Liverpool fans didn’t imagine they would be celebrating their first league title in 30 years quite like this. They also didn’t imagine some other Liverpool ‘fans’ would be ‘celebrating’ quite like that.
Fans are restricted to celebrating within their own bubble, or even alone, due to the very present threat of Covid-19. A threat that remains despite an irresponsible government trying to subliminally convince people otherwise.
It has been a frustratingly isolated experience, but an emotional moment nevertheless.
Seeing the players celebrating together will have helped. The excellent coverage on various sports channels, as much as its blanket nature may have wound up fans of other clubs, brought the Liverpool players, manager, and club legends into people’s homes.
In their own unique way, in these unprecedented times, they were memorable moments. There was a giddiness on social media which resonated across the world with the club’s global fanbase.
Those players seen celebrating in close quarters, along with the club staff, are regularly tested for Covid-19. They are living in their own bubble which has allowed Premier League football to continue and has allowed Liverpool to win the title on the pitch.
A lot of the things seen on matchdays, such as substitutes sitting many seats apart and players touching elbows rather than shaking hands, are to lower the chance of spreading the virus at any opportunity. They are also for show, and to remind those watching that this virus is still very real and is still out there.
In many ways, football has shown more responsibility around this than those leading the country, implementing its own lockdown before the government initiated its own half-hearted version, and continuing to promote caution and consideration of others as it restarted.
Videos emerged on social media of players celebrating in their not so mysterious mystery location. They showed the manager dancing like only he can, Mohamed Salah bright-eyed and bushy-tailed even in the early hours of the morning, and Andy Robertson encouraging Klopp to get on the ale in the hope he will give the team two days off rather than one.
Elsewhere, media outlets put their creative teams to work after months of enforced inactivity, producing emotional montages and evocative images.
But while many felt forced to enjoy their celebrations as best they could in small groups in their own homes, others decided they deserved to celebrate properly after such a long wait.
For many, it is the first league title Liverpool have won in their lifetime, and they were determined to enjoy it with others regardless of the health implications.
The scenes outside Anfield on Thursday night were uncomfortable viewing for some. Not least because they would have liked to have been there themselves.
There were mixed emotions as some fans felt unable to celebrate this moment fully, and there was some envy that others took it upon themselves to do so regardless of the health repercussions — not just their own, but that of the neighbourhoods to which they will return.
I totally agree, Ste. Although part of me is jealous they get to do that, and I dont. Mixed emotions.
— Scott Bennett (@scottb12net) June 26, 2020
The fear of missing out clashed with a determination and individual responsibility to not spread a virus, the devastating effects of which some will have seen first hand.
We were told with authority and conviction that football supporters wouldn’t gather in numbers outside stadiums, and that has been an accurate prediction so far, but recent events may now convince authorities that Liverpool cannot play their remaining home games at Anfield.
It was always likely that the release of emotion following 30 years without a league win would result in gatherings of some sort and, as it happened, that moment didn’t come while Liverpool were in action themselves.
After the example set by the government and its autocrat controller Dominic Cummings, the Covid-19-bank-holiday culture that ministers almost encouraged in their messaging, ignoring the advice of public-health experts, resulted in packed parks, beaches, and ill-advised gatherings. The blame for this doesn’t lie with the people, but those who are supposed to be protecting them.
But the scenes at Pier Head on Friday were not a show of support for Liverpool, the football club or the city.
Again, the gatherings are in many ways understandable given the mixed messaging from this incompetent, negligent government, but the actions of many of those gathered is inexcusable and unrelated to Covid-19.
They will inevitably put extra pressure on health services. Spikes have been seen following mass gatherings in those countries whose reckless right-wing leaders, such as those in the UK, the United States, and Brazil, have almost encouraged the spread of the virus.
But again, this is on those leaders and their cronies, rather than the people.
What can’t be excused are the actions of some of those gathered at Pier Head on Friday night.
Aiming fireworks at the Liver Building and leaving the city in such a state isn’t supporting Liverpool, it’s the opposite.
Some fireworks found their way into the gathered crowds, risking injury to large amounts of people and potentially putting further stress on a health service which is stretched to its limit at the best of times.
There's the video, because it's been taken down ? pic.twitter.com/zo80tUjswl
— Keizus (@_Keizus_) June 26, 2020
The cleanup operation required the day after is embarrassing for those Liverpool supporters in attendance, and it’s obvious looking at the scenes that it wasn’t just a minority who were responsible for leaving a city they supposedly support, in such a state.
The cleanup operation is already underway after a number of Liverpool fans gathered at Pier Head to celebrate @LFC winning the league. @MerseyPolice have put a dispersal order in place until 28th June. pic.twitter.com/VX7kQ0sbCs
— BBC Radio Merseyside (@bbcmerseyside) June 27, 2020
The most frustrating aspect of all this for many people is that it gives the establishment another excuse to target football fans as a whole, an excuse to target Liverpool as a city, and to turn football fans against each other. Tactics they have long used to suppress the working class.
It will also turn fellow fans against each other. Some will have stayed at home, resisting a great urge to go out and celebrate with friends and family, while others will be openly boasting about their own celebrations amid huge gatherings.
One rule for some, another rule for others, but always a convenient clampdown by the authorities on football fans; a group for whom this will do no favours.
Anger should be aimed at the government’s handling of the situation, not at a blue light on the Liver Building. Effort should be put into cleaning up the city, not dirtying it.
— North West News (@HeartNWNews) June 27, 2020
It’s encouraging that groups of volunteers and football fans were on hand to do aid the clean-up effort on Saturday morning.
The time to celebrate will come, and those celebrations will last for some time, but this wasn’t the time or place, and some of it certainly wasn’t a celebration.