I grew up in the Steubenville, Ohio area and played soccer during grade school. I wasn’t very good at offense, but I could chase people down and get the ball out of my half of the field, so I was somewhat better at defense, though my tactics sucked because I didn’t really grasp “offside”. I was a kid and it was a game. Fast forward many years to around 2010, I think, and I found myself in Columbus, Ohio at my first Columbus Crew game. From the upper deck, I saw the spectacle and heard the thunder of the Nordecke. I knew that was where I had to be and that was where I was the next match. The following season and every season after, the Nordecke has been my season ticket destination.
Then came Precourt, the snake. He, with the help of MLS, tried from the beginning to move the Crew down to Austin, Texas. In those dark days starting in October 2017, I vowed to toss MLS aside entirely if Columbus lost the Crew. I was in the market for a new squad. Enter my older cousin and his friend, both former players and youth coaches. Check out EPL, much better product – they were right. Check out LFC, so good – they were right. The siren song of YNWA became irresistible – that video of YNWA…in Australia? I was hooked. Join us – how could I not?
Soon, waking up early on the weekends became a thing for this night owl as I got to hang out with them via text and share the experience with them. I’m still pretty new, so I’m unfamiliar with much of the history and still learning many of the chants. I looked at the Kop like I did the Nordecke and I just wanted to be a part of that.
The first time I got to see Liverpool live was in 2018 against Man City during the pre-season tour. That was a memorable outing because we were all together with family – generations of Reds fans. It’s one thing to hear YNWA on Youtube or on a TV broadcast, but something quite special to be a part of live. It is a true, universal anthem. Later, I found this picture of Klopp hoisting the Save the Crew scarf that was taken by a fellow Red and Crew fan at another pre-season match. A few months later, in October 2018, the Crew were officially saved and now I have two teams. I can’t really point to any one player in the current squad and count him as a favorite, because they are such a solid team. I think that is mostly a function of its manager. I’ve become a fan of Klopp’s style and enthusiasm for the game, the players, and the fans. It’s infectious.
One of my goals was to coordinate a trip into Europe with my cousin and his friend, capping it off with a match at Anfield. I would’ve broken the bank for it. However, 2020 has pretty much wrecked those dreams for the foreseeable future. Even before the pandemic and the shutdown, we knew that we were witnessing something special and historic this season and we did our best after the restart to use webcams to stay connected while watching the matches. It’s not the same, but we have to make do with what we’ve got. This mutual support transcends sports as we stay connected in these trying times. And as the song says, walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone.
Tim “Grumpus” Rohal II
Liverpool fan since 2017