Follow The Trace | 'Reds' for Life!
The English Premier League (EPL) has steadily evolved in recent years into undisputably the most high-profile and popular football league in the world. It is widely regarded as the most competitive and exciting football league on the planet.
In a kind of mysterious phenomenon, fans from all across the globe have adopted teams from the EPL as their own, an index not just of the marketing of the league outside of England, but an effect of the cosmopolitan spread of the player pool in the EPL.
There has been expressed amazement at the fact that so many foreigners including many Jamaicans, who despite being domiciled almost 5,000 miles away from these teams, clubs and players, are such ardent and passionate fans of these 'foreign teams' with which we have absolutely no logistical connection. We wear the jerseys, we sport the stickers, we sing the songs, and we venture on season by season; fixture by fixture on emotional rides with our teams, as we follow them religiously.
My personal connection with my EPL club of choice - Liverpool FC, is perhaps typical of all Jamaican EPL fans. The simple fact of the matter is that Liverpool Football Club were the first which I was exposed to, and got to know. I saw Liverpool playing and winning titles while being a toddler, even before even entering high school or even being aware of the existence of local football clubs.
My formative and impressionable years as a young fan were punctuated with images of the great Liverpool teams of the late '70s and early '80s and into the early '90s, with icons such as Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Graeme Souness, Kevin Keegan, Bruce Grobbelaar, the Jamaican John Barnes, and Peter Beardsley, just to name a few. One remembers vividly the weekly big league football features on the then Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation. The style and success of Liverpool left an indelible mark on my psyche and significantly advanced my appreciation and early understanding of the game.
Liverpool was the dominant team of that era. They won the last of their then record 18 league titles in the 1989-1990 season. The Reds of Anfield are still the most successful English team in elite European completion. Liverpool won the last of five European titles in 2005. For context, Manchester United have won three, Chelsea one, and current pretenders Arsenal and Manchester City are merely dreaming of this level of European success
Those Liverpool teams were conspicuously different from the other English teams of the day. With the possible exception of Tottenham Hotspurs with the influence of Argentineans Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricky Villa, the Liverpool teams of the '80s were the only teams in England to play the attractive passing game. Most of the other top teams played the then typical 'English long ball', while Liverpool played with flair, skill and style - and they were winners. It was virtually impossible not to fall in love with Liverpool FC. I was a Liverpool fan then and remain a Liverpool fan today, and I will be a Liverpool fan forever.
There have been many skids and slips between the last time Liverpool lifted the league title and now. The arrival of colourful German manager Jurgen Klopp has given Liverpudlians renewed hope of breaking the 26 year league title drought. This is the title we really want, but it will not be easy. The English Premier League remains the most difficult league in the world to win. My real wish for 2017 is that Liverpool football club will break the spell and win league title number 19. If Klopp delivers great! If not, we push on and go again. One thing for sure I will never jump off the Liverpool wagon or switch to support another club. I made the decision a long time ago, that I will 'NEVER WALK ALONE'. 'SCOUSER FOR LIFE'.