Week 7: Hero – Liverpool FC Fans

by Ray_North on February 16, 2016

hero_iconThis weeks heroes are the Liverpool Fans.

By Liverpool Fans, I mean proper fans, I do not mean customers of Anfield Road, Liverpool, I do not mean the eaters of prawn sandwiches or those who leave early and spend a third of the match in hospitality; no I mean those who really care – because that is what a proper fan is: the type of person who wakes up and worries about Jordan Henderson’s heel or Daniel Sturbridge’s… er, well, insert any part of his anatomy really.

They are the people who, more often than not, had the club forced upon them at an early age; the people who can remember their first game and the line-up of the team that won the European Cup in Rome in 1977. Often they walk to the ground or get the bus. They sing. They have the piss taken out of them if their team loses on a Monday morning back at work.

Come on, some will say, stop seeing football through sepia glasses – and yes, I have nothing against other types of fans, I tolerate those who fly in from Indonesia or China and spend a King’s ransom in the Club shop and leave with more selfies than a teenage girl, I appreciate that there are those who are desperately committed, but rarely get a chance to sit on the Kop or the Annie Road, indeed, I’ve not been myself this season, and there was never a time when I walked to the ground, but I would never count my fandom as heroic.

Football is eating itself. The money in the game is taking it away from its earthy masculine roots and turning into something that is solely entertainment. And, ok, everyone likes to be entertained, but, you don’t lose sleep about entertainment, you don’t argue about entertainment in the pub as though it is the only thing that matters – you don’t call for the head of the artistic director of the Globe Theatre because his last Lear was shite. Football is more than entertainment and much much more than a business aimed at making money.

Liverpool FC is unique. I remember going there as a 7 year old and being enveloped in this overwhelming atmosphere of passion, pure, earthy, masculine, tribal, visceral. And there is a reason for that – and that is the fans, the real fans I described earlier. They are the carriers of stories, the singers of songs, they are the keepers of the spirit, they remember what it is all really about and why it matters.

They are becoming an endangered species.

At Anfield, ticket prices continue to rise. They do so because of economics, because the owners know that the demand is such that they can hike up the price of a ticket and the seats will still be filled. But, what they don’t understand is that the seats will not be filled with proper fans (I use the word without hesitation), but instead by those who see football as another enjoyable way of spending their money. The Liverpool fans understand this, they understand that if you take the football away from local people, proper fans, then the club will become little more than a franchise, a commodity without meaning.

They organised themselves and during the home game against Sunderland last week, despite the fact that the reds were two nil up and putting on a decent show, they walked out en masse on the 77th minute (77 being chosen to denote the cost of the most expensive ticket proposed by the Liverpool owners FSG). The result was Anfield was suddenly transformed from a gladiatorial arena into semi-deserted soulless old theatre, in short, without the fans, the football and indeed the club didn’t matter.

To the credit of the club owners FSG, they decided quickly to change their ticket policy and ditch some of the price hikes.

But, although we salute their foresight and humility, it is the intelligence, wit and stubbornness of the LFC fans that get our award for heroes of the week. They’ll never walk alone.

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