Thanks very much Kennie Pritchard for this guest post. They’ll be plenty around the world who know your struggle!
Late nights, 3 am starts, turning up late for work… No, it’s not the trials and tribulations of becoming a father for the first time. This is following your beloved football team (or soccer team, which you are now forced to refer to them as) from foreign lands. Since the start of this season I’ve been watching my team Liverpool from Australia. I’m not the first person to make these sacrifices and I won’t be the last. It doesn’t get any easier as the weeks go by either. Every time I think of becoming a permanent resident, I always think ‘but what about the match’. Can the Reds really ruin my life?
In the lead up to the recent home fixture against Watford, I was all set to stay awake for the 4 am start on Sunday morning, but as midnight rolled around, I had run out of options of what to watch and the beer wasn’t going down as well as it was at 7pm. So, I made the decision many can relate to. ‘I’ll just go to bed and set an alarm. Easy’!! I wake and the first thing I notice is it isn’t dark anymore? its 9am, I couldn’t believe it, id slept through it. Never mind, the highlights will have to do. SIX NIL!!!!! SIX NIL AND I’D MISSED IT. Never again.
The hardest part of it all is that we’ve suddenly turned into title contenders and I feel like I’m watching with my face pressed against the glass. Phone calls home to my dad don’t make things easier as he’s cleaning his lucky red trainers ready for the next home game in a couple of hours and all around me people are winding down ready to call it a night. My dad, a season ticket holder whose life is embedded in the city of Liverpool, once said of my travels abroad, won’t you miss the match? That was his only concern. And as the end of the last season drew to a close I genuinely thought that I wouldn’t.
The few ‘soccer’ fans you meet don’t really fill you with joy as one friend reads out the starting eleven one week and struggles with the pronunciation of Wijnaldum. The ref is now an umpire, a shot is now a kick, a transfer a draft, and the league is now a ladder. It’s just not the same out here, and I haven’t even seen the new main stand yet. A visit to watch Adelaide in their home fixture against Western Sydney fills me with slight hope. An almost sell-out crowd of 15,000, drinking in the stands, no roof cover, they even have a designated singing section where you’ll hear all your favourite league 1 chants. But the quality is average and nobody’s that bothered when they concede a last-minute goal to lose 2-1. The all red strip drew me in, but the chants of ‘UNITED’ turned it sour, enough of that.
‘Coutinho’s out for six weeks’ reads a message from my brother one morning. I’m so out of the loop these days, it used to be me sending these texts around, like ‘HE’S GONE’ that famous January Saturday in 2011. I sat watching Man City vs Chelsea trying to figure out why Mikel Arteta is sat on the City bench, when did that happen? While everywhere I go over here Tim Cahill’s face greets you on a poster about the next fixture for the ‘Socceroos’. God I hate saying that.
This country has it all, the weather, untouched lands, animals you’ll find on no other continent, the clearest night skies in the world just to name a few, but they just don’t get the football. I’ll continue to be gripped in the title race, but I’ll do it alone. You can never get rid of that spot in your heart, nor can you ignore it for too long. As the sun rises and another fixture comes to a close, I’ll sit there knowing that ultimately, I’m not really alone. There’s many more like me. The things this club does to you, hey…?