We’ve all got a story to tell, don’t we? Sometimes, as Liverpool fans, that feels like it’s more true for us than any fan of any other team. It’s probably not actually true, of course, because you can’t quantify the unquantifiable, the mythical, the divine, but sometimes if does feel as if there’s something special that happens when you find out someone else supports this club, isn’t there? Because it’s not just a catchy slogan: this, Liverpool, means more.
More is such a funny word. It invokes curiosity, as if there’s a question following it around asking, “More... what, exactly?” Look it up in a dictionary and you’ll get some synonyms about more meaning greater or additional or further. To a greater of higher degree. Which I guess means the answer to that question is always, just, well, more is more. So, let’s get into it a little more.
If you’re like me, you probably have a few friends who unfortunately support other football clubs than Liverpool. At the very least, you’ve probably been online long enough to read the takes from those who are critical of Liverpool’s success so far this season; maybe even suggesting that there’s no difference between what Liverpool have achieved this season and, say, what Manchester United have done.
You’ve probably also been inundated with relentless takes from people online or in person trying to diminish what you decide to find enjoyable. I’m here to tell you that none of that matters. All of this and how you feel about it doesn’t get to be defined by anyone on the outside of it. It doesn’t have to make sense to anybody else. It only matters to you, me, and all the other glorious Liverpool supporting Reds. Because, remember, this means more.
This means more because we all have our story to tell. My story here in 2003 or 2004. I’m not sure I can quite remember which, but in Southern California in any case. I fell in love with Liverpool because my cable package finally got Fox Sports World and Fox Soccer. It was a good time to fall in love with the Reds. I remember rushing home from school to watch the 2005 Champions League Final and my mom being very confused as to why I now wanted to watch this “soccer” thing all the time.
I remember my art teacher in 2007 letting me and my friend David watch a sketchy stream of that final in her classroom. These were my earliest memories of being a fan of a team on the other side of the world, in a place I had never been. These were my earliest memories of not quite being able to explain to the people in my life why this thing meant what it meant to me. Even back then I had friends and teammates and school buddies who would ask me, “Why Liverpool?”
Some of the darkest times in my life coincided with some really dire years for the club. On February 20th, 2010, my mom passed away from a heart attack. I was 18 years old at the time, and I had no idea what to do. For a few years at that point, I had been connected with someone in Liverpool and we’d talk about about the games and how shit the team was (and by the way, Rob if you’re reading this, I’d love to reconnect at some point).
This friend in some way worked with the club and was able to put together a gift package, some signed memorabilia and well wishes from the club. It was a small gesture, probably long forgotten by everyone involved by this point, but one that gave me so much hope during a hopeless time.
It was a moment that made me feel, really, truly feel, that You’ll Never Walk Alone wasn’t just a catchy marketing ploy. It was and is The Liverpool Way. The following weeks, months, and even years of my life were difficult for me as I adjusted to a new phase of it, but no matter what else changed, there was always Liverpool Football Club, and even if I didn’t get to watch many of the matches live during that time of my life, my conversations on message boards and with people online helped me. Liverpool, just the idea of it even, was my much needed port in a storm. It meant more then. It means more now.
I don’t share this story with you in search of sympathy or with hopes of eliciting any sort of a reaction. There’s no neat hook at this point in the story that ties everything together with a Hollywood ending, really. We are finite. We are in this moment. You and I. Us and we and all the many things we share or might someday share with people around the globe that we will almost certainly never meet.
I share this story with you to tell you why this club means so much more to me, in the same way it maybe means more to you. It can’t be quantified, nor can it be understood by those on the outside looking in. Whether or not you’ve been a season ticket holder since the 70s or became a fan last month, you’re here because this means something to you. You’re here because we are Liverpool and tra la la la la.
And you’re here, perhaps, because there’s a final happening on Saturday. The final act of a season of great joys and disappointments; a season of paradox. The last time this group of lads will kick a ball this season. On Saturday, they will decide how it all ends, and then it will fall to the rest of us to define and to remember what we’ve watched—on Saturday and every matchday that came before. It’s you, and it’s the team, and it’s us.
On the pitch, this season has been an unprecedented journey, one unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I can’t explain it, and yet here I am foolishly and failingly trying to do just that. I’ve spent most of my life living 4,000 miles away from this club. I’ve spent most of my life trying to explain to people why it means so much to me. And now, here, this is the end of the ride. At least for one more season.
On Saturday, it finishes one of two ways. I have no idea what’s going to happen. I suppose it’s safe to say that the players will play and the fans will watch and some, those lucky few, will be in Madrid to sing and to cheer. One team will lift a trophy at the end of it. I think, I hope, and want it to be Liverpool, but even if it isn’t, this team and this club and this season won’t mean anything less to me. Whatever happens, know that this really does mean more.