Liverpool FC: The Song
Today I buried my grandpa. At the end of the service, You'll Never Walk Alone was played. I cried. And then I realised something.
I finally felt like I could put my finger on what sets Liverpool fans apart from supporters of other clubs. It isn't our past success or even Anfield, although both are obviously important.
I think it's our greatest song that defines our club more than anything else, because, unlike the songs of other clubs, You'll Never Walk Alone defines each and every individual fan, not just the team.
Because it's such a well-known and moving song, it's been used for so many people's celebrations or, as in my grandpa's case, funerals. That means that it takes on a deeply personal meaning for a lot of people, Liverpool fans or not.
Songs like Z-Cars, for the likes of Everton fans, are iconic, but few Evertonians would associate Z-Cars with anything other than watching their team play.
You'll Never Walk Alone stands for so many people as a personal anthem that represents something that's happened to them individually, away from football. So when it's played or sung at Anfield or anywhere else, it means so much to all Reds fans that it transcends football and becomes an identity.
But there's another couple of reasons for why You'll Never Walk Alone is so special. One of them has to do with the toils that the city of Liverpool went through in the 1980s, when its optimism and vibrancy was replaced by strikes and a ghost-town during the Thatcher years.
It's easy to identify the "storm" of the song to the devastation that the Tory government forced on the city that the club stood for.
But there's something else, above even that, and that's to do with what happened in Sheffield in 1989.
The lyrics of You'll Never Walk Alone, written in 1945, fitted so perfectly to the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster that it almost felt like fate. In the aftermath of Hillsborough, among the mourners who flocked to Anfield to pay respects, the song became a kind of eulogy, sung on behalf of the 96 innocent victims to the people left behind.
In that moment, it stopped being a football song and became something like a hymn of Liverpool FC, which itself became a kind of living monument to the people who could no longer watch their beloved team.
I think that it's that identity, linked so strongly to the lyrics of You'll Never Walk Alone, that makes Liverpool FC the most unique sporting club in the world.
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