On February 22nd 1991, I celebrated my 4th birthday.
I use the term celebrate loosely. At the age of four, you don’t really understand the significance placed upon becoming a year older.
You devour cake after 22 failed attempts to blow out the candles, and you’re given toys that will be discarded within half an hour to focus on the bubble wrap it was packaged in.
You hardly remember any of it, either. You just smile and nod for photographs throughout the day, primarily as evidence your 4th birthday actually happened.
It’s all a bit like Roy Hodgson’s six-month reign as Liverpool manager, I suppose, but I digress.
As a Liverpool supporter, it’s hard to forget my 4th birthday. It’s nothing to do with the photograph of me dressed as a cowboy with a crayola stuck up my nostril, either.
On February 22nd 1991, Kenny Dalglish left his position as manager of Liverpool Football Club.
I didn’t go to my first Liverpool game until September that year. I was never on the march with Kenny’s army. I was too young to understand the significance of it then.
I understand the significance now.
I understand it every time my granddad utters the name ‘Dalglish’ to me; his left eye glistening from his chip against Chelsea, his right eye shining thinking of beating Everton twice in the cup final.
I understand it when the chorus of Every Other Saturday reaches its climax on the Kop, and 50-year-old men sing out-of-tune to the football deity, wishing the impossible possible. They really would walk a million miles.
I understand it when I read his autobiography and realise the pain he suffered during our darkest hour, and how he became our shining light throughout that period.
I understand it, because for the past six months, I’ve been without a character I was proud to call manager of our football club.
I’ve been without somebody who embodies the club and the city; someone who is proud of the people he represents every time he sits in the dugout.
For others - rightly or wrongly – it’s been longer than six months. It’s been 20 years.
On Sunday, for the first time in my match-going life, that Scouse solidarity will be on display unanimously. Shankly’s socialism will come through once more.
I’ll be on the march with Kenny’s army - me and nearly 9,000 others.
I’m about to have that glint my granddad’s eye; I’m about to walk a million miles.
I feel like I’m 4-years-old again; but this time, I will be celebrating – because this time, I understand.