Being an English Premier League fan in Australia isn’t easy. Often it involves waking up at 3am and connecting a streaming app to your TV to follow your favourite football team over 17,000km away.
For dedicated Australian EPL fans, one thing is certain: No matter who you support, we all dream of being able to go over and see our teams in the flesh.
A couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to chase my dream, moving to Liverpool, getting a job with Liverpool FC at their club store and attending 12 games in the space of 10 months. If you too have spent years dreaming of going to your place of worship to watch your team live – this guide is for you.
My guide for Australian fans of the English Premier League is in 3 parts:
Part 3: Your first EPL game
You’ve flown to the other side of the world, you’ve managed to get a ticket, bought some new merchandise and had a taste of the atmosphere outside the ground, now it’s time to head in. Here are a few tips to enjoy the match the most.
If you are fortunate enough to attend a derby or a big match, then arriving early is absolutely vital. Of course there are the formalities such as big queues, security checks and finding your seat, but the main reason to be early is to soak up the pre match atmosphere. For big matches, the stadium can be full more than half an hour before kick-off with both sets of fans exchanging songs – the perfect opportunity to get some footage and photos to post on social media. I’d advise heading in about 45 minutes early, this allows you to take the customary photo of you holding your scarf aloft inside the stadium, and you can watch the warm-ups.
Try to avoid taking a backpack if you can – but if you must make sure it is a small one – security is quite strict. For example, if you take a bottle of water you will actually be asked to throw away the lid before you head into the stadium! Don’t stress though, you can buy overpriced food and beverages (including alcohol) inside the stadium, you just won’t be allowed to take alcohol to your seat.
Follow the crowd
If you are unsure how you should act whilst watching the game, then observe those around you. If everyone else around you is standing, then don’t be that killjoy who shouts “sit down”, stand up too. If everyone around you is chanting and singing, then learn the words and get involved in the moment!
Put down your phone
Speaking of getting involved in the moment – you might have the urge to film all 90 minutes on your phone, but just think… how often will you really watch it back after you get back home? It’s okay to film “You’ll Never Walk Alone” or the celebration of a goal so you can show your friends back home the unbelievable atmosphere you’re experiencing, but if you’re losing a match and everyone seems pretty miserable around you, then it’s not really the best time to be trying to take selfies or take photos & video of the game.
When I attended Liverpool v Arsenal we were 3-2 down and a tourist was trying to take selfies with local fans and film the game, fair to say he almost lost his phone. Don’t be that guy.
I’d advise trying to take whatever footage you must before the game, then if there is an epic moment or break in play you really must film then go for your life. You’ve spent years watching through a television, why spend your time at the ground watching it through your phone? You will have a more enjoyable experience taking it all in with your eyes and ears.
Try to avoid leaving early at half time/full time
Nothing infuriates players, managers and other fans more than that one person who leaves 5 minutes before half time to get food, stumbles back in 5 minutes into the second half, then leaves 10 minutes before the end of the game when the opposition hits the lead. If it makes the players and managers “feel alone“, then it’s not really supporting your team is it?
And you’d hate to miss an Aguero-type moment, wouldn’t you?
Learn the songs, and get involved
This is the best part of going to the match, not only are you watching your heroes play for the first time, but you can finally sing and chant with thousands of fellow fans. Before you go to the game, learn the songs. They’re not hard, most are based on classic nursery rhymes and are quite short. If you’re in an active/singing section you will be expected to contribute. Of course, not everyone is a singer or vocal at a match and if you choose not to sing then that’s fair enough, but I guarantee that you will have a much better time if you get involved!
…and finally, enjoy the match!
You’ve made it, take it all in! I was fortunate to go a dozen times, many people only get the one opportunity, so make the most of it! Hopefully you will see your team win, if you’re very lucky you’ll see a classic.
Even if you’re not so fortunate and see your side lose, at the end of the day you will have memories to last the rest of your life.
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