I looked all around me. Everyone was standing. Some holding forth their red scarves squarely in front of them. I was in Anfield stadium, home of Liverpool FC, thick in the stands amongst the faithful. Everyone began to sing the familiar anthem of the football club.
“When you walk through a storm, Hold your head up high, And don’t be afraid of the dark.”
The first verse and they were already singing their hearts out with all their might. Thousands of voices all around me, unison in spirit and song. I felt a pain tugging at my heart, humbled by the sheer power of the moment.
But no, I am not writing about being a Liverpool fan. I am writing about extraordinary love.
Earlier, as I walked towards the stadium, I saw the streets filled with supporters. Most of them looked local; a tough, battle-weary, hardened people of a working-class city belied by its more illustrious music and sports exports.
As I walked, I noticed the houses near the stadium. All of them were decked out in the team’s colours with scarves on walls, aged posters on room doors and fan ornaments on mantelpieces. The houses looked old, the décor even older. The blood red of Liverpool seemed to gush in every home.
We, in Malaysia or anywhere else around the world, may claim to be fans of this club or that club. We celebrate wins, we get sad when our team doesn’t do well and we take offence to taunts by opposing fans.
But, in the end, it doesn’t come close to the extreme passion of these people and their homes at ground zero.
These fans dedicate their entire lives around their football team. They schedule their work, holidays, marriages and even honeymoons around their football teams.
They fight week in week out right smack in the battlefield just feet away from their heroes, cheering them to ecstatic victories and crying with them in the despair of defeats.
“At the end of the storm, There’s a golden sky, And the sweet silver song of a lark.”
It is this pure love of one singular passion that defines their very being. I realised this wasn’t just football to them. It wasn’t just a game. It was their entire lives as they know it. What would they do without their team? Their lives would be hollow and utterly meaningless.
“Walk on through the wind, Walk on through the rain, Though your dreams be tossed and blown.”
Singing along, I began to realise that extraordinary love is essential to our lives, and it doesn’t matter if we are fans of Liverpool, if we are fans of another club, if we are fans of football, or if we are just one seemingly ordinary person out of seven billion in this whole wide world.
Extraordinary love is what we need. It would make us scale impossible heights and swim the deepest oceans in dedication to this extreme love.
Yes, you may scoff at this idea of extraordinary love and how it makes us gamble everything we have, even our hearts, just to serve our passion. You may think this is “new-age” and even immature.
But deep undivided extreme love makes us feel alive. It gets us to reach deep inside ourselves to find every bit of emotion we have to unblinkingly throw everything into one thing. Most of all, it makes us believe.
“Walk on, Walk on, With hope in your heart, And you’ll never... alone.”
Once we believe in a love so strong, life begins to really mean something. A higher reason for being, a deep-seated passion finally unleashed. Extreme love blinds us to dangers and risks of heartache and anguish. It ensures the human spirit will never be reined in. As it should never ever be.
The human spirit must be set free to do what it was supposed to do, which is to awaken our true potential and reach into our depths to make us feel what it’s really like to be human.
The voices in the stadium swell as we reached the last line of the song.
“You’ll never walk… alone.”
I choked at the end, realising a final truth as one man sang with all his heart right behind me. It’s not whether his team will win. It’s that, as a true fan, he screamed his heart out to give them the one thing they need. Belief. And his life is complete.
The writer acknowledges that Liverpool didn’t win that day.
The writer is the Chief Executive Officer, Television Networks Chief Executive Officer, Primeworks Studios Sdn Bhd, Media Prima Bhd