Our new series ‘Long-Distance Liverpool Love’ shines a light on devoted fans who grew up as a Red away from Merseyside. Here, Gaurav Dass from Mumbai, India shares his unique relationship with the club.
I started supporting Liverpool because…
I started watching football as a 10-year-old, following the 1998 World Cup, without much understanding of the game, of course.
Coming from a cricket-obsessed nation, where we would play football mainly during the ‘rainy’ season, we had no idea about the technical aspects of the game and most of us would just chase after the ball, without thinking about positional play on the playground.
Even on TV, I was not aware of the football coverage until the World Cup and even after that I just watched whatever was shown. Manchester United was the name we had heard of and, of course, after the season they had in 1998/99, almost every ‘new’ football supporter around me jumped on the bandwagon and supported them.
For me though, I never felt a connection even as a 10 or 11-year-old to support them just because they were winning.
But I found something special with another club, more than how the team played on the pitch, I heard something special through the games which were shown.
Liverpool were not playing well that season, but even if the results didn’t go as planned I remember the Kop, just singing their hearts out, week in and week out.
Not knowing anything about the club nor their illustrious history I just remember thinking I want to be a part of this support. So you can say that I became a Liverpool supporter because of the Kop and the wonderful supporters of our beloved club.
Today, after 22 years of watching the Reds play through the thick and thin, numerous false dawns and learning about the city of Liverpool and the supporters, I am so grateful to be a part of the support and have found friends who are now family, in Mumbai through our own little supporters’ club.
I have watched it grow from a small group of supporters just getting together to watch the Reds play to becoming official and getting involved in events in association with the club and its sponsors, having a huge gathering of supporters on matchdays to being on the Kop myself representing them while singing my heart out, which I never thought would be possible and always remains a dream come true.
If you ask me to sum it up in one word, why Liverpool? My answer would be: ‘Family’.
My fondest memory involving Liverpool is…
I have been a very, very lucky Red to have been able to go to Anfield to watch Liverpool play in person, even if it took me 20 years to get there. Especially to watch this team under our current boss, Jurgen Klopp.
For a supporter who has not been a part of the family during the Shankly, Paisley or Dalglish (first spell) eras, this is nothing short of a dream. However, my fondest memory was not at Anfield, it was on June 2, 2019, on Merseyside and the European Cup parade.
It was made all the more special because I could share the day with my wife and fellow Red, Nidhi, and almost a million passionate Liverpudlians in Liverpool.
I remember having watched the welcome Stevie and Rafa’s team of 2005 received and always wanted to be a part of something like that, so when it ended up happening, it was one of the most memorable days of my life.
I can fondly remember each and every moment of that special day. I made so many new friends from all across the world who had come to Liverpool just to welcome our heroes back, which affirms my belief of just being a big Red family which never lets anyone walk alone.
My typical matchday routine for the Reds is…
For a large part of my earlier life when I was going through some lows personally, all I used to look forward to was the 90 minutes when Liverpool played, whenever possible, with fellow supporters from Mumbai.
And although everyone, including myself, has gone about our lives and careers, whenever I am back in Mumbai, I never miss an opportunity to go to watch the games along with OLSC Mumbai.
It’s amazing how people come into your life because of a football team and we became family over the years – and if you are new, everyone still welcomes you with open arms.
We get together and have a great time, singing our own songs, in Hindi/Bollywood tunes even, while doing that as loud as possible just to recreate our own little Red corner with an atmosphere similar to what we could imagine it would be like at Anfield.
It’s what we are known for, to out-sing any other supporters of our opponents if they are present or to just lose our voices on matchdays, even if we are thousands of miles away from Liverpool. Not to forget, getting a few pints in before all of that!
Due to my ever-changing location due to work I have to adapt, and whenever in Liverpool I have my own matchday routine which I religiously follow before I head to Anfield.
The best part about that is being together and always waiting for the game to kick off with the love of my life.
What does the club mean to you?
I wish I could write down everything that Liverpool Football Club means to me, but I would run out of space for that. It is so difficult to put in words when something means literally everything to you.
Liverpool Football Club is my life. Yes, it might be difficult for many people to understand as to why someone who is not born in Liverpool or even from the UK, but thousands of miles away in India, feels this way about a football team and not any other team even in their own country.
But it’s because of everything this club stands for in our hearts and minds and what we know of it. It’s because of this organic connection that I feel to the club, the city and its people, which today, I can tell you for sure is real and after having been to Liverpool my feelings are validated.
There is no bigger connection than the anthem of the club, You’ll Never Walk Alone.
This club helped me through the darkest times in my own life, they were there every weekend without fail to make me feel as if I belong somewhere, even when the things were not going our way.
There was always hope that at the end of any storm in our lives if we pull through, there will always be a golden sky.
I am so happy that now, this club and the supporters are getting to witness the same after sticking together through everything.
My Liverpool dream that came true was…
It was against Man City when I realised my dream of being one of the voices on the Kop and what an incredible evening that was!
I was standing with fellow Kopites, singing our hearts out and ending the game with a famous 4-3 win. I still get goosebumps even thinking or speaking about it.
It took me 20 years to get there, but it was incredibly special that I was a part of something that made me fall in love with this club all those years ago.
What did it mean for you to see us finally win the title?
It’s difficult to describe the emotions I went through when the final whistle blew at Stamford Bridge.
I was away on my assignment at sea, navigating through the Persian Gulf, when my lovely wife video called me so that I didn’t miss the final moments of the game so that we could say we watched a 30-year-old wait come to an end, together!
After being at Anfield against Wolves the previous season, where we just missed out on the league after an incredible run, we got the feeling, inside Anfield and elsewhere, not of disappointment, but this positive and hopeful feeling of knowing something big was around the corner – and we weren’t wrong.
And if I could invite three Liverpool figures past or present to my country, they would be…
Stevie G! – He is the hero of my generation. Even if he came close to it, he never left us at our darkest moments. Nothing hurt more than to see his heartbreak when Demba Ba ran towards goal.
So it would be a dream to just have a great time celebrating with him and maybe even pass on a few of our own Hindi/Bollywood chants to him!
Sami Hyypia – He’s one of the nicest people I have ever come across, who was my hero and the one who never disappointed after meeting him!
Such a warm human being and although he has been to India before a couple of times, he will always be welcome over here just because of the person he is.
And Jurgen Klopp – I don’t need to explain this one I don’t think, but I will try.
I think everyone would want him to visit their town and just have a pint with him, discussing life in general. He might not know about us, but if we do get a chance to get the message across to him, then all we have to say to him is that:
‘Jurgen, please visit us! Many of us might not be able to ever visit Anfield, but we see your passion on the touchline and your humanity and humility through all the interactions you have with the media and we just think that you’ll understand us like you do the city of Liverpool and our football club.
‘Most of all, thank you for everything you have done for us, including for us Reds thousands of miles away in Mumbai, India.’
* Thanks again to Gaurav for sharing his story. You can find him on Twitter @ScouseAndBrown.