50 Reasons to Love Liverpool
With their team second in the Premier League table, level with the leaders on points and basking in the glow of a fine start to the season that not many people saw coming, this is a good time to be a Liverpool fan.
Reds' supporters have spent the international break longing for their team to return to action given the feel-good factor around Anfield at the moment, and perhaps they've been reflecting on just why they love their club so much.
Why do they support the Reds in the first place? What makes the club so special?
Here are 50 things that make Liverpool tick...
Calling someone a captain, a leader and a legend might conjure up thoughts of John Terry, but Steven Gerrard is far more palatable, isn't he?
Since making his debut in 1998, the midfielder has gone on to symbolise his club and gain a world-wide reputation for dynamism, energy and drive from the centre of the park.
Every club would want someone like him—but only Liverpool have the real thing.
Daniel Sturridge's Dance
What isn't there to love about the sight of Kolo Toure gallivanting around the pitch as though he was 22 and not 32?
Liverpool have given the Ivorian a new lease of life and he's rewarding them with some fantastic performances since signing in the summer.
Right now he looks like he could take on the world.
Ok, it is difficult to forget the numerous controversies, trials and tribulations that seem to follow the Uruguayan around.
But just try and put them aside for a moment.
What a player Suarez is.
He's not Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo obviously, but he's comfortably in that bracket of world-class players just below them.
He might just be a lot more interesting, too.
The little Brazilian sprite has been a revelation since moving to English football in January when he brought a breath of fresh air to a team that desperately needed one.
Quick, nimble and with a fantastic ability to change direction, Coutinho is one of the most exciting young players in the Premier League at the moment.
Liverpool are only likely to become an even-better team when he returns from his current injury.
Dodgy Away Kits
Have you seen the current third kit? It looks as if the three colours featuring on it are trying to run away from each other.
Add it to last season's equally odd deep purple and orange-trimmed number and several others in recent years, and you're never quite sure what Liverpool will turn up in on the road.
White, black, yellow, gold, green, purple, grey, silver, ecru, purple again. They've all featured on a Liverpool away kit. Sometimes all at once.
Still, they keep things interesting, don't they?
A one-club man who was the envy of many others, Carragher was a talismanic force for the Reds for 16 years.
These days he has turned tough tackling into tough talking, and his current punditry work is admired by many who value the opinions of a man who won everything that was possible to win, bar the league title, with the Reds.
He was a special talent and who knows where the club would have been without him?
A natural-born goalscorer, perhaps Fowler epitomised the player that we'd all want to be if we were professional footballers.
A hero to the millions of fans who idolised him, the forward had the capability to win games on his own and always seemed to be a Liverpool player even when he wore the shirts of other clubs.
Reds fans called him "God" and there were plenty who worshipped him.
Yeah, so he quite often says bizarre things that seem to be taken straight from "How to be a middle-manager 101," but you can't help but like B-Rod.
Whether he's discussing "death by football" or his "nine-and-a-halves" upfront, Rodgers is always earnest and driven in his aims to restore Liverpool to the top of the English football tree.
And you can't help but admire that.
Take a look at this Panorama report from 1964 and then tell me that the Kop isn't unique in British football.
When it is on song, the vast, swaying army of people can almost become one living, breathing entity, and it makes for a truly remarkable sight and experience the like of which isn't all too common in any sport.
It is a special place, as anyone who has been there will tell you.
One of the greatest British footballers there has ever been—and one of the defining characters in Liverpool's history—Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish is held in the highest regard by Reds' supporters.
His influence looms large over the club, not least in the fact that he was involved in nine of Liverpool's 18 league titles as either a player, a manager—or both.
That sort of record entitles you to legendary status and he's certainly got that.
When was it over for you?
When Paolo Maldini scored in the first minute? When Hernan Crespo turned home Andriy Shevchenko's cross? When Kaka's sublime through ball put Crespo in for his second?
Three-nil. That was it. Over. Done. AC Milan European Champions 2005.
"He made the people happy" reads the inscription at the foot of the Shankly statue outside the Kop at Anfield.
In 15 years during which he completely transformed Liverpool and set them on the road towards domination of both England and Europe, he definitely did that.
He's the only manager in history to have won three European Cups, but if he'd had it his way, then Bob Paisley would probably have stuck to being the physio.
The shy north-easterner took over from Shankly and saw his Liverpool team mature into European champions, winning the continent's premier competition three times in five years between 1977 and 1981.
Not bad for someone who didn't want the manager's job in the first place, eh?
Brookside was a soap opera set in Liverpool that aired on Channel 4 for 21 years between 1982 and 2003.
But when they axed it, there was already another Merseyside soap ready to take over.
Miraculous comebacks, headline-grabbing signings, good guys, bad owners, court cases, the threat of administration. Whatever can happen to Liverpool usually does.
It's never dull.
Liverpool needed a goal to progress from the European Cup quarter-final in 1977 and unheralded ginger substitute David Fairclough was seen as the man most likely to provide it.
Just six minutes remained when the Scouser ran on to a through ball, burst between two French defenders and fired home in front of the Kop to spark delirious scenes.
