Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The outside TV was way ahead of the inside TV. Twenty, maybe thirty seconds. Just crazy. There’d be a chance, we out there would cheer and groan, and like clockwork our exclamations were echoed half a minute into the future.

Perhaps for this reason people gravitated out. Some heavy hitters, shouters. They drew others out by their gravity. There was nowhere much to sit. I had my place at the picnic table, Andy opposite. Others were sitting all around us now, some crouching on the gravel. The mood was antic. Adam and Paul talking about the Irish in Liverpool like there’s no fucking game on, come on.

Then the equalizer. A deflection into the corner of the net. Howls of glee like the game was won, not tied. The scoreline didn’t change but neither did this undue jubilation. Buckets of icy cold Carlsberg appeared, like something someone ordered for a shitty party and left behind. I drank one, or almost one. Saleem from Lebanon sat down beside me and told me what it meant to him to be a fan. He couldn’t say exactly why it was important, he just knew that it was. He spoke around it, elliptically. I will remember this moment right now for the rest of my life, he declared. It’s a way of marking life. Punctuating. Of better remembering what’s not the game. There was a bombing near where he grew up on the day of the Champions League final and as soon as it was established that his mother was alive the TV went on. He keeps a football journal now, he said.