Adventures of an American Liverpool Supporter At Anfield

anfield1 Adventures of an American Liverpool Supporter At Anfield

First off, I’ll spare the usual story–let’s just say I fell in love with the game and due to various (seemingly extraneous) reasons, fell even more deeply in love with Liverpool Football Club. And yes, I’m also an American–Texan to be precise. This site (and many others) are full of stories like mine. Americans who, for one reason or another, became passionate fans of teams thousands of miles away. That’s the short version, for now at least.

What has finally distinguished me from this teeming multitude that wear jerseys and get up at ungodly hours to watch the English Premier League on weekends, is that I’ve made the trip to my football holy land–Anfield.

Having recently graduated from college here in Texas, I managed to squeeze out enough from my meager savings in order to meet up with friends and take a 10-day backpacking trip around the United Kingdom. Sure, we visited London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow, but one of the main reasons I worked so hard to take this trip–was to visit Liverpool. I’ve been a Beatles fan for as long as I can remember, and have developed my love for the city and its people as I became more and more passionate about LFC.

After seeing my friends off at the Glasgow Airport, I made my way to the bus station to begin the five-hour night bus to Manchester, where I then slept on a bench in the cold, empty bus station while waiting for my next bus. And finally at 6:00 in the morning, hopped on a coach to Liverpool.

It was a bright, sunny day as I made my way around the city, trying to orient myself with all of the buildings and streets among the hustle and bustle. I sat down at a coffee shop to read a book for a bit, before checking into my hotel in the Mount Pleasant area near Liverpool City Centre.

With all my logistics nailed down, I set out into the city: everything they say is true, Liverpool is a very eclectic and interesting place to visit, and once I got my bearings, I really enjoyed many aspects of the place. Exploring the main shopping area (Liverpool ONE), I stumbled on the first part of my pilgrimage–the Liverpool Megastore. I stared agape at the walls and walls of jerseys, happily noticing that jerseys were already printed and hung up with Charlie Adam’s name and number on them–he had only signed a mere two days before. I dug through the racks and shelves of Liverpool official gear, from King Kenny mousepads to a T-shirt collection that chronicled each of the club’s five European Cup victories. For someone that has always had to pay an exorbitant amount to ship Liverpool gear via international mail, this place was a sheer delight. After picking out a few choice items for myself and a few lucky friends, I made my way up the winding streets to drop it all of at the hotel, because I was getting close to an appointment I had made weeks before–a visit to the L4 district.

Finally, a train full of chatty schoolchildren and elderly shoppers making their way to their suburban homes, I stepped off the bus to look directly up at the famous Paisley Gates.

As I stood in a group with other pilgrims and realizing my misfortune at taking the trip alone, I asked (for what would be the first of many times) the fellow next to me to snap a couple photos of me in front of the metal statue of Liverpool’s greatest manager–Bill Shankly. For the uninitiated, the statue just seems like a cliche victory pose–not unlike the famous shot from the movie “Rocky.” But for those of us forever indebted to Shankly and what he did for the club, standing in front of him is like being transported to an earlier time, when he stepped in front of the entire city to proclaim the club’s victory.

I walked around the outside of the great stadium in a bit of a haze, snapped back into reality by the tour guide’s call to join her back at the Shanks statue. From there, we embarked on a journey through the bowels of Anfield. First, the room of Legends glorified the many giants in the club’s history, pictures surrounded the small party room, from early heroes like Albert Stubbins to the god himself, Robbie Fowler. Then it was to the press room, which, before the Premier League era, was the famous (and to some, infamous) Boot Room where the manager and his assistants plotted thousands of victories, from Bill Shankly himself to Kenny Dalglish in his first turn as manager. Almost ironically, this is where King Kenny demands as much respect as he did in the 1980s; journalists pack into the tiny room before and after every match to pepper him and one of the players with countless questions. Hands shaking and heart speeding around in my chest, I slowly sat in the chair with my hands folded and looked up from the exact spot that the King does every week. I imagined being in here as Kenny jokes with journalists as he does, having brought the fun back to Liverpool Football Club in the past few months.

A tour of Anfield, for a rabid fan such as myself, leaves no brick unholy and no wall without some aspect of footballing beauty. As we made our way into the Home Dressing Room, the same one that has been immortalized in photographs of Bill Shankly instructing his team, I was humbled by the simple, spartan qualities of the little white room. The players’ jerseys line the walls, with a treatment table in the middle and a television set high up in a corner. No extravagances here, no room for prima donnas or wannabe rockstars; in this room there is football and only football. After posing in the seats of my favorite players (Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, for the record), I stepped out of the room directly in front of the tunnel that leads to the pitch. I placed my fingers on the famous “THIS IS ANFIELD” sign, feeling the energy and emotion that comes with the touching of that sign by the team before every match. Players from Ian Rush to Fernando Torres to Alan Hansen have touched this sign, and after (of course) posing for a photo, I walked the rest of the tunnel feeling invigorated, ready to take on the world. I’d say that’s about what Shankly wanted when he nailed the sign up there for the very first time.

