Liverpool from afar

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by @jonny_hartley

Loving something that is so far away from you can be tough. It can be the most frustrating thing in the world at times, and in some ways is an epic struggle. Other times though, it causes you to dream, or dare to do so. Even more so when you’ve had a taste of what it is like to be close to that something. And one thing that never changes is how you feel.

A lot of Liverpool fans, like me, do not actually live in Liverpool. Yet we have still, somehow, fallen in love with this great club. Be this through parents supporting it, origins in Liverpool, or just something we decided as kids because they were the favorite team to watch. Personally for me, it was the latter. I just loved watching Liverpool, there was something about them, and for me I loved watching the now not so popular Michael Owen scoring goals for Liverpool and England. He was the first hero for me, unfortunately.

The issue is, when it comes to supporting any Premier League team that is nowhere near where you live, you get accused of glory hunting. Growing up in the 90’s though, its not really accurate to call young Liverpool fans glory hunters, barely anything was won in that decade! It’s very easy to call Man United fans glory hunters if they aren’t from around there and grew up in the same era, but there is certainly a difference when it came to supporting Liverpool.

Of course, compared to some, I am pretty local, being from North London. There are Liverpool fans all over the world. This was highlighted better than ever with the pre-season tour this year. The team visited Thailand, Australia and Idonesia. The welcome they received in all places was amazing, with seas of red fans everywhere. It was particularly special in Australia, where 90,000 fans packed out the stadium to see Liverpool defeat Melbourne Victory 2-0. The atmosphere I gauged from watching that on the TV was amazing and the “You’ll never walk alone” sung before the match was one of the best I have ever heard. Unbelievable. It really highlighted what a great club Liverpool still is, despite success not being as easy to come by in recent years as it once was.

It must be hard though, being a fan from abroad, and very, very rarely getting a taste of what it is like to be at a Liverpool game and experiencing that atmosphere. Being in the crowd with other Liverpool fans, watching the team is a very special experience, and it is something I have only experienced myself a few times in my life, and only once at Anfield. The plus side for me though was that I was in the Kop end. And despite the fact it was only a friendly, a 2-0 win over Valencia in 2011, overseen by Kenny Dalglish, the atmosphere was great for me. My mum had gone to university in Liverpool and used to be a regular on the Kop in those days, and this was the first time she had been back there, so it was a great day for us both.

Despite the fact though that it is only on the rare occasion that us long distance fans get to see the team in the flesh, there is still that special connection, and that connection for me really comes out during and after games. I, and I’m sure many others, have done some crazy things when celebrating a goal in my room. Well sometimes the celebration takes me out of my room and into another part of the house, and on special occasions, out on the street! (Daniel Agger vs Chelsea, 2007, Champions League semi-final.) And of course, in contrast, the connection is also shown in defeat. The sulking around the house, the permanent miserable face and the not wanting to talk to anyone for a good few hours routine. The jubilation and the frustration can only be shown in this way when you support a football club. And well, Liverpool have a reputation of not making it easy for us don’t they.

One thing I would not change though, is that choice I made as a kid to support Liverpool Football Club. And I am sure many others who live far away from the city itself wouldn’t either, however they came about supporting them. It’s a privilege to be part of the family.

And the best thing about being part of the family is that:
You’ll Never Walk Alone.