Crimson Tide: the heroes' homecoming

Wednesday's extraordinary events in Istanbul sent Liverpool into a frenzy of celebration. Ian Herbert joined the 250,000-strong crowd and found himself swept away on a red wave of emotion

The 21 years that have elapsed since Liverpool last got their hands on the European Champions' Cup have been filled with more false hopes, defeat and grief than the city cares to remember. But the rediscovered pleasures of success were all the sweeter for the wait as the jug-eared trophy was lifted out into the sunshine of John Lennon Airport yesterday evening.

Barely a lamppost or a flat roof (going to photographers for £20 a pitch) went unclaimed for a parade of a trophy that brought 250,000 to the streets and culminated on the Edwardian St George's Plateau in the city centre.

Judging by the vast crowds that gathered outside Anfield from 11am, only souvenir sellers were contributing much to the city's GDP. The club shop was closed, its staff apparently stuck on a delayed charter flight from Istanbul, so 150 fans found something else to queue for: "winners' T-shirts", promoted on a handwritten poster taped to the wall of the Christ Church.

Midday came with no sign of the shirts that, one of their prospective sellers confided, would "probably fetch £8" if they ever arrived. When they did show up in all their garish glory, there was a stampede. "Calm down! Can we stop now, 'cos we'll get carried away," pleaded one trader as a multitude of hands reached into his bags.

Across the road, red sombreros had replaced the "Istanbul 2005" fez (popular in the pubs on Wednesday night) as essential headgear. Red flags doubled as an a elegant sari for Louise Summers, from Nottingham, and a summer coat for Macey, a Staffordshire terrier who had been "celebrating in the street" on Wednesday night, according to his owner, Terry Seddon.

When Marks & Spencer is getting in on the act, you know it must something big. The "Istanbul 2005" white ladies' fitted T-shirt (£8.99, although you'll never be able to lay hands on one) has been declared the month's best-selling line in the Liverpool store's Per Una range.

Even the local second-hand car dealership, Georgesons, was getting in the act with its "cup specials" - red vehicles bearing the names of Liverpool's goalscorers. Vladimir Smicer might consider himself worthy of more than a P-reg Hyundai Coupe with 70,000 miles on the clock, but you sell what you can on days like this.

Local businesses, represented by the "Downtown Liverpool" group, predicted that European success may bring millions of pounds to the city, especially if Liverpool are granted a place in next year's tournament despite finishing outside the Premiership's qualification places this season. The derelict state of some of Anfield's back streets suggest that the 2008 European "Capital of Culture" badly needs the cash. The district's economic fortunes have been as painful as its football team's in the past two decades.

But for now there is only the feverish afterglow that drew Jim Wicklow, 50, from his home in Belfast to Anfield's Hillsborough memorial.

"The events of the last 21 years - the Heysel disaster as well as Hillsborough - create a more emotional tie than most clubs know," he said. A bouquet before him remembered "Andrew - a son, brother, uncle", who was barely into manhood when he died at Hillsborough. He would have been 40 this week.

And then there was Graham Whittall of Guildford. Mr Whittall went to work yesterday and begged for the day off so he could witness the homecoming. His boss, a Manchester United fan, told him: "Get yourself to Liverpool. You need to be there." Mr Whittall sent his wife to get their son Andrew, aged seven, from school. Fortunately, his teachers were equally understanding.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino
environmentThe death of a white northern rhino in Kenya has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells