Travel Review 2010/2011
Spirit of Shankly committee member Sam Armstrong writes about SOS Travel during the 2010/11 season.
So the most eventful off-the-pitch season in as long as I can remember draws to a close for Liverpool Football Club and its supporters.
Old owners, new owners, new manager, sacked manager, new old manager. Losing to the Mancs, winning against the Mancs. Throw in a court case and legal challenge or two and I have to say I am exhausted.
I have long since given up trying to remember how many home and away games I go to each season. I am the furthest thing from an anorak there could possibly be. Sometimes I don't even remember if we won. What my ageing brain still remembers, however, are the great times I have had following Liverpool Football Club.
The last game of this season was such an occasion for various reasons. The undaunting hangover from the day and night before did not help but as it was gained celebrating the life and times of another good and recently departed Red it was relevant.
I don't make a lot of away games anymore - work, family and a home take up a lot of time but I was sorted with a ticket so even with a headache approaching epic proportions I was going to be on the SOS coach leaving at 10am from The Rocket. As well as a lot of regulars I got the chance to meet some new SOS members and for me this is one of the best things about travelling away. The coach picks up at two designated spots, the Liverpool Supporters Club and The Rocket but we like to be flexible to our members and there were a further two pick ups at Burtonwood Services and a piece of grass somewhere along the M62. Not many official trips would be so accommodating but SOS exists for its members so we aim to please.
So rehydrating slowly and regaining focus enough to read the sports pages the full coach was in good spirits and at around 11.30am we hit a sleepy Staffordshire town called Penkridge.
We eventually found a nice pub by a canal called The Boat and the majority of those on the coach joined us. We spent a couple of very pleasant hours socialising and sampling the excellent food before returning to the coach for the last 30 minutes of the journey. It was still early for some on a Sunday but we still enjoyed a little singing to get us in the mood.
Parking up and the familiar faces began to appear. Opinion was obviously divided on the weather as I was dressed like it was the middle of winter but some brave souls were in shorts and t-shirts. There was some banter with the Villa fans and then suddenly all attention was focused on the coach park where the 'Steve Gerrard, Gerrard... ' song was being sung by more than a couple of people. The rumour I had heard was spot on and Gerrard had decided to attend the game as a fan. Sitting with the LFC supporters but possibly not singing about himself (that would just be weird, surely?).
The Liverpool fans were buzzing - not sure if it was because it was the last game, or because Gerrard had been spotted or what but the atmosphere was better than almost anything I'd experienced at a home game that season (with the obvious exceptions). Gerrard got a lot of attention from the press and the Liverpool fans but not as much as I thought he would and I think his presence was appreciated by many.
The less said about the game the better. We are moving onward and upward to much better things and I've seen enough in the latter half of this season to convince me of that.
Back to the coach and people were slightly subdued but it's been a long and very eventful season and I think it was only to be expected.
On a very positive note for the SOS and for the wonderful Roy Bentham who does the main travel organisation for the Union this was the culmination of another successful season. Despite the cut price travel we offer there was still a profit made this season and it meant we were able to offer travel to the last game to members for the cost of £1.
Since we started offering a travel service to our members we have run over 55 trips, travelling a distance of over 16,500 miles. We have transported 3,000 people in that time, members old and new and compared to the cost of other coach companies we estimate we have saved our members who travel with us in the region of £15,000.
It's easy to knock the Union and what we do. Sometimes we don't get it exactly right, we are all volunteers who give up our spare time to make things work, but you can't argue with those figures and the benefits we have brought to our members, especially on the travel front.
Here's to a very successful 2011/2012 season for the SOS and Liverpool Football Club.
Spirit of Shankly would also like to thank those members who have acted as stewards on the coach throughout this, and previous seasons. Your help is greatly appreciated.
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