The 1980s: the rise of the City, and fall of the unions, economic recession led to high unemployment, and Liverpool FC was thepowerhouse in European football. Dominating every competition – winning two European cups, six league titles, two FA cups and four League cups – the city of Liverpool stamped its’ clubs name across silverware and record books for over a decade. The one man who never fails to remind me of this is my dad, Norman. Telling tales of his adventures across the terraces, he was there to see the goals from Rush and Aldridge and the sublime plays from King Kenny Dalglish. Those were his mid-20s, when he followed the Reds game-to-game, city-to-city, and country-to-country.
In 1994, I was born just down the road from the Anfield in the Liverpool Women’s Hospital. At six years old, I was sat beside big Norman in the KOP for my first game. It didn’t take long after that before we had our own season tickets. November 30, 2003 was the first game I vaguely remember. The seasoned Sami and Didi with the young Steven Gerrard brushing aside Birmingham 3-1. Since that day, I have been watching and following the Reds week-in week-out.
Lads like Robbie Fowler and Steven Gerrard inspired my own football career, beginning with kicking a footie off the garage of our house in Speke. At 12, my football started to become more serious and demanding. My dad and I would jump in his work van and drive across Liverpool and the county to play for teams such as Liverpool Schoolboys and Tranmere Rovers. While this new schedule didn’t lessen our dedication to the reds, as we would still follow them on the television and radio, it became increasingly harder to get to games, and the season tickets were passed on. Poor Norman got stuck watching me instead of Gerrard, but I always said, you’re better off watching me than paying to watch Igor Biscan!
Once I had been loaned out across the Evo-Stick football league, I knew it was time to reconsider football and life in general. The Evo-Stick is the where the grass is past your knees and tackles are ruthless. At risk of sounding cliché, I was a teenager with a fading dream ofplaying, wanting to know what else there was out there for me. After a random call from an old friend, the opportunity to come to the United States to play soccer and study at university presented itself – but I’ll be honest, the football is the real reason I came. After receiving several scholarship offers from schools across many different states, I knocked it down to three schools that displayed a history of football success. It was during this research that I was sitting beside my dad and came across Quinnipiac’s football motto: You’ll Never Walk Alone. It didn’t take much more than that, and soon after I was on the plane the Hamden, Connecticut to play football… and read some books on the side!
*Here is where I will begin referring to football as soccer*
When I joined the team in May 2013, I was pleased to discover I wasn’t the only Liverpool fan on the roster. There were 2 or 3 lads who were Reds too, Borja Angoita from Spain, Simon Hinde from Australia, and Ryan Scheiderman from New Jersey. The reason I say 2 or 3 is because I’m not certain Ryan was actually a fan or if he just panicked when I put him on the spot. By the time I graduated Quinnipiac University in 2018, half of the team from all corners of the globe were following the Reds avidly – a feat that would make any scouser proud, especially big Norm.
During Christmas periods at university, I would return home to Liverpool to see family, friends and go watch the games at Anfield. With a few close friends and family working for the club, I usually got to sit in the players’ lounge over the holidays, and while this was a lovely spectacle, nothing beats the KOP. (Having said that, the 3-course-meal does beat the 20 quid pie and coke from the stands!) Just before my return to Hamden, I would pack shirts, scarves and and other sorts of memorabilia to share with friends at University, a quick and foolproof method to continue growing the fan base! As Dirk Kuyt once said, adopted scousers.
Since coming to the States, the way I follow the Liverpool has changed. I no longer get to watch the reds at Anfield with dad, but I still watch every game… in class, in the library, at 7:00am Sunday morning, it is guaranteed that I’m watching. After traveling across town, across England, and now across the Atlantic Ocean to play the sport I love, the one thing that has stuck with me and motivated me no matter what roster I was on is Liverpool’s motto. This whole piece is a long introduction for these short four words, but I have noticed that through several hardships, recently more than ever, You’ll Never Walk Alone has been a steadfast mainstay in my life.
Having recruited many an American to become a Kopite, I knew the motto, explained the motto and referred to the motto in several situations, but only recently discovered the full effect it has had on me. After graduating university with my undergrad in Communications and Masters in Interactive Media, I began the job hunt. Moving from one visa to another, searching from company to company for a good fit for my skillset, and realizing, after living here in the US for over five years now, how many lasting relationships I have made, I felt the pressure of my next move.
But, in typical Doig fashion, in the midst of interviews and stressing about deportation, I cleared my schedule for the final Liverpool Champions League game. I got the bus down to New Haven to join the New Haven Liverpool Supporters Club at Chrsity’s bar. The game came and went, and while the outcome still hurts, it was one Scouser and one Red Geordie comforting that sparked an opportunity for my future. After explaining my situation, I was put in touch with two other members of the New Haven Club, asking how they could help – and ending their email signature with YNWA. The guys at Liverpool New Haven Group knew my situation, and, as any Kopite would understand and ensure, I was not left to walk alone. They quickly circulated my resume and before I knew it I was in contact with every stateside Red. At least, it felt like it. From having spent years telling people about the motto and the meaning behind it, I now I have experienced it first hand for myself, and it means more to me now than it ever has before.
I look forward to working with The Anfiled Shop, and this piece is a testament to the strength of our Red family.
You’ll Never Walk Alone.