There is an elephant in the room for many common and garden match-going Liverpool supporters.
Where is your ‘line in the sand’ when it comes to following the Reds in a physical and on a geographical basis? How do you envisage life after Anfield?
Bill Shankly hated the word ‘retirement’. It sounds so, well, so final doesn’t it? I’m with Bill.
Shankly described handing in his resignation as Liverpool manager as akin to walking to the electric chair. I think it will be the way I feel the day I let the season ticket renewal date go by without responding to the ticket office.
That day will eventually come, but I’m not looking forward to it.
A lot of people I know mark the dawning of a new season with the proclamation that “this might be the last season for me”. A lot of people I know that proclaim this are still coming to Anfield, still travelling to the occasional away, still bob to the surface asking about the off-chance that there might be any spares floating around when trips to Goodison and Old Trafford leer into view.
The theory of letting go is loud and clear for me and many of my match-going circle of friends and family. One of my very best friends stated many years ago that he would be out as soon as tickets hit the £25 barrier. He’s yet to carry that threat through. Theory is one thing, but seeing out the practical side of it is an entirely different matter.
Don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of people that have drifted away from going to the match. I just don’t know any that can, hand on heart, say they’re happier for it. More affluent maybe, but it doesn’t seem to me that money saved can buy you love.
There are many reasons to stop going to the game. For some people it really is as black and white as the affordability of it. If Liverpool play three times in eight days and you want to be in attendance for each one of those games, then that will set some people back their entire weekly income, if not more. I know of people that are in heavy debt due to their inability to let go of what is after all; the habit of a lifetime.
For others the cost of going to the game is a handy excuse to stop. In reality it might be pressure from your other half to spend more time with them and the kids. It might be work that gets in the way. It might be that your passion for the club, for the game in general recedes to an extent. Maybe you just can’t be arsed making the effort anymore.
None of the above is a crime.
I can’t remember where it was now, but I read an article the other day which illuminated the idea of transplanting your support to another football club. A Non-League football club and that somehow this new love elicited a passion that now eclipsed the heights of even being in Istanbul a decade ago.
Now that does feel like a bit of a crime to me.
This is not meant in a ‘Bah Humbug’ sort of way. There is not one ounce of glory-hunting involved in cashing in Liverpool FC for an AFC Liverpool, or a Bootle FC, or a Marine AFC. I completely admire the concept of clicking through a Non-League turnstile for a football fix when Anfield is unattainable. It is something I have done myself. There is an unmistakable feel good factor to paying on the gate and contributing some much needed money to a football club that appreciates it. If you’re at a loose end on an international weekend, or if Liverpool aren’t on until Sunday or Monday, then go and do it. You’ll not regret it.
When you love watching football in person, stood or sat there with all angles of the pitch available to your eyes, then football on TV can never hit the spot for you. It is unfulfilling. It is frustrating. You maybe get to see 30% of the game taking place if you’re lucky.
Life after Anfield for me will still involve some sort of regular match-going experience. There is a high chance that match-going experience will be embraced at Non-League levels. I just won’t be transplanting my support to another football club though. I will enjoy the games I go to see, I will applaud in all the right places, I will ‘ooooh’ at near-misses and mistimed tackles, but I won’t be supporting either team. I’ll probably be a ground hopper, one of those that draws a 10 to 15 mile radius and finds a cheap game to go to. Beyond that it will be a cheap Easyjet flight to a club game in a former Eastern-Bloc nation once or twice a season.
If I ever find myself in a position to be able to help a Non-League football club survive and prosper, then I will gladly do it, but the idea of a person being able to transplant their passion from one club to another doesn’t compute for me. How do you just extinguish the light that burns brightly for one club and light a new one elsewhere?
Liverpool FC is within my DNA and there it will stay until my dying day. It is non-transferable. I ‘am a football fan in general, but I’m a Liverpool supporter via natural selection. Yes, the Liverpool FC of today is very, very different to the Liverpool FC I became hooked to from that first game I was dragged to as a 3 year old back in late 1977.
I look at the Liverpool of today and sometimes wonder if I’d fall for them the way I did the 1977 version. Not because of the paucity of trophies, or us moving from the haves to the have-nots, but because the game isn’t the same one I embraced. Much has changed, as much as it has for the better as it has for the worse.
For me and my generation however we are the pivot, we are the point of time where football’s bellybutton goes from ‘inny’ to ‘outy’. In 1988 I had a paper-round and the money I earned from it covered the admission price to Anfield, with plenty of loose change to spare. Today you can’t afford to go to Anfield on a regular basis if you’re on the minimum wage and have to pay the bills too. It is inaccessible for too many people, while my generation, the generation that first arrived at the turnstile wide-eyed and during an era of cheap and easy access to see the greatest team the world had ever seen. Well we cling on to what the game was, what the club was rather than what it now is.
Current day Liverpool FC are like a much loved family member that has unfortunately grown to become a bit of a dickhead on the sly. When push comes to shove however blood is thicker than water and despite some of the more unedifying add-ons it now sports, Liverpool FC is much closer to blood than it is water for me. True passion can only be generated by your soul-mate and it can’t be transplanted somewhere else.