Liverpool’s Personal Touch on the US Tour Creates a Lifetime Bond

Liverpool is in New York City, in preparation for its sold-out game at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday against Premier League rival Manchester City.

My son and I attended the Liverpool practice yesterday in Princeton. It was a quietly whispered open practice with just a few hundred fans there, and the team including Brendan Rodgers, made sure that everyone got their autographs or a word or two. It was a special afternoon to witness. People were literally weeping when Steven Gerrard autographed their shirt or posed with them for a photo. It was a different atmosphere than what my son experienced with any of the other Premier League teams that he has seen play here in New York. While we are Red Bulls fans as a legacy of being New Yorkers, he is a Liverpool fan — not just of the kindness and attention that the team showed to the fans on a whole, but to him personally.

The practice itself was delayed when the flight that the team was on arrived late, but the mild afternoon was made even brighter for the fans on the metal bleachers that enclosed three sides of the practice pitch. And the promise of seeing the team so close made the wait seem easier. They were on their way, and the security guards radios kept everyone apprised of their progress. A cheer erupted from the far end of the stands from the fans who could see the team walking up the hill toward them, and spread from there as coach and players walked on to the pitch and then jogged the perimeter. Unbelief was the key emotion, excited children turning to their parents and saying “I can’t believe that they are right here in front of us.” Friends, too, were turning to one another saying, “I can’t believe I am here seeing this.”

With the Premier League turning its attention on the United States with such focus last season, it was hard for new fans to decide who to support at first. Funny maps were drawn of the five boroughs of New York giving fans a clue for which team fit where they live. Old family connections were dusted off and teams were adopted through the thinnest of ties. The favorites, the known and internationally branded teams, grew new fans. My son and I took a trip through Pennsylvania and were amazed by the numbers of Manchester United hats and shirts we saw.

I sat on the side of Liverpool, the history and politics fitting me well, and my son sat with me as we watched the games. But he is not one for televised games. He needs the real thing, to see with his own eyes rather what the lens of a camera shows him, and his devotion never grew beyond being able to say when asked who his favorite Premier League team was. “Liverpool.” He had found an affinity for Huddersfield Town that still surprises me, wearing his Terriers hat and shirt around the house after being gifted them for Christmas, but as for games that we could easily watch, there was just that loose connection for Liverpool that was as much about me as about them.

What yesterday did was to make him a fan in a way that is deeply personal, and creating a bond that will be lifelong in its hold. On Wednesday night, Liverpool face Manchester City at Yankee Stadium. He unfortunately won’t be there with me. The demands of covering the game, the logistical impossibilities, and numerous other factors will put me there and keep him home. But he is alright with that, as alright as a boy who wants to do everything and be everywhere can be. He has their autographs there in a notebook, their smiles and kind words in his mind, and the team in his heart. He will never walk alone.

7 thoughts on “Liverpool’s Personal Touch on the US Tour Creates a Lifetime Bond”

  1. Nice article. I myself am a lifelong Liverpool supporter. I loved the song, You’ll Never Walk Alone, and listened to Elvis’s version of it quite often growing up. The song gave me hope and inspiration to push on through rough times, and then I came across a Liverpool match and I heard the fans singing You’ll Never Walk Alone, and holding up banners “Justice for the 96”, little did I know what that meant at the time, but their emotion and sincerity in their singing really impacted me, and now I listen to LFC fans singing YNWA rather than Elvis’s version.

    1. Great to hear you mention Elvis with regard to YNWA. We originally took it from Gerry Marsden’s 60s single way back then,(him being a Scouse and all). The first hit single of it was done by Roy Hamilton in ’54 ish?? Roy Hamilton was Elvis’s favourite male singer and that’s why Elvis covered it. The city of Liverpool has connections with the US that stretch back a long, long way, way beyond 1892 when our club was founded. YNWA

  2. Lovely piece of writing. I am a City fan, originally from Manchester though I now live in Ireland, middle generation of 5 who supports/supported the club, which. I started supporting, age 13, back in 1954. One of the oldest and truest sayings in football is “You don’t choose your club, your club chooses you” and you seem to be getting a glimpse of this. Best wishes, but of course, I hope we stuff you tomorrow night!

  3. This very much echoes what I heard from families in Boston last week (and two years ago as well). The players were considerate and accessible, which shocked some of the people I talked with. One guy laughed as he told me that Skrtel was probably the nicest to his kid, which he didn’t expect.

    Looking forward to tomorrow night.

  4. I really like reading what our US fans think about LFC. It’s great to feel connected to a worldwide Liverpool family. YNWA

  5. Lovely article.
    I have written a poem for Liverpool.

    Lively performances in matches are what I always expect from Liverpool
    Innovative, intelligent tactics and immaculate passing, that’s so cool
    Victories in all their matches are what Liverpool should strive for
    Enthusiastic supporters rally behind the team and roar
    Riveting displays, especially emphatic wins, are what all of us crave and want to see
    Powerful, pacy and with excellent ball skills must be what Liverpool players want to be
    Offensive play, ball possession, passing, pressing and pushing forward should be the way
    Outdo and outshine the opposition, and annihilate them, that’s the way to play
    Liverpool, make me proud the way past Liverpool teams have done, and to other supporters I say ‘You’ll never walk alone’.

    Mr Idy Razlan bin Ismail
    Perak, Malaysia

  6. Well done. My son and I were there, too. I’ve been struggling with which #EPL team to follow. I know that must sound ridiculous, but I don’t have any historic reason to choose any particular team, and I’ve been trying to come up with justifications to like one over another. I’m also deeply aware that my choice has an impact over the team my son follows, so this has been a difficult choice. I always feel horrible for some one who says, “I’m a Cubs fan, because my father was a Cubs fan.” Oh, the horror!

    When I read (very cryptically on Twitter), that the club was going to be in town, I ran out of work and grabbed my son. We really had no idea what to expect, but we were excited for the event of it all. I certainly did not expect how “nice” everyone was. The other fans, some of which had driven for hours, were great. However, the coaches and players were so gracious with their time. We took some amazing pictures with players that truly looked like they were enjoying themselves.

    Two things stood out for me while watching the match at Yankee Stadium. The first was that the commentators noted that Coach Rodgers really liked coming to town, and hopes to come again. We do. too. Speaking for the town of Princeton (as I’m sure they wouldn’t mind me speaking for everyone), we’d love to be Liverpool’s annual Summer vacation spot. More importantly, during the game, my son said that we needed to root for “our team” and “our guys”.

    So, how does that “walk alone” song go anyhow? Because you can add two more loud, off-key, voices to the choir.

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