An unbelievable week for English teams in Europe began with Liverpool staging an extraordinary comeback over a shell-shocked Barcelona. The following night, the Spurs set up an all-English Champions League final by defeating Ajax with Lucas Moura scoring a dramatic 96th-minute winner. The Times screamed: “It happened again!”
“To dare is to do” is Tottenham Hotspur’s motto, and that is just what they did.
In the Europa League last Thursday night, Arsenal travelled to Valencia and sealed an impressive win to book their place in the final. It was then left to Chelsea to complete an all-English Europea League final with a win over Eintracht Frankfurt. English clubs created European football history by taking all four final spots in Europe’s two major competitions.
These English teams made everybody rub their eyes in disbelief with their boldness, daring and belief.
YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE
“What’s Marchinie? Whisky?”
“No. When the red go marching in.”
This was the scene when I took photographs of Liverpool fans cheering and setting off fireworks. Some would stand on the roof of buildings, to welcome their team bus’ arrival at Anfield.
If you have ever been to Anfield, you can’t help but be impressed by the songs sung by its supporters moments before the start of each home game.
Last Tuesday, following their remarkable win over Barcelona in the Champions League semifinal, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, Mohamed Salah and everyone from the Red sang with their supporters on the Spion Kop.
“Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Though your dreams be tossed and blown,
Walk on, walk on,
With hope in your heart,
And you’ll never walk alone…”
“You’ll Never Walk Alone” has been adopted as their official anthem and is also written on the iconic ‘Shankly Gates’ entrance to Anfield.
I once travelled to Liverpool for a Labour Party Conference, and the mayor of Liverpool described their city as ‘one city, two football teams, three universities and four Beatles.’
Football is in the city’s blood.
Theresa May also commented on Brexit and football, when being asked by Jeremy Corbyn to learn from Jurgen Klopp on how to “get a good result in Europe.”
“I actually think that when we look at the Liverpool win over Barcelona last night, what it shows is that when everyone says it’s all over, that your European opposition have got you beat, the clock is ticking down, it’s time to concede defeat, actually we can still secure success if everyone comes together,” a defiant May said.
BLUE IS THE COLOUR
Walking out of the Fulham Broadway tube station, you are greeted with a sea of blue. As it’s sung in Chelsea’s team song, “Blue is the colour, football is the game.” On jerseys, scarves and even wigs, blue is definitely the colour. The summer of 2017 saw Chelsea crowned the Premier League Champions. Captain John Terry, ‘the leader, the legend,” left the field in tears to a guard of honour from his teammates, during his final game Premier League game for Chelsea after 19 years.
A pre-planned substitution in the 26th minute, (26 being his shirt number) saw him leave the field for the final time. Returning to lift the Premier League trophy, John Terry kissed his wife and children, with tears in his eyes, said a sad farewell to the club he loves and vowed to supporters: “I will come back here one day…from the bottom of my heart I love you all.”
“Here at the Bridge whether rain or fine,
We can shine all the time,
So cheer us on through the sun and rain,
‘Cause Chelsea, Chelsea is our name.”
#COYS is ‘Come on you Spurs!’ An expression used by Spurs fans since the old White Hart Lane. Before every match, the Spurs fans would hold placards to display their motto “To dare is to do” in the stands. At White Hart Lane in north London, the closest tube station Seven Sisters is about 3km away, but three or four hours before its kick-off, you could see thousands of Spurs fans flowing singing merrily towards their stadium (with beers in hand after the match).
“Glory glory Tottenham Hotspur,
And the Spurs go marching on.
Tottenham are the greatest team the world has ever seen,
The pride of North of London we’re the kings of White Hart Lane”
In early April, I went to the first Champions League match at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium five hours ahead of its 8pm kick-off, but I was already at number twenty something. English football photographers go to stadiums very early to secure better chances for capturing the scoring and celebrations, but it’s still like a gamble, matches are hardly predictable, which probably why people love football.
Football can make people exhilarated or cause them to break down in tears. It makes you age 10 years every minute while waiting for the final whistle if you are leading, or make you want to wind back the clock if you are losing. It also makes people come together. At the Emirates, I hear Arsenal fans singing. “If you hate Tottenham Hotspur clap your hands.” But when Moura hit a hat-trick for Hotspur in Ajax, one of my Arsenal-supporting friends said it best: “Who cares if they are our ‘enemies’ at this moment, I feel so proud of them. This is football.” Enditem
Editor: Han Yan is a London-based Xinhua photographer.