I won’t lie. I’m not one those Liverpool fans that can honestly say, hand on heart that they’ve supported the club since they were 4 feet tall with everyone in the family being a fan. My route was the unorthodox route for most but seemingly quite natural if you were a young man growing up in tropical Malaysia.
I went to school not having an affinity with any particular football club. I just enjoyed watching football and always rooted for the underdog. It was a lot more fun. Serie A football was shown on Malaysian television back then. So, instead of being a glory-hunter and pinning my allegiance to AC Milan, I went for a while with their city rivals, Internazionale who just couldn't win anything. Napoli was out of the question. I didn’t like Maradona. I didn’t know why though. Maybe his shorts were too short or something and he constantly looked like one of his ass cheeks were about to creep out, forever ruining my innocence. Yeah, something along those lines.
As I grew up, the English Championship (and later the Premiership) began to regain its popularity among football fans in the country. And the start of the Premiership saw the dawn of Manchester United’s rise. It was easy for me. United was Goliath and I didn’t want anything to do with it. I was firmly entrenched in the ABU (Anything But United) camp. A Dalglish-led Blackburn looked promising as an option with their blue and white McEwan’s Lager shirts but I just didn’t connect with the Rovers.
Then, in 1994, Oasis released Definitely Maybe which was quickly followed by (What’s the Story) Morning Glory. I was hooked on the band. The Gallaghers were mad into Manchester City and to this day, the City jersey has been the only other English football shirt that I’ve worn other than Liverpool’s.
I never took a liking to City though and their shirt was always worn as a tribute to Oasis rather than to the club itself.
Soon after, Arsenal introduced their new manager. He was a strange looking fellow. He had glasses that were too big for his head, his suit made him look like one of MC Hammer’s back-up dancers and to top it off, he’s last club was Nagoya Grampus 8, who no one had previously heard of. What could this guy possibly have to offer? Little was I (or anyone else for that matter) to know that this man would almost single-handedly crash the United party and make Alex Ferguson’s life a misery over the next two years.
The Gunners played some fantastic football even back then and I was more than impressed. Fortunately, by that time, I was in college and was surrounded by Liverpool fans. Proper ones too. They taught me all about Liverpool’s history and traditions. Not that I didn’t know them already but more as gentle reminders to nudge me on to their side. It must have had some sort of influence on me in the end but if I were to pick a defining moment where my allegiance to Liverpool was set in stone, it would be that night (or was it morning?) in 1999.
To be continued. Liverpool FC and I: Mamak Knows Best