I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Friday, April 18, 2014


‘This is gone. We go to Norwich

It was only this morning whilst listening to ‘Football Weekly’ did the true significance of these words become clear to me. James Richardson asked the big question. The huge question. The scary question. The only question.

What will these few short words become over the weeks and months and years and decades to come? Hell, even centuries.

Obviously I am assuming than anyone who is taking time out to read these Good Friday words will know who uttered them. And when. And where. And why.

Just in case you don’t, it was Stevie Gerrard addressing his now famous post final whistle huddle of fellow Reds in the immediate aftermath of Liverpool 3 – Man City 2.

And was he ever wired. It was jubilation, grief and victory all swept along by a raging, boiling a river of adrenaline and triumph. He was the winning gladiator raising his blood drenched sword to the howling masses in the Coliseum. He was King Kong atop the Empire State Building having swatted away a fighter plane. He was the human embodiment of the treeline napalm strike in Apocalypse Now.

And every molecule of the air around him was jumping with the barrage of sheer sound pouring down from the stands all around him.

“We’re going to win the league, we’re going to win the league…..”

There are still those who say that football is just a game. Well each to his own I suppose. You wouldn’t have found any of the 45,000 of us who were lucky enough be at Anfield last Sunday afternoon who would take that view.

For this was football at its very purest. Rawest. Most primordial. A place where we were in touch with our prehistoric selves. Part of a giant marauding pack. Defending our turf. Howling at the moon.


And the hell with the normal decorum and manners of life. And being civilised. That was gone. Lost. Redundant. Instead we roared. Like a marauding pack. Defending our turf.

All of us.

And right there, bang slap in the middle of it all, stood Stevie. Eyes streaming and blazing. Our very own warrior king.

Shattered and suddenly grief stricken. Human and super human.

And somehow in that crazed state he came up with those few words which might now go one way or the other.

‘This is gone. We go to Norwich.”

That’s the thing with words. They can always go one way or the other.

Churchill’s fight them on the beaches speech would have looked a bit sad had the Wehrmacht breezed across the English Channel and the Panzers had duly rolled through Kent as if it was a part of Poland.

But they didn’t, and the words became historic.

How differently would we have now viewed Kevin Keegan’s ‘I’d just love it if we beat them..’ rant had he indeed beaten them. Instead he got beat and in the weeks that followed Sky Sports seemed to screen nothing but images of blubbing Geordies in empty stands.

Four more wins and these will be the words carved into the plinth of Stevie’s statue. There he will be. Probably caught in that moment after he headed in a Risse cross to set us all on the road to the miracle of Istanbul. There were almost 50,000 of us there in the Ataturk Stadium that night. But when Stevie urged us on, it was if he spoke to each and every one of us individually. Out of the ashes of a lost cause he made us into believers. A pack. A howling, snarling, baying pack…

I have never met Stephen Gerrard. I guess very few of the millions of reds around the world have actually met the lad in person. But I feel like I know him well. I was there that night when he made his debut. A gangly looking lad with the most ridiculous pudding bowl hair cut you’ve ever seen. We watched him jog onto the pitch and though Oh Christ, who the hell is this lad?

And then after about two minutes, the gangling youth nearly cut someone in half with a tackle straight out of the Tommy Smith playbook and we roared.

We’ve been roaring ever since.

I have watched him go from shy youth to cocky youth to nervous captain to confident captain to consummate captain. From boy to leader. To elder Statesman. Captain of his country. Ambassador for his city. Hundreds of games and highs the likes of which we have never seen. Olympiakos, Istanbul, West Ham….

But those highs are all gone now. Cue Rutger Hauer hanging from a rain swept skyscraper in the last knockings of Blade Runner.

‘All these moments must now be lost… like tears in the rain….’

Like the man said. This is gone.

We go to Norwich.

Norwich is all there is now.

Nothing but Norwich.

Never in history has anyone gone to Norwich like we are all about to go to Norwich.

11 men in red.


Back room staff.

2000 fans or so.

They are the ones who will go to Norwich in person.

The rest of us will go in spirit. Absolutely bloody millions of us. And as our date with Norwich ticks ever closer, it is hard to concentrate on anything much else. It is just there. Noon on Sunday. Our date with destiny. Our moment of truth.

Not that anything will end in Norwich.

For after Norwich come Chelsea and Crystal Palace and Newcastle.

Day after day of nervous breakdown.

But before any of that, we go to Norwich.

And over the next few weeks it will go one way or the other.

So what will those words look like in the years to come? Let’s just hope they become the by-word for anyone looking to rally the troops for that last energy drained push for victory.

Well. There’s only one way any of us are going to find out.

We go to Norwich.

Whether we like it or not.

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