For those of you who don’t know me (which is probably a most since I’m a rare poster) my name’s Joe and I have had the most incredible past year supporting the Blues while at the University of Liverpool. It has been an absolutely eye opening experience for me, apart from the occasional trip to Windsor, Canada to drink and gamble when I was 19 and 20 and the one spring break I took to Mexico I had never really been anywhere outside the USA before in my life. I was watching the Goodison Derby back in October of 2012 while I was debating whether or not to go back to school, and thought why not have a laugh and apply to Liverpool? Well one thing led to another and I moved to Liverpool back in mid-September and it has been one whirlwind of a year that I will treasure for as long as I will live. So I thought I would give a little recap of the past 9 – 10 months for anyone who might be interested in an American’s perspective.
First off my year in Liverpool by the numbers:
11: Times I got goosebumps hearing Z-Cars blast out of the speakers as the Blues walked onto the field at Goodison.
9: Away matches I was fortunate enough to get to ranging from a FA Cup tie in Stevenage to sitting in the away stands at the Emirates, Stamford Bridge, or in the other side of the Park. Also the number of away matches I came away from with bruises from either celebratory or pre-match limbs.
3: Times I enjoyed a basket of gravy chips outside the park in the middle of winter.
4: The different stands I sat in at Goodison, with behind goal in the Gwladys being my favourite spot of them all.
14: Wins I witnessed
6: Losses I witnessed
5: Number of Players I was able to meet – Howard (who is half the reason I realized I was a Blue), Seamus, Ross, Ossie, and Jags.
0: Times I was hassled or treated different by anyone for being American. I think this is the most important number for me. While I knew that most of the fans I would encounter would be nothing but happy to meet a fellow supporter (even one from 3,500 miles away) I still was unsure if I would come across anyone who would take issue with me. I honestly could not say enough about how great everyone I met has been. Whether it’s been the random supporters I’ve met in the Winslow, the Oak, or the Brick, or especially the supporter’s club that has taken me in and treated me like I’m part of the family, everyone has taken me in and treated me like an adopted Scouser.
It was a season where I experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Nothing I’ve experienced following my American teams has ever come close to making me feel the way I have during my time here. I thought at the time watching the Pittsburgh Steelers win a few Super Bowls would be the greatest feelings I would ever have as a sports fan, but it paled in comparison to the feeling of absolute joy I felt after Newcastle away or United at home. In the same vein I never thought I would ever as feel deflated after I did after the across the park derby or after falling out of the FA Cup against Arsenal (made even worse by losing a bet with a gooner mate back in the states). While I always felt the highs and lows watching the matches on television, being at the match has been something completely different. There is just something special about Everton that I can’t put my finger on to define, but I feel it through and through.
This year was also a chance to notice all the things that make match days different here in the UK than they are in the US. First I couldn’t get over the police presence at all the matches, especially the derby. I have to say I don’t think I’ve ever felt so violated as I did in the queue to get into that god-forsaken stadium, but it was funny seeing the confused look of the policeman’s face when he heard my American accent while he was interrogating me about how much I had to drink or if I had any pyros. Second, I guess I never realized that you couldn’t take a beer up to your seats here, as I was told by the stewards during my first match. Luckily the Goodison stewards were good sports and laughed when I apologized and headed back under the stands to finish off the pint. Finally, I found out just how great the away followings are here both through my experiences of being in the away section and seeing them at Goodison. It is a great addition to a matchday atmosphere, and that level of noise just isn’t something you get at an American sporting event.
But more than anything I just wanted to take the time to let everyone know how boss of a time I have had here in Liverpool getting to know the city and the people who make it so great. It is going to be a sad day when I have to leave in September, but at least I will have two final matches before I head home. I can’t say enough good things about the city and club, it truly has become a home away from home these past 10 months, and I am looking forward to being a regular visitor in the future. As they say, “Once Everton has touched you nothing will be the same”.