In the twenties my grand parents, on my mother's side, where in their youth and Liverpool was very attractive to them, they both would talk about Liverpool, she about new life and fine people, he about the best darned footy Team in the world! Nothing like a fella's perspective hey!
My grandmother was a district nurse who would do her rounds on a bicycle in Armagh, my grandfather was a lighthouse keeper who joined the Merchant Navy, from Cork. They eloped to England just before World War Two and arrived in Liverpool.
It was while in Liverpool my grandfather was recruited by the Royal Navy and he qualified as a deep water diver - in those days it was a big metal helmet that had an airline from the surface and huge heavy leaded boots, all sealed in a one piece diving suit! Just after he qualified they married and she gained a nursing post on the Wirral, and they established a home there in Birkenhead (then Cheshire). Within the year my uncle was born, and not much later she was pregnant with my mum.
The pay was (comparatively) good for my grandfather and it allowed my grandmother to concentrate on the young family, when an alert went out that a submarine - HMS Thetis - had left Cammel Laird's ship yard and was having difficulties just outside of Liverpool Bay in the Irish sea. HMS Thetis was undergoing sea trials for the Navy with some of their officers and Cammel Laird engineers & technicians aboard.
It soon became clear that an urgent rescue operation was needed and the Royal Navy mobilized to rescue their troubled virgin new born craft and the men that sailed in her beneath the waves. Many a time my grandfather said to my mum as a youngster, - at the time of the incident she was still in gestation and not born yet - that as they sailed at high speed, he and the rest of his surrounding crew watched the Liverbirds fade into the distance as they rushed to the scene a couple of hours away. There was a determination that they would bring those men back along with the submarine HMS Thetis (Thetis was a Greek sea-goddess, daughter of Nereus and Doris, she wed Peleus and bore Achilles to him).
They did their utmost in retrieving the men once it was obvious, after many strenuous attempts against the sea, that it was not going to be possible to raise HMS Thetis herself. My grandfather was down there in very precarious conditions both to himself and his surface ship - tapping morse code on the hull with a heavy wrench/adjustable spanner in the darkness knowing that their air was running out and hearing the responses become more and more faint as their air supply was running out. At this time with the depth of his dive and the pressure of the depth of the water, he was under extreme duress as those above the waves were struggling with the weather conditions trying to figure an airline to the submarine and/or a possible extraction procedure for the men trapped to escape the depths.
My grandfather had far outstripped the limits for the duration of such a deep dive as he kept signalling 'No' for his time of retrieval. He could no longer hear any more bangings from within the submarine. He said to my mother, when the war was over, that he did not even consider it possible to weep under water.
His commanding officer signalled to him, in the depths, that he MUST come up NOW! He did not give any answer. He said to my mum that he didn't want to answer, and that he was beginning to hallucinate and his emotions were amok! If he was not retrieved when he was, he would have died along with people he was trying to help to rescue. He said to her it was beyond despair, to leave those men lying there in that deep watery grave.
There was a film made about this incident that pre dates the ones of the Kursk (a nuclear submarine, just off Murmansk in Russia) with some famous British actors. It was in black & white due to when it was made and when I watched it for the first time I found it totally overpowering!
My grandad, in a major ceremony, received the George Cross from the King at the time, but he never boasted about it.
Whilst with the Navy in WWII, he got sunk by the German Navy four times by their U-Boats by the end of the war, but he was happy -
'Liverpool Won the Battle of the Atlantic!', he would shout with great pride!
My old grandad passed away 40 years ago on this year. He was very influential upon me as child, and subsequently as an adult. In fact he was the key factor in pointing out the tricky Reds to me as a child, my father was never a footy fan, and this ticked him off!
Homer (not Simpson) had a point back in 800/850 BC, heroes are borne in the dealing with circumstance and overcoming overwhelming odds. When it comes to facing the challenge, are you confident?
Even if you are not sure of the outcome of your aspirations, you try your darnest to achieve them, after every step of travail - whether it be in daily home life, or work - our mortality is reinforced by our history. In effect, remembering knowledge that what was previously unaccessable due to our placement in time by previous contributors, due to our personal experiences. This is achieved by learning, and enquiry. These experiences/memories are what give us our continuity - our identity from one generation to the next.
I feel so very lucky that fate construed to make me a Red man. Looking back it is'nt surprizing, as every ferry across the Mersey from Woodside gave me the spectacular view of the Liver buildings and the Liver Bird at the pier head. As a young kid, my mother took me up past that amazing water front towards James St. station to go up the hill into Liverpool's city centre - and she stopped. She said, 'Look back, up there!' pointing to the Liver building - it was the other Liver Bird looking towards the city! She said, 'The one at the front looks out to sea, this one looks in to the city.'
'Wow!', I said, 'Grandad said we are going to buy some school shoes for me, will he come with us next time?' Her face, not her voice, went quiet, 'I hope so luv.'. At such a young age I did'nt know what that meant. As we got to the Liverpool city centre it was magical, loads of people in Red & White, scarves swinging in the air and rosettes on their coats, singing and waving huge big wooden rattle noise makers and singing amazing songs - all at once! I was'nt interested in my school shoes in the first place, this was a whopping great funfair and merry-go-round! It was like being on the wurlitzer! One bloke, he was as old as my grandad, came upto me and put a Red & White scarf around my neck and said, 'Liverpool are the greatest, lad!', I said, 'That's what my grandad said!' He winked, and he rejoined the throng. My mother laughed, she was happy to see her young lad so enthralled! I kept that scarf for another one whole year more, until my grandad departed, with my most favourite possession given to him on his passing.
It was later on that I found out that he gave my mother the money for the fare for the ferry, and the money for those school shoes, did he know or forsee that day for me as a child, or my mother as a daughter? Or both?
I still wear those old troublesome new school shoes, from that 'posh shop' (in those days) ‘Clarks’.
New shoes, they always will be, to the next generation, as well as to the previous. They will always feel new, even though previously worn in one guise or another, by a previous generation. There is a natural proclivity to pass the passion on, to sustain the knowledge of this great club for the future up and coming generations.
Never lose sight of the possibilities, and question yourself - always.
I believe that there is and will always be a bootroom at LFC. The bootroom, and the concept of it, is the core of the Liverpool Way.
Any knowledgeable supporter knows this, and this is what we recognize as the soul, not just the fleeting shimmering of a lustre on a shiny trophy, but the recognized achievement in gaining the Trophy through grit, determination and athletic skill for the Club, the Team and Us supporters!
The extacy of the moment in the gaining of a Trophy, that has been hard fought for, gives the generational and familial grasp of the achievement in the long hard slog of a football Marathon of a long and heavily contested season!
Of course there are losses as well as wins, it is due to overcoming the losses that makes the wins, and the Final Win, all the more sweeter! It is because of the lows that the highs are all the more intense - all the way to your soul!
There are many decisions to come,
When you encounter a crossroad, with one road leading to the left and one to the right, you are looking for a destination, which road do you drive down?
Get out of your car, and walk to the high ground and observe.
It is worth it for the view!
In the meantime, my grandchildren need new school shoes, too.....
What is your story?