You may be wondering how a kid who grew up in the middle of America came to support Liverpool.
I've never been to Europe, much less England. I've never seen Liverpool play in person, not even when they've played in the United States, as they will this summer. I don't even live in a town named Liverpool (of which there are five in the U.S.). The local team I support is Sporting Kansas City.
So, how did I come to support Liverpool?
One of my best friends, and a fellow Sporting KC supporter, is from Liverpool. I've known him for about eight, maybe nine, years now. He just sort of rubbed off on me.
You may be asking yourself, "If you have a local team, why would you need, or want, another team to support?"
The answer is simple, really. The Major League Soccer season runs during the summer months. The Premier League runs August to May.
I wanted another team to get me through the winter.
When I went looking for a Premier League team to follow/support, I had only one criterion. I knew that it would not be Manchester United, considered to be the New York Yankees of the Premier League. As someone who grew up in Kansas City in the 1970s, I despise the Yankees and everything they stand for.
When the tragedy at Hillsborough happened, I was a couple of months away from graduating from high school. I remember hearing about it and remembered feeling my heart go out to the victims and their families and friends.
Though I was unaware of it at the time, I think this is when the seeds of my future support of Liverpool were planted.
There are a few things about the club that appealed to me.
First, I think it was the passion of the fans on the Kop. The way they keep singing, no matter how well the match is going, is something with which I identified. I felt the same way about the then-Kansas City Wizards. (The team's name change occurred after the 2010 season.)
Secondly, I think it was the unwillingness to give up on the players on the pitch. Istanbul was a one-game example of something another local team had done in a finals-like situation.
In 1985, the Kansas City Royals baseball team had fallen behind the cross-state St. Louis Cardinals three games to one in the World Series. The Royals managed to come back from what many believed was an insurmountable deficit to win the series and be crowned champions.
What many people don't seem to remember is that the Royals had fallen behind three games to one in the previous series, too, against the Toronto Blue Jays.
My third reason for attachment to Liverpool is the fans that I've run into in person and online. They seem to take the words of the song to heart, caring about fellow Kopites, wanting to help them if they're in need.
They share both the joys and the sorrows.
And finally, Anfield itself.
Whenever I'm able to watch a home game, the stadium just sounds so good. It sounds the same way that I want LIVESTRONG Sporting Park to sound someday. Sporting KC averages an over-capacity crowd for every home game, so we just need to get all of them to sing/clap/cheer all the time.
Liverpool's trophies are nice, as they speak to the success the club has had. (The team's won four since I started following them.)
But they're not the main reason I watch.
I watch because the club's grabbed a piece of my heart. The victories are as sweet as the losses are bitter. The goals scored are as glorious as the goals allowed are painful.
Through it all, the Kop keeps singing.
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone,
You'll never walk alone.
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