Guest blog'There's nothing in the world like the sound of the Kop'

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By BANNERS

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In the latest edition of our series of guest blogs featuring Liverpool-supporting musicians, BANNERS delivers a compelling description of his experiences of the sights and sounds of Anfield…

My first Liverpool match was a night game on November 9, 1994. Robbie Fowler scored two goals in a minute and we beat Chelsea 3-1. I don’t really remember the game, but the experience of walking into Anfield is something I’ll never forget. You just don’t, do you? The walk towards the ground with the night sky all lit up, the smell of chips and cigarettes in the cold.

Then, as you walk up the steps from the concourse seeing the floodlights above the old Main Stand, then the crowd and then the pitch. More perfect than anything that’d existed up to that point in my life. A more vivid colour than anything I’d ever seen before. The same pitch that Liddell played on. And Yeats, and Tommy Smith and Emlyn Hughes, Keegan and Toshack. Where Fairclough was put clean through and put it past Saint-Etienne’s goalie, where McDermott put the final touch on the best ever team goal, where Kenny was Kenny and Barnes skinned about a million players and scored against QPR.

You walk into Anfield for the first time and you inherit all that. And you inherit everything that’s about to happen. Wembley and Cardiff and Istanbul, Stevie against Olympiacos and Garcia against Juve and Chelsea, Suarez, and Mo Salah one-on-one at the Kop end and now you’re gonna believe us. The moments that will mark time for the rest of your life. You walk in for that first time and now all this is yours.

Bill Shankly once said that football is the most important of the unimportant things. Of course he’s right but I think that music is up there too. Football is a release from real life, where magic can happen right in front of you and where you get to feel part of something. A collective of 54,000 people at Anfield and millions of others all over the world.

Music is like that too. A release from everything else. A way to be part of something. What would life be without football and what would it be without music? I love how Liverpool Football Club and music are completely entwined. I love the footage from the ’60s of the Kop singing The Beatles and Cilla Black. I love that You’ll Never Walk Alone became a thing because Gerry and the Pacemakers had a hit with it and the people in the Kop started singing it to keep themselves entertained. I love that.

That those people had no idea of the cultural significance of what they were doing with that song. Just that they loved music and they loved Shankly’s Reds. So what else were they going to do? Go the match and sing. I think singing is a powerful spiritual experience and when you get to do it with all the other people in the Kop, all united in trying to make that ball go in that net, then there’s nothing like it in the world.

And sometimes the ball goes in and sometimes it’s because of the power of the Kop. The sound of it. Everyone knows it. We made that ball go in. Just by making a big powerful, collective, terrifying, awesome sound. We’re a music city so of course the football club and music go together. I’m really proud that, as a singer, I get to be a tiny part of the Scouse music tradition.

I didn’t think it was possible to love a team more than the one that had Salah, Mane and Firmino up front. With Origi doing his Origi things. The one with Gini, Fabinho and Hendo in midfield and Trent and Robbo having an assist-off from full-back. But they’ve managed it with this new version.

I’m made up that Virgil is the captain, I think it suits him so well. It feels like we’re at the start of something boss and I really think that this team could be anything it wants to be. I’m really excited to see how Gravenberch, Mac Allister and Szoboszlai all develop together, and to be part of the massive moments that feel like they’re coming with them in midfield. Nunez obviously. Just so much fun having a player like that leading the line, isn’t it? He’s a rock star. I really love Curtis Jones too. Love him.

I think with Klopp as our manager, the unreal quality all over the pitch and with Anfield soon to be 61,000, I think we’re right in the middle of a golden age for the club. So I’m going to enjoy every second of it. Of having those lads and that manager represent us and our city. Of course I’d love us to win everything, and I wouldn’t put it past them, but I’m so grateful that they’re ours and that I get to watch them every other week from row 66 of the Kop.

I know how lucky I am to get to do that and I’ll never take that for granted. I’ll be up there with its weird, tropical, back-of-the-Kop climate singing my little heart out. I’d love a real song for Nunez, by the way. At least to replace Firmino’s song, which has been a tremendous loss.

I’ve got a lot of songs coming out next year and I’ll be touring in the UK and Europe. Probably other places too, I’m just figuring that out at the moment. Who cares about that stuff, though? Liverpool are on the march and everything else will sort itself out. Up the Reds.

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