Gerrard’s swipe at Chelsea fans after getting “slaughtered” and reduced to tears

The familiar videos will hurt far less to look at this year, both for those involved and those who witnessed it and wish they hadn’t.

Liverpool have, after all, actually lifted the Premier League title now, seven years on from the day their captain’s unfortunate twist of fate took the 2013/14 crown away from them and passed it onto the head of Manchester City.

Steven Gerrard’s slip is a moment that has long since passed into football folklore, an almost perfectly cruel combination of despair and giddy glee, depending on your allegiances. And there has been almost no in between.

Because it doesn’t really matter if you have any nuance to add to the discussion over what happened at Anfield on April 27, 2014. It will be ignored.

No-one wants to hear about how Liverpool should really have been ahead in the game by that fateful moment before half-time, with Mamadou Sakho missing their best chance when he somehow blazed over from close range following a corner.

Gerrard couldn’t look after Ba’s goal for Chelsea

Chelsea had offered little bar an optimistic Ashley Cole effort and a hopeful penalty appeal when Mohamed Salah thought he’d drawn a handball from Jon Flanagan. Those two would go on to have very different Merseyside careers.

And then it happened.

Gerrard – who would later say that he shouldn’t actually have played in the game as he was receiving injections and taking painkillers for a back injury – took a tumble, Demba Ba scored, the world watched, and just as it now doesn’t matter what had happened in the game before that moment, now it didn’t matter what happened after it.

It was a pain that the Liverpool captain would have to endure, and one that was far greater than the back problem he was suffering from.

“I sat in the back of the car and felt the tears rolling down my face,” said Gerrard in his 2015 autobiography ‘My Story’.

Liverpool had tried desperately to get back into the game
Liverpool had tried desperately to get back into the game

“I hadn’t cried for years but, on the way home, I couldn’t stop. The tears kept coming. I can’t even tell you if the streets were thick with traffic or as empty as I was on the inside. It was killing me.

“I felt numb, like I had lost someone in my family. It was as if my whole quarter of a century at this football club poured out of me. I did not even try to stem the silent tears as the events of the afternoon played over and over again in my head.”

And over, and over, and over…

Gerrard wasn’t to be allowed to forget his slip as the following season he was greeted with crowing choruses reminding him of it, with the cruel words serving as the soundtrack to his final Anfield campaign, a disjointed one for the club in which things fell apart under Brendan Rodgers.

There was to be brief respite though.

In Liverpool’s 36th game of the Premier League season, the fifth-place Reds took on a Chelsea side who had won the league a week earlier at Stamford Bridge.

Gerrard had scored an equaliser at Stamford Bridge
Gerrard had scored an equaliser at Stamford Bridge

Gerrard, in his third to last game as a Liverpool player, equalised with a header from a Jordan Henderson corner, and then with 11 minutes remaining he was replaced by Lucas Leiva.

As he left the pitch in west London an afternoon of jeers and mocking songs turns to polite applause from all four corners of the ground, for a few seconds at least, as one of the Premier League’s true icons left one of his final stages.

A truce called in the Gerrard-baiting then? All forgiven on all sides?

Not quite.

“I was more happy with the ovation from the Liverpool fans,” said the Reds skipper after the match.

“The Chelsea fans showed respect for a couple of seconds for me but slaughtered me all game so I’m not going to get drawn into wishing the Chelsea fans well.

The Liverpool captain was applauded by home fans after he was substituted
The Liverpool captain was applauded by home fans after he was substituted

“It’s nice of them to turn up for once today.”

Gerrard’s complicated history with the Blues was never going to get the happiest ending, but in truth you really can’t blame him for the swipe that followed the slip. Nor can you blame Chelsea supporters for rubbing his misfortune in his face, such is tribal football life. We wouldn’t change it for the world or a Super League.

Things have changed for Gerrard seven years on though, with a Liverpool title in the bag and then a first one of his own as a manager up in Scotland.

“For me it was fantastic to bury a few demons,” Gerrard told the BBC in the aftermath of Liverpool’s title win, “not all the demons…”

They might be there for a while yet, but for the first time since April 27, 2014, you get the sense that the most affected parties finally have some level of closure.

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