Climbing the Kop: Episode One

Edit Note: This is the first in hopefully a spat of columns regarding the development of the writer into a full supporter of the Liverpool FC. There is no plan for this column beyond writing specifically about the experience of getting into the Premier League from a standing start. That journey starts here.

by Corey

Oh crap what did I get myself into. Okay. Hold up. Let’s start at the start.

I blame Nick Mendola. Nick and I go back to our days of mutual writing development for The Spectrum at the University at Buffalo, and he has always been strong on the football, as some of you may know. Through him I have been exposed to football on a pretty consistent level – first through the U.S. Men’s side, then through his own venture with FC Buffalo. As I hung out more, I found more people watching the Premier League. People I knew and liked were suddenly football fans to me.

Its a pretty arrogant thing to think on my part that they were never football fans before I saw them and clearly had no interest in it because I didn’t see it and we never talked about it. My attitude reflected the state of the sport in the United States. It was not to be taken seriously. It was underground. The bartender not only had to be asked to turn to the game, but he had to be told what channel it was on and what number that channel was – if he even had it on the package.

But this isn’t going to be completely about a n00b fan trying to understand football. Nope, I pretty much get the game. Sports is rarely about the game itself. Sports is about community. Sports is about a family built around a common cultural experience and substance. In America, we have the Constitution and what it stands for. You have blood relatives and the relationships, good or bad, that they build. In sports we have the moments of glory and pain shared by those we meet on certain days of the week.

I have been toying with the idea of picking up a League team for a little bit now, since a lot of the people I know have one. Which to choose though? The connection that is emotionally constructed around franchises is such a huge part of this that I can’t just throw a dart at a dart board or a jart at a neighbors lawn. This will take care.

Let’s break down what the candidates, shall we?

Arsenal – I have heard people describe the Arsenal team as being very “Buffalo-like,” so that seemed appealing to me. Then I read through Nick’s EPL guide and saw that they won a championship in 2004, so that couldn’t be true in the slightest. However, I do have friends who are down with a big cannon – Ryan being one of them. I was actually in the local Arsenal club up until a few minutes ago Facebook (which would have been awkward if I stayed there.) The football would probably be pretty good when I watched it, and they were big enough to get solid news play. Wait… No British players on the team? In England? That seems weird.

Chelsea – A few years back I went to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York City to see a couple of skits. At the time there was a rapist stalking the neighborhood. The neighborhood was Chelsea. It was a pretty funny show, so I remember a lot of it, including the topical jokes. I cannot root for a team when their name makes me think of a rapist, whether its their fault or not. Sorry Chelsea. That and my friend Dave would disown me because he roots for…

Tottenham – Dave is a Tottenham guy. No lie, for the longest time I thought Tottenham was in Germany because I originally thought it was spelled Tottenheim, not Tottenham. What the hell is a German team doing in the EPL? That’s just weird. Well surprise! Its actually spelled h-a-m and is hella English. Hotspurs? And what does this have to do with the rooster? I’m rooting for the cocks? I think people who roll in South Carolina gear are tools because there is a zero percent chance they picked the team because they went to the school. Cocks? Come on already! “It’s the Spurs!” No it isn’t. You’re cocks. Its on the uniform. Cocks. Besides Dave and I both root for the Bills and Sabres and I need something to argue about with him. Tottenham, out.

Swansea – GET LOUD WALES. I have family roots that go all the way back to Wales (like WAY back) so if I am going to play the Roots angle this should be the team I saddle up with. But they just got promoted to the joint, so are they going to stick around? Are they any good? I would be guaranteed a spot on the ground floor with the team, but am I getting the piss beat out of me like an expansion team? I want to actually like watching the league if I am going to do this. I feel for the squad, but its just too risky a play to get my butt kicked out of the league and then have to attach to another squad. No dice.

I needed a connection to a team that felt a bit more immediate. Turns out my brother Jay is married to a nice girl from across the pond. Her roots come from Liverpool.

Yes the link is tenuous, but she is totally family (and hella rad) and so are her folks. Sports is about the community and the family, so lets do this. Liverpool it is.

NEXT EPISODE: I take my new team to the internets and get smothered by the community that lurks.

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