lived here with my ex – who happens to be part of the group I’m travelling with – 6am on a cold foggy Valentines morning with your ex…? It’s got to be something to do with LFC really hasn’t it.

The journey to Birmingham is quite pleasant really. Big thanks to Mark for driving us down and to Norman for nipping off for a ciggie with me at any opportunity and to Carl just for having a laugh and not making me go with the ex! After a few beers at 9 am in Birmingham Airport we set off to Rome via Munich. Free booze all the way courtesy of Lufthansa – though we did drink the beers dry. By the time we’re approaching Munich I’m bevvied… and I’m not alone. Much to Carl’s amusement I point out the window and exclaim “ wow have u seen that road?” only to realise it’s the Rhine….

When we get to Munich we have –10 mins to catch our connecting flight. Frank starts us all singing “Scouser Tommy” and the look on Michelle’s face as she realises we’re about to sing about Nazi’s is priceless. The bus stopped at the terminal building in the nick of time - I don’t know where I’d have put my face if we’d sung that! We are hurried through the terminal by a stressed out Lufthansa employee to ensure we make the flight to Rome and as we board A nasty looking man asks if we are going to riot on the plane… I must have nodded off mid-flight - or maybe it was the cognac but the next thing I remember is arriving in Rome airport. You’d have thought they were carrying the bags off one at a time as they took so long, and the police dogs were freaking me out a little. Well you never can be too sure can you?

We went to make enquiries about taxi’s into Rome only to be greeted by an over-enthusiastic but helpful woman who exclaimed to our amusement “Welcome to Rome - I’m from Manchester” – you can imagine the response. Even the taxi journey was a scream. The driver was a Roma fan and asked if he could sing us one of their songs… “ fire ahead mate” we replied feeling a bit of a sing song coming on! After subjecting him to Scouser Tommy ( again) we were most impressed when he pulled up aside the other taxi-bus at the lights and sang it back to our mates!! Passing the Collesium we saw a gang of scousers having their picture taken with a hub cap! Hehehe. All the Cheshire crew where staying in a youth hostel ( with hot water and everything and when I got dropped off at my lush Hotel I had to go straight to bed to sober up. I was a little alarmed that no one seemed to know where Louise ( of the pouting variety) was… but soon enough she appeared in our room - all smiles with bags of energy!!

We quickly located the rest of the crew ( no prizes for guessing where) and set about getting hammered again. I think it was the grappa in St Patrick’s that did it…. But we were all wasted by 10! Louise, I salute you for getting that down in one! Kenny being his ever charming self haggled for some red roses for me and Louise for Valentines day, and I have a vague memory of Johnny Mac arriving with his mate form Czechoslovakia? to meet Kenny and then we were off on Steve’s “ Tour de Rome” . I think we met Will M and his family somewhere near the Trevi / Albert but by that time the Albert had been closed down. After heading back to St Patrick’s for the strangest toasties I’ve ever seen we went back to the Laurentia and proceeded to drink the hotel bar dry. I have never seen some of the lads so pissed. Some ( Bobby, Mark etc ) had been on the Roman Pub Crawl and were equally as drunk as we all were! Kenny and I stayed up setting to world to rights before putting others to bed and then crashing.

Thursday – match day. Wish I hadn’t drunk all that Tequila on top of all that grappa. I thought I felt rough until I saw the state of Steve and even worse Ant!!!! At the Trevi that afternoon Ant just blended right in with the colour of the stone! Everywhere else was awash with red and white, and you all know the stories of the Japanese tourists at the fountain…. Later we set off for Villa Bourgese – only to find every bus but ours! I did see a couple men in collars knocking about but only later realised when they were passing their bottles of “ Holy Water” – gin and vodka I believe, down the bus that they were plassy priests! I later worked out that it was Kevin Sampson ( father Kevin ) and his crew ( father ) Mick ( father ) Sean etc. My memories of the bus journey there are more of us all dying for the loo than anything else. The holy water bottles got filled a couple of times.. yak and when I got to the ground and saw the state of the ladies I wished I’d gone on the bridge too!

