John McCann: Why Liverpool’s European Journeys Mean So Much

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Tralee man and Liverpool FC fanatic, John McCann is all set for Saturday night.

Lifelong Liverpool FC fan, John McCann from Tralee, reflects on the joys, the trials and the tribulations of following the Reds, as Saturday’s Champions League Final looms large…

A EUROPEAN Cup Final and Liverpool Football Club – go together like Ant & Dec, Morecambe & Wise, Man City and financial ‘doping’.

As a lifelong Liverpool fan, this competition has a special place in my heart and has given me some great (and not so great memories!).

It reminds us what makes this club so special. That electric atmosphere extends the walls of Anfield and can be felt worldwide and this never more evident than on the week of a European Cup Final.

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This great club has been under my skin since early childhood. Having wallowed in the success in the early eighties thanks to Rush, Dalglish and Co., I can still remember those bitter tears when Michael Thomas mugged us in 1989 to win the League for Arsenal and feeling the sting of bitter defeat for the first time in years.

Little did I know that only one more league title would follow in the next 30 years – bitter defeat was something I was going to get used to!

Throughout domestic dominance in the 80s, European glory was always the icing on the very successful cake. In the following lean, domestic years for us Reds fans – it became the whole cake!

Highs of European glory include a road trip taken with a gang of Tralee Liverpool Reds to Dortmund in 2001 for the UEFA Cup, when a Golden (own) Goal by Delfi Geli brought European glory to the Reds once more.

Myself and the late great Red, Johnny O’Sullivan, being interviewed by German radio at about 2.00am was a particular highlight! (not sure even we could understand what we were saying in our thick Kerry accents, not to mind the German listening public!!)

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Istanbul and the euphoria that followed is obviously the holy grail of experiences all Reds fans are hoping to emulate this weekend.

Ruairi’s Bar in the Square was packed to the rafters with punters I didn’t even realise were Liverpool fans, decked head to toe in the Liverbird! Grown men crying in the streets (and that was only the Man United fans burning their AC Milan jerseys!), scenes of unbridled joy that will never be forgotten!

Those infamous nights in the Huddle Bar in recent years sum up just what this competition means to the many LFC fans in the town with every seat taken hours before kick-off!

European glory has alluded us at the final hurdle in recent years however, with the incompetence of Alberto Moreno and Loris Karius playing significant parts in this great club coming up short in respective years.

With faces longer than Alexis Sanchez’s pay slip, Tralee Reds have had to endure the gut wrenching upset of two final defeats in a row.

2017 saw The Huddle resemble a scene from ‘The Walking Dead’ at full time and last year’s defeat to Real Madrid — which I witnessed in O’Donnells in Mounthawk — was just as depressing! But at least in both finals we were amongst fellow Reds and suffered together.

This year will hopefully see a change to that unwelcome final defeat trend and whether it’s in the pub, at home, or for those lucky enough to make Madrid, another terrific memory will be created to join the long list of great European nights in Liverpool folklore!  Get those singing voices ready! Allez Allez Allez!….

• John McCann is a regular contributor of movie reviews to and also writes a Liverpool column for Kerry’s Eye

One Comment

  1. Eamonn Brennan says:

    Wow!! Man city and ‘financial doping’? That’s sounds a bit bitter my man. Liverpool now have the money to spend like City did but that seems to be respectable and allowed because it’s Liverpool. It’s a shame. I always used to have a lot of respect and admiration for loyal Liverpool fans but this recent uprise has changed my perception, not that any of ye care. I know it stems from the fact that Liverpool’s only defeat was Man City and ye had an amazing season, but City had a better one, by ONE point. I didn’t hear United fans bitch this much when Aguero scored that goal in the 93rd min. Just concentrate on your club. You’ll sleep better.