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How We Became Fans of Liverpool FC

Welcome to the new-look Liverpool Offside. Won’t you join us?

Liverpool v Havant & Waterlooville - FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

With SB Nation club sites getting a refresh today, we want to welcome you back to The Liverpool Offside. Everything is still here—just with a fresh coat of paint. To celebrate, across the network we’re sharing stories about how and why we became fans, supporters, obsessives, or whatever you care to call it. If you have a longer story to share, head to the FanPosts to write it down. Each FanPost will be entered in a draw to win a $500 Fanatics gift card, and we’re collecting stories here, featuring the best from across our network.

Here at TLO, at the start of each season, we’ve been in the habit of inviting new readers and long-time lurkers to say hello and tell us a bit about themselves. This year, to line up with the refresh and SBN’s network-wide celebration of fandom, we’re bumping that up a few months. To right now.

Whether you’re new here or have been hanging around for a while—quietly reading or actively taking part—won’t you join us in sharing a little about who you are and what made you a Liverpool fan? Or if you don’t feel like doing that, just stop by and say hello. After all, in the end, why and how are often interesting, but they don’t really matter. In the end, what matters is that you are, and that you’re here. And if you are and you’re here, then we hope you’ll stay to enjoy—or lament—the ups and downs of the coming summer transfer window and 2017-18 season with us.

As for us...

I always say it’s not worth talking about why or how; that they should matter less than am. But maybe it’s just that my why and how feels mundane and unremarkable. No capers or life-altering moments. No revelations. Just being Irish to one side, developing a fuller appreciation for football in Spain during the Rafa years, and the influence of personal politics. It wasn’t a choice. It so often isn’t, whoever you are and however you get to it. It simply was, or is, and then everything afterwards reinforces that non-choice. Early mornings and late nights; painful defeats and hard-fought victories; camaraderie and unexpected connections; history learned and, every now and then, witnessed.

This is going to get embarrassing. As a kid, I had a contentious relationship with the sport I knew as soccer. After two years playing, I disliked everything about it. Even as my younger sister played and fell in love, I kept hating, if only because it was a thing she liked (because I was that sibling). Fast forward to the 2010 World Cup. My sister’s love of the sport hadn’t wavered. She was devoted, and despite being five years younger, became my guide to the finer points—things I hadn’t picked up on as an annoyed seven-year-old. We bonded over it and watched matches together. The seeds had been planted and I knew if I wanted to get deeper I’d have to subject myself to some pain and pick an English team.

Thankfully, I had an internet friend who was raised a Liverpool fan. Watching as long as she could remember; had a poster of Steven Gerrard in her bedroom as a kid. She did the best—or worst—thing she could’ve. “If you want to keep up with it, maybe you could support my team...” she said one day. She linked me to a terrible live stream, and I don’t even remember who they were playing, just that it was all downhill from there. They felt like scrappy underdogs, that terrible year, but there was something. She told me about the history and what kind of a club they were and that was it for me. I may have missed the glory of Istanbul and some of the heartaches that came after, but I got to be in the thick of it for 13-14, when I started to go to a bar and find other fans and realize friends I already had were fans as well. And in so many ways, it made sense. I didn’t choose Liverpool, Liverpool chose me. Liverpool found me, and now I’m stuck with it.

It’s weird, because I don’t think I have a compelling origin story. I have stories for how I became a fan of my other English team and my German team. But my love for Liverpool is unremarkable. I wanted to get behind a Premier League team (because league football is more fun when you have a rooting interest), I knew I didn’t want it to be Manchester United, and I definitely didn’t want it to be Chelsea (My ex-fiance got me into English football in the first place and was a Chelsea fan. Dodged a bullet there). I read up on the history, read about Hillsborough, watched clips of Istanbul on YouTube, and took a shine to Steven Gerrard while watching him play for England. It seemed like a good fit.

And that’s fine, right? When people fall in love there isn’t always some epic story. Sometimes people just meet in a bar, maybe hook up, then go on a few more dates, and before you know it they’re getting married and having kids. Sometimes love is simple. Sometimes love is boring. That doesn’t make it any less real.

Most of my stories about Liverpool came after, in the course of being a fan. The emotional rollercoaster that was the 2013-14 season. Watching that disastrous Europa League Final last year from a hospital bed. Seeing them in person at Soldier Field in Chicago, beating Olympiacos 1-0. And I think this is for the best. Love isn’t about how you met. It’s about everything that happened after.

My grandfather introduced me to most sports I’ve ever learnt to love. I watched football with him and it was the only sport we watched without loyalties—until suddenly it wasn’t. I don’t really remember how it began, just that it did, and that’s more or less my story. I was wearing my Liverpool cap to school by the time I was six, and while I’ve had my ups and downs as a supporter, I’ve never stopped loving my team.

