Just over 95,000 exuberant fans piled into the hallowed Melbourne Cricket Ground last Wednesday to witness first hand, history being permanently engrained into Australian sport. The iconic Liverpool Football Club arrived on Australian soil for the first time in their illustrious 121 years of existence and the atmosphere that greeted them was second to none.
The visit to Melbourne was part of the 2013 pre-season tour for Liverpool to prepare for Brendan Rodgers’s second term as the manager of the Reds.
Liverpool were to play A-league side Melbourne Victory in a friendly game at the MCG with fans down under absolutely ecstatic at the thought of being able to see their footballing heroes in the flesh.
With the full squad arriving in Melbourne, including captain Steven Gerrard and talismanic, albeit controversial, striker Luis Suarez arriving late, the fans excitement mounted even higher as evident by the mobs that greeted the team everywhere they went during their stay.
The atmosphere at the game was something spectacular. With the iconic “You’ll Never Walk Alone” song being sung before every Liverpool game, the Aussie fans relished the opportunity to sing it at the MCG before the game. The packed stadium of overseas Kopites decked in red gave a truly hair-raising rendition of the song.
“I want to put on record a huge thank you to people of Melbourne and Australia. The ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ at the beginning was a real tear-jerker,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said.
The game itself wasn’t impressive. Despite “Captain Fantastic” Steven Gerrard sending the crowd into a frenzy with a first half goal, the Reds didn’t dominate an undermanned Melbourne Victory side the way you would expect a Premier League team to do. The young Victory squad do deserve a lot of credit for the way they performed though as they really were able to hold their own not letting the occasion get to them.
Luis Suarez produced a little bit of magic at the last play of the game to set up new signing Iago Aspas to seal the 2-0 win but the overall performance showed that there is still much work to do for Rodgers before the start of the season.
However, the average performance should not take away from the momentous occasion that this match was. It truly lived up to its massive build up and showed that despite a run of poor seasons from Liverpool, a club that can attract 95,000 people to a pre-season friendly are without a doubt among the biggest clubs in the world.
This also was a massive win for Football Australia, being able to host Manchester United and Liverpool in a span of two weeks. With the reception that both teams received, don’t be surprised if big clubs continue to travel to the land down under for years to come.