Gerrard's long wait to wear red at 'Anfield South' is over

 

Anfield

The camera swept across of a row of middle-aged men in the directors' box – Ian Rush, Alan Hansen, Phil Thompson and Jan Molby. It says something for the cold, almost arrogant way they surveyed English football that the footballers around whom Kenny Dalglish built his Liverpool used to refer to Wembley as "Anfield South". Dalglish won his first trophy outside Scotland, the 1978 European Cup final beneath its towers and 11 years later he steered the club through its greatest trauma to win what became known as the Hillsborough Final.

Steven Gerrard has long been Dalglish's natural successor, not in terms of how he plays but in what he represents and how he inspires and yet it says something for Liverpool's relative decline that next month's final against Cardiff City will be his first taste of the rebuilt Empire Stadium in a Liverpool shirt.

Just as you reach Anfield's directors' seats there are photographs of Gerrard holding the European and FA Cups won in Istanbul and Cardiff. There has been nothing since and, lately, not even the suggestion of one. He said before scoring in his fourth successive semi-final – all of which Liverpool have won – that he would "drive himself crazy" if he thought of the resources that might have been made available to him at other clubs but he would scarcely have been human had he not paced his house on the Fylde coast and pondered Jose Mourinho's question whether he wanted to know what it was like to win a championship.

Now he has determined he will never leave Anfield by signing a fresh contract, it is unlikely he will ever be able to answer Mourinho's question, posed when the riches of Stamford Bridge were being dangled in front of him. Dalglish may have dragged Liverpool back from the desperate mediocrity into which they have sunk but they are not yet convincing Champions League contenders, let alone championship material as the way Edin Dzeko was allowed to stroke home Manchester City's second goal demonstrated.

With its banners, the overwhelming belief in its own history and its sheer noise, Anfield is perhaps Europe's most inspiring venue which may be why before tonight, Liverpool had lost only one of 30 semi-finals here. When Gerrard went up to take the penalty for an equaliser on a dramatic, breathless night, the stadium was filled by his name being chanted wave upon wave.

It is very hard to sing songs for Craig Bellamy and yet, perhaps more than Gerrard, he was the architect of this victory. When he shot left-footed to beat the massively impressive Joe Hart it provoked the sight of the night; thousands of red scarves hurled around the Kop.

For all its talk of "team spirit" and the tired adage of "playing together, losing together", football needs loners like Bellamy, whose upbringing in the Splott, a district of Cardiff as unlovely as it sounds, echoes Gerrard's in Huyton. Amid the debacle that overtook Liverpool at Bolton on Saturday night, Bellamy was the only one of Dalglish's players who visibly attempted to fight against the tide.

Margaret Rutherford, who was the original dotty Miss Marple, said of eccentrics that they "have their own quality of madness and that in the final analysis they will be the saints". She was talking of her cousin, Tony Benn, but Bellamy possesses a quality of madness that successive managers, including Roberto Mancini, have found it hard to harness and yet when they have kept faith with him the rewards have sometimes been immense.

A few days after he had taken a golf club to John Arne Riise on what was supposed to be a team-bonding excursion, Rafael Benitez picked Bellamy for Liverpool's Champions League encounter with Barcelona, saw him score and then slide across the soft earth of Catalonia. The grass of Anfield would have felt the same.

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
Danielle George is both science professor and presenter
people
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015