By: Aakash Munjal
I have always wondered what makes us Indians get up from the usual dominance of Cricket and follow a football club from England or Spain or Germany, so religiously, that we can leave all our work in hand to watch them play (hope my boss doesn’t read this), follow them daily on Internet, we cry sometimes when they lose ( I mean I don’t remember when was the last time I was so heartbroken as I was during the Crystal Palace blunder). Our rooms will be covered with posters, scarfs, tee shirts of our club. It becomes so much a part of our lives eventually that our happiness somewhere depends on how our clubs performed on Saturday or Sunday. I mean after all, it was all meant to be for entertainment, right? Where is the loyalty there?
Footballers we adore and worship leave the club eventually for either more money or top flight football and for various other reasons (with the exception of a few). Managers are changed at one single failure – they then go to another club and talk shit about the same club they were managing for years may be. So where is the loyalty? How can we be loyal to something that.
I questioned this for quite some time, because honestly, I started watching club football only in 2007/2008 when my friend took me to a bar in Doha to watch Manchester United and Chelsea game. I guess it was 2007 FA Cup final. Chelsea won, he was happy and I started following Chelsea- For many years. I was the happiest man on the planet when Chelsea won the league in 2009-2010. But things were different after that, a long story and today I am a diehard Liverpool fan. I have been a Liverpool fan since the dark days of Hick and Gillett and obviously have been patiently and proudly seeing our Revival in the League. And it makes me wonder if that is a crime? Why can’t I shift clubs if players, managers, owners shift them on yearly basis? How can I be loyal and why should I be, if there is so much entertainment around. I started thinking of what makes it happen. And I guess this is what I have to say:
- City of Origin – This happens obviously if you are staying in the city from where the club originates or develops. Obviously this doesn’t apply to me and many of you reading. But makes sense otherwise, or even when we travel to say a particular city in England and belong there due to one or the other reasons – we studied there and lived there and my classmates followed Burnley, etc
- Players – We get connected to a set of players and cannot help loving them week in week out. The Liverpool SAS plus Stevie G, Chelsea legends – Lampard, Terry, Drogba, Barca’s ever loyals Lionel Messi, Xavi, Iniesta. You just get so hooked to them and their way of playing football, in fact their way of living their lives. For you, they become an addition to your family, your closest allies, people who you follow and admire.
- History and Culture of the Club: Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, they bring with them a huge history – more than a decade of football and many many years in top flight football. Liverpool’s success in the years prior to PL inception made millions of Indians back then love the club and we have somewhere inherited that love as well. The YNWA, the city, the Hillsborough incident, it becomes a part of your lives as well. You become in a way Patriotic – in club sense
- A Gut and Philosophy: I have to put these 2 together. I have to say this today, that THE most crucial factor and above all, is the GUT to follow a club, its philosophy, more than anything else. Do you ever question why you love that girl more than any other girl? When you start watching a whole lot of football, your gut puts you in love with a certain club, their certain players and their philosophy and that’s it. It’s not easy to explain this, but we all feel it and will probably follow our gut no matter where we are and what we do. I will not miss a Barcelona game this season because of one Luiz Suarez, but I would always want Liverpool to do well and in fact, I will love Liverpool no matter what the end result is.
It’s going to be an incredible season again. I will look forward to some amazing games, rivalry, some out of the world individuals, in many different clubs. But, I will have my mind, body and soul on my Liverpool. YNWA!!