A Masshole Goes Among The Thugs
AFTER THE GAME I returned to the Albert, feeling more camaraderie with the fans than I’d expected. Anfield didn’t have that Game 7–level fervor everybody kept telling me to expect, but for a battle between two cellar dwellers, the house was rocking. The bar was crowded when I walked in, and once again, I could hardly understand what anybody was saying.
Thankfully, I caught the attention of Rod the assistant manager. “Hi, lad,” he said, reeking of cigarettes and looking like he’d just woken up. (In fact he had just woken up — he’d slept through the game somehow.) He ushered me over to a table in back where seven or eight longtime regulars were engaged in a spirited discussion. Their leader, a bald guy bearing a bit of a resemblance to Jack Welch, was quite amused by the American journalist in his midst. “Are you a reporter?” he asked. “Peter Parker?” Later, as I returned to the table with a Guinness, he asked me another question: “You’re from Boston. So what do you think John Henry is going to do?”
If the past few days had taught me anything, it was that my dreams of turning Liverpool into a cash-cow colony for the Red Sox were probably just that — dreams. Henry would likely give Liverpool all the money it needed to compete, just as he’d done with the Sox. And more, my guess was that he’d run the team in a manner that respected the vaunted Liverpool Way. One of the keys to his success in Boston has been his ability to grasp our unique and bizarre psyche, and he seemed to have quickly done the same here. Of course, I wasn’t about to give old Jack Welch holding court in the Albert the satisfaction of hearing me say all that.
“I think he’s going to take all his money from Liverpool,” I said, “and sign a new outfielder for the Red Sox.”
The old man actually buried his face in his hands. “OOOooooh!!!” he cried. Finally he looked back up at me, anguished. I told him again and again that I was just kidding. It didn’t help. He was inconsolable. You see, his happiness was now dependent on the decisions of some unknown outsider named John Henry. I sympathized.