You’ll Never Walk Alone for the next 48 hours

Rafe Griffin – Co-Editor

A disclosure, I’m a Liverpool supporter. Not the ‘die-hard, stay up late on a Saturday night to watch every game type’ but they are my English Premier League team. They became my team back in the mid-1980’s when Craig Johnston scored in the 1986 FA Cup win. The Aussie connection in the team had me sold.

This week, The Reds visit Australia for the second time in two years. I ventured down to Melbourne in 2013 for their match against the Victory at the MCG. The afternoon of the game, in particular, the atmosphere around the town was electric. Plenty of supporters packing pubs and it was almost impossible to walk down the street without encountering every second person wearing some part of Liverpool paraphernalia or at least something red.

A merchandise stall had been set up at Federation Square and a line that must have spanned at least 300 metres had supporters gathered trying to obtain a piece of the club. Do I, don’t I line up? Ah stuff it, it might be the only chance I get to do this sort of thing. 45 minutes later and after enjoying the various tales being told by those lined up around me, I had my hands on a Liverpool tour scarf.

Still three hours to kickoff, what do I do now? Find a bar to have a few pre-match settlers. No, not that pub, they’re lined up ten deep on the footpath. There’s a quieter one up on the corner, I’ll try that. As I’m about to enter that establishment, an almighty roar goes up across the road. I look to see what’s going on. Turns out it’s the hotel that Liverpool are staying at and the team are heading out of the foyer to the team bus waiting by the footpath. It’s a sea of humanity and the incredible noise created by the frenzied supporters getting an up-close view of their idols is something I’ll never forget.

So after a couple of cleansing ales, it’s time to head off to ‘the G’. I take the 15 minute walk with someone who doesn’t know a lot about the round ball game, she’s going for the experience. I fill her in on the key facts and when we arrive at the stadium we go our separate ways to our respective viewing positions for the match.

Gee I’m glad I forked out a little extra for the good seats. I have a great view of the field, it feels so close to where the action will take place. Behind me are the corporate super suites filled with plenty of familiar faces. I’ll have to suffice for a pie and chips rather than the delicacies I can see being served but before I know it, the players are entering an arena full to the brim.

If the noise at the hotel was something to behold, it’s nothing compared to seeing and hearing 90,000 belting out ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. The Kop On Tour lead the way as the lyrics flash up on the big screens so everyone can join in. It’s a spine tingling moment and you can tell it’s had an impact on the players.

The stadium is awash with red, save for a small band of Melbourne Victory supporters in their dark blue. It’s hard to conceive that a side with the support of the Victory would be such a bit-player in their home town.

The match plays out, it goes to script as Liverpool claim a win. Steve Gerard is cheered everytime he gets within a bull’s roar of the ball. Everyone goes home happy and I’m sure like me, end up with a life-long memory.

We can expect something similar in Brisbane. King George Square is our Federation Square with a merchandise stand that has been set up and will feature the very special event of Liverpool’s 2015/16 away kit being launched on Thursday afternoon. Local Brisbane club, Souths United, will play host to coaching clinics featuring legends Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler, Didi Hamman and Craig Johnston while the open training session on Thursday will be a highlight.

The main course takes place at ‘Sunkop Stadium’ on Friday night so if you’re getting along to the match, enjoy the atmosphere or if you can’t make it along go the game, soak in what’s going on around town. I’ll be out and about for QSN over the next two days to capture all the festivities.