Behind The Badge: Philip Shanko

Behind the Badge

Name

Philip Shanko

Supported Club

Liverpool FC

How Long?

I’ve been supporting the club for the past 12 years, since I was 7 years old.

What began the support?

Throughout the 2004/2005 season, I was falling in love with the team, specifically Steven Gerrard. This grew as the season progressed and I found myself in nigh on depression by halftime of the Champions League Final in Istanbul. Funnily enough, it was only after Liverpool were humbled 4-1 the following season at Anfield by Chelsea that I decided to fully support the team. It’s been quite the ride since.

Why have you stuck with them?

First and foremost, you can’t change your football team, that’s just not how it works. Secondly, I really fell in love with the club and the city. Even as a child I was able to see that there was something that separated Liverpool from the other teams in the Premier League. There was a spirit strong enough to pull the team out of peril to win the 2005 Champions League and the 2006 FA Cup. Off the pitch, I saw the same spirit carried by the people of Liverpool. The recovery and subsequent fight for justice from the Hillsborough disaster is probably the greatest testament to the character of the city. Unequivocally campaigning for the truth to be revealed and justice to be served for over a quarter of a century captivated the world. The spirit of the club and city are inseparable, and once you’re immersed you become part of the family.

Best Thing About Supporting Them?

It’s what rival fans love to mock but the thing I love most about supporting Liverpool is the tradition. England’s biggest club (or 2nd biggest depending on who you ask) has the trophy cabinet to match anyone and the fans to match. Speak with any football fan from around the world and the majority will be familiar with the rich tradition and powerful atmosphere (on their day) at Anfield. I, unfortunately, wasn’t alive to see Liverpool Football Club’s best years take place but I’m hopeful that more trophy-laden years aren’t too far away.

Greatest Memory

I wish I could say Istanbul but sadly I wasn’t old enough to remember it too well. It’s a toss-up between the 3-2 victory over Man City in 2014 or the 4-1 win at Old Trafford in 2009. The win over United just edges it for me, probably just due to nostalgia if anything. I’ll never forget the sheer joy of seeing Torres send Vidic flailing on the ground, Gerrard kissing the camera, Aurelio curling that beautiful free-kick past van der Sar, and Dossena topping it off with a lovely chip. We were already fighting a losing battle to try and win the league when heading into that game and sadly Rafa’s men couldn’t get the job done. Until the league is eventually won, moments like these will unfortunately be the highlight of my time supporting the club.

What Makes Your Club Special to You?

Probably the best way to describe why Liverpool holds such a special place in my heart is to use the words “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. Even as a child I thought there was something beautiful about having those words represent the football club. Glory Glory Man United? Come On You Spurs? They just didn’t compare. There’s a bond between this special club and its special supporters, one that’s hard to describe but unmistakably felt.

Best Player

He’s already been mentioned in this piece, Steven Gerrard. The former skipper made his debut for the side in the same year I was born. Meaning that up until his departure to the MLS in 2015, the only Liverpool I ever knew was one that had Steven Gerrard in it. His “beeeeeaaaaauuuuttyyyyyy” that got Liverpool out of the group stage on the way to Istanbul and his heroics in the subsequent final forever ingrained his name in gold in my eyes. He went on to almost single-handedly win the FA Cup the following season and he captained the side incredibly for years. Never seeing him lift the league trophy has to be one of modern football’s greatest injustices.

Worst Memory

Funnily enough, it’s not the 2-0 loss to Chelsea in 2014, or the 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace that followed. My worst memory, and still the only game that has ever left me in tears was the 2nd leg of the 2008/2009 Champions League tie against Chelsea. Having lost the 1st leg 3-1 at Anfield, Liverpool had managed to put themselves in an almost insurmountable position heading into Stamford Bridge. And yet, they somehow found themselves 2-0 up early in the first half. They made me believe that they could do it, and they had me fooled. Didier Drogba, Alex, and especially Frank Lampard were in unforgiving moods that night. It was Lampard’s goal making it 3-2 that started the waterworks. I had school the next day and went to bed with my pillow saturated in tears as I asked myself how grown men were willing to do this to a child (not realising that Chelsea had child supporters of their own). No other event has left me as defeated as that night.

First Shirt

Completing the theme of the 2008/2009 season, my first shirt was the home one of that season with the name of the one and only Fernando Torres written on the back. I loved that shirt and treated it like treasure long after the season was over. However, this reverence was halted immediately when the Spaniard left for Chelsea in 2011.