Liver­pool will be on their own in Rus­sia

Soc­cer fans loyal only to their teams

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - CLASSIFIEDS/SPORT - Jim White

YOU may have heard that Liver­pool have made it to the Cham­pi­ons League soc­cer fi­nal. And with the un­likely progress of Jür­gen Klopp’s de­light­fully un­in­hib­ited side to the show­piece in Kiev has come the as­sump­tion by cer­tain par­ties that this is some­how a uni­ver­sally ap­peal­ing prospect.

The whole coun­try, many have sug­gested, will get be­hind Mo and Bobby and Vir­gil. All of us, so the the­ory goes, will be as an­i­mated on our so­fas as Klopp will be in the tech­ni­cal area, as we roll in the aisles at James Mil­ner’s self-con­sciously dull tweets while belt­ing out our cho­rus of “Ole, ole, ole.” Yeah, right. As Matt Daw­son found out, foot­ball sup­port is not quite like that. The Rugby World Cup-win­ning scrumhalf and pre­sid­ing ir­ri­tant on tele­vi­sion’s A Ques­tion of Sport ap­par­ently likes to de­scribe him­self as an Ever­ton fan.

I say ap­par­ently be­cause he does not seem to grasp the fun­da­men­tal tenet of the call­ing. After Liver­pool’s mag­nif­i­cently harum-scarum semi­fi­nal win over Roma, he tweeted: “Thor­oughly en­joyed that @LFC. Many con­grats and will be cheer­ing you on in a few weeks #ynwa”.

The re­sponse was less pos­i­tive. Ever­ton fans pointed out the prob­lem of not sim­ply wish­ing the ri­vals well, but do­ing so by em­brac­ing the Liver­pool motto. ‘You’ll Never Walk Again’ was among the more po­lite sug­ges­tions.

And those in­censed Ever­to­ni­ans are by no means un­usual in their ab­so­lute re­fusal to climb aboard the Klop­pite band­wagon rolling its way to Ukraine.

Ev­ery Manch­ester United fan will al­ready have iden­ti­fied which sock draw it is that will com­mand their ur­gent at­ten­tion on the evening of May 26. So will Chelsea sup­port­ers. Any­one, in fact, who fol­lows a ri­val team.

They might grudg­ingly ac­knowl­edge the qual­ity of the per­for­mances that have got Liver­pool there, they might wish that Salah, Firmino and Van Dijk were in their side, but as far as they are con­cerned, Klopp and his team will be walk­ing into the NSC Olimpiyskiy very much alone.

And rightly so. Daw­son’s logic that be­cause a suc­cess­ful club hail from the same coun­try as the one you favour you sud­denly root for them, runs counter to the emo­tional pur­pose of foot­ball sup­port.

Foot­ball is noth­ing if it is not tribal; you fol­low who you fol­low and ev­ery­one else can go take a run­ning jump.

The idea that you will be will­ing on a team that, when they play your own, you loathe with ev­ery fibre of your be­ing, un­der­mines the point of be­ing a fan.

Loy­alty is fun­da­men­tal; flip-flop­ping anath­ema; once you have made your choice you stick with it.

This is not just an English thing. Does Daw­son re­ally imag­ine fol­low­ers of Atletico Madrid will be cheer­ing on Cris­tiano Ron­aldo and his team­mates in Kiev?

Any­one but your close ri­val has long been the pre­vail­ing dic­tum of the foot­ball fan.

And Liver­pool fans would not want it any other way.

When United and Chelsea reached the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal in 1999 and 2012, on both oc­ca­sions ev­ery Liver­pool fan wor­thy of the name be­came an overnight Bay­ern Mu­nich sup­porter. – The Daily Tele­graph

LOYAL TO THE CORE: Liver­pool soc­cer sup­port­ers Emily and David Far­ley carry a card­board cut-out of Liver­pool player Mo Salah out­side their house which has been dec­o­rated ahead of the club's Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal ap­pear­ance against Real Madrid in two...

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