I am a happy bunny, football-wise. As a homegrown and lifelong Liverpool supporter, the extraordinary season my club is having is nothing short of ecstasy. I am unfortunate enough to have been born just as our period of domination ended, and I have had to suffer fierce rivals Manchester United lording it over us in the league (and overtaking us in number of league titles won) ever since. As I write this, Liverpool are 22 points clear at the top of the table. By the time you read this, it might well be more.
Last season, we lost the league by a single point. We had one Premier League defeat over the entire run – to Manchester City, who did win the title. That game is the perfect example of the incredibly thin margins that matches, in any sport, can hinge on. Liverpool lost 2-1. A deflection off a City player went into the goal, but was judged not to have wholly crossed the line. We didn’t just lose the league by one point; we lost it by one centimetre.
It is high-octane situations such as these that make sport so thrilling. The heart leaping at the umpire’s call. The sweaty palms waiting to see which colour card a referee will brandish. But my God; nothing beats the last minute – sometimes the last second – winning goal. In 2012, City became champions in not just the last minute of the game, but the last minute of the entire league. The 94th minute, in fact. The jubilation for those fans!
We love sport because it takes us out of ourselves. It builds communities and forges connections. It entertains. Though it can bring us hot tears of frustration, it can also bring us immense pleasure. A milisecond of time in return for a gigantic triumph, conduited by a 20-year-old local lad. Or perhaps a kid from the other side of the world, who honed his or her skills in rotting trainers and made it out against all the odds. What could be more soul-lifting?
Many of Liverpool’s goals this season have come last-ditch, preserving our (thus far) unbeaten record. It’s a similar feeling to sliding on to a train just as the doors are closing. Or running, shoes and lungs pounding, to catch a bus – and making it. Or hitting a deadline with moments to spare. I can’t scientifically explain why this is so much more satisfying than achieving something in good time, but maybe it’s the excitement of living on the edge. And what could be more exciting than a football rippling the back of the net, when all appears lost?