When Tom Hicks and George Gillett rode into Liverpool on their golden gift horse, fans were justifiably optimistic.
Finally, it seemed, we had the financial backing to compete with Manchester United and Chelsea.
Funding was in place for a new stadium, and the new owners, clad in Liverpool scarves for every photo opportunity, seemed to genuinely love the club.
The greatest compliment you could give the two Americans was that they managed to convince David Moores, the former Liverpool chairman, to part with the club. Mr. Moores was undoubtedly one of Liverpool's greatest supporters, and for him to sell the club he held so dear must have required some convincing talk from Mr. Hicks and Mr. Gillett.
I think it is safe to say now that Mr. Moores, like the rest of us, was fooled.
Fast forward to today. Liverpool fans are on the eve of a mass protest against the two owners. At Anfield in the past, this would have been unimaginable.
Graeme Souness, Roy Evans and even Gerard Houllier all failed to give this club what they craved the most, the league title, and yet none were protested against, none were hounded out.
Liverpool fans crave trophies probably more than any other club's supporters, and yet they have never resorted to calling for a manager or owners head. There is one main reason for that—respect.
There is a respect around Liverpool football club that is unmatched by most football teams—in fact, by most sporting teams in the world. Every single away goalkeeper is applauded when they take their place in the goal at the Kop end. Former players are applauded and their names sung when they reappear at Anfield.
I am not just talking about legends like Hamman and Fowler either. I have been at Anfield and heard chants and songs about, amongst others, Bolo Zenden, Erik Meijer, Igor Biscan, and even Rigobert Song.
None of these players were considered great successes during their time at Anfield, but still their efforts are appreciated and Liverpool fans are quick to show this. We appreciate effort and we appreciate honesty.
When Mr. Hicks approached Jurgen Klinsman about the managerial role at Liverpool, he signalled the end of his time at Anfield. His conduct is nothing short of a disgrace. He has shown incredible disrespect to Rafa Benitez, he has shown incredible disrespect to the players who perform for Benitez, and he has shown incredible disrespect to the fans who sing his name week in week out.
Liverpool is undoubtedly in the midst of a storm right now, but the golden sky of which we sing every week will always be there, because the followers of this great club will not let ourselves be tarnished and ripped apart by these men who have no interest in the city of Liverpool, no interest in our history, and no interest in football.
The great Bill Shankly famously claimed that football was more important than life and death—and in Liverpool at least, those words still hold sway.
Many banners will be paraded at Anfield tomorrow night, and many songs will be sung. The message will be clear though, and that message is simple.
Mr. Hicks, Mr. Gillett—turn your horses around, and get out of our club.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!