You’ll Never Walk Alone

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The Anfield Football Stadium in Liverpool, England is filled to the brim. It’s May 7, 2019, on an energizing night. The Reds, a nickname for Liverpool FC (LFC) players and their fans, are in the semi-finals of the European Cup, the biggest competition in the sport of football. The Reds have done an extraordinary job at tying the game 3-3 vs. Barcelona FC, one of the most decorated football clubs to have ever existed. Although they were tied, Liverpool would have to score another goal in order to advance to the finals. Did Liverpool have what it takes to complete the comeback? “Corner taken quickly! He’s got the defenders by surprise! Origi converts!”. And in the blink of an eye, Liverpool has taken the lead off of a corner kick. The final whistle has been blown. Liverpool has progressed to the finals! LFC went on to win the finals 1-0 vs. Tottenham Hotspur to give their fans their first UEFA Champions League title in a decade. With just a kick of a ball, it is in these moments that are sealed in the minds of the Reds as cherishable memories for years. For these very moments are what the Reds live for: entertaining football.

Anfield, 2007

Liverpool FC originates back to a dispute in 1892 between the football club, Everton FC, and the owner of Anfield Stadium, John Houlding, on whether Everton FC could play on the Anfield field. Houlding subsequently left Everton FC to establish Liverpool FC. Since then, Liverpool FC have won 19 English titles, 6 Champion League titles (the most out of any English club), and 7 FA Cups (also known as the English Cup). Despite the positives, there were bumps on this eventful road. Two of these tragedies were the Heysel Stadium incident and the Hillsborough Disaster. The Heysel Stadium incident took place on May 29, 1985, in a Champions League final between Italian giants Juventus and Liverpool FC in Belgium, where a number of Liverpool fans ran and crushed Juventus fans against a wall, killing 39 people. This incident is described by Dr. Rogan Taylor, a sports teacher at the University of Liverpool, as a “stab in the heart for the city [Liverpool]”[1]. The Hillsborough Disaster occurred on April 15. 1989 between Liverpool FC and fellow English club Nottingham Forest in a FA cup semi-final in Hillsborough, England. Due to overcrowding, a section opening in the stands resulted in a stampede, killing 96 fans. The slogans, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “Justice for the 96!” originate from the tragedies of Hillsborough, with the former derived from Carousel, a musical by American composer Richard Rodgers in 1945. The “Justice for the 96!” slogan is used predominantly when LFC fans commemorate the 96 lives lost on the anniversaries of that day. These gruesome events have only strengthened the Reds, where they support each other whenever possible.

According to Swales, discourse communities, groups of people that contain similar goals and values, have “mechanisms of intercommunication among its members“[2]. Intercommunication between LFC fans is not just limited to the stadium. There are many platforms, such as Reddit, where LFC fans can share their opinions and feedback on the club. For example, Reddit users on the r/liverpool board exchange discussions with fellow fans. Although discussions between LFC fans can take place online, nothing beats the dialogues of the LFC fans during the games. The fans chant traditional club slogans in unison, including “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, to raise team morale. Being soaked in the energizing atmosphere of an LFC home game at Anfield cannot be described in words.

Jurgen Klopp, the current coach of Liverpool FC.

LFC have their own official membership on their website. The Full membership costs 60 dollars for a European-based fan and contains LFC accessories, easier accessibility to seasonal tickets, and discounts to LFCTV GO, a program that showcases exclusive coverage of the LFC team. But you don’t have to use the money to be a fan. According to a thread on r/Liverpool FC titled “How did you become a Liverpool fan?”[3], many LFC fans came together and shared fond memories of watching LFC matches. Since many LFC fans in this thread became fans due to their family members, it seems there is no real “hierarchy” in the community and everyone is the same. There is no distinction between novices and newbies - they all love Liverpool FC and that’s all that matters. Although a fan can pay for the LFC official membership, all it really takes to be a fan is just to love and support the team.

As with many football fandoms, LFC, boasting the 2nd most viewed website in football in 2020, are definitely not an exception to mischief. According to LFC fan Ajay Iyerm, LFC fans have been criticized for their “behavior [that] has been downright disgraceful on many occasions,” including LFC fans chanting the homophobic “Rent Boys” chant in a game vs. Chelsea FC in August 2021[4]. This was so abhorred by LFC that even the coach, Jurgen Klopp, deemed these fans as “idiots”[5]. Despite the actions of a few, LFC fans are not what the media might portray them as. The tasteless actions of a few LFC fans do not mean all LFC fans are lawless hooligans. This is proven by the creative “You’ll Never Walk Alone” chant, which was shared by other football clubs, including football clubs Celtic FC and F.C. Copenhagen. It’s through the significant influence of LFC fans that they remain to be a fierce, but gentle, force within the football community. With LFC’s constant successes, including that fateful night at Anfield, the fanbase is only expected to continue growing and thriving - still passionately chanting, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

ReferencesEdit

  1. "Heysel disaster: English football's forgotten tragedy?". BBC News. 2015-05-29. Retrieved 2021-12-20.
  2. Swales, John. The Concept of Discourse Community. Writing About Writing, Bedford, St. Martin’s, 2011, pp. 466-73. www.mjreiff.com/uploads/3/4/2/1/34215272/swales.pdf. Accessed 1 Oct. 2021
  3. Toftnetz7000 (2015-12-06). "How did you become a Liverpool fan?". r/LiverpoolFC. Retrieved 2021-12-20.
  4. Iyer, Ajay (2018-04-04). "The Dark Side of Liverpool Football Club (And the Supporters)". Medium. Retrieved 2021-12-20.
  5. "Klopp slams homophobic fans as 'idiots' after Liverpool supporters criticised for 'rent boys' chant | Goal.com". www.goal.com. Retrieved 2021-12-20.