Thirty years, one month and 28 days.
It was a wait that felt like it might never end, but finally Liverpool FC’s 18 English titles have become 19 with a first Premier League crown.
“I don’t agree with this saying that it’s been 30 years of hurt,” asserts Andy Kelly. “It’s been an incredible time of ups and downs and some brilliant experiences.”
The Coleraine expat first moved to Liverpool in September 1990, just a few months after Alan Hansen lifted the First Division trophy.
On Thursday evening he watched on from his home in Waterloo, north of the city centre, as the next title triumph was confirmed, thankfully ending his tag as ‘the jinx’.
“When you put all of the factors together; the wait, the team, the manager who has become a figurehead for the city and understands it’s about more than football, it’s the perfect moment,” he smiles.
“For the Reds in the city, it feels like this is their moment.”
Kelly has worked as the Liverpool Daily Post’s Chief Reporter and Head of Content at the Liverpool Echo. So he knows as well as Jurgen Klopp that the past 30 years have formed a story that does include triumphant tales of two European Cup victories but that features a central theme transcending the sport altogether.
When Hansen raised the trophy on April 28, 1990 in front of a packed Kop, he was showing it off to a support-base still wrapped in raw grief.
I had my doubts if they’d ever be able to get the truth but I shouldn’t ever have doubted them. Their strength and courage in fighting to get to that truth was incredible.
It had been little over a year since the Hillsborough disaster, in which 95 Liverpool supporters had lost their lives; the 96th victim would pass away in 1993 from his injuries.
The ugly aftermath, featuring The Sun’s infamous ‘The Truth’ headline, meant the most important chapter of the next 30 years was about a city’s long fight for the authentic truth and a still ongoing battle for justice.
That particular newspaper story was indicative of a popular narrative that had blamed the supporters themselves for the deaths.
But back in 1990 a campaign was already under way to clear their names, led by the families including the inspirational Anne Williams.
“So many people in the city knew what had gone on but every route they took to try and get the truth to come out was blocked by the establishment and ultimately by the government,” says Kelly, admitting it’s difficult to sum up the impact the disaster and subsequent campaign for justice had on the city.
“In the first few years, I had my doubts if they’d ever be able to get the truth but I shouldn’t ever have doubted them. Their strength and courage in fighting to get to that truth was incredible.
“The thing about Hillsborough was that it tarnished Liverpool supporters and the city itself by this thought that the way the fans behaved had somehow led to the tragedy.
"That was the hardest thing for the people in the city to accept when they knew the exact opposite was true and many of the supporters had been heroes on the day, saving lives.”
It would be 23 years before the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s findings were released, prompting a "profound" apology from then Prime Minister David Cameron for the "double injustice".
“The injustice of the appalling events – the failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth. And the injustice of the denigration of the deceased – that they were somehow at fault for their own deaths,” he told the House of Commons.
That was an "incredible moment for the city," says Kelly. It was more important than any league title and the major breakthrough of the past 30 years.
The campaign taught Kelly, who has found a wife and raised two children in Liverpool, just what the city and its people were all about.
“Liverpool views itself as a little bit separate from the rest of England and is happy to be separate,” he says. “There’s a fantastic community spirit of solidarity. People stand together and try and overcome things.
“They will always have a strength of spirit, a belief in doing the right thing and are happy to challenge authority when it’s needed.
“The Hillsborough justice battle was an example of how the people of Liverpool will stand together and believe in fighting for the truth. That’s a very important example. It’s what the city’s about, for me.”
Other than the football, with title triumphs for both the red and the blue halves of the city, there hadn’t been many positives to emerge from the 1980s. Perhaps that sense of togetherness, an all-but total erosion of a previous sectarian tension, was one that sprung from a gruelling decade.
Back in 1990, the city was emerging from 10 years of economic disaster. The 80s had seen Liverpool’s unemployment hit 27%, double the national average, even reaching as high as 40% in certain areas. Then there was the continuing population drain, about 20,000 per year, leaving the city in turmoil.
“While that was a brilliant decade for Liverpool and Everton on the pitch, economically and everything else it had been disastrous,” explains Kelly.
“There was a decline in industries that Liverpool had been associated with in terms of the ports and where the city had been in the right place geographically at a stage for trade, when the EU became the big thing, Liverpool was on the wrong side of the country. Now the southern ports were doing the trading.”
The 80s was also, of course, a decade that saw the country led by Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Liverpool as a city hadn’t quite seen eye-to-eye with Britain’s ‘Iron Lady’.
“Liverpool stood for the antithesis of Thatcherism,” Kelly continues. “Her infamous comment, ‘there’s no such thing as society’, well I think we’ve seen just in the last few months why Liverpool people have argued against that.
“A few years ago, cabinet papers dating back to the early 80s were released and revealed that minister Sir Geoffrey Howe had suggested that the government put Liverpool into a "managed decline".
“That clarified for a lot of people exactly what they felt in that decade; that they were a city the government at the time didn’t have any desire to help through the problems circumstance had inflicted upon them.”
It’s the other battle that has dominated the city’s mindset; the bid to see Liverpool rise from the ashes of an economic wasteland.
As Liverpool’s 19th league title has finally arrived, Merseyside still has its issues – a report last year suggested it is still the British city with the highest unemployment when ‘hidden jobless’ are taken into account.
Yet, as Kelly acknowledges, it’s a very different place to the city he first knew.
“Liverpool is pretty unrecognisable compared to 1990,” he says.
“When I first arrived, there was rubbish all across the city because the bin men were on strike. There were all these sorts of socio-economic problems.
“Now it’s a fantastic European city, forward-thinking with an incredible city centre. The Liverpool of today has been through a lot but it’s come out the other side. I think it’s got a fantastic future and all of that is down to the city itself; the people who’ve always been here and the people who’ve come and found a great place to settle.”
The current celebrations are sparked by football, but they represent a feeling much greater than that.
Liverpol's people have walked through their storms, held their heads up high.
Now they have a glimpse of a golden sky.