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Plastic Scousers, your local teams need you

PUBLISHED: 11:30 26 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:30 26 June 2020

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp doesn't need plastic fans - so support your local team, says Steven Downes           Picture: PA

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp doesn't need plastic fans - so support your local team, says Steven Downes Picture: PA

PA Wire

Turn off your music and listen very carefully.

That scraping and scuttling that you can hear is the sound of thousands of plastic Liverpool fans crawling out of the woodwork.

Together, the din is like Babel, with numerous accents competing to be heard - except Scouse.

I’m getting Yorkshire, then a hint of Estuary, now Norwich, a touch of Yarmouth, some Cornwall, even South Korea - and South Creake.

It’s something I remember from my childhood, when Liverpool were winning everything, and glory-hunting children could not wait to put Ian Rush posters on their bedroom walls in Trunch and East Runton.

It meant they could associate themselves with success.

They were also always the most brazen gloaters when Liverpool won. It’s almost as if the plastic fans have to make the most noise, in order to distract people from their paper-thin credentials.

I’m genuinely pleased that Liverpool have won the league. Their football is tremendous and their manager is a total legend.

I congratulate all the real supporters: those who have city and club engrained in them like the words running through a stick of rock.

But I will never understand the idea of “supporting” anything other than your local team.

I was born in Norwich, with a Norwich City-mad, Norwich born and raised dad. I first went to Carrow Road aged five or six, and have never wavered from following the boys in yellow.

It’s a journey that has rarely been dull, featuring more variety, fun and pathos than the fans of any of the big teams could dream of.

Being rooted in the city of Norwich and the county of Norfolk means I feel the energy and the mood around the Canaries.

To me, it’s the difference between the deep love you have for your wife or partner, and an unrealistic crush on a Hollywood A-lister or a singing superstar.

Norwich City’s results move me, hurt me, lift me, anger me, and always involve me.

I’m not always at the matches, but I’m part of the club - just like tens of thousands of other proper Norwich followers.

I’m afraid you cannot say any of those things if you follow Liverpool from afar, with their appearances on Sky Sports mere episodes in a distant drama. It’s no more genuine than watching Game of Thrones or Bodyguard.

There is always a “really good” reason for supporting Liverpool (or Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea, etc):

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■ I went to university in Liverpool

■ My granny passed through the city when leaving Ireland to live in London

■ My dad told me to shut my eyes and stick a pin on the fixture list. It just happened to land on Liverpool (eventually)

■ They were the first team I ever saw live (yes, playing your local team Norwich at Carrow Road)

■ I support them as a mark of respect for John Lennon

■ I like red

■ Jurgen Klopp seems like such a nice chap

■ I’ve always been a Liverpool fan (and always lived in Gorleston).

My brother went to university in Liverpool, and I went to visit him once - is that enough? It would be for some people.

They are all just excuses, when - unless you were born and/or raised in Liverpool - the truth is: “I am a shameless glory-hunter.”

As football clubs fight for survival in the midst of coronavirus, supporters become even more crucial.

The big clubs will be fine, of course. But so many clubs below the Big Six are staring at spiralling debts and potentially going out of business.

It’s time to following up our Love Local campaign with Support Local.

For it is ridiculous that clubs like Luton, Bolton, Exeter, Burton Albion et al should be struggling to survive, when people living in the streets around their grounds are watching Liverpool or Man Utd on the TV.


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