Well, well, well, here we go again. Another get up at an unearthly hour must mean only one thing, a European away day with my beloved reds. It had been a long time coming with the Champions League draw taking place even before the Christmas decorations went up. Travel and hotel in Porto booked, the anticipation had been building for weeks.
Rain, rain and more rain
A quick look at the weather forecast shows it’s going to be a wet few days away watching Liverpool, which is a vast difference to the last away to sun kissed Seville. Boy was the forecast spot on. It rained from landing in Porto until taking off home the day after the game.
It always amazes me how fans take vastly different routes to the European away games. I know fans who went via Lisbon, or via Frankfurt and one group actually went through Luxembourg. Who even thinks of going that way. It’s what we do. I was lucky in the fact I had direct flights from Manchester.
At the airport and the flights on time, with just enough time to spare to start the day as we mean to go on, with a few beers with fellow reds. An uneventful flight besides a jaw aching half hour of jokes (them bloody Scousers) at the beginning of the flight and the one and only Jamie Carragher was also on our flight.
We land in Porto to be greeted by rain and quite high winds. This was to be a theme of the trip. Well that and songs about Mo Salah. A quick coach transfer to our hotel, check-in, throw our bags in and then head to the metro to explore some of the Old Town.
Porto turns red
We do the usual sites and take a few pictures along the way. Liverpool fans are starting to turn the city a shade of red as more fans start arriving. Sightseeing all done and we camp up in the main square with a few hundred more fans to have a few pre-match Sagres. The Salah songs keep coming, as does the sodding rain. We meet up with old friends of past away games and reminisce about the times gone by. Optimism is definitely in the Portuguese air.
With time ticking on, we head towards the stadium, via a couple of beers in our hotel. The metro takes us close to the Estadio do Dragao, home of FC Porto. Security is high as we enter the ground, with a couple of searches but nothing we haven’t seen before.
A footballing massacre
The ground is a very modern one and atmospheric. From the outside it’s a grey, concrete structure but inside it becomes more of a stage to watch top level football. We were situated high in the gods, opposite the tunnel and dug outs, with about 7,000 concrete steps to climb to reach our seats. Our end fills up nicely and there is a great atmosphere to cheer the reds to victory.
The goals rained into the Porto goal, each met with the same wild celebrations in the away end. It really was a St. Valentine’s Day massacre in footballing terms. It was a stunning performance from every Liverpool player on show. Before the game people were saying it was a tricky tie. After the game the same people questioned the standard of Porto. Give Liverpool some credit for god sake. They came, rolled their sleeves up and chased Porto down all over the pitch.
Fair play to the Porto Ultras behind the goal to our left. They kept singing and supporting their team from the first whistle until the last and duly got a round of applause from us travelling reds, almost in sympathy but most definitely in admiration of their undying support.
After the final whistle the players came across the pitch to thank us for our support. The biggest cheer was reserved for our manager Jurgen Klopp, as he fist pumped the cold night air in his usual manner.
We have dreams and songs to sing
We got kept behind the standard half an hour or so and then got kept back from the metro for a further 10 minutes in the bouncing down rain. Nearly soaked to the skin, we got the metro back to the hotel and celebrated with a good choice of a Portuguese white (wine). The talk of the bar was that there is now a belief that we could indeed go all the way to Kiev. We obviously know that we’ll have better opponents in the next rounds but who knows.
The alarm woke me the next morning and with a sore head I blow dried my coat dry with a hair dryer. Now that’s a first for an away trip. Yes, it was still raining and yes, Liverpool fans were still singing about Salah in the hotel corridors. Coach transfer back to the airport, a bit of messing about checking in and we were through security for a bite to eat before boarding our flight back to Manchester.
Another great trip watching the reds in Europe. Like I said, there is a new optimism around without getting carried away. We’re not daft us travelling reds. It may prove to be a false new dawn but for now we can at least dream. Who do we want in the next round? Somewhere dry will do me. Did I tell you it rained in Porto? This trip also confirmed to me that Salah is indeed the new (Egyptian) king of the Kop. He’s replaced that Brazilian kid who went to Barcelona. Long live the King I say.