Liverpool Fc and Me

Brief description of attachment to Liverpool FC.

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During my English evening class I happened to mention at 7.40pm that Liverpool would be playing soon. (1st Leg Europa Cup Semi Final against Atletico Madrid). Normally I make tongue-in-cheek sexist comments about the female of the species, but Andrea, one of the mature students, took the chance to turn the tables on me and observe how tribal men are; supporting a football team was a way of belonging to a group or tribe. The result of how we evolved.

I suppose she is correct because supporting a particular team gives ample opportunities to relate to other people. Even if I speak to a Liverpudlian on the phone at a call centre I always ask ‘Red’ or ‘Blue’ and we have a chat about our special team.

I have been a fan of Liverpool for over thirty-five years now. The success of Liverpool is very important to me and its failure is stressful. I missed the recovery goal by Gerrard in the famous 3-0 to  penalties European final in 2005 because I could not bear the stress of continuing to watch when it seemed all over. Later, I switched on the TV to check what was happening and it was 3-2! Amazing joy!

The famous manager of Liverpool, Bill Shankley, once commented that football was more important than life or death and it is easy to understand this if you have a favourite club.

Liverpool football team is important to me. The attachment, like an addiction, has grown and grown over the years.

At some point in the 1970’s I started watching football on TV. Liverpool featured so often that I began to know the team and admire the way they played. 1974 to 1994 when Roy Evans took over seems like a kaleidoscope of enjoyment. I look back with the greatest admiration for Ian Rush who just kept on taking advantage of situations in front of goal to pop up and score. Watching the recent Old Stars games between Liverpool and Celtic and the Hillsborough memorial match who popped up in both matches to score – why Ian Rush of course. Was it a particular skill that others do not have? Even Torres does not do what Rush did.  This makes Ian Rush so special.

I remember travelling in the late morning in London when Liverpool supporters were making their way on the train to the coast to catch a ferry to Belgium for the European final against Juventus at the Heysel Stadium and I promised myself I would go to the next year’s final because Liverpool would get there again no doubt. Well that didn’t happen – not only did English teams get banned from the competition but also Liverpool was out for the next five years.

The Gerry Marsden song appropriated as the club anthem is thrilling. No other club is able to start matches with a song so full of emotion and nostalgia. I am reminded of what Shackleton said of the final descent to the whaling station. All the way of danger he was aware of an unseen presence travelling with them.

I have only been to Anfield once. I have the very dubious distinction of going at least a mile past it on the bus from the city centre and having to get off and make my way back. I sat on the lower deck and Anfield being in the centre of rows of terraced houses would only have been clearly visible from the top deck. I bought the stadium tour. Going through the tunnel under the ‘This is Anfield’ sign was exciting and standing at the edge of the pitch I felt he same sort of reverence one would feel going into a magnificent Medieval Cathedral. On this field so much wonderful football had been played.

Outside between the stadium and the gates was a large corporation bin full of grass clippings – I thought of taking a souvenir of the Anfield turf – but I did not.

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