The first and most vocal was the clamour which rang as loudly through virtually every touch of the football during the Merseyside derby which enforced the realisation that it is impossible to make yourself felt as an Everton supporter – despite the derby itself never having had to separate rival fans on the terraces – in a sea of staunch South African Liverpool fans.
Things were to get even worse for the Arithmetically-challenged Golfer – a long-term Toffees supporter whose pre-match prediction had started to go horribly wrong as early as the eighth minute when Sadio Mane put the Reds into the lead. There was some respite – and it might be added a lonely cheer – in the silence which greeted Matthew Pennington’s first Everton goal on his first appearance of the season 20 minutes later.
But then Brazilian Philippe Coutinho started to weave some second-half magic, scoring Liverpool’s second and setting up substitute Divock Origi – on for the injured Mane – to power home Liverpool’s clincher from outside the area. The Arithmetically-challenged One’s features were a study, but he took it as philosophically as he could.
“There are the Sharks to come,” he said to anyone who cared to listen, and, wearing the only black and white replica jersey in evidence, that meant precious few, “they are going to murder the Lions.”
This was a prediction which, as you would image, was hardly the prevailing sentiment and was greeted with the sound of one hand clapping. But he took heart from the fact that the Sharks twice held a 10-point lead with young flyhalf Curwin Bosch delivering a mature performance of far more maturity than his 19 years in a thriller which the Sharks looked set to continue dominating.
The turning point came when Sharks lock Etienne Oosthuizen was yellow-carded and while he sat out his 10 minutes in the sin bin, the Lions scored two converted tries and turned a 16-13 halftime deficit into a seven-point second-half lead. The Sharks fought back to level matters, then twice edged into a three-point lead before substitute Kwagga Smith helped propel flanker Jaco Kriel across the tryline to give the relieved Lions a 34-29 victory.
The Arithmetically-challenged One could hardly believe his luck… nor the inescapable fact that there was not a shred of sympathy offered from any quarter. But at the conclusion of two games which had not gone the way the Arithmetically-challenged One had wanted he had, surprisingly, something of import to say.
“This,” he commented, gazing around the room, “is not Anfield… and it certainly isn’t Ellis Park. So if I have learned one thing it is this: when you look like getting overwhelmed by red jerseys, leave immediately.”