A couple of time ago the Liverpool’s Supporters Union (S.O.S) have announced that they are opening branches beyond Merseyside. They are starting their global expansion by opening union branches in London, Sweden, and a virtual branch online.
Joackim Lundberg, founder of the Sweden Branch said “I have together with some other supporters started a Sweden Branch, I hope that more countries and cities are following us. We have 69 members”
Scouser Tommy Branch Chair Kevin Reavey commented “As an online community the Scouser Tommy Branch brings together Reds fans from all over the world, which reflects not only the scale of our club’s support, but also how far the real concern over its current state and future direction has reached. The club is at a crossroads and, if we want to safeguard its future, we supporters must unite behind a common cause and speak with one voice.”
There are also plans to start a German Branch run by Thomas Stanke, a red from Bremen. Currently he’s gathering feedback from reds in Germany which would allow him to open this branch. For all German Reds reading this: If you’re interested in joining the German S.O.S Branch do not hesitate to contact Thomas Stanke ([email protected]) or go to the German Reds official site german-reds.de for more information. Or do it both.
I have the pleasure to be in contact with Thomas, and recently I had the opportunity to ask him some questions about his commitment to LFC, his S.O.S membership, and about starting the German Branch. I find the result as a very – small – interesting look on the “being a foreign LFC supporter” issue.
Why and how did you become Liverpool FC fan?
THOMAS STANKE: I was born in 1976 in the DDR (The German Democratic Republic; German: Deutsche Demokratische Republik), and grew up in Schwedt/Oder. As far as I can remember, football always has been important to me. I used to play in a team since the age of six. The one who infected my Liverpool was my father; through his passion for The Beatles, and the City of Liverpool.
Unfortunately, in those days, it was rather difficult, to get some information about the club. The one or the other percolated through the Berlin Wall, but first after the political change I was able to becalm my curiosity about the LFC in a proper way; I tried to obtain as many information about the club as possible.
Though for my first live experience I had to wait till 2001: the UEFA Cup final in Dortmund against Alaves. An experience I shall never forget. From that time on I’m trying to attempt all matches in Germany, and within the radius of 800 kilometers. I’m visiting Anfield as often as possible as well.
What does Liverpool FC, and the fan fellowship mean to you?
T.S.: LFC and the fellowship became a part of my family life. Via LFC, and the German-Reds fan clu, I I’ve found lots of friends here in Germany, England, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland and France, and I’m giving myself over to this.
My five-year old son is also already infected with the Red virus … The last summer we both travelled to the 1000 kilometers distant Vienna, therewith he could see the Reds playing live. He’s talking about that ever since, and looking forward excitedly to his first visit to Anfield.
Do you see yourself as a member of a family?
T.S.: YES! Definitely. Every time I’m visiting Liverpool, I’m always received very well, and extremely friendly. I feel at home!
Speaking of which … I have to mention this one experience I made. In 2008 I spontaneously flew over to attend a LFC match, and I had only been able to be in the city for 16 hours. When the taxi driver, who was driving me to the airport, found out that I flew over only for the match, and have been there only for a couple of hours, he didn’t let me pay the for the taxi! I was gobsmacked … !
Since when are you S.O.S member?
T.S.: Since 2008, via a contact to Tommy Keiner!
Why do want to launch the S.O.S Germany Branch?
T.S.: To have the opportunity to make S.O.S popular – or more popular – here, in Germany; and to throw some light on their work. Furthermore there are some issues, which are from especial importance for us in Germany, and which should/could be optimised.
Which aims do you plan to achieve with?
T.S.: Like I said, to clear up the fans, to sensitise, and to enable the German fans to get better information about our Club. To put in other words: to make their fan live easier.
Targets for the future?
T.S.: On Saturday, the 23rd October 2010, the 3rd – and mine second – consecutive annual German Reds LFC Supporters Club (AIB) Branch meeting will take place in Liverpool City Centre. Between 50-70 German Reds will visit the city and join the event. Tommy Keiner will join the event as well, and he will tell the guests about S.O.S, and his live in Liverpool.
The last Question: your ultimate LFC experience?
T.S.: Every match is an experience. The UEFA CUP final in 2001 remains as THE memory, and of course the many trips to Liverpool. Sami Hyypia’s last match in 2009 against Tottenham was very emotional too.
Thank you for your time, Thomas!
As Thomas mentioned in the interview, he dedicated his life, and a lot of time, to Liverpool FC. During the last friendly encounter with Borussia M’Gladbach he, and 200 reds from Holland, Belgium and France, travelled to Gladbach to support the team. They also arranged a fantastic “Hicks & Gillet Out!” campaign in, and around the stadium, and were even caught be the television cameras. The whole country was able to watch the “H&G out!”, and the S.O.S banners for 30 seconds! Awesome publicity, and a brilliant job.
One more time: thanks for your time, Thomas. In the name of all KOPites.
Here are some photos of the M’Gladbach banner action I mentioned above:
Once again, I am appealing to all German LFC fans: support Thomas Stanke in launching the German S.O.S Branch, and contact him via [email protected] or visiting the German Reds official site german-reds.de. Thank you in advance!
For the German version of the interview go to my blog MyRubber-Soul.blogspot.com.