The beautiful game in Liverpool

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By Sean Egle / Staff Writer

Draw game (Sean Egle / Staff Writer)

By Sean Egle / Staff Writer

Frustration; along with losing, this is the worst feeling a football fan (or soccer to the average American fan) can feel and a feeling too often felt this season from supporters of Liverpool Football Club.

Once again, supporters like myself endured another agonizing 90 minutes of football as LFC were held to a 1-1 draw by a visiting Aston Villa Football Club on April 7th.

Supporters will feel that several questionable decisions made by the match officials cost their team the chance to bag all three points and move up in the league standings ahead of their town rival Everton Football Club.

Rivalries exist in most sports; Lakers and Celtics, Dodgers and Angels, etc. But some of the most passionate and intense rivalries exist among Europe’s elite football teams. Knowing this, I was wise to keep Liverpool’s colors hidden whilst in London.

After boarding the train headed from London to Liverpool, I threw on my bright red scarf bearing the crest of LFC. And why not, seeing as half the train’s passengers had already done so.

Outside of the Liverpool Lime Street Station, located in the heart of Liverpool, Liverpool was an ever-present sight.

Scarves, jerseys, jackets, dogs wearing red clothes, babies in mini uniforms. There was hardly a soul who was not wearing the color of the city’s main football team.

I headed to Liverpool’s stadium, Anfield, via a very crowded double-decker bus since no cars are allowed to park near the stadium. Instead some 45,000 fans take a bus, taxi, or walk to one of two gate entrances into the stadium.

The Bob Paisley Gates and Bill Shankly memorial gates are both dedicated to previous Liverpool managers.

The team bus arrived to what seemed half of the stadium’s capacity eagerly awaiting their arrival. Twenty-three players, the medical staff, the coaches, and LFC’s manager Kenny “King Kenny” Dalglish all moved from the bus and onto the pitch for their pre-game warm up.

The stadium filled slowly as many took an opportunity to grab a pint or two before match kickoff. But as the stadium filled to its 45,000-plus capacity limit, Anfield became four walls of noise.

This game was the last to be played at Anfield before the Hillsborough memorial date. The club takes its history seriously and treats all members, current and fallen, with immense respect.

The noise became a pin-drop silence immediately before the starting whistle. A minute’s silence was observed to remember victims of what is known as the Hillsborough tragedy.

On April 15, 1989, Liverpool fans traveled to an away match in Hillsborough; 96 were killed and more than 200 were injured.

It was an eerie silence held the full minute and ended with the referee’s whistle and a loud response from the crowd. Many were left in tears from remembering a tragedy that affected the beautiful game through every level in English football.

After the whistle blew, another tradition followed- one with a much happier feel to it.

Adopted by the club in 1965, the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is sung by Liverpool supporters before every match. Fans hoist their scarves above their head and belt out the lyrics that have become part of the club’s rich history.

I’ll admit I became a bit teary-eyed. It’s not every day one gets to sing the anthem of a world-recognized football with 45,000 other fans.

The ball is set and the game begins with the blast of the referee’s whistle. Twenty-two men battle for 90 minutes in what is often described as a poetic game.

This game proved to be less poetic and more nail-biting as the game closed with a 1-1 draw and each team taking a point for their league standings.

Fans emptied out onto the streets surrounding the stadium in what seemed a sea of red moving toward every available bus, taxi, and car.

Only in Europe are fans so passionate, only in Liverpool are fans so dedicated.

Only football can boast the title of “the beautiful game.”

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