Over the last three years I have gradually been drawn into the world of International soccer, in particular the English Premier League. After watching all 64 games of the World Cup last year, it became clear that supporting the English National Team was not going to be a particularly fulfilling use of my time or emotions. And so I began a search for the team that would win my heart. I had been told that unlike most things, when you gave your heart to an English soccer team you were in it for life, so I took it quite seriously.
I watched countless games on Fox Soccer Channel and read half a dozen books, starting with Nick Hornsby’s “Fever Pitch”, arguably the best soccer book written. Slowly, but surely, I began eliminating teams.
, while blessed with the lovely Chelsea Blue, felt like the Yankees to me – all vain, pretty boys making way too much money and looking to be in the papers for their amorous adventures. Manchester United, the last thing they need is more fans, and while appreciating the talents of Wayne Rooney I found him unlikable, which is also true for the brilliant but sour-faced, gum-smacking, Sir Alec. I had nothing against Chelsea in particular, but I couldn’t connect in any way either. Arsenal…a great working class team with a great history, but again, I just didn’t connect. Manchester City
Finally, I turned to
Liverpool, a team with an incredible history – both wonderful and horrendous, but who had been struggling recently. The more I read about them, the more I was intrigued. And then, along came Kenny Dalglish, a charismatic Scot who had both played and managed Liverpool in the past (and there is a fascinating story in all that) and was returning to manage them again. It took me several weeks to realize that one of his attractions to me was a certain resemblance in face and manner to my ex-husband in those early days to which I can still look back with great affection.
I think what finally clinched it for me was the first time I heard the crowd of 40,000 plus singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as they do each game. I have known the song forever, I can even describe the sheet music (it was lavender, with a woman in a gown walking down a romantically-lit aisle) from which my brother and I played and sang many, many years ago. I tear up every time it happens and I am always slightly embarrassed – sitting alone watching my TV and getting all emotional about a song I sang so many years ago and didn’t particularly like at the time (never could hit the high notes).
Today I had one of those ‘duh’ moments, when I realized what it was. My high school years were blessed with a nationally recognized football team that was undefeated in 50 games. Standing in the stands at the end of every game we sang our Alma Mater, a traditional sappy one at that. But I will never forget, at the end of what could have been the 51st game, singing it with all my heart and tears rolling down my face. There is no doubt in my mind that is the emotional connection there.
In spite of Man U’s brilliant success recently, no other team has the history and glory that
Liverpool has known. It is worth getting up at 5: every Saturday morning to watch the live games – win or loose. YNWA
(Get it? YNWA....You'll Never Walk Alone)