I studied in the United Kingdom. I can rattle off the names of obscure Scottish distilleries—primarily because I took the time to study a map of them. Like a twat. I use the word twat because, in case I didn’t mention it yet, I studied in the United Kingdom.
I am that guy everyone hates.
In some respects, anyway. I sneak in British vernacular, sometimes deliberately but more often than not involuntarily, in situations that really just don’t warrant it. Brian Boyle’s goal the other day? Pure class. Wait, what the fuck did I just say? Pure class? Algebra is [a] pure class. Boyle’s goal was mitts and a fuckin’ snipe. Just say mitts and a fuckin’ snipe, dude. That’s what it was, after all. There’s no need to bullshit it.
I think this is what happens when you live in a foreign place at the same time you’re developing an identity. You end up a mutt. You say shit like fair play but you also retain the rights to begin this sentence with you say shit. That [expletive] bum Jimmy Hayes is a right billy no mates. Maybe there’s a market for people who talk like this. Like how there’s a market for exotic animals and how you’re sort-of-maybe glad you saw it but upon reflection you go, ‘Y’know, I didn’t necessarily have to ever see the Kinkajou.’
But you did see the Kinkajou. And people do see the Kinkajou. What I am getting at here is that during the week people associate with me, the Kinkajou in this never-ending analogy, and therefore by the time Saturday morning rolls around I need some me time. NBCSN, channel 220 at home and 55-1 at school, understands this. I am convinced they understand me.
They understand I have an obsession with England’s most successful club: Liverpool FC. They’re my fix, and I love this network with all my heart for it.
But how the obsession came about isn’t how you would’ve expected. I didn’t adopt soccer, or footy as the Scots and my plagiaristic self like to call it, when I lived over there. I had always liked it. My buddy and I would spend hours playing FIFA. Fernando Torres was sick on Liverpool. The Beatles hailed from Liverpool. Liverpool’s working class origins always drew direct comparisons to Boston. I was familiar with the magic of Istanbul—my Red Sox had pulled off a similar feat 6 months prior. Liverpool had always been my soccer team.
But the games weren’t on TV here. Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Carragher, Crouch, they were video game superstars, mythological creatures, they weren’t real like how Bourque and Nomar were real to me. Long story short I barely watched any club soccer growing up. Liverpool? Maybe a few times when a Man United game would be randomly televised.
So I go to the UK, and I proceed to watch a lot of club ball, but even then it would be mostly Champions League clashes sans Liverpool. I met a ragtag bunch of Liverpool supporters—a couple Englishmen, a couple Scots, a Norwegian—quality people, class even, but I didn’t watch games with them. Couldn’t tell you why. I had other things to do Saturday at 3, like, uhh…well, shit, nothing comes to mind but I must’ve been doing something. Whatever it was it wasn’t watching the footy on Saturdays at 3. Kinkajous are solitary souls, man. I don’t actually know if that’s true, but neither do you, so let’s just run with it, yeah?
So I wasn’t watching Liverpool on Saturdays when I lived 5 hours from Liverpool. I never visited Liverpool. I never visited England! Only lived in Scotland for 2 years and never visited England. You can’t make that up. Probably says a lot about me that I take pride in that.
So my Liverpool fandom did not blossom when I was closest to Anfield. I watched more Dortmund games, more El Classicos, drank more pints of shitty lager on Tuesdays and Wednesdays watching a pedestrian Chelsea team conquer Europe than I would care to admit. Park the bus more. ♪ It’s so quiet at The Bridge ♪.
I put in my two years there, decided I wanted to be elsewhere, and life’s been a steady freefall ever since. Except in one respect. I truly became a Red. And it all happened on Saturday mornings accompanied by my best friend Baxter at the foot of the bed.
I’m referring to the illustrious 2013-14 campaign. It ultimately ended in heartbreak, but that team provided the most thrilling ride I’ve ever bore witness to. I washed dishes and thought about Liverpool. For like eight months in a row or whatever it was.
The whole time I couldn’t get past just how ironic it was that I really didn’t give a hoot about the club when I was over there—when I could’ve watched games at British pubs, when I could’ve explored the gritty town I extol in my mind, when I could’ve went to a goddamned game and sung YNWA. The fact that the ’13-’14 team played with such a vibrant tenacity definitely kept my eyes glued to the tiny television set in my bedroom, but I was going to watch them religiously that year whether they finished 2nd or 19th. I had fuck all to do on Saturday mornings. I intend on keeping it that way.
I’d lie there, usually elated, with no one to talk to about what I had just witnessed. Suarez did it again against Norwich! Sturridge and Sterling’s link up play is something else, eh! And that Stevie, he’s ageless! If only we secured the back! We beat City…we’re gonna do it!
Baxter humored me when I couldn’t control myself and had to vocalize what was on my mind. But we subject our dogs to far too many annoying situations as it is so I tried to keep it to a minimum. One of these days when I toss a tennis ball at his unsuspecting head for the umpteenth time I just want him to grow a thumb on the spot and whip a Trevor Hoffman two-seamer right at my stupid-ass dome. But that day hasn’t come, and for the most part he did indeed humor me. When they lost, he’d leave. I’d become more of a grouch than I already am.
It all felt like a dream. My life was quite literally on pause, and yet this team was so electric. It made no sense. How could this team be thriving when…when I’m not thriving? I’m not superstitious, but like Michael Scott I am a little stitious, and I just couldn’t wrap my head around what I would watch week-in week-out. Secure Champions League ball, sure, but they couldn’t really win the thing could they? If Liverpool, if this Liverpool, can win the league—then how on Earth am I supposed to justify my own dead-end situation? I can live vicariously through the squad on Saturday mornings, but what happens when the folks go, “That’s great about your soccer team and all, Patrick, but, well, what about you?” You don’t get it mom and dad! *Proceeds to blast MCR*
The problem now with this story is that Leicester fucked it all up. Leicester pulled off the miracle. Liverpool was a dark horse that campaign, damn near pitch black dark and I’ll take that to my grave, but Leicester was like an immobile model wooden horse (as opposed to the plethora of mobile wooden horses—good one that Pat! Don’t worry, we’re almost at the end) located in Kansas winning the Kentucky Derby. Wasn’t supposed to happen because it couldn’t happen and they’ll sing songs about it forever. And justifiably so.
But I will remember that Liverpool campaign with fondness. They became my long-distance relationship and they will forever be my long-distance relationship. I still catch most of the games and talk about them with no one. Jürgen Klopp is the Messiah. The future’s bright.
Maybe one day I’ll visit Anfield and meet a few proper Scousers from Liverpool. Chant Fields of Anfield Road and bask in the presence of beautiful harmony. And maybe I won’t. It really doesn’t matter at this point. Liverpool made my Saturday mornings and continue to do so, it’s relaxing and it’s reliable, and, as isolating and one-sided as my fandom can feel across the pond at times, I wouldn’t trade it for a second.