Stumbling on

I have supported Liverpool since the age of 11 or 12. In Ireland, at least when I was growing up everyone supported either Liverpool or Man United. So a premier league ‘derby’ in Ireland was Liverpool VS United. Many of my school chums back then initially supported Liverpool but then as the balance of power shifted towards Manchester there was a slew of transfers in that direction!

I kept the faith though, I suffered for a lot of years and in many cases on my own. I did my part with regards recruitment – I signed my brother Gerald and sister Betty (whom I don’t even think liked football) to the cause, I think I also converted my cousins in West Cork, or at least had a positive influence on them. My youngest brother Liam was allowed support United as I thought it was healthy to have a little rivalry in the house and I think I felt like I had done my bit. Liam lost interest anyway but I’m still a fan, though my interest has waned at times.

I remember listening to the crackle of 5 live and Alan Green on my dads radio with Gerald (my brother), often in the middle of winter. We couldn’t hear a thing and the noise always seemed to got worse when the action happened – ‘Gerrard…great pass..to Michael Owen..now…..tackled by Hen..Beckham….Robbie Fow….’ and then an explosion of crackly noise! You knew something had happened of significance but you weren’t always sure what it was, but it was the worst kind of torture because you were never sure which team had struck the mortal wound to the other! These are nice memories to have looking back really and I do value them but I think, still we did suffer for our team!

I also remember being told to grow up by mum when Man United beat them in the FA cup final – she could never understand my sorrow. I was 11 or 12 but it was the last time I cried about football because I think I soon after realized it was only a game. That is kind of my attitude to this day – I love to see them do well but I don’t get too upset when they lose.

And I learned from one of the best supporters of anything in my dad. His sport is Ireland’s own indigenous hurling. It is a great sport and I think soccer could learn a thing or two from it. It is full of passion, love of the game, but also loyalty. I digress slightly but my dad loves hurling probably more than he loves me and he definitely loves Waterford more than he loves any one thing in the world. It really affects his mood though and the Monday after Waterford have been knocked out of the championship is the end of the word – for everyone. I don’t think it is worth that anymore.

So I learned from watching him but I also learned from my own experiences. I remember going to Anfield for the first time with another massive Liverpool fan – my friend Anil. We came over from Ireland assured our tickets were in place but when we arrived it seemed like something had gone awry at the ticket office and our entry was in doubt – I couldn’t believe it after coming all the way over – I think if I didn’t get in that day it would have ended my ties with the club as the taste would have been too bitter!

We got in at the last as the confusion was cleared up – it was really only on Anils clear head and thinking though. Once we got inside we headed straight to the sidelines to get as close to the players warming up as we could and there they were, all the lads; Stevie, Pepe, Crouchie. I felt like waving at them as I new them so well. It is the strangest kind of feeling but then you realize and remember that they don’t know you at all. I thought there was an unhealthy unbalance in this relationship and I think it sunk home then a bit. One way relationships are never good.

None the less I really enjoyed the experience and was happily able to return the following year with my brother and I think my support levels recovered a bit. It was the era of Rafa Benitez and Liverpool were really good – they got to two champions league finals, winning one and became the top ranked team in all of Europe at one stage. I got carried away – we all did and I remember not getting too excited by them winning the FA cup. It seemed like a matter of time before thy won the league and ended the wait. Then it all fell apart.

Xabi Alonso left for Real Madrid. To be honest I think his loss was as much psychological as anything else as he grew in reputation as a player with every day away from Liverpool. I blame the fans – they lost faith in Rafa and the team. Things went down hill quickly, Roy Hodgson was brought in and to be fair he never stood a chance. He got a few months but everything had got so negative it would have been hard for anyone.

King Kenny was brought in to save the day and results picked up for a while but it didn’t last and the final nail in the coffin was hammered when Fernando Torres left. I’ll not talk about Fernando as his story is a sad story and every one knows it. That was the worse moment for me as Liverpool supporter – it was et tu ‘El Ninio’. You are leaving too. A part of Stevie G died that day and apart of the Liverpool in me died too. I don’t know if I will ever get that back.

I felt like I have been through a great many highs and lows as a Liverpool fan but I think I will always support the team. I think though at times Liverpool (and other clubs doubtlessly) take supporters for granted and should give more back. I live in London these days and try to go see them once or twice a year. You need to pay for a membership before you any real chance of getting tickets though and basic membership is around 26 pounds. I got a membership for both my brother and I this year and made the mistake of telling him that I was gonna get tickets for both of us an Xmas present.

I was gutted when I logged in on sale day to find all tickets had gone! I was disappointed to have to tell my brother that I had failed in getting the tickets but I was a little angry and disappointed with Liverpool Football club too. I wrote to them asking if I could transfer my membership to next year as I had little need for the membership this year. Despite persistence I was repeatedly told what felt like ‘computer says no’. I was angry because I felt that Liverpool were using my loyalty towards them against me, assuming that I would sign up again next year regardless. I guess they think, what is he going to do, support Man United? – ha ha ha. I wouldn’t do that of course!

I think if football clubs are to continue to do well they need to support the fans back. There ticketing policy doesn’t seem wholly fair and I think it needs a review. I have invested a great deal of time, money and emotion in watching and supporting my team over the many years and I think I should be seen as more than just a customer. I don’t expect Stevie to come over or wave at me when I go to a game but I expect a little bit more back from Liverpool in situations like this where I have spent my hard earned money and to no avail.