At 10:30 A.M. on a Saturday morning, the Monro Pub in Park Slope is already spilling onto the sidewalk. People aren’t hazily left over from the night before, they’re urgently waiting for doors to open so they can watch a soccer game on TV.
The bar is a Liverpool Football Club “official” fanbase, and there has been an uptick in excitement towards the sport over the last two years. Owner Vinnie Evans is a New York transplant from Liverpool, but has been in the city since 1999. He opened the bar in May of 2012 and has watched it grow in popularity, especially over the last two years.
Evans said that the English Premier League, including teams like Liverpool, is different from others because of the sense of loyalty and community.
“It’s easy to see why people are becoming Liverpool supporters because we have the best history, the best fans, and ultimately the best community anywhere,” Evans said.
With a slogan like, “You’ll never walk alone” it’s not hard to imagine why people are becoming Liverpool fans following a year of isolation. Many take the slogan quite seriously, with some people saying it to each other solemnly as a friend leaves the bar.
People like Michael Busa, who help to run the Liverpool FC Brooklyn branch think the audience has grown ever since their 2020 Premier League championship.
“It’s hard to say whether this is people becoming fans of the club since COVID hit, or since we started winning games,” Busa said.
Tom Farrell was walking down the street with his two year-old daughter in 2014, when he described seeing a wave of red heading into the Monro. After wandering in, the two became regular visitors and fans of the club. Farrell noticed a big difference in people’s attitude towards the club in the last two years.
“A decade ago they wouldn’t even show these games on TV, no one would have been here,” Farrell said. “But during COVID, people would reserve seats in the backyard just to sit outside in 30 degree weather. There were more people reserving seats and coming in just because they wanted the community of it [The Monro].”
With shows like “Ted Lasso” rising in popularity, American audiences are intrigued by the global soccer community. The series is an Apple TV comedy detailing an American football coach becoming accustomed to coaching in the English Premier League. Echoing themes from Liverpool’s slogan, the show details how a sport can bring people together.
Demian Knott has worked as a bartender at the Monro Pub since November of 2019. He said that stay-at-home orders actually caused a spike in interest.
“You know, because of the time difference, games are on from like 10:00 am to 5:00 pm which was difficult [to watch] before,” Knott said. “But with everyone working from home, it was like perfect to have on in the background.
Slowly, Knott believes people started finding their team affiliation and the Monro. Or the other way around.
According to research from Nottingham Trent University, being in community while going through a crisis has major mental health benefits. During the COVID-19 pandemic, soccer allowed people to connect over traditions they don’t even understand- like memorizing the ending anthem of each Liverpool game.
No one in the bar seemed to know where it came from or why they sing it (along with many of the other songs), but they threw themselves into the lyrics,
“When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark”