It is difficult to know where to start with writing a blog. The opening article should surely be one to capture the audience, one that broaches a topic dear to the author’s heart, one that makes people want to return. I do not want to make this a glorified diary – I am not quite arrogant enough to believe that people care about my day to day activities – yet there must be a personal element. The old mantra of “write about what you know” is a place to start for any novice like myself.
Bearing that in mind, I am starting my blog by discussing the city that I have recently left, but which will always be my hometown. Specifically, it is the football season that has brought Liverpool back to the foreground of the sport world. Being a bloody bloke, and a top scouser, this is surely the best place to start.
Both Liverpool and Everton have, by general consensus, overachieved this year, playing a brand of attacking, flowing, ‘liquid football’ that has excited both the partisan and neutral fans. Both had respective, lofty ambitions just a week or so ago – Everton’s was to finish in the top 4 for the first time since 2004/05, a return to the heady days of Pistone, Beattie, and Kevin Kilbane. Liverpool’s was the ultimate – a Premier League title; an aim that, up until the events of the last 11 or so days, was firmly in their hands. Prior to their capitulation against Crystal Palace, cruelly reminiscent of Liverpool’s greatest night in reverse (a ‘Crystanbul’, if you will), Everton faced Manchester City, with the possibility of an Everton victory going a long way to handing the title to their neighbours.
Unsurprisingly, this turn of events elicited the question, “would Everton fans rather lose than help Liverpool win the league?” I was not surprised, although a little saddened, to hear a portion say that yes, as Everton had little to play for, they would rather sabotage the campaign of their rivals.
I myself am an Everton fan, and there is no doubt in my mind who I want to win the league. Liverpool. Yes, local rivalries are all good fun when kept light-hearted, and I can’t deny a certain schadenfreude when Liverpool lose, but I have never understood this blind tribalism.
My family is split almost exactly 50-50 between the two clubs. My Dad is an Evertonian, as is one of his brothers – his other 2 siblings are Liverpool fans. If my Dad had chosen Liverpool, there is a high chance that I would have done the same. I love Everton, but they are only “in my blood” as much as Liverpool are. I just happened to side with my Dad when I was growing up, went to Goodison when I was 5/6 years old, and that was that.
If Liverpool win the league, yes the stick would be a nightmare, but to actually see my family and friends overjoyed having waited so long for a league victory would far outweigh any tribalism. I am too young to have been alive for Hillsborough, but its legacy resounds around the city. My Uncle, who died 18 months ago, was a season ticket holder at Anfield for longer than I have been alive. I watched the Liverpool vs Manchester City game in a pub in Hampstead. Even on the other side of the country, the pub erupted when Coutinho bent in the winner. My heart raced; I knew what would be going through the minds of my family. I knew what was going through my own mind, I knew why the hairs on my neck had stood up in the minute’s silence, I knew why my shoulders had slumped when City netted an equaliser. I know how much the title would mean to people I know and love. I have moved away, but the desire for Merseyside to succeed, for the wave of triumph and collective joy to sweep across its streets, is stronger than ever. The Hillsborough tributes have shown how the city can stand as one; we are families and friend groups split between red and blue.
That Gerrard slip was fucking hilarious though.