Unity Is Strength

Photo credit: Matty Line

Photo credit: Matty Line

One of the great things about the LFC Podcasting Couch is that we want to talk to Liverpool fans from all around the world. We want to hear your stories! How did you become a fan of our great club? What have been your best memories of being a supporter? And what are your thoughts on the issues of the day? The LFC Podcasting Couch talks to fans from anywhere and everywhere.

The LFC fan base used to consist of scousers with the good taste to choose red over blue and those inspired by the trophy lifting domination of the Red Army in the 70s and 80s. The mighty Kop sang their hearts out every week and travelled all over Europe.

The 90s saw the arrival of the Premier League and the internet. The new brand and new technology re-energised football and brought the game to a global audience. At the same time, Liverpool were not the dominant force that they once were. Some dodgy outfit from Manchester led by a red hairdryer was desperately trying to knock us off our perch.  However, much to their frustration, the magical allure of our storied team continued to attract more and more fans.

Gerard Houllier deserves more credit than he receives for the treble cup winning season of 2001.  He also won the Super Cup and the Charity Shield. It was a glorious year that placed us back at the forefront of the football world. If that was a shot in the arm of LFC, then the Champions League win of 2005 was an electric shock!  These triumphs were watched by global audiences and earned the club a whole new generation of fans across the world.

A worldwide fan base means more commercial opportunities for the club. The pretenders in Manchester had recognised this long ago and had exploited these revenue streams to help them obtain greater resources that gave them an advantage on the pitch. Everyone else, including us, scrambled to catch up.

Greater revenues give LFC the resources to compete against the elite clubs in Europe. Make no mistake, our worldwide support helped to build the magnificent new Main Stand and to pay a world record fee for a defender.

The growth in support has brought challenges too. Tickets for matches are now much more expensive than they were. Some families might spend less on a week’s holiday than what a day out at the match might cost them. Even if you can afford to go, then the greater popularity of the club means it is harder than ever to get tickets for games. Some local fans feel as though their club is being taken away from them by what they see as greed and by people they consider to be glory hunting selfie snapping tourists.

This article was inspired by a recent argument in a bar in Dubai. An American fan, who has followed LFC for almost 20 years and spent a fortune to go to games, was accused by an old man from Liverpool of stealing tickets from local children. An argument ensued, full of bitterness and hate, between two people who should be friends.

The world has changed and football has changed with it. Football is a business, our club is a business. However, to us, the fans, it is much more than that. Our club is our community. In the past, it was part of the Liverpool community. It is now even more than that. The club is a worldwide community of Liverpool fans. It is vital that the owners of our club always strive to find a balance between commercial exploitation and providing fair access to games for local fans. It is just as vital for local fans to see the value and strength in having support from all around the world. As supporters we should push the club and the owners to seek solutions to the issues surrounding tickets, but we should never turn on each other.

Whatever way you support our club, whether it’s by buying a shirt or by cheering at your TV set in Iceland, you deserve to be respected as a fan by your fellow supporters. If you save up and travel the globe to get to one game at Anfield, then you should be welcomed in Liverpool and applauded for your dedication to the team.

We all love Liverpool. We all want success for Liverpool. No doubt we will have differences of opinion and we will all wish we could go to more games, but what will always be most important is that we support each other as well as LFC. Liverpool is one of the most welcoming and polite cities you could ever visit. Every visiting fan who respects and loves the club should be shown the same love and respect in return.

There is a flag on the Kop that reads “Unity is Strength”. This was the creed of Shankly, it is at the heart of our club’s motto. Wherever you are from, your support for Liverpool Football Club is a source of great pride for all true fans and, as a fellow red, you will never walk alone.