‘You’ll never walk alone.’
Liverpool FC fans bellow out this famous song before every match they play at their home ground, the Anfield. This is not exactly a war cry, egging on their players for a 90-minute battle. It’s more of an assurance to the players from the fans, telling them no matter what happens next, we will be behind you, and you’ll never walk alone.
For the LFC fans residing in Bangladesh, it’s a dream to stand at the stands of Anfield and sing this song from the top of their lungs alongside thousands of Liverpool FC fans at least once in their lifetime. Rodella Chowdhury, an ardent Liverpool FC fan from Dhaka, was no different.
Rodella, currently working as a research scientist associate in Canada, would eventually get to fulfil her dream and even volunteer at the club. But before that, in 2011, she laid the foundation of what is now OLSC Bangladesh.
On 6 May 2011, Rodella founded the ‘Liverpool FC Supporters of Bangladesh’ group on Facebook. A place for Bangladeshi LFC fans to interact and share their fanhood of the Merseyside club.
This very Facebook group later got the official stamp from Liverpool. This journey from being a normal fan group to an official one was initiated by Rajib Hasan, the founding president of OLSC Bangladesh.
“The way we started is a bit different,” said Tasmim Morshed, the current president of OLSCBD.
“When our founder Rodella Chowdhury opened the group, we had a few members that used to frequently go to Liverpool to watch games. One of them was Rajib Hasan. He brought up the possibility of us becoming an official fan club. He said as we are already a supporters group, why shouldn’t we make it official.”
Top European football clubs have official fan clubs across the world. Liverpool FC, for example, has official fan clubs in 100 countries. Any group of fans can apply for official status. But they have to fulfil a list of criteria.
To become an official supporters group, at least 30 members of the group had to be Liverpool FC members. To become a member, a fan has to purchase a membership card from the club.
But that criteria didn’t prove to be an issue for Rajib and co. as they submitted their request with 50 official members present in their group.
After almost two years of exchanging emails, on 15 November of 2013, Liverpool FC finally awarded their Facebook group with Official Supporters Club Branch status, which is the first of its kind in Bangladesh.
The official status brought with it some perks. Along with certification of OLSC status and downloadable certificates, members of the group get access to group booking facilities to watch a Liverpool FC match of the Premier League in Anfield and are also offered the package at a 20 per cent discount.
OLSC Bangladesh members also got the chance to meet two Liverpool FC legends in Dhaka, thanks to the club’s sponsor Standard Chartered.
“Standard Chartered have done meet and greet programmes, where Liverpool FC legends came to Dhaka. John Barnes visited in February 2018 and Robbie Fowler came in March of 2019. Standard Chartered arranged both programmes completely by themselves,” Tasmim said.
OLSC Bangladesh also holds regular watchalong events, where fans of the club gather at a restaurant to watch a game together.
“For our group members, We regularly hold screenings of Liverpool FC matches against the top four. Also we arrange screenings of major matches like the Champions League final or a Cup final or title deciders.”
“Standard Chartered usually does one screening with us every year… We also have football tournaments and hold prediction contests online,” said Tasmim.
They had to hit pause on arranging watchalongs during the Covid-19 pandemic. But from the 2022-23 football season, they plan to resume previous activities and add a few new ones.
“We are going to hold a football tournament this year. In December, we might hold the first ever Kopites Night, which would be a picnic of sorts. We wanted to do it in 2019, but unfortunately, due to Covid, we couldn’t do it. This year we are planning to make it happen, along with our showpiece football tournament, The Clash of the Kopites.”
In the over 10-year journey of the group, the lowest point came on 18 May 2021, when Facebook deleted their ‘Liverpool FC Supporters of Bangladesh’ group. The members tried to recover the group, which had around 4500 devout LFC fans, for over two months. But their efforts went in vain.
On 30 July of that year, a new group for OLSC Bangladesh named, “All Red Bangladesh - OLSC”, was created. The group currently has 1.2 thousand members.
OLSC Bangladesh members have had a lot to celebrate for in the last few years after a long barren period for the club. Liverpool FC is enjoying a great spell under the tutelage of Jurgen Klopp, winning the Premier League trophy after 30 years in the 2019-20 season and also bagging their sixth Champions League title in 2018-19.
The club lost both those prizes last season by the narrowest of margins. They finished second in the Premier League behind Manchester City by just one point. In the Champions League, Real Madrid broke the Reds hearts in the final for the second time in space of five seasons.
This season, Liverpool FC is going through a squad refreshing. The Salah-Mane-Firmino trio has broken up with the departure of Sadio Mane. Firmino also is no longer a sure starter for the Reds.
All’s not grim for the club, however, as they have opened their coffers to sign forward Darwin Nunez from Benfica for a club record of £85 million and have also roped in midfielder Fabio Carvalho from Fulham.
Liverpool FC has already begun the season well, winning the Community Shield title by defeating rivals Manchester City in the final by 3-1.
But that was only a dress rehearsal at best. Liverpool FC has a challenging season ahead of them and a change of dynamics in Klopp’s team is in the offing.
“We are going through a squad refreshing. After Sadio Mane’s departure, our system will also change. Under Klopp, Liverpool FC never had a traditional No. 9. After a long time, Liverpool FC has recruited a proper striker. And although his (Nunez) primary position is nine, he can also play through both wings,” Tasmim said.
“This year, the club’s 4-3-3 formation could get changed. Maybe we will place Nunez in the centre position and build a formation that can last for 4-5 years. Salah, most probably, will play right behind Nunez this year, and there may be some interchanging between them,” he added.
But LFC fans in Bangladesh are not letting doubts or fear of the unknown creep into their psyche, as they haven’t forgotten what their dear gaffer had said right after taking up the job in Liverpool.
“In Klopp’s first press conference as coach of Liverpool FC, he asked us, supporters, to change ourselves from doubters to believers. Earlier, we used to worry too much about what happened in the transfer season, who we got and who we couldn’t sign. But now, we worry less and just believe in the team we have.”