Despite being in two parties of 15 ish each I couldn’t spot a soul I knew in the stadium but spotted the fathers dog collars from about 50 rows down. It was quite a good spec in the end and we were high enough up to not really have to worry about the bottles/coins/oranges being launched at our comrades below. And to top it all off… Liverpool were superb. I had been a little apprehensive before the game – I mean I was worried about our Midfield – no Stevie, no Igor the list of injuries I had seen reported in the papers was frightening. But we totally outclassed the Romans. I was in awe at the speed that the Roma defenders were passing the ball but we held them and at half time the home fans provided more entertainment for us by kicking 7 kinds of shite out of each other.
Second half kicked off and there was a buzz of anticipation amongst the reds – if only we could get that away goal. I can honestly say that when Owen put that first goal away I have never been so delirious! I think we all ended up a couple of rows ahead of ourselves…I was so made up I took a photo of the scoreboard! I think we all knew then we were gonna have the Romans. Cue Owen again… Superb. I was so proud of the Liverpool fans – we sang our hearts out, and apart from the odd knobhead we were impeccably behaved. We truly were the Best Behaved Supporters in the Land” and it’s handy that we won cause the rest is also true! It would have been an unbearable wait in the stadium otherwise……and the bus fiasco? The only downer was that by the time we got back to our hotel ( after meeting Jamie, Alex and a few other stragglers) I was so cold and tired I went to bed! But I know the lads stayed up, ahem watching telly!!!!

Friday there was only me and Steve ( Rushian ) left out of our crew. I wasn’t in the best of moods and I later realised this was cause I hadn’t had the chance to celebrate our superb win! After a trip to the Coliseum and watching 2 kids almost have a Japanese Tourist’s purse off on the metro, we went to see the pope! Now I’m a Northern Ireland Proddy ( very very seriously lapsed) but I had to have a moment when I got to the Vatican. It truly is amazing… if the lads had of been there I’d have insisted on a kick about! I looked everywhere for a “ pope on a rope” for my mother – anything disrespectful would have made her smile… but to no avail. Still it was magnificent. The thing that cheered me up most that day was when Steve and I decided to go to the Albert that night. We knew any reds left would head here…and we weren’t wrong. I was no sooner over the door than slamming tequila, and within an hour I think I’d convinced myself I was on Walton Breck Rd as usual. I met a load of reds that night.. memorably Lloyd, John and Lisa and Peter and his son. Peter was boss… I asked how long he’d been following the reds and he remarked that he was 69, had been drinking all day and hoped that his son wouldn’t tell his missus! I also remember him telling me his daughter has 16 middle names….. There were a few dodgy songs being sung and I heard songs about Beckham that I can’t believe people even sing! But hey, you can’t have everything! As we left singing “ We only sing when we’re swimming” I was almost tempted ( against my better judgement) to join the lads in the Trevi! Girl boobs v Man boobs was the challenge I raised! Thankfully I didn’t… but I did have fun down there with the Waterloo lads.. I’m still not sure who’d have won….
I fell into bed that night with my trip complete! I had a fantastic time, met loads of new reds – some of who I have already run into in the Kop on Sunday – others I’m sure I’ll see between Thursday Night and Sunday! What a week!!! Thanks to everyone who made it so much fun!

I should probably leave this paragraph out – but hey it was part of my trip!! The group I travelled with were not the same group I chose to stay with when in Rome. This was no reflection on any of the Cheshire Crew who are all a top laugh! But to save any boring arguments with my ex ( of 10 weeks ) … - though bless him.. he did buy my duty free on his credit card at Rome Airport. Halfway between Rome and Frankfurt I get a text message informing me that he is now getting it on with my best mate of 20 yrs…. She is welcome to him and I mean it….but I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank him for the duty free… for the money I still owed him from the flights, the car insurance and all the tickets last season. Nice one mate.

The thing that gets me is that in his defence he told me ( as I was snatching a West Ham stub out of his hand) that he didn’t want to tell me before Rome cause it would have spoiled my holiday!!!! Hehe – that still makes me laugh! :0) Nothing could have spoiled the time in Rome… and for a fellah I spent 12 long months with in deepest darkest Frodsham he has forgotten that my love affair with LFC runs much deeper that that with any man! Cheers! See you in Porto? Not if I see you first!!!!!

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