Could it happen? Could Liverpool win their first ever English Premiership title, and their 19th English league title overall? Hundreds of Irish fans who traveled to Anfield to see Sunday’s win against Tottenham certainly think so.
A trip out to Dublin Airport early on Saturday or Sunday mornings during the Premier League season gives one a fascinating insight into the level of commitment Irish fans of English Premier League teams have. It is no exaggeration to say that the main feature of anyone’s visit to Ireland’s busiest airport early in the morning on the weekend is the sheer number and variety of English football jerseys, jackets, hats, scarves and other paraphernalia on display.
It is literally astonishing.
You could write an interesting article about the Irish fans of many of the English clubs judging by the variety of jerseys on display early morning in the airport. It’s not just the big clubs: there are Championship jerseys on display too, and we don’t need to even mention the many hundreds of Irish fans of Glasgow Celtic who beat a well-worn path. The connection between Ireland and Liverpool is, however, more interesting right now as the famous old club is on the verge of sweet history.
Sweet for their fans and most neutrals, not so much for Manchester United or Everton fans!
With a stunning, dominant 4-0 win over a rather hapless Spurs side on Sunday afternoon, Liverpool is now top of the table. Manchester City and their billions of pounds in blood oil money are right behind them, chasing hard and in possession of an extra game in hand too, but much of the pure momentum is with Liverpool. You could argue that they have the easier run-in, in terms of the remaining schedule.
This excitement is palpable among the throng of Irish fans traveling to Anfield these days. We talked to a few (very) early Sunday morning as they flew out to England.
Mark Connolly, 32, from Castleknock is a regular visitor to Anfield. He’s been traveling with various friends and family for over a decade now. ‘I probably shouldn’t be going this weekend as I was supposed to be at work but I called in sick, and here I am.’ He also said he really couldn’t afford the trip but borrowed some extra cash as he just didn’t want to miss this game.
You can only imagine the lengths Mark, and many hundreds of other Liverpool fans, will go to, to get to Liverpool’s last home game against Newcastle on May 11th. Particularly if the title is on the line.
Eugene O’Connor, 40, from Finglas, said he has been traveling to Liverpool games, home and away, since he was 15 years old. He says the most interesting part of it all is the change the process of change in that time. ‘I remember the first time I went it didn’t cost me more than 100 old Irish pounds, including hotel and all’
Today, the pilgrimage is an expensive affair to say the least, and a testament to the passion that Irish Liverpool fans have for their club. Depending how you do it, packages with travel agents can rise as high as 3,000 euros, where the package includes flights, tickets to the match and hotel rooms. Some fans, including those who are frequent, experienced Anfield visitors, trim the trip to the essential basics meaning flight and tickets, and that’s all.
Barry Nolan, 24, from Ballsbridge was traveling with his brother, Stephen, 15. It was Barry’s 5th time traveling, and his brother’s 1st. ‘We’re going with tickets our Dad got us for Stephen’s birthday. Last time I went I met Stephen Gerrard, best weekend in my life. This time we’re just flying over and straight back, keeping it simple.’
James McCarthy, 28 from Portmarnock will be a happy man today. He told us he sold his motorbike to be able to afford to go this weekend, and attend a friend’s stag-party while over in England. He also said ‘Every time I go I put a few quid on Liverpool to win 4-0 or 5-0, just in case, so that would pay for a few trips if it ever happened!’
Take a bow James, that’s one valuable bookie's slip you are holding! (Liverpool to win 4-0 would have been about 50 or 60/1.)
Dublin Airport is a colorful place full of interesting stories, and on weekend mornings it gets that little bit more colorful and interesting, with literally thousands of Irish fans of English clubs heading over to England for weekend games. Late Sunday night and Monday too it would also be home to hundreds of Liverpool fans in particular, grinning from ear to ear, dreaming about a Liverpool title many times more precious than several recent titles bought off the back of oil money from the Middle East and Russia.
The dream for them and thousands of Liverpool fans in Ireland is very much alive and almost tangible enough for them to reach out and touch it.
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore