Walk On Through Life and Football

By David Rice

Some things are bigger than football. It’s true.

There are moments in your life that will make you feel like watching football is just something you do out of habit. You’ve formed an addiction and there has to be a reckoning, a moment where you must sacrifice something and complicate your relationship with it or a moment where you finally burn out on it and walk away.

Bill Shankly’s famous quote about football being more important than a matter of life and death is obviously an exaggeration. It is important to us, but how important does it become before the people around you start questioning whether it’s a healthy habit for you to have. Trust me, I’ve explored the outer reaches of those limits for many years now, and you can find a breaking point if you push hard enough.

Then life throws you a curve ball. A taste of devastation. I’ll come right out and say it, our little family lost a furry friend last week in somewhat traumatic fashion. My wife and I were left exhausted and heartbroken by the ordeal. After 13 years, he’d had a good life, but it wasn’t easy. It never is. They become a part of you in a way that most people never do, and after it unfolded, I felt like I could stay in bed for an eternity.

I won’t go into the details, or a full-blown examination of the emotions, let’s just say that the death of something you care a great deal about is hard, end of. And there was a part of me that thought the hell with football, the hell with the whole journey the club has been on, I can’t be bothered with this right now. I could just stay in, have another ugly cry and wait for it to feel like the sun would come up again.

But Sunday wasn’t just any game of football was it? Had it been Watford away, I may have just sat in my back room and passingly watched it in sweatpants over a cup of coffee by myself. But it’s them, and as much as I loathe their general existence, it’s days like that which remind you why they are so important, why the rivalry has a bigger meaning. It can pull you from a rut, it can drag you from the doldrums of your own thoughts and entrench you in sweet distraction, even if only for a moment.

More Than a Game

I didn’t get to the pub until about the half hour mark. I was busy handling life. Upon arriving, I was greeted by all the familiar faces, seemingly all of whom had seen through a social media post that we’d suffered this loss. In a lesser community, I might be left to my devices to cope in my own way. But that wouldn’t exactly embody the spirit of You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Instead, I was greeted with hugs, well wishes and an understanding of why I was there. We didn’t talk much about what had happened. Everyone acknowledged it, but immediately shifted my focus toward the match. Not in a forceful way, but in a way that suggested they knew exactly what I needed.

The Reds, for their part, did exactly what I needed them to do. Beyond this latest event, the last six months to a year hasn’t exactly been a joyride on a personal level. There has been a fair amount of stress with one sad turn of events after another mixed in throughout. There are regrets, there have been hours of sleep lost and work I didn’t want to do that had to be done.

But one of the things that has helped me carry on is this community and this team. The connection I have to Liverpool Football Club goes beyond fandom at this point, it has entered a sort of spiritual realm that I can’t explain with any sort of rationale and certainly not with a hereditary or geographical tie. It just is a part of my life, a joyous addiction I have no intention of rehabbing.

There are times I can’t help but feel like its success intertwining with a rather dark period in my own life is no accident. When the team was frustrating, when they consistently let you down and sent you home pining for the glory days, my life was otherwise fine, quite comfortable actually. It was easy to feel dismay over a bad result because, frankly, there wasn’t a whole lot else to be distraught about.

Suddenly, as things in my life outside of being a supporter have taken a bit of a darker turn, the Reds are the absolute business. They are something to behold and look forward to. They are the very definition of what you were looking for during all those years of frustration. They have provided some measure of counterbalance to the disappointment and hurt of the last year for me, and in that way, football has been vital to my health.

I still don’t think it’s a matter of life and death, nor is it more important than that. But in this most recent instance, it made me think more about life than death, and at the very least, that is a good thing.

As Mo Salah finished off the match and Alisson Becker joined him in a celebration that echoed 2009, the celebration was the awakening of something I hadn’t felt for a number of days, even weeks perhaps. A type of joy that is difficult to find just anywhere. Had it been Bournemouth, it wouldn’t have been the same. Had it been a fourth goal, it wouldn’t have been the same.

It was a statement from the Reds that this is their time, a reminder that they shall not be moved from the road to that golden sky. And as the hugs went round and the songs were belted out, it reminded me of something important too. Every storm has an end. You just have to walk on.

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Content created by Liverpool supporters based in the Tampa Bay region of Florida. The opinions expressed here are the author's. Follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

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Tampa Bay Kop Talk

Tampa Bay Kop Talk

Content created by Liverpool supporters based in the Tampa Bay region of Florida. The opinions expressed here are the author's. Follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

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