Liverpool FC world – Kuala Lumpur event catastrophes
Bear with me dearest readers, as the following three stories are all somewhat connected, but to include them in a single post would – in this fast paced, impatient world – make anyone ‘X’ out in haste an horror at the mere thought of attempting the read. Look upon this chapter as the first in a trilogy – but a standalone entry in its own right. I’ll get writing the other two when I’m good and ready.
Our tale begins – like so many do – with heartbreak and disappointment. With a young boy forced to live under the stairs, subject to abuse and detriment by his cruel guardians. Or maybe that’s Harry Potter. Anyway, what followed over the next few days might well make you choke emotionally on your tea.
A few weeks ago I discovered that Liverpool FC were running a world road show that began in Singapore and was moving up to Kuala Lumpur. Coincidentally enough – this was to be around the same time I was going to be there. Indeed I decided to alter my plans slightly in order to attend, dumbfounded at this stroke of luck, and in postponing my return to Thailand I hung around Malaysia a little longer. I contacted the club directly, regaling my story and charity details, and asking if it was possible to get a 5 minute photoshoot with some former Liverpool players (including Bruce Grobbelaar and Robbie Fowler – boyhood/teenage heroes), while holding my hitchhike to India sign and Liverpool FC flag. Who knows – maybe I’d get my shirt signed and a couple quid towards a good cause from some multi-millionaires? I received a response a little too late – but don’t begrudge them this because perhaps I didn’t contact them in time.
However that wasn’t the biggest bone of contention. There I was ready to just attend the event anyway – and approach the players myself, when I discovered that none of them were turning up until the weekend (by that time I needed to be long gone) – and they were all attending on different days at different time slots anyway. Now this was news to me! It was not stipulated in previous advertisements, and until I checked the website for further details I was fully under the impression they’d all be there to “meet the fans” from day one. I wasn’t even going to get to see the mascot, and I felt I had hung around for nothing and was very short changed. I was heartbroken.
This happened to coincide with a two day run of shitty luck – all in an effort to attend this event. I was directed to the wrong place on the first day – crossing KL for an age only to discover it was at another mall with the same name but in another part of the city. It was too late to even attempt to make the right location – with taxi drivers quoting me stupid amounts of money for the privilege. It took me HOURS to get home – including stepping off at the wrong spot and having to bite the bullet and spend about 10 quid on a cab. I cancelled my hitchhike for the following day – because in spite of everything – I still really wanted to attend this event!
The next day was even worse. I got on wrong trains, wrong carriages, going wrong directions, all spending far too much time and money for something that ultimately wasn’t worth it at all. At one point my train departed a station and I realised I was going the wrong way. No problem thought I – I’ll just disembark at the next platform, and switch back. Except the next platform was so far away I felt I was going to another city. At the same time I noticed people were staring at me. Some were frowning, others were giggling. The one thing that these people all had in common was – they were all women.
Mile after humiliating mile, back turned to the carriage, hiding my face in the gap between the doors and the seat you’re meant to give up for old people, hoping they wouldn’t notice my pathetic ginger beard; until I finally stepped off onto a platform in the middle of nowhere. I offered my apologies to a guard that I’d traveled the wrong direction by mistake and asked how I could go back, only to be told I needed to pay the fare again. I was alright with this until I realised if I’d kept my mouth shut I could just have found the other platform myself and saved the money. I went into a cafe to have a bite to eat and their dodgy Wifi corrupted my phone.
As small as these trivialities seem, they do tend to add up in a concerted effort to give you a mental breakdown. Throw in the unsympathetic heat, the sheer amount of time it takes to get around, the length of ticket queues, and the fact that the train line colours on your map don’t match the ones in the station – and you’ve a recipe for going postal. It wasn’t about to get any better.
Wearing my Liverpool shirt and draped in my Liverpool flag I spent an hour or so at the event with very little contact with anyone. Local lads were hogging the “robokeeper” game (where you have to try and beat a robotic goalkeeper) and the staff from Liverpool seemed all too preoccupied with media and other more important looking types. Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t want some kind of prodigal-son-returns-red-carpet-welcome-home bonanza, but a “Hello, how are you, what are you doing in Kuala Lumpur?” would have been nice. Especially from the pains I’d taken to even get here for this. Dejected, I turned away to continue my hitchhike – but it was well into the afternoon – and the chances of me getting far were looking slimmer by the minute. Especially as I totally cocked up the times of the public transport to return from the mall to the metro station. I sat utterly bemused on cold tarmac for three quarters of an hour getting beaten by my chess app on one of the simplest levels.
Time isn’t on my side so I opt to take the metro to the last stop going north and hitch from there. But with all the debacle getting to and from the LFC event – back to my hostel to pick up my stuff and get out – by the time I’m even coming close to the end of the line it’s pitch dark. A taxi driver at the station overcharges me to find a hotel, and I’m overcharged again to spend the night somewhere I should maybe block the door with the wardrobe. Honestly I felt like crying. Maybe I did a bit. I don’t know – I couldn’t see – there was something in my eye.
I know! I’m gonna have a Domino’s pizza to cheer myself up! This was the smallest pizza I’ve ever seen for around the cost of a three course meal. I think I ate it in three bites.
Upon returning to my hovel for some reason I decide to peruse the Liverpool FC website – just to see if there’s been any news from the day. Imagine my distress when I see that today ALL FOUR former Liverpool players attending had in fact turned up moments after I had left. ALL FOUR OF THEM! They were scheduled to come individually from Friday onwards, but there they all were – “meeting fans” and “signing shirts”. Staff at the event even told me they weren’t coming until the weekend – and I think it was a hush-hush media tactic just for a quick photoshoot and website propaganda. Rarely have I felt so let down by something I hold so dear.
I’d not felt this low in a long time my friends. I know it’s all first world problems – but y’know how it goes – straw that broke the camel’s back and all that. The thing is – I don’t understand how or why I was making all these bad decisions. Awful choices. Shocking thought processes. Mistake after glaring mistake. It was like all my instinct and experience traveling had somehow vacated the premises, compounded by one hell of a let down. I’d been given some mind-numbingly potent elixir that turned me into a gawping 17-year-old-vodka-swilling-dentist-chair-Ibiza fucktard. Maybe once again someone was trying to tell me something.
I knew that the only cure for this was to get back on the road ASAP – but recent events had turned me into a bag of nerves, and I was half expecting my luck to have properly run out and be found chained to a wall under a motorway service station. And yet what was to come during my next hitchhike found my faith in humanity restored, and just tonic for both my idiocy and the disappointment suffered in attending Liverpool FC World.
And fuck it – we still beat Everton.