Ben Raza’s weekly column
As regular readers will know, I’m involved in a small family-run charity called Avoca. I was in El Salvador earlier this year, coaching football to youngsters in the Central American country and helping train local football coaches.
Two of our friends from Salvador came over this weekend - that wasn’t paid for by the charity donations I should add, it was specifically funded by charity supporters.
And on Sunday we took them up to Liverpool’s ground Anfield, because one of them, as well as being a semi-professional footballer and a keen coach of local youngsters when he isn’t working full-time and raising his young family, is a big Liverpool fan.
If you’ve never been to Anfield, it’s an impressive place: 46,000 seats; a great atmosphere as you walk up on match day; the Shankly Gates; the Hillsborough Memorial; the whole place is buzzing.
We only managed to get two tickets, so one of the Anglos took the big Liverpool fan in to watch the game, while I sat in a nearby pub (The Sandon - I recommend it!) to watch the match live on TV.
And what a match it was. Fredy and I sat in the pub, as Liverpool fans from far and wide joined us in cheering our team’s goals, clutching our heads at the two soft ones we conceded, and generally swapping banter and chat.
Joe Cole’s on his way out reckoned one lad sat opposite us. Another told me about what he’d seen of the Moroccan winger who we’d signed a few days earlier.
> Meanwhile, Graham and Tillo were in the ground itself. Tillo had never even been on a plane before this weekend, and has been slightly overwhelmed by the UK.
He didn’t know he was going to the match, and he is such a humble guy that he didn’t suspect anything even as Graham took him through the gates.
I wasn’t there to see it, but I am told that Tillo’s jaw dropped when he saw the pitch and realised where he was. When I saw him two hours later he still hadn’t managed to pick his jaw off of the ground.
He didn’t have the words to tell me in English how delighted he had been. In fact I am not sure he had the words to tell me in Spanish...
> One thing that both Fredy and Tillo both kept saying was how nice everyone was. They’d already told us that several times on their day to Cambridge on Saturday - the fact that policemen would pose for photographs was a particular highlight.
But the Liverpool fans and staff went out of their way to make the guys feel welcome.
That was all topped off at the end of the match. Graham had arranged for a piece about Avoca to go in the matchday programme on Sunday, as Liverpool had sent some kit over to El Salvador during the summer for some of the communities we work with.
Fredy and Tillo kept showing it to everybody, and when Graham and I showed the stewards they let us stand outside the player exits after the game.
We met a mix of current players, legends and club staff. Ian St John laughed at my jokes, Brendan Rodgers chatted to the guys in Spanish, and the long-standing members of staff told us Liverpool stories going back 40 years.
It was one of the best days ever - and that was for me and Graham, so I can’t imagine how Tillo and Fredy felt.
What made it all possible was the friendliness and openness of everyone from Liverpool the city and Liverpool the football club.
And that’s why I’ll always support Liverpool FC.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Bedford
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 13 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: East
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: West