The anticipation of the release of the squad sheet before Liverpool matches used to interest my father who was diagnosed with Dementia in 2012. I would read out the team sheet to him, carefully going over each player, their position and squad number as he called out his favourites.
He liked Alexander-Arnold as he was a fellow Brit and shared his middle name of Alexander, and Robertson, as he stated all great left backs should be Scottish. He also really enjoyed Jürgen Klopp’s close rapport with his players, it was refreshing to see a manger so hands on with the team.
Last summer, the buzz around the new signings of Alisson Becker, Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xheridan Shaqiri were palatable, and the start of a new season on the horizon was exciting as Jürgen Klopp built up the strength of the squad which in retrospect was a very lucrative transfer period for Liverpool.
My father stopped being able to tell who the players were early on this season as Liverpool a got off to a very strong start.
It was something that we noticed gradually and I began to narrate the matches more and more as the season went on. As this continued on and my father lost interest in other Premier League matches, he asked for the Liverpool matches to be on a loop in the background.
His caregiver and myself taped every match, and when I visited him and there had been an International break, I’d often see the same match over and over. I began to use it as a way to better educate myself about the technical aspects of the game such as positioning by number, which was a whole side of football which I hadn’t learned about until this season.
My father who hails from Weston Super Mare originally, used to travel home every May from America to visit his brother for three weeks after the conclusion of a very busy tax season. Most of the clientele from the family business were from the UK, some were Liverpool fans, and sometimes the clients knew one another and the outcomes of matches would be debated with friendly banter.
Going to Anfield before the end of the season was a top priority. My father and his brother (who is former professional ruby player Gerry Redmond) used to make a proper trip out of it, taking the train up to Liverpool, staying in a hotel overnight.
This season has been incredibly exciting for Liverpool fans, and yet for our family, quite bittersweet. As long as I can remember, it’s only ever been Liverpool in our family. Remembering my father watching the matches to unwind after work are one of my vivid childhood memories. Getting to the Champions League Final last season was so exciting, only to have our dreams dashed early on in the match by Salah’s injury inflicted by Sergio Ramos.
Even though my father doesn’t know the players anymore, his technical understanding of the matches is spot on. Penalties, corners, goal kicks, he’s right on them. He loves Jürgen Klopp and thinks he can make history at this club.
As a fellow supporter, I’m very excited by this season as well, and wanted to document this for my family as a way to say thank you to my father for bringing the greatest sport to us.
As I write this, Liverpool are top of the Premier League with five matches to go after a scintillating come from behind victory over Southampton yesterday.
Winning the Premier League means everything to us football fans, it’s been a long wait, and whether we end up first or second, it’s been a season quite unlike any other I can remember.