The Beautiful Game

 

In Anfieldfamily today, Stuart Drewery- a Liverpudlian born in Liverpool, writes about the history of football and his love for Liverpool FC, on the eve of the World Cup 2014, the biggest tournament for a football fan! Expect more articles from this diehard Liverpool fan in the coming days. The Beautiful Game… also known as soccer, fútbol, fussball and (most commonly) FOOTBALL.

The origins of football as everybody knows it today were created in London, England. Originally handwritten and submitted by a representative of the Football Association,  ‘The Laws’ were first drawn up by Ebenezer Cobb Morley and approved at a meeting (in London, England) of the newly founded Football Association (FA) on 8 December 1863. So, if you’re ever asked “who invented football?”, the correct answer is “THE ENGLISH”! Today, all the laws governing the game are determined by the International Football Association Board (IFAB). This Board who adopted the rules (drawn up originally by the FA) by which all footballers play even to this day, was formed in 1886 in England.

The rules by which modern football is still played are all the same rules that the IFAB created in 1886, except that there have been more rules added to the rule book since 1886.  For instance, RED and YELLOW cards were also only introduced into football in 1970!!! You might be surprised to know that from 1886 to 1970, no professional football player ever received “bookings” or “sending offs” given with the referee’s cards. FIFA, (who are most likely more commonly known than IFAB, perhaps due to the FIFA World Cup) were created in Paris in 1904. FIFA agreed to adhere to all the rules set by the FA and IFAB. WHO WATCHES FOOTBALL? It seems EVERYBODY does, although I use the word “everybody” loosely (it’s not 100% of the billions of people in the world but it’s indeed a LOT). In fact,  it is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries, making it the world’s most popular sport for “athletes” (footballers) and is watched by more viewers than any other sport.

If you think football is “just a game”, you are SO WRONG. It’s far more than that to millions of football fans of the world. One of the most famous managers ever of the mighty Liverpool FC, Bill Shankly once said “some say football is a matter of life and death, but i can assure you – its MUCH, MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN THAT!”. How can you disagree with that? Most football fans wholeheartedly agree with those words.

I, personally, have been raised by both my parents and grandparents who were all Liverpool FC fans. There are families in the world who have had several generations of football fans. My Grandfather went to the game with or was at least introduced to the game by his dad. My Grandfather even played for “Liverpool FC boys” (but not professionally as an adult). I have family members who were named after footballers although I wasn’t so lucky! My parents just gave me a name they particularly liked more than the rest of the other options. Mostly, the best memories of my life were probably the times spent at Anfield with family, even during the games where we didn’t win… if you get to spend quality time bonding with family members, it’s a great day that you can enjoy no matter what. I know people who revolve their entire life around the “fixture list” of Liverpool FC… all the dates and kickoff times of the games Liverpool play in, ARE STRICTLY OFF LIMITS to ensure that anybody who would wish to organize anything (such as visiting you at your house or perhaps going out with you) that would interrupt the football, DOES NOT end up doing so. They are THAT dedicated to football, that they don’t want interruptions that may distract them from watching their favorite team.

On the times when my football team has had large success, it’s been celebrations and parties, all night long! ONE GAME can make you cry with happiness… or even sadness. You’ll cheer, you’ll laugh, you’ll yell and cover your eyes because you can’t watch. You’ll hug your friends and run around like a crazy person, shaking your fists and singing as loud as you can. The experience is life-changing for some. There are fans who say things like “I saw that team first in the Cup Final, and they won 3-0! it was a MAGICAL game and I’ve been following them ever since!”. ONE football match converts them instantly into a “supporter” and makes them a part of something magical and special for the rest of their life!

Watching football in bars and pubs is common nowadays. Most places you can drink alcohol at will, have large televisions and football fans will all gather together, as one big set of friends. If you’re wearing the same jersey of the team that’s playing, YOU’RE ONE OF THE CROWD. Many people don’t know each other (they’re complete strangers), they simply turned up at the same bar as another person… but they will treat you with respect, and spend 90 minutes with you, enjoying the game. They might even buy you a drink! It’s FOOTBALL that brings people together. It’s FOOTBALL that creates an instant bond. You COULD even meet your future spouse (I’m not saying it happens EVERY time you go watch a football match, but it’s been known to happen) and years later you may be telling your children (or even grandchildren) “WE MET AT A BAR when Liverpool (or whichever team you support) were playing“. FOOTBALL makes these things possible.

Football fans who have been to their team’s stadium often describe the experience as “breathtaking”, “simply unique”, it’s often the best times of their lives… chanting and cheering and praying for the moment when one of your favorite team’s players will score and THOUSANDS of people will instantly EXPLODE WITH HAPPINESS, all at the very same time. There’s the magical songs your team has adopted as their own anthems, too… for Liverpool fans, singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” with more than 45 thousand reds fans at Anfield is an experience you simply MUST have at least once in your life. Nothing compares to those moments, all brought about because you love football. SO, do you STILL think football is “just a game”? I hope you’ve realized it’s far more than that. It’s THE BEAUTIFUL GAME!

About Stuart Drewery.

Stuart Drewery

I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family, including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans, so I was born into being a Red. I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (about 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s. I’m a die hard Liverpool fan (only supported ONE club in my whole life, Liverpool) and one of the most dedicated fans you’ll ever meet.

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