The final leg of this epic journey of mine could only take place on that hallowed ground, in the middle of one of the most famous pitches in the world. Sitting where managers have sat for years as they bark orders to players, walking along the grass that is home to some of the most exciting matches in history, all hit me like a punch to the chest. The sound around me fell silent, the cloudy sun somehow brightened as I spun in place, taking in each and every angle of Anfield. My eyes finally landed on the Kop, the Spion Kop, probably the most famous set of seats in the world. As we walked towards the Kop, our tour guide reached back into a small electrical box to flip a switch. Suddenly, as I crossed the cement threshold into Kop territory, music burst from the speakers, and it could only be one song: “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” At this point, you probably know what’s coming. A single tear rolled out as I stood in the full glory of Liverpool Football Club. The feeling is still with me, and has surely cemented my place as a Liverpool fan for life.

I may live in America, and that won’t change soon. But part of my heart was left there, in that hallowed ground, beating to the rhythm of only one song, basking in the glory of Liverpool Football Club.

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41 Responses to Adventures of an American Liverpool Supporter At Anfield

  1. Zachary says:

    Well done, Spenser! As a fellow American-Red, I too hope to make my pilgrimage to the holy land soon. YNWA from Orlando, Fl.

  2. Footyhip says:

    Lovely. YNWA from Philly.

  3. Jason says:

    Nice work Spenser. I live in CT and just started following football about a year and a half ago. When I was casting about for teams, it was between Liverpool and Spurs. I ultimately went with Spurs and though I love the club I admire much of what Liverpool stands for. They’ve got the best song in football without question. Thanks for posting this on behalf of us Yanks!

    • Jay says:

      Where about are you in CT? I’m a spurs fan as well and I’m in Southern CT about 10 minutes from New Haven. It would be great to meet up some time for a match with another supporter!

  4. Troll says:

    Interesting read, however, no journey is complete without attending an actual game!

  5. craig says:

    well done. can’t wait to see anfield! Texas ynwa

  6. Guy says:

    Well done, Spenser.

  7. Alex says:

    Great story! I was able to go to Liverpool in 2004 but didn’t get to take a tour of Anfield. After reading this I really want to go back! Thanks for sharing! YNWA from Indianapolis.

  8. Mike says:

    Good on ya, Spenser. YNWA from Portland, OR.

  9. Chad says:

    Great blog Spenser! Just last week I purchased plane tickets for my own pilgrimage in October. Going to see our LFC play Norwich City.

    YNWA!

    • Clampdown says:

      You’re going to love it. Though old and small, the atmosphere at Anfield on match day is incredible. I hope you get to sit near the Kop end, as the Anfield roar is no joke.

  10. BD says:

    Spenser, now that you are back in the States, why don’t you get the band back together? I loved “Two Princes” back in the day….

  11. Jay andrews says:

    Anna liffey’s on Whitney ave in New Haven has a good collection of Liverpool supporters for all matches… Just sayin

  12. Meeky says:

    Great Article, im graduating college next spring and im making the trip to liverpool from philadelphia to catch the beginning of next season…YNWA

  13. FC Asheville says:

    Excellent post…heading over with the family late Summer/Fall 2012…hoping for the tour and a game myself.

  14. Spenser Davis says:

    Thanks guys! I really wish I could have gone during the season and attended an actual match, but life restricted me to the summer but I had a blast nevertheless. Good luck to all of you in getting to Anfield! I know everyone will love it, such an amazing place with great people. Some of the nicest people on my entire trip were those I met in Liverpool.

  15. Kevin says:

    Well done lad. Brilliant to hear you had a great time. YNWA.

  16. Fernando says:

    Excellent story.

    This post sums up the feeling all American supporters have for their club regardless if it’s Liverpool or another Premier League team.

    Well done.

  17. Matt says:

    I’m planning a trip to Liverpool myself, but not to see the red shite – Goodison is my destination. Good story though. Glad to see your dedication.

  18. Eric says:

    If you’re willing and able to afford the cost, most clubs should have an official travel package/match day travel package for supporters.

    Check out Thomas Cook Sport.

  19. Chris says:

    Great read – loved it!

    Just one thing – a small typo in saying Bob Shankly :)

    YNWA

  20. pete says:

    Lucky they didn’t steal your camera, Liverpool is the theft capital of the UK, I had my car stolen and it was found 200 yards from Anfield ground on bricks, wheels and seats missing, robbing scousers.
    Glad you had a good trip but you are braver than me, I wouldn’t be giving my camera to anyone in that city.

    • Yozza71 says:

      Fella, the late 1900′s called… They want their dodgy-scouser reference back!

      • pete says:

        Well as I live 15 mile from Liverpool and always have, I can assure you that their rep is alive and kicking and I should know whether its true better than everyone on this site.

        • Yozza71 says:

          Stay away from the place then… Why do you feel compelled to slag off a place where this guy has had a trip of a lifetime and chose to share his experience with fellow supporters in another country?
          You really should get out more, though not to Liverpool… Got to be careful ’round those parts… Sad, sad individual!

