A while back, I gave my best effort to tell you a story about a group of people from my country, people who spare no expense, time or effort to organize every Liverpool fan in the country into one unit, a company of men, women and children that has now become the Official Supporters Club in Serbia. People who stand together under one crest – the crest of Liverpool FC.
This year, on April 14, their third annual meeting was held, at a place called Spasićev Pub in the heart of Belgrade. It was a special day. It was a matchday, as it always is because watching Liverpool play is a standard feature of these yearly gatherings. It was also a special matchday – a day before the 29th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, and everybody present joined in on honouring the 96 before the kick-off.
Liverpool welcomed AFC Bournemouth to Anfield in their 34th Premier League game of the season. As was the case with the last year’s meeting when the Reds beat West Ham at the London Stadium by 0-4, the team made sure the gathered crowd had a victory to celebrate. Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino bagged a goal each, and the Cherries were left to look for points elsewhere.
People started arriving around 13:00 CET, and the event lasted throughout the day, even though the game was to begin at 18:30. Excellent beer, food and company made the day go quickly by, chatting about the team, the manager, the games, the signings made and to be made. Such conversations soon become more personal. Long-term friends and those who had never met before alike, people started talking about their own lives, their families, work and hobbies – a beautiful way of connecting.
During the game, the noise in the pub was deafening on all three occasions when Liverpool scored. At halftime, the crowd stepped outside to take a group photo in the street, and then the city centre thundered in “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.
After the final whistle, the noise continued into the evening.
As is the case from the beginning, Lazar Andrić is the man behind it all. His desire to create and nurture a huge family of Reds simply cannot be denied. A few of his close friends have been there with him throughout the endeavour, and they remain an important pillar of strength in the cause, ready to jump in and provide any kind of help whenever needed, whenever called upon.
These meetings have always had a charity aspect too. Anyone present was able to buy a T-shirt with the occasion printed across the chest – a nice souvenir for a small price. Also, for a symbolic sum you could enter a draw in which the winners got two Liverpool shirts and two dinners provided by the pub. Every dinar collected in this way was donated to “Podrži život” (Support life), a charity organization whose main cause is helping children.
So I say again, if you ever plan to visit Serbia, you won’t regret it if you do it at a time of one of these yearly gatherings and pop in to say hello. You’ll find it easy to enjoy everything. The only thing you might find hard is to leave.