Liverpool has conquered all of Europe, from Paris down to Turkey. And now they have conquered my American heart, too.
My name is Gary Bartle and I am a Liverpool supporter in Michigan, USA where the Reds just demolished Manchester United 4-1. Being at the game with 101,000 fans, a majority of which were LFC affiliated, and seeing the Shaqiri goal in person is something I will be talking about for ages. But for me, it was the icing on the cake to two of the best days of my life.
I was diagnosed with a form of Muscular Dystrophy when I was a baby. A wheelchair would be the means of transportation for my entire existence. I was blessed with great family and friends so my life has been an amazing one so far. However, getting on a plane and singing in the Kop is a logistical pipe-dream. I never thought the day would come when I could see the club that has given me so much over the years.
Then the game at Michigan Stadium was announced. My heart leapt higher than my legs ever could. And that was only the beginning.
Through Ryan Borg and the fantastic LFC Detroit supporters club, I was given the opportunity to attend a meet and greet with the squad and witness a private training session. I tried hard not to get my hopes up but I felt like a kid at Christmas whenever I thought about it in the days leading up to the events.
“It will just be nice to get a picture with a few of the players,” I thought. But then my world was graced by the presence of the Liverpool staff.
I cannot explain how accommodating Robyn was when I arrived at the hotel hosting the event. If everyone is as nice as her in the city of Liverpool then it must be the best place on earth. Then Ray and I bonded right away – two handsome gentlemen such as ourselves tend to do that. He made sure the players stopped by and had a quick chat with me, including some one-on-one time with the King of Egypt himself and an amazing team photo with just me. And last but certainly not least was the wonderful Louisa who felt like a genie granting wishes. If I needed something, she made it happen.
I have met famous people before. They are busy people and it feels like it. Liverpool is filled with famous people, but they made me feel like they were the ones who wanted to see me. Telling Mo that he spreads hope wherever he goes, getting my beard tickled by Sadio, and joking about Ribena and playing leftback with Milly were the highlights. But I need to say a special thank you to Daniel Sturridge. When he asked me to speak to his fans on Instagram and LFC fans all over the world, I was floored. He sought me out and made me feel like the star. For someone that struggles with confidence, he did wonders for me. Oh and he is right about the secret to Virgil’s dominance, it is that big head.
I could go on and on and I will to anyone who ever brings up LFC to me for the rest of my life no doubt. But I just wanted to let everyone know that the product they see on the field is just as beautiful and fun as the people working on the sidelines. You’ll Never Walk Alone was a hauntingly beautiful song before but now? This means more. Thank you.