(Guest writer: Elias Berg)
I can still remember the weirdly special feeling of someone calling me a “mate” for the first time. In a cab from the airport to the hotel in central Liverpool at one in the morning, in the most scouse accent I`ve ever heard.
The first game I ever attended in England was in March 2017. Liverpool playing Arsenal at Anfield in what was my first ever Premier League experience. Half of the excitement was getting on board the plane from Oslo, Norway, the day prior and getting to see my favourite team play at home the next day. It really felt like a dream come true. I’ve been to England almost every year since I was three years old, but sadly never for football. Not until recently.
Ever since that game I have been to Anfield two more times, one each year. Once versus Chelsea and another time for a match against Arsenal. Out of all these three games I’ve been to, Liverpool haven’t lost a point at home. Coincidence? I think not.
The feeling of being in the city before a game is almost magical. Everyone is dressed in scarfs, kits or whatever new stuff that comes from the supporter shop, all on their way to the same game. England also has a nickname in Norway when it comes to their love for the sport. We call England the “Ball Island”, which is rather fitting when you think about it.
Not only does travel cost a lot, but the cost of seeing Premier League at home has increased in price each year. What used to cost 35£ a month is now almost 60£. This just adds on to the excitement of knowing that you are on your way to set foot in your favourite team’s stadium. What some might see as traveling an hour to watch a Premier League game, is for some considered a luxury, due to the cost of the whole experience.
The rivalries are almost as big in Norway as they are in England, with the two biggest teams being Manchester United and Liverpool. These games are always hyped up to it`s fullest potential, and some years ago one TV-station arranged a tournament between the supporter clubs and sent it on national television. That should paint a picture of how big the Premier League is in Norway.
2020 was the year I got into UCFB Wembley, with my classroom being inside the stadium. Due to Covid-19, however, Premier League teams are not allowed to have fans inside the stadium around England. Who knows how many games I could’ve gone to by now. Yes, the games can be watched if you have a subscription of some sort, but there is still something about the whole feeling and the buzz in the city before a game that makes you want to chase after the next experience, almost like some sort of drug.
In the few months I have been in England I have gotten more and more used to how much love people here have for football. People go crazy for it, and I can only imagine the scenes when the Euros are kicking off. Over the course of 90 minutes, I’ve seen people shout at a screen, punch a chair and having tears in their eyes after a wondergoal. And I’ll be honest, my eyes started to tear up the first time I got to sing “You`ll Never Walk Alone” with a scarf raised above my head.
The Premier League is wonderful in so many ways. It gives you time to relax if you want to watch two teams you don’t care about, but it also gives you the most stressful minutes you can imagine when watching your own team. Not having it as my countries first division makes me appreciate the Premier League even more, due to the fact that it is the best football league in the world.