          • The Gaffer says:

            Don’t listen to Pete’s misinformation. A couple of years ago I decided to research whether Liverpool was deservedly getting a bad name or not in terms of crime rates. What I found was pretty revealing (see link below).

            http://epltalk.com/destroying-the-myth-of-liverpool-fans-as-hubcap-stealers-and-dole-collectors-4172

            Bottom line is that the crime rate in Greater Manchester is worse than on Merseyside.

            Cheers,
            The Gaffer

          • pete says:

            I avoid Liverpool as much as I can, I live just outside Southport which is a day trip robbing holiday for most scousers. So they do not avoid me. Manchester has a higher crime rate yes, however there is more of a drug and gun crime problem in Manchester. London probably has the biggest crime rate but that is because it has 7-8 million people living there, 3 times as many as liverpool and manchester.
            In terms of theft, I would rank Liverpool as number one on a pro-rata basis, both from stats and personal experience

  21. Yozza71 says:

    Excellent piece Spenser! Got me all misty and home-sick… I’m a re-located scouser, now living in Memphis, TN. It’s always nice to hear when people have a nice experience in my old home-town. Liverpool is one of the most welcoming cities certainly in the UK, if not the world! (Maybe my home-sickness is making me exaggerate ever-so slightly…)

  22. Welshy says:

    Good story Spencer…as a Scouser now living in NJ, you almost had me convinced that you are a genuine fan with real knowledge of the history of the club…almost. But sorry mate, you lost all credibility with your reference to ‘Bob’ Shankly…You blew it. Reading the history books and watching the DVDs doesn’t make you a Liverpool fan, it’s either in you or it or it isn’t.

  23. Donelle says:

    Nice! I’m heading there in one year (I’m from Seattle), and the experience you’ve written about has me beyond excited. YNWA!

  24. vinnie says:

    this is why we should fight (the council) to expand anfield than building a new plastic stadium. lets preserve our history not for the sake of keeping it but to tell our players, the opponents and everyone else that This. Is. Anfield.

  25. Mac says:

    This article has hit my at my core harder than any other article I’ve read on here being a fellow American Red haha. I can’t wait to make my way to Anfield after college as you did. I’m sure I’m going to have the same reaction you had standing in front of the Kop. As cheesy as it sounds it will be a dream come true.

  26. Spenser Davis says:

    Thanks again for the comments, and thanks for the typo, all! Obviously my other references were correct :) In my excitement I must have mixed up the two greats! Never fear, I know my LFC history!

  27. Gregs says:

    Nice work Spenser, as a Spurs man I hope to make it to White Hart Lane one day and catch a match. Funny story about Liverpool – my boy and I attended the MLS All Star game a couple of years ago in our hometown of Salt Lake City. The opposing team was Everton and we were thrilled to just see an EPL club live instead of having to get up incredibly early to watch games. However, I couldn’t believe the amount of Liverpool signs coming from the box seats across from us, you would have thought the Reds were playing that day. I didn’t understand the intensity of the Merseyside rivalry before that but I was made fully aware that evening.

  28. Paz says:

    Interesting story on pilgrimage to anfield. Seems to be so many stories of my fellow Americans going through a debate to pick an English league club to follow. Inevitably 9 out of 10 pick liverpool, spurs or arsenal. Most of the rest weren’t as bothered by bandwagon tag and chose Chelsea or man utd anyway. My experience is the opposite. Took my cousins visiting from England to a phillies game in my hometown when we were Tweens. A few years later one of my cousins took me to see his team, newcastle united twice in span of 4 days or so. watched a skinny kid named gascoigne while standing on gallowgate. I am a big fan to this day. Really throws American fans off as so many are Liverpool and spurs fans of about 5-10 years… Newbie fans wondering why I didn’t “pick” Liverpool or arsenal. I didn’t pick a team, it picked me.

  29. Bigpapa says:

    I like you have been a Liverpool fan all my life. From my youth in Singapore to my adult life here in the US. I have been to Anfield twice. It is a great feeling to be in Anfield even just for the tour. YNWA. Cannot wait for the new season to start. I believe Kenny will make a different to the squad compare to last year. I need to find some fellow Liverpool fans in America where I can go and talk football.

  30. Court says:

    Get story, thanks for sharing. As a fellow Texans that fell for LFC years ago, I too hope to make the pilgrimage!

  31. Sarge_LFC says:

    Great read. Thanks for posting. I am heading to Liverpool for my first time in September! Just found out. I plan to take the tour and see the match at Anfield vs. Wolves. I still need tickets cause I just found out, but your story got me very excited.

  32. DC Toffees says:

    I just made the same trip but for an Everton pilgrimage. Liverpool is a great city and visiting Goodison is something I’ll never forget. COYB! Nice work Spenser

  33. Savory says:

    Awesome. I’m traveling to Liverpool in October, hopefully to see the Norwich game. Bit nervous that I haven’t been able to get match tickets yet, but hopefully some will be made available.

    cheers,
    Brandon
    YNWA from Atlanta, GA

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