Football without fans is nothing

Note: This is an email I sent to Liverpool FC regarding their participation in the newly-announced “European Super League.” If you support one of the clubs announced to be a part of this league—AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Tottenham—please consider sending a similar message to your club.

“At a football club, there’s a holy trinity – the players, the manager and the supporters. Directors don’t come into it. They are only there to sign the cheques”

Bill Shankly

Dear Liverpool and ownership, 

By some metrics, I am a new fan. I have “only” supported Liverpool for a decade and a half or so. However, I fully intend to support Liverpool for my whole life with as much love and passion as I have so far. 

Or at least, that’s how I felt before I read about Liverpool joining the European Super League, which I feel is a greedy, soulless plan that goes against the spirit of football, the spirit of Liverpool, and all the values that made me fall in love with this team. 

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On Never Walking Alone

Just over two months ago, a few days before I moved to Ireland, I was sitting in the living room of my parents’ home watching Manchester City play Chelsea. There were no fans in the stadium, hadn’t been since the Premier League had restarted after a long, coronavirus-induced break. Stakes were fairly high for each team. A win for Chelsea would boost their Champions League qualification hopes, while a win for City would keep them in the title race for one more week. Chelsea’s young American Christian Pulisic opened the scoring, then City’s Kevin De Bruyne equalised. In the second half, a handball saw Fernandinho sent off and Willian step up to the penalty spot to bury a second goal for Chelsea. Twenty minutes later, the game was over… and suddenly Liverpool were champions.

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We Go Again: Liverpool FC 2013/2014

We are Liverpool, tra la la la la
We are Liverpool, tra la la la la

At the start of the season, I predicted, like most, that Liverpool was still in their rebuilding period. We would finish 6th, maybe 5th if Tottenham really screwed up. I wasn’t being pessimistic, just realistic. The top 4 spot that would bring Champions League football back to Anfield was a dream for next season, and that was okay. If you’d told me then that I’d be sitting here now, sad that we didn’t win the league… well, sure, supporters of every team down to the ones that get relegated are sad that their teams didn’t win the league. But if you’d told me how close we came, I’d have never believed you. As I write this, I’ll admit I’m a bit teary-eyed that City (the team I predicted to win at the start of the season, mind) came out on top, but we’re in second. We’re back in the Champions League. We’re so far ahead of United you have to scroll down the league table to find them. I’m nothing if not very, very proud. It’s been a wild ride, and here are a few of the most memorable moments:

Liverpool 1 – 0 Stoke, 17 August 2013

The day before I left for Ireland, I got up at half-six on a Saturday morning and went to the pub with my father (dragging along my still-half-asleep mother and sister). There we were joined by about fifty other people, mostly my father’s age, mostly men, but some women, some young people, and nearly all wearing red. We said hello to the bartender, got our pints—yes, at seven in the morning—and sat down to watch the football. Liverpool v Stoke, at Anfield, the opening match of the 2013/14 season. Things got off to a good start, with Daniel Sturridge (more on him later) scoring a few minutes before halftime. It looked like we were on track for a win and the atmosphere in the Iron Abbey was upbeat. Then, in the 88th minute, when all we had to do was sit back and defend, Daniel Agger, my second favourite Dane after Hamlet, handled the ball in the box and the referee called for a penalty.

Here it is, I thought. Business as usual. Stoke will equalise and we’ll be on track for a season just like the ones we’ve had for the past few years; the ones that made me dread waking up on those early weekend mornings, hungover and watching Liverpool lose to Aston Villa. And then, and then. Simon Mignolet, our new keeper (whom I immediately liked even though I’ve always been a big fan of Pepe Reina), saved the penalty, and saved the win for Liverpool. At that moment I knew—I think we all knew—that this season was going to be something special.

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ynwa

What actually happened yesterday

Yesterday, Liverpool FC lost a big game, the FA Cup final, to Another Team. I watched it in a pub in Sevilla that had far too few fans in red and far too many fans of that other team. It wasn’t a good loss, either; LFC played well during the last 30 minutes but that wasn’t enough to save the results of the dire first 60. Then, as I was leaving for home, the stormclouds came and I walked home in the rain like every sad person cliché.

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