Location: Villa Park (Birmingham) versus
Date: Sunday, May 22nd
Time: 16:00 GMT/8:00am PT/11:00am ET
Records (W-D-L, +/-, Points, Place):
, 11-12-14, -12, 45, 13th
Aston Villa XI: Friedel; Walker, Collins, Dunne, L Young; Petrov, Reo-Coker Delph, Downing; A. Young, Bent
Aston Villa Subs: Marshall, Clark, Bradley, Pires, Albrighton, Agbonlahor, Heskey
Liverpool XI: Reina: Flanagan, Carragher, Skrtel, Auriello; Lucas, Spearing, Meireles, Kuyt; Cole, Suarez
Liverpool Subs: Gulacsi, Wilson, Ngog, Poulsen, Shelvey, Wisdon, Robinson
I'm kind of a weirdo in that I like a lot of outside stimulation going on around me at all times. I watch movies while playing guitar. I'll put baseball games on mute and listen to music while writing. I go for walks and listen to podcasts on my iPod while trying to wade through my RSS feed on my phone. I watch TV while I'm reading. Some people might say that I have a short attention span; I like to look at in terms of my brain needing a great deal of stimuli at any given time.
Anyways, one of the things that I like to do that typically causes my wife to look at me quizzically before retiring to the bedroom with the latest New Yorker and a glass of wine is to watch football matches from months ago archived on ESPN3 while playing video games. I'll typically scan the list nonchalantly until a team I find entertaining pops up, load the stream and return my attention to the vital task of winning yet another European Cup with Virtual Villa. On Thursday the game I picked happened to feature Ajax and took place in the second week of the Eredivisie season, meaning Luis Suarez was still playing for de Godenzonen. I wasn't paying a great deal of attention (Eredivisie matches take a while to get rolling on ESPN) but my attention was grabbed by the familiar opening strains of "You'll Never Walk Alone" coming through my laptop's speakers.
I hadn't noticed that this was the Ajax away fixture against FC Twente, a club that have adopted Liverpool's tradition of singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" before home games, so I was a bit surprised to hear that piano riff at the start. (For what it's worth, Gerry and the Pacemakers are an underrated group, an inoffensive and sanitized Northern Soul outfit to be sure but "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" is a fantastic song. Elvis' version of "You'll Never Walk Alone" still rules them all though.) In any case, I was struck by two things;
1) Ostensibly, I was watching this to scout Luis Suarez, who will be playing for a club whose singing of "You'll Never Walk Alone" was directly responsible for FC Twente's decision to do the same, which is a mildly interesting coincidence.
And, more importantly,
2) If you have never listened to a Dutch crowd (or, I would imagine, any non-English speaking crowd) sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" then you just aren't living. It was the most adorable, shambolic thing ever, especially when the music dropped out for the last refrain and everything seemed to speed up to triple time. There is never anything funnier or more endearing to anyone that listening to people that don't speak your language attempt to speak your language with complete and total earnestness, and hearing 24,000 of them do it at once is just the bees knees. It's one of those things that makes you stop and think about what a strange place the world is and makes you appreciate how much this game helps unite us and bring us together. Sports are just magnificently dumb and wonderful and absurd.