Liverpool: lifelong fans talk memories, Klopp & 30-year wait
We spoke to three Liverpool fans about what this title means to them, the journey to Premier League success and where the 2019/20 season ranks in their favourite memories of supporting the club.
Thirty years is a long time for anyone, but for some die-hard Liverpool fans the wait to see their club crowned the best in the land has taken a lifetime. 24-year-old Luke Killen was not even born the last time the Reds were English champions, while 34-year-old NHS worker Ant Garcia’s only memory of the 1989/90 triumph is of a poster on his bedroom wall. Michael Deane, the founder of iconic LFC shop Hat Scarf or a Badge, has supported the club since the 1970s and is only too aware of the journey to get to this point.
All three reflect on what this title win has meant to them and to Liverpool fans everywhere:
What are your earliest memories of supporting Liverpool?
Luke Killen: Michael Owen's second goal against Arsenal to win the FA Cup in 2001. As good as the goal was, I remember my five-year-old self being desperate to get a hold of that orange away kit. I think that is why it has stuck in my mind all these years.
Ant Garcia: Being born in 1986, I've been unfortunate on one hand that I've not seen the Reds win the title before this year, but I do like to add that I’ve seen them win everything else! I remember having a poster of the last championship-winning team on my wall, but don’t remember any of that season. My first proper memory was from 1991, my first game at Anfield. I remember it like it was yesterday.
Michael Deane: My earliest memory as a Liverpool fan is my first match on my first season ticket. I’d been to games the year before, but don’t have much memory of them as I was only five or six. We beat Spurs 7-0 at Anfield in 1978 and I remember the way we played, with Spurs having signed Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa it was built up as a massive game.
How important has the last decade been in the club's history?
Ant: Ten years ago we were just moments away from the unthinkable with our previous owners, so the current American owners deserve a lot of credit, something they perhaps don't always get. They have not been helped by some decisions made over the ten years, but they've also been able to recognise the mistakes and rectify them.
Michael: In the last five to ten years the club has changed a lot, especially since Jürgen [Klopp] has come in. Ten years ago we were marching on the streets against Hicks and Gillette, then the [Liverpool supporters' union] Spirit of Shankly was formed and things started changing for the better. The owners seem to listen to the fans when they have got things wrong; it’s probably the closest the fans and the club have been.
Luke: For my entire life, the league title has been hanging over the club. They say you don't miss what you never had but for fans of my generation, whether it be the constant reminders from pundits on the telly or even your arl fellas’ tales of previous glory, it has always felt like something was missing.
What has made this side different to the ones who have come so close in the past?
Luke: Having a manager on the touchline who visibly embodies the intensity of the fans in the stands has been massive. All the managers throughout my life have been relatively calm, collected characters. Klopp feeds off the crowd and vice versa, every game feels huge.
Michael: The time Roy Hodgson was in charge was difficult but then Kenny [Dalglish] came in and brought some pride back to the club. Brendan Rodgers replaced him and took us close but now Jürgen has built a great team.
Where does this rank in your favourite memories of supporting the club?
Luke: I vividly remember watching Istanbul as an eight-year-old and was in Madrid with my mates for the final last year. Both of those are hard to top. But I remember those as the crowning points of individual campaigns; this feels like the culmination of two decades of supporting my club. Being back home in Liverpool to watch us get it over the line surrounded by my family made it extra special too.
Ant: In terms of importance, this is the top. I've been going to games since I was five and the main focus throughout that time has been to win the league. Watching other teams do it year in, year out has been hard to watch, so it’s huge to finally win it. Hopefully we can push on and win a few more now, to get to 21 and beyond would be nice!