By Shane Dorgan
It’s just a game. The one phrase that when uttered at the wrong moment could drive a usually sane fan to the brink of going “postal”. It’s just a game, the same phrase that when its mentioned can turn a friendly atmosphere hostile. (Of course unintentionally). Not Vietnam hostile, but Anfield on a day when the old enemy from Manchester call, hostile. The one phrase that has the ability to drive any football fan mad. Well, at least for me anyway, Its not just a game.
Many a time has this sentence found its way out of someone’s mouth, all meant with the best intention, only to be met with a firm NO, its not, from myself. If anything irks me, then it’s this sentence. There is not, and never will be, a sentence that makes less sense to me than this. Ill take time to explain shall I??
I’m a Liverpool fan. I have been for about 23 years. I could say 25, but I was born in 1988, and I am pretty sure I had no clue as to what football was, and who Liverpool were then. Now im not claiming to be the biggest Liverpool fan in the world, but I do love them as much as any die hard fan. Ive been through the good times. That special night in Istanbul, that 4-1 win at Old Trafford (Stevie G kissing the camera after his goal, my favourite celebration), The Carling Cup Final against Cardiff, the FA Cup Finals, Carling Cup Finals, and so on. I’ve been through the bad times, that Champions League loss in 07 to Ac Milan (il only name one). Ive witnessed miraculous comebacks, crushing defeats, controversial goals and bone crunching, straight red challenges, the lot. Ive been there through numerous controversies, Suarez’ bite and Garcia’ goal that wasn’t, along with many others. Ive seen players come and go. Potential turned into world class talent, and I have seen talent wasted. Basically I have shared the last 23 years with Liverpool FC, and vice versa.
To me, the feelings when we lose are among the worst in the world, despair, disappointment, depression and complete emptiness. Only to have them transformed into anger, annoyance and frustration when, my mother, father, sister, friends or girlfriends, whoever it may be try to console me and say, “Its just a game”. Its not, you don’t understand, its not.
Football is a crazy old game. It can turn friends to enemies and enemies to friends (even if its only for 90 minutes). It can unite a country, or even a continent. Football is a universal language, spoken on the fields and in the stands, by such passionate players and fans, that the joy of seeing your team win a match, or a trophy just cant be described. The elation of victory, in my opinion, cannot be matched, nor the disappointment of loss. Its what us fans talk about and spend the week looking forward too, its what we live for. Its our getaway, our 90 minutes of freedom.
Every time I watch Liverpool play I get filled with a different cocktail of emotions, from nervousness to excitement, to joy and mant others I could list. I want them to win so badly that I would do anything, and I mean anything, to see them win. Time goes slowly by when you’re watching a match. Every nerve racking minute feels like an hour. Constantly mumbling to yourself where the players should be, eyes scouring the pitch for that little gap you hope Coutinho slips the ball through. The “MAN ON” calls at the TV, the pleas for offside and penalty decisions. The monumental amount of expletives that follow a red card decision, be it good or bad. And that sweet feeling when the ball hits the back of the net, whether from a Steven Gerrard shot, or a sublime bit of control from Suarez resulting in him rounding the keeper and slipping it coolly in. (That goal against Newcastle, my god)
Football is more than football, its life. The same goes for Liverpool FC. Those players that play, have played, and in the future will play, are like family to me and other fans. To see them walk off the pitch dejected after a loss hurts, a lot, and the same goes for any other fan. They’ve given me memories I will cherish forever, even if they don’t realise. We share the passion, the famous red jersey, Anfield, and Liverpool Football Club. When You’ll Never Walk Alone is played we get the same goosebumps, whether were physically there or not. We all bleed Liverpool Red. Ourselves and our adopted family.
So to all those people who think, its just a game, its not. This is what we live for as football fans and Liverpool supporters, or whatever you team may be. This is what we get up in the morning for. This is why days are spent on the phones with buddies back and forth discussing the goings on in the world of football. This is why we watch Liverpool, to see them win, and sometimes lose or draw. This is not just a game, its never been just that, its always been more. This is love, passion, and pride. This is Liverpool FC, this is life, THIS IS NOT JUST A GAME.