“They wore red and the uniforms were made by Reebok.”
By: Richard Bauer
I was a teenage soccer fan living on the west coast of the United States in the mid 90’s. I played soccer in cleats on a field for my high school Varsity team. If my language sounds like a perversion of the preferred Eurocentric synonyms, I apologize.
I did not know that I was wearing boots on a pitch for my local club team. All of this is to provide proper context as to why my opening statement is valid.
Liverpool football club were a blip on my life radar 25 years ago. The amount of access was limited to mid-week 1-hour highlight shows shown on SportsChannel America. The show was titled “English Soccer”.
When I started Supporting
Vague and basic. Beyond a color and a shirt manufacturer, I do remember 2 players from that era whose highlights filled my memory banks. Robbie Fowler and Tony Yeboah. Those two were born highlight machines.Embed from Getty Images
Of course, the Yeboah volley against Liverpool only reinforced my visual attraction to the club. So, I picked. Without any further research. Without learning the regular starting 11. I simply became a Liverpool fan.
My fandom admittedly was full of fits and starts through the next 20 years. Some of that could be attributed to access to live broadcasting of games. I did not always have the specific channel from the right cable TV provider that had the English Premier League TV rights in the United States.
I was aware enough about major European club competitions and the World Cup competitions every 4 years. The club and the sport simply were not a weekly appointment viewing for me back then. I also only had one close friend, a Manchester United supporter, that was even around to discuss our collective fandom.Embed from Getty Images
The greatest example I can provide to show were my support and fandom levels were based is the 2005 Champions League Final. I watched that game at home with my Dad. The first half anyways. I turned the channel at halftime. Just long enough to have missed all 3 goals that Liverpool scored in the second half to equalize against the then mighty AC Milan. I was aware and supportive but not committed. Not yet.
Going All In
The real turning point was the 2013/14 EPL season. It was a switch that flipped for me. I needed to absorb all the content. To watch every game Liverpool played. To know every single player. A perfect season to go all in as it turned out.
The season may have ended in a disappointing fashion, but it served as the spark that is my current form. The next season I found the Sacramento Local Supporters Club on Facebook. They were not officially licensed back then, but they had a local pub and a big screen TV. The pub even offered donuts and coffee for those early morning wake up calls.
The 2016 Europa League final. The first leg of the 2018 Champions League semifinal against Roma. Back to back years in the Champions League final in 2018 and 2019. All watched in that backroom with an Irish coffee and fellow like minded supporters.
The new greatest example of my new support and fandom was the second leg of the 2018 Champions League semifinal against Roma. In Cancun, Mexico I was at a resort surrounded by several non-English speaking resort employees.
Ignoring the large foam party that was taking place 100 feet away, I got drunk and hugged my new friends after the victory. I jumped into a foam-covered pool with all my clothes on immediately after the final whistle. I was now fully aware, completely supportive, and absolutely committed to my life as a Liverpool fan.
The extension of the modern world and the internet has brought me to my present-day form. I have friends and contacts the world over that are in my life based on a singular connection. We all root for Liverpool Football Club.
The Unconventional Path to Fandom
How I started as a fan was unconventional for sure. My knowledge of the vast history is only based on research done years after the fact.
I know that I hate Federico Macheda and Demba Ba, I know that I have never seen another beach ball goal in my life. I know Justice for the 96 and I know the Gerrard camera kiss. And, I definitely know that the Mo Salah era has been the most beautiful time to be a Liverpool supporter.
I was not born there, and I may never be able to visit the hallowed grounds of Anfield. My name is engraved on a slab of concrete that is on a walkway outside Anfield created for fans to be apart of the legacy of Liverpool.
The brick is numbered 01703 and it has my name and my online pseudonym. In this moment I can only say thank you. To Mark. Coco. Tito and Brett. Cisco and Tarrah and Jon. East Coast Keith. De Vere’s Irish Pub. I may be a quiet supporter, but all these memories will live on. With a smile. Because I never walked alone. And, because I liked red and Reebok.