Liverpool full-back John Arne Riise summed up what a Liverpool fans felt about the original plan for Liverpool to play Blackburn Rovers today. With Liverpool’s potentially heavy fixture commitments the club claimed there was no room to move the game away from today. It was set to kick off at tea-time, but even then there would not be enough time for many to make it to the both the game and the memorial service, which takes place as always at 2.45pm. In the end Liverpool’s elimination from the Champions League made room for the fixture to be delayed by a day. Now the Blackburn match is being played tomorrow, and will be televised by Sky.
It’s a tough day for Liverpool fans. Everyone chooses to spend the day in their own way, whether it’s attending the service, staying at home to reflect or going to a place special to them. Going to watch the Reds player has never been an option, never been a decision that’s had to be made. According to Riise, it’s just as well. He’s happy that he will still be able to attend the service at Anfield, and that he’s not got to play on such a significant and sad day: “It is a very sad time for everyone. Everybody knows about it and for us to come to the service to give something back is good. It shows that football is not that important in the end. I think it’s good for everyone to come and see the families and show our support. This will be the fifth time I will be at the service and I’m looking forward to it. It’s a sad occasion but I’m glad I can give something back.”
Today is not a day for football. Riise’s words may come as a shock to those that thought it would be OK to play today. Riise says it just wouldn’t have worked: “It just wouldn’t have felt right playing today. There would have been so much fuss about it as well in the papers, so I think Blackburn did a good job to change the game. It is such a big day for the Liverpool players, the fans and the families, we just couldn’t have played. What Blackburn did showed it means a lot to everybody.”