I have an admission to make - I miss watching Liverpool play. Shocking, I know. During the pandemic, I’ve watched a few games from Liverpool’s recent history over the past two months. It was nice. It was fun. It was a nice distraction. But it was...lacking. It was just me watching a game, it wasn’t the same without everyone else tuning in with baited breath to see the exploits of their beloved Liverpool.
This past Thursday, I took the day off from work. I’ve been getting burnt out from too much time on video conferences, and not having separation from work and home, coupled with the lack of outlets for social interaction, has been wearing me down. I was also supposed to be on vacation all week, taking some time with my wife to explore a couple National Parks in Utah, so I was also feeling a little sorry for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m extremely lucky to still have a job with full pay and benefits (such as they are), but I just needed a couple days away from “the bad screen” as a certain TLO writer puts it (thanks Mark).
So, I took the day off. Instead of hiking and exploring the vistas of Zion National Park, I planted peppers, tomatoes and basil. Instead of wading through The Narrows, I waded through bags of mulch. It was nice to do something in the beautiful weather, but it wasn’t fun, per se. So when I finished being productive, I grabbed a beer and plopped myself in front of the computer to watch the THAT Liverpool game, the second leg versus Barcelona at Anfield.
When Liverpool hosted Barcelona in the Champions League semifinal last year, I was traveling for work. The game kicked off while I was driving up Route 1 in Maine with a co-worker for a training we would be delivering the next day. As we pulled up to the building, I checked my phone and it was 1-0. It was a kernel of hope as we set about getting the room set up. I checked my phone as discretely as I could from time to time. The next thing I know, it’s 3-0. My eyes went wide as I stifled a yelp, hoping upon hope that the Reds could hold on. Set up finished up, and I raced back to the hotel to turn the game on. The screen flickered to life as Liverpool earned a corner. Taken quickly. ORIGIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!
It was a dream. It was a perfect moment, and I was lucky enough to witness it. I had just pulled up twitter, and was able to see real time the minds of millions explode. It was magnificent. The rest of the game was a wonderful shared experience, viewing history with friends around the world. I cried with so many others as the squad sang You’ll Never Walk Alone in front of the Kop. It was a feeling that is etched in my memory.
On Thursday, as I pulled up the stream, I figured it would be nice to follow along with a few other people on twitter. To share the experience with a few friends. That is, after all, what sports are about. The tweets started rolling in. It seemed like everyone I knew was also watching. It was finally able to experience one of the best games in Liverpool history with everyone else. And it was everything I hoped it could be and more.
Divock Origi was on one. Jordan Henderson was the definition of determination. Trent Alexander-Arnold was pinging the ball all over the field. Sadio Mané was everywhere. Alisson Becker walled off the Liverpool goal. And Georginio Wijnaldum came in and changed the game. This time, I got to experience each and every moment with everyone else.
That connection, that shared experience, meant everything to me in that moment. I knew I missed watching Liverpool play, but I forgot just how much it meant to be a part of something with so many other people. I miss watching Liverpool play, but I miss watching my beloved Reds along with all of you most of all.
We will get there. We will hear the voices from the Kop ring out around Anfield again. We will see the Reds rule the roost. Jurgen Klopp has built this team to compete for a sustained period of time. We will all meet again, whether in person or online, to sing and cheer, to hold our breath and gnash our teeth (damn you VAR). We will experience the joy of being fans again together, whenever that will be.