Liverpool's time as European royalty had officially begun.
At half-time against Olympiakos in December 2004, Liverpool supporters were pondering life in that season's Uefa Cup. It wasn't that difficult to imagine as they had been in that competition in the previous campaign.
The Reds needed to score three in the second period to stay in the Champions League. After understudy forwards Florent Sinama-Pongolle and Neil Mellor grabbed two of them, Steven Gerrard popped up to do the type of thing that Steven Gerrard has been doing for years.
Liverpool were still in the 2004/05 Champions League—and they had some pretty big plans for it.
Annoying Jose Mourinho
That sign says it all, doesn't it?
Liverpool were the main reason that Jose Mourinho wasn't able to win the Champions League during his first spell at Chelsea, earning semi-final victories over the Blues in both 2005 and 2007.
The manner of those wins―firstly by a goal that probably wasn't and then on penalties―only made it funnier, and the Portuguese grew to dread his trips to Anfield.
The Merseyside Derby
The big book of football cliches probably has a chapter devoted to the Merseyside derby.
Whenever Liverpool and Everton meet, you always have to mention which derby it is (next month's will be the 278th), that passions will run high and tackles are going to fly in, but we like it like that, don't we?
The Reds against the Blues is a unique rivalry that you can probably never really understand unless you've lived in the area, but it is one of English football's best and healthiest conflicts—one which makes the game great, in fact.
Manchester United Rivalry
Different to the Everton one, this rivalry is deep-seated due to each city's mistrust of the other.
If Liverpool and Manchester United would look a little closer, they'd actually see that they've got loads in common, but we don't really want them to do that, do we?
So keep it competitive, snarling, fighting, running, tackling etc please.
It's the best rivalry in English football and we love it.
You'll Never Walk Alone
What a song, what a message, what an inspiration.
As a song and as a motto, it symbolises Liverpool perfectly.
It simply couldn't be bettered.
How many other managers could take over a rag-tag bunch of misfits and turn them into European Champions within a year?
Alright, Rafael Benitez doesn't have magical powers, but to understand Liverpool supporters' love for him, you have to understand just what an achievement that was.
Will he come back and manage the Reds again one day?
He'd be welcomed with open arms if he did.
Grobbelaar's Wobbly Legs
It's the European Cup final, it's a penalty shootout, you're the goalkeeper.
This has the potential to be the biggest moment of your life and your career and so you...start dancing around and wobbling your legs?
Who could possibly be inspired by that?
The Dudek Dance
Here we are 21 years after Bruce Grobbelaar in Rome—and 120 minutes after the most ridiculous Champions League final you could imagine—and Jerzy Dudek strides towards his goal in Istanbul.
Djimi Traore Is a Champions League Winner
Yeah, he is. He played in the final and everything.
In fairness to the much-maligned defender, he was very good for Liverpool during that run to the 2005 Champions League final, in which he performed one of the often-forgotten moments of a mad game.
At 3-3, he cleared an Andriy Shevchenko effort off the line which, had it gone in, would surely have killed off the Reds' comeback.
He deserved his medal as much as anyone else.
And Igor Biscan Is Too
Igor Biscan deserves his, too.
Look at him in the centre of that picture, all smiling and happy.
He didn't play in the final but did start both legs of the last 16, quarters and semis, so has every right to enjoy the victory.
I bet he polishes his medal every day.
Liverpool now haven't played a Champions League game for four years, but that didn't stop almost 100,000 fans turning up to watch them when they played a friendly in Melbourne during the summer, and there were similar scenes and crowds in Jakarta and Bangkok.
Almost 100,000 people. On the other side of the world.
How many other clubs could do that?
The All Red Kit
It's just cool, isn't it?
Like Real Madrid, Liverpool have become synonymous with wearing a kit that is all the same colour ever since Bill Shankly chose to abandon the team's white shorts in November 1964.
He thought all red made the team look bigger and stronger.
It certainly made them look better, anyway.
This Is Anfield Sign
Another Shankly invention, according to the Scot the sign is there "to remind our players who they're playing for, and our opponents who they're playing against."
In a fantastic PR move, Brendan Rodgers restored the original sign to the Anfield tunnel upon his appointment last summer.
And if this season is anything to go by, it might be bringing good luck.
The Good Torres
Fernando Torres' 2007-08 season was the most impressive debut campaign that a foreign player has ever produced in Premier League history. But you knew that already, didn't you?
He was brilliant, untouchable, and no defender in the country could handle him.
He scored 33 goals and was treated like a hero on the Kop.
What could ever go wrong from there?
The Good Heskey
For Torres 2007-08, read Emile Heskey 2000-01. Alright, maybe not.
He was still good, though. Very good, in fact, and scored 22 goals as Liverpool shot towards a treble of FA Cup, League Cup and Uefa Cup.
Heskey in full flight was wonderful to see but sadly all too rare.
For a while there between the late 1990s and early noughties (particularly a period between about 2002 and 2004), Michael Owen was pretty much the only good thing about Liverpool FC.
He scored 158 goals in 297 Reds games, all of which were played before he turned 25 years old.
