The natural state of a football fan is bitter disappointment, no matter what the score.
— Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch
He's not wrong. It seems to especially be the case this season for Liverpool fans, where there is a palpable inability on the part of many to feel genuine happiness about the current state of affairs. There is, no doubt, lots to be improved as the season wears on, but there's a pervading sense that if we can find a way to be miserable about being joint top of the table well, then, by Fowler we will.
I frequently think about what attitudes shape my Liverpool fandom, and more often than not I want those to be positive attitudes (no disrespect intended to Mr Hornby). My fellow Canadians and I celebrated Thanksgiving this past Monday, and having finally emerged from the usual turkey coma four days later, I've been contemplating those things about the club that I am thankful for, things that remain true regardless of where we are in the table or what our form is like.
I am thankful for the triad of players — Steven Gerrard, Daniel Agger, Lucas Leiva — who possess a love and loyalty towards their club that is usually dismissed as something that can't possibly exist in so-called modern football. Everyone is loyal until suddenly they're not, but between the three of them they represent different facets of what it can mean to be loyal to the club. Having players of this quality — and I'm not talking about on-pitch form — is a huge benefit to a club that puts so much importance on youth development, on and off the pitch. When it comes to modelling behaviour and character development, the club's youth could hardly do better.
I am thankful for the way "family" is much more than just verbal shorthand during routine player and manager interviews. It delights me to no end when players are friends off-pitch, but even more so when there seems to be a very active welcoming committee that envelopes new recruits and helps them acclimate that much more quickly. So many players in the current squad seem to genuinely like one another beyond the average co-worker friendliness, and those bonds can only strengthen the team on the pitch as well.
I am thankful for a place we can go and join forces with 45,000 other Liverpool fans, especially for those of us living outside the UK and who rarely get to spend time with more than a handful of fans at a time. Feelings of appreciation towards architecture are usually reserved for more stunning feats of engineering, but like many things about Liverpool Football Club, Anfield is far greater than the sum of its parts. I've had the pleasure of taking three fellow Reds to Anfield for their first visits, and each time it's like reliving my own first visit comprised mostly of omgicantbelieveimreallyhereomg. It's a pilgrimage of the very best sort.
The City of Liverpool
I am thankful for a home away from home. It's a bit of a cheat to include this, given that there is so much more to the city than just the red half of Merseyside, but the fact of the matter is that no foreign city has ever made me feel more at home than I do on the rare occasions I get to go to Liverpool. Stepping off the train now comes with a feeling of utter relief to be back, and my eventual and unavoidable departure comes with an immediate yearning to figure out when I can next find my way back.
This is, of course, just the tip of the iceberg. I'm thankful for all sorts of other random things — Anfield announcer George Sephton, the ladies at the Hillsborough Justice Campaign shop, Kolo Toure in general, Lucas' upbeat attitude, Phil's now shorn mop of curly hair, Jordan Henderson's tireless engine, the club's use of its history to inform its future, Daniel Agger's bluntness — but they would make for a very, very long post. Instead, I'll ask what are you thankful for when it comes to Liverpool FC?