Gringos Can Write will be an addition to the site to supplement our normal audio content. Here you'll get the unabridged, unfiltered opinion of Phil and Patrick that you'd expect in the podcast, in a scribbled, mildly coherent written format.
You'll Never Walk Alone.
The club's anthem is supposedly emblematic of Liverpool Football Club and its fans. From the players on the pitch to the supporters watching on computers on 6 continents, there is supposed to be a fellowship that the Liverbird and the letters "L.F.C." solidify into something that goes beyond mere football and enters a realm of metaphysical connection. Liverpool supporters describe the fan base as "different," or "not like one of the other teams." I used to subscribe to this theory. Actually, I did not just subscribe to it. I believed it. I went all-in on this theory. It has become clear recently though that it is simply not true. We, as Liverpool fans, are no different.
This is going to met angrily by some, but let me explain myself. So often we look at the behavior of Arsenal or Chelsea supporters on Twitter and laugh. We see petty arguments about how old Olivier Giroud is. We see supporters jump to the defense of "wind-up merchant" Diego Costa. We scoff at the impudence and ridiculousness of such claims. The problem is, in this age of social media, we as a fan base are no different. We have arguments about Jordan Henderson's ability to captain the side. We squabble about whether Alberto Moreno is a competent left back. We question whether Jon Flanagan being named captain against Southampton is a marketing ploy by the club to promote his new contract. Just today we had the coup de grâce of awful social media posts when an account posted a "joke" about the club receiving terrible news because Simon Mignolet had survived the Brussels terror attacks. We are literally the same as any club that we call "plastic" or "glory-hunters," and in some cases we step beyond the very bounds of basic human decency that we claim to valiantly uphold.
This problem goes well beyond social media as well. When Manchester United fans sang that Liverpool fans are murderers, most recently in the Europa League round of 16, the fans had the opportunity to prove that Liverpool fans would not stoop to the levels that the club's bitter rivals did. The traveling support could have emphasized, through focused support of the team, that they would honor the victims of the Hillsbrough Disaster and not respond to the provocations of a fan base that they consider to be of a lower class and lower standard. However, with the away fans at Old Trafford singing about the Munich Air Disaster, the very notion that the fan base is in some way superior to others was completely debunked. Instead of the Liverpool Echo writing a story on why Liverpool was punished for chanting and United fans were not, the story should have been that Liverpool fans rose above the absurdity of mocking people's deaths at a football match and United fans would be punished for their pettiness. Instead, our own fans have dragged the fan base into equally reprehensible territory.
I became a Liverpool supporter for a number of reasons but the thing that most drew me was the quality and intensity of the club's supporters. This was not an ultra or hooligan-driven fan base. It was a group of passionate supporters who were driven by the idea that by being associated with Liverpool Football Club, you were being associated with something bigger than yourself and indeed bigger than football. There should be no pettiness or triviality in the way the fans handle themselves. If Liverpool is as special as we all believe it is, then we owe it to the club, it's players and our fellow supporters to act in a way that gives credit to the club rather than tarnishes its name.
The good news is that it does not have to continue this way. We have the ability, now more than ever, to restore the idea of what it means to be a supporter of the Reds and remind our fellow fans that they will never walk alone. Songs at games can certainly attack the other side, I encourage it, but singing about tragedy and then crying foul when it's done to us is not a good look. When it comes to social media, think before you post something idiotic or childish online. Every single user who is identified as a Liverpool fan becomes representative of the whole fan base when they make racist, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments online. Let's show that Liverpool fans really are different and that being a part of this fan base actually does mean something special. Prove the theories right.