I won’t be one of the privileged 55,000 to walk through the turnstiles at Anfield today. The vast majority of Liverpool fans will not be, either.
Regardless, whether you’re watching the match from inside the hallowed ground, in a crowded bar, or at home, the sense of community is an integral part of the matchday experience for players and fans alike.
I don’t typically sing along to “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at home, but I still feel connected to something bigger when I hear it through my TV screen. I’ve missed that sense of community, even at a distance.
COVID has taken so much from us in the last year and a half, and while football isn’t important in a life or death context, it is still important to us as fans. And football without fans is a different and much worse game.
Although I will not be at Anfield today, I was one of the privileged 8,500 to watch FC Midtjylland at home last night. It was my first in-person match in front of a crowd since December 2019, and it really drove home how special the experience is.
I was sat directly next to the very vocal traveling supporters from nearby Silkeborg, and it was glorious. Hearing their songs and chants, even those directed at us, just added to the atmosphere and tension of the experience. Hearing the fans boo (or cheer) each foul, card, tackle, and goal added layers and flavors to the event, which just cannot be replicated.
Football without fans is truly nothing.
After a year of watching behind-closed-doors matches, it took a match-winning Alisson headed goal to make me care in the jump-out-of-my-seat-in-pure-elation, tears-in-my-eyes, way of caring about football that I had sorely missed. That way of caring about football I had taken for granted for too long.
Since the start of this season, I’ve started caring in that way again, regularly, without once-in-a-lifetime goalkeeper heroics. Supporting my local club, with thousands of other supporters, really drove that home.
It’s the first home match of the season.
We have dreams and songs to sing.
Into these, lads.