In 2010, after getting sucked into the world of international soccer by the World Cup, I wanted an English team to support. With nothing much to go on but having read Fever Pitch, I decided to give Arsenal a try. So the first game of the season, I tuned in to watch them play against, you guessed it, Liverpool. It wasn’t one for the highlight reel. If you don’t remember, Liverpool took the lead early, only to lose Joe Cole (ha!) to a straight red shortly after, and they spent the next 80-odd minutes desperately trying to hang on. I found myself shifting from wanting Arsenal to win to wanting Liverpool to pull it off. In the dying minutes, Pepe Reina made a terrible mistake that leaked a goal and tied the game, but by then, I had made up my mind and somehow, some way, had fallen in love with Liverpool. If nothing else, I feel confident in saying that I’m one of the only people alive who chose the Reds because of that terrible performance.

TL;DR: I am apparently a masochist, but at least it turned out ok this one time.

I don’t have much in the way of history. Rafa Benitez was never my manager. I’m mostly familiar with Gerald Houllier from Aston Villa. Steven Gerrard’s superpowers were on the wane by the time I stepped into Merseyside red. But, I’m okay with that. Because I’ve got passion. I have a shirt. And I have a mug that my wife painted the liver bird onto. Passion.

I followed The Netherlands through the 2010 World Cup. Always liked the orange kit, if I’m honest. But they were good and I’ve got a little Dutch in me, so I got on board. And then I met someone. His name was Dirk Kuyt and I had no idea how to pronounce his name. Commentators are strikingly bad at such things. But Dirk was my gateway. At the end of the tournament I followed him home.

The one United fan I knew at the time could not fathom a world where anybody would choose to support his bitter rivals. “If it’s because of Gerrard, I can see the attraction but...” Well, I didn’t love Gerrard. I loved Dirk Kuyt. And I thought the United guy was dumb for making the face he did when I told him so. And his favorite player was Berbatov! Can you imagine?

Manc hate.

I grew up on a tiny, humid, rainy, island metropolis in Southeast Asia. My grandfather, to whom I was close, spoke very little English, but perhaps in part because we used to be a British colony, he loved watching what was then the First Division. In particular, he loved watching Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool, with their crap haircuts and too short shorts.

He eagerly told me what I could expect to see from his favorite players: the mustachioed Ian Rush (with whom I shared a birthday), Rush’s almost-doppelgänger John Aldridge, tough guy Steve McMahon, and, of course, the incomparable John Barnes—first among equals in my grandfather’s book. He hated Manchester United, not because of any regional rivalry (which would not have made any sense to us, on the other side of the planet), but mainly because he felt that Sir Alex’s incessant gum-chewing was “disrespectful.”

In 1989, shortly before leaving that island for a long, long, time, my grandfather sat down to watch a Liverpool FA Cup match together. It was late in the evening, thanks to the time difference, but there was no shortage of excitement. Led by Brian Clough, Nottingham Forest were, in those days, not exactly lightweights, and we expected a good match. Instead, we saw tragedy unfold. Not fully comprehending what was happening on the broadcast, but sensing that something had gone terribly wrong, we switched the TV off. I think you all know what followed.

Just a few weeks after that horrible day, Liverpool were in the FA Cup final facing Everton. At the time, I don’t think I realized how odd it was to be playing football in those circumstances, but I knew it was going to be something special, so I had popped a blank cassette into the old VCR to record the proceedings. It was, indeed, special. To this day, I can just about recite verbatim the commentary for each of the goals,including Stuart McCall’s two equalizers and Rush’s clincher. How could I not continue to be a Liverpool supporter after all that?

Now it’s your turn. Say hello, tell us a bit about who you are, and join us on TLO ahead of a busy offseason as we prepare for a return to the Champions League in 2017-18. Feel free to answer any or all of the questions just below here in the comments and to talk about your hows and whys to whatever degree you’re comfortable, and if you do have a longer story to share, head to the FanPosts and share it—though if you’re doing it to get in on the Fanatics contest, please read the official rules*, as unfortunately the draw will not be open to all our readers.

Name / Age / Location
Twitter/Facebook/etc. handle
How long have you been a Liverpool fan?
What’s your favourite Liverpool memory?
Anything else you’d like to share?

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. SB Nation Why Are You a Fan Reader Sweepstakes starts on 8:00am ET on May 25, 2017 and ends at 11:59pm ET on June 8, 2017. Open only to eligible legal residents of the United States, 18 years or older. Click here for Official Rules and complete details, including entry instructions, odds of winning, alternative method of entry, prize details and restrictions, etc. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Sponsor: Vox Media, Inc.

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