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Deprived of seeing their mates, standing in their regular spots, singing and shouting for ninety minutes.
Deprived of the hustle and bustle of a non league football match day.
Two hundred and two days since for many, the highlight of their week was snatched from them.
No more footy.
No more days out.
No more seeing your mates.
The global pandemic meant the gates were locked and the turnstiles closed for the best part of seven months.
The world stood still for spring and summer.
There were bevies over Zoom calls and we tried to get in to the Bundesliga to fill a void until the Premier League was back.
BBC and ITV replayed old tournaments, but it doesn’t compare to discussing what team Robbo will put out, which left back Jack Hazlehurst was going to send for the Echo, who the new lad on the bench is, or whether it’s the Kopites or Shedites who are the gobshites.
Reminiscing old football matches was something I found myself spending hour after hour doing during lockdown.
I began to think about all the times I’ve had following football, and how they have shaped my life experiences.
I also began to think just what football means to me, why I missed it so much, and why I was so desperate to get it back.
Everyone has their own reasons for loving football.
Just like everyone has their own reasons for loving their football club.
For me, football is all about identity.
The feeling of being part of a collective group, all sharing the same beliefs and values.
This is what makes City of Liverpool so special.
The working class mindset is displayed everywhere. The uniqueness of knowing you’re stood next to people with the same morals, evidenced through songs and banners is something I craved.
I missed bursting out a chant of “fuck the Tories” and I missed hearing the shouts to opposition goalkeepers that only Scouse football fans could come up with.
I missed seeing the faces that have become a part of my life since 2016.
I then found myself wondering why.
Why was this so important in my life?
Pre Covid Britain was heading towards Brexit, and the Tories had secured a devastating majority in Parliament.
For many, times have been tough, and going the game provides an output.
It offers the chance to stand with likeminded people, and release the stress and tension that builds up during the week.
On a Saturday afternoon, we can channel our emotions through song, and support the lads in purple on the pitch.
Lockdown brought its own struggles which I am sure we all felt.
I wasn’t able to shrug the weekly struggles off with a day at the match.
Just like everyone else, I felt all the emotions.
Frustration, sometimes loneliness.
I missed my mates and I missed letting off my emotions at the game.
Days lacked meaning and weeks dragged.
Football brings structure and without it there was none. I could not wait for the feeling waking up on a Saturday and knowing its Saturday because the Purps are playing.
It came back last week for a friendly away to FC United of Manchester.
Personally, the days leading to this game had been particularly tough. But the unrivalled joy of arriving at the ground and seeing mates I hadn’t seen for seven months is something that simply cannot be beaten.
The greatest pick up I could ever have.
For the next two hours, the last seven months were forgotten.
Live football was back. Everything that we love and missed was there. The faces, the songs, the banners. It all meant so much.
I stood with people, who despite not seeing for the majority of the year, I share an unbreakable bond with.
The bond that was created through similar morals and values, and the love for this football club and this city.
That sense of collectivism and belonging was all I needed to forget the troubles of the world, and my own personal problems.
The intensity of the game itself was fantastic and tackles were flying round.
This just helped ramp up the atmosphere and the travelling Purps made up for lost time.
The post game pictures that emerged of the Purps singing and dancing on the terraces perfectly captured the sheer happiness of being back. The smiles, the clenched fists, the waving scarves; they’re all imagery of passion and joy.
Whilst I understand to many its just fellers legging it after a ball, to many it is so, so much more. I felt like once again I belonged to something.
The one thing that unites so many people and allows us to channel all our emotions is back.
It means everything.
Fan Focus #1 by Mark Thomas.
Fan Focus Gallery
As part of our #FanFocus series we’re encouraging supporters to document their experiences as a Purps fan by sending images to the pinned thread on @PurpsMatchday Twitter account. We’ll regularly update the #FanFocus gallery on the website with each blog entry.
Want to be a part of the Purple Rollercoaster?
After a commanding 0-3 victory away to Glossop North End in Saturday’s FA Cup Preliminary round, Craig Robinson’s side start their Northern Premier League North West campaign on Saturday 19th September at home to Marske United. Kick off is 3pm.
Due to Covid restrictions, the attendance is limited to 400 spectators and there are a limited number of tickets now available on General Sale (approx 100) at the following prices:
Adults £8.00 + 80p booking fee
Concessions £4.00 + 80p booking fee
Supporters can purchase tickets using the following link and are encouraged to do so early to avoid missing out.