For most of today, I was really dreading writing my story for tonight. I was up much too late last night watching results pour in from the Georgia Senate run-offs. Then, I woke up and immediately turned the TV on to continue following the results and eventually watch the chaos of the counting of electoral college votes by the United States Congress.
By lunchtime, I knew it would be difficult to write about a football club across the ocean after spending 24 hours stressing about the political situation in Washington DC. I had no idea how difficult it would become as I watched the chaos turn into something that felt more like a nightmare than reality.
Watching everything that happened today, my mind kept wandering to thoughts about how I could possibly write about Liverpool FC tonight. It was just another small stress on top of the mountain of stress created by the events of the last 24 hours. Then, I went upstairs for dinner and saw an unexpected DHL package sitting on the table.
I opened the package and out spilled a Red Nike jersey with “FIRMINO” on the back that I had certainly not ordered. When I looked at the packaging and saw who it came from, I immediately knew what I would write about tonight.
As I was opening the package, I had entirely forgotten that someone I know only through online interaction, someone who I have never met in person, had asked for my shirt size and address (and told me I couldn’t ask why) on Christmas Eve.
I won’t name him because he doesn’t know I’m telling this story, and I’m not sure if he would want to be name-dropped, but he generously gifted me a Bobby jersey, unprompted, and it meant more to me at that moment than he will ever know. He gave me a reason to smile and remember how awesome people can be on a day when we saw so clearly how vile people can be.
It was an extremely heart-lifting experience, and it made me reflect on how special The Liverpool Offside, and the large community of people on a variety of platforms that has been created in large part thanks to TLO, really is. I have met so many wonderful people and made so many friends because of this community, and I’m damn sure not the only one that can say that.
I have seen people in this community do so many incredible things with and for each other. I’ve seen my LFC supporting friends leading efforts to raise money for worthy causes, crowdfunding to help each other in times of need, and supporting each other with words of kindness and hope when they are needed most.
I’ve seen friends pitch in to buy AJ Joven a Daniel Sturridge jersey when he expressed regret at never having done so himself. I’ve seen Gabe pay tribute to a member of this community upon learning of his passing (YNWA Garp’s Brother) and many of you make donations to Alder Hey in his memory.
Christmas cards, birthday gifts, important life announcements, etc etc etc. The list goes on and on. This community shares so much more than simply supporting the same football club. The words “You’ll Never Walk Alone” are so perfectly embodied by the way this community interacts.
I’ve seen so many friendships blossom, shared so many virtual laughs and tears with so many of you, and even met a few of you in person. There is something truly special about the people of TLO and the way they support each other through the good times and the bad.
You’ve given me perspective when I’ve needed it, advice when I’ve asked for it, and a sense of belonging I’ve rarely felt at any other point in my life. You all mean the world to me, and I am so incredibly thankful to be a part of this group of amazing people.
So often over the years, the people of this community have brought me up when I’ve been down and given me reason to see the good in others when it is so much easier to see the bad. Tonight was the latest, and perhaps most personally touching, in a long line of examples.
To my extremely generous friend, to Noel and everyone else who has worked so hard to make The Liverpool Offside such an inclusive, tight-knit community, and to all of you, thank you. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
You’ll Never Walk Alone