Superb on his day, the quicksilver forward was something of a phenomenon, but sadly all of those have to fall away some day.
Think of the 1970s and it won't be long before Keegan's bouncy moptop comes to mind.
"Mighty Mouse" was a terrific player in an era when football superstars were beginning to come into their own, and the forward is perhaps responsible for a generation of Liverpool supporters actually following the club.
The goalscorer's goalscorer, in the 1980s the only thing more reliable than Margaret Thatcher annoying people was Ian Rush finding the back of the net.
He did it with such regularity against Everton and in major cup finals that Reds fans could almost set their watch by him.
The Welshman scored 346 goals for the club, a Liverpool record.
For Keegan in the 1970s, you could also read John Barnes in the late '80s, an era when he was surely the most exciting English player around.
His lightning-fast speed and his agility were a joy to behold, and the winger was the symbol for a new generation of Liverpool side which exploded on to the scene in the late '80s.
Plenty of Reds still regard that as the club's best-ever team and Barnes was largely responsible for that.
It rocks at times.
Big European nights under the floodlights at the famous old ground are a must for any football fan.
And with Liverpool's owners now seemingly determined that the Reds will stay at their spiritual home for some time yet, Anfield looks like being part of the football landscape for years to come.
Maybe it is mentioned a bit too much, but any club's supporters would be the same if they had the past that Liverpool have enjoyed.
The key is to make that past help shape the future and not simply be there as a reminder of former glories that are now long gone.
The dignity, passion and sheer determination not to be lied to any more that the Hillsborough families have shown remains an inspiration that transcends football.
Hillsborough was a human tragedy, not a Liverpool one, and the Justice campaign continues to grow into what any decent human being will hope is a satisfactory conclusion.
Some of the prominent figures involved—Sheila Coleman, Trevor Hicks, the late Anne Williams—deserve nothing but the greatest respect and everyone's support, too.
Often overlooked because of the events of Istanbul four years later, this Uefa Cup final against the Spanish minnows Alaves was the stuff of a Hollywood sporting drama.
Liverpool went two up. Alaves pulled one back. Then 3-1 Liverpool. Then 3-2 and then 3-3. Robbie Fowler soon thought he'd won it, only for Jordi Cruyff to make it 4-4.
In the final moments of extra-time, Delfi Geli then headed in a golden own goal to give Liverpool the trophy in dramatic fashion.
And Cruyff has said it was going to be boring...
West Ham 2006, a.k.a The Gerrard Final
When you dreamed of playing for your childhood club, you always scored a long-range screamer in the last minute of a hugely important game, didn't you? And then you lifted the trophy as captain?
Only a select few get to act out their dreams on the biggest stage and Steven Gerrard is one of those.
Ninetieth minute. 3-2 down. BANG!
The White Suits
Well, someone thought they were a good idea, but we can all laugh about it now, can't we?
Nelson Mandela Is a Fan
He sure is.
The picture above shows the great Madiba himself donning a red shirt and meeting such luminaries as Neil Ruddock, Dominic Matteo and Don Hutchinson, who doesn't seem to know where he's supposed to be looking, as the Reds toured South Africa in 1994.
Pretty cool eh?
So Is Samuel L Jackson
And speaking of cool, here's Samuel L Jackson.
The Hollywood megastar fell in love with the Reds when he was filming the 2001 movie The 51st State in Liverpool and has frequently spoken of his support for the club, even posing with a shirt as seen above.
He also took to Twitter to congratulate the Reds after the 1-0 win over Manchester United in September.
Big Ups Liverpool FC!!!— Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) September 1, 2013
And James Bond
And 007 is on board, too.
Actor Daniel Craig was born in nearby Chester and has made no secret of his love for Liverpool throughout his acting career.
He's been spotted at Anfield several times and popped up at Fenway Park when the Reds were in Boston for preseason in 2012.
John W Henry on Twitter
What do you think they're smoking over there at Emirates?— John W. Henry (@John_W_Henry) July 24, 2013
Kicking out Hicks and Gillett
It was a long and exhaustive process, and only at Liverpool could it have been played out to such drama, but the Reds finally got rid of hated owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett in October 2010.
The pair were dragging the club towards financial oblivion, and the role that a committed group of fans played in their removal is certainly a source of pride and an example to many about just how to get things done—and gain some control of your club back.
Scouse Not English
Maybe the "Scouse Not English" attitude grates on some a little, but Liverpool supporters make no apology for it.
For them, it is very much club team first, national team nowhere, and that goes for the city—or republic—of Liverpool as a whole and not just the Reds.
As a rule, Liverpool has always looked out to Dublin and New York for influences. Not London.
That's just the way it is, it won't change.
In some cases they can be frustrating but mostly they're quite funny, aren't they?
Liverpool have had a huge turnover of players in recent years alone, with a sorry bunch of characters lining up to wear the red shirt.
They'll all try, almost certainly all fail and leave you with nothing but a puzzled look on your face about how they got there in the first place.
Yes, Andriy Voronin, we're talking about you.
The Anfield Rap