At a club as big as Liverpool, fans are bound to come from places all around the world. Tickets become harder to acquire and more expensive. The team leaves for places like China or America during preseason tours, signing autographs for fans, visiting the sights, and making players available to all kinds of media. So if you are on your way to Anfield this autumn, before you gaze angrily at the two guys going through the turnstiles with American accents, understand that there are two types of day trippers coming to watch Liverpool play and they should not be treated the same.
Meet Tom. Tom is a business man from Dallas, Texas. His company is sending him to Liverpool to negotiate an acquisition of a local Liverpool company that will be merged with his Dallas company. Tom flew in on Friday night and hit the hotel bar. After overhearing a few men talking about the big Manchester united and Liverpool football game the next day Tom made a few phone calls to see if his company could acquire some tickets. Inviting the CEO of the company he was about to purchase to this big event would be a perfect start to the day before dinner and business talks. Tom wears a black polo shirt into the ground and realises quickly he isn’t dressed like anyone else. Luckily there is a stand on the way into the stadium where he purchased a half and half Liverpool and United scarf so he could look the part and commemorate the occasion. He stands when others stand, he claps politely when Liverpool score a goal, but his dinner reservation is in a half hour so he leaves in the 81st minute. Tom and his new business partner have had a wonderful day out followed by a very nice dinner. Tom will think fondly on his time spent in Liverpool and might even come back again if his company sends him.
Now meet Bill. Bill has been working as much overtime at his blue collar job as he can for the last ten years to put away enough money to one day take his son to Anfield. They’ve never missed a game together. Since Bill’s now ten year old son was born they have sat down and watched or listened to every broadcast Liverpool match they could. When Liverpool wins, they rejoice together. When they lose, tensions are high in the household for a few days. They watched Dortmund and broke a lamp out of pure joy. Bill has shown his son YouTube replays of Istanbul and a time before Gerard played as a number 6. They saw the slip and watched City win the title. His son cried for a week. Bill cried for two weeks. Bill finally scraped together the money to make the trip and he and his son have been talking about it non-stop for weeks. It feels like a pilgrimage to them, a rite of passage almost. As they make their way to the stadium, Bill and his son are wearing matching Gerrard kits. Bill’s kit is not nearly as worn down as his sons, who slept in it the first six weeks after receiving it as a gift for his 9th birthday. His favourite player is Coutinho now but Bill couldn’t afford another kit until the old one no longer fit, maybe next year. As they walk in to the stadium, they sing as loud as they can about having dreams and songs to sing. They both know every word to you’ll never walk alone because Bill sang it to his son every night when he was younger before bed. They know all the players and all of their songs. And when Coutinho fires in a worldie of a curler into the top corner from outside the box in the 88th minute to win the match, Bill’s son loses his little mind as a single tear rolls down Bill’s face. They know they’ll never come back but it was a trip that they’ll never forget.
While I will readily admit that Tom’s exist. They next time you hear an accent from out of town, before getting annoyed, think to yourself, this could be Bill and his son. Not all day trippers are created equal. One day I hope to bring my son to Anfield and we will definitely be the latter of the two day trippers. I would hope we would be welcomed with open arms while we walk to the stadium singing and cheering alongside you and support the club that we love. We would hate to have to walk alone.