Each time I sit on the train on the way back from a match the feeling of just how important this all is literally floods over me and all I want to do is write it down.. to try and articulate it.
My Dad played for Liverpool Football Club from 1975 to 1981.
"Jimmy Case is best remembered for a spectacular FA Cup final goal and a deserved reputation as one of football's genuine hard men. But that does scant justice to a career that covered more than 700 appearances for 7 league clubs and did not end until he retired, through injury, at the age of 41. Raised on Merseyside, Jimmy began at his beloved Liverpool, becoming a key player in the all-conquering team of the late 1970s alongside stars like Kevin Keegan, John Toshack, Ray Clemence, Phil Thompson, Kenny Dalglish and his two great mates, Tommy Smith and Ray Kennedy. At Anfield, where he was signed by Bill Shankly and guided by Bob Paisley, Jimmy won a boxful of medals: four league titles, three European cups plus a host of other domestic honours which tell the truth about Jimmy Case - that he had much more than a tough tackle and a ferocious shot."
I was born in Liverpool in 1981 and that same year he left Liverpool and was transferred down South.. first to Brighton and then on to Southampton which is where I grew up. If I'm honest.. I didn't pay too much attention to his career growing up. It was his job and although I’m immensely proud of what he achieved.. It was just part and parcel of our family life. At matches as a kid.. all the player's kids would be looked after in the player's lounge and then we would have to wait patiently for Dad to shower after the game and then sign autographs before we could head to our local chinese restaurant for dinner. That was our Saturdays. I also remember being allowed to be taken out of school for our family holiday as the football season didn't fit very well with the normal school holidays. As I got older I started hanging out with my friends, dating boys.. and I do remember one lad, on finding out who my Dad was, said that I would 'make an awesome girlfriend'.. :/
It's funny what memories stick out. I remember my Grandad having a Tesco bag in the spare room full of old newspaper clippings of Dad playing.. I remember looking at photos of my Mum and Dad's wedding, them both stood outside the church with a bunch of fans all crowding round them, all come to see them get married. I remember the few times we would get to watch the match.. my sister with a bovril and me with a chicken pie shouting 'GO ON DAD!' at the top of our lungs..
These are all really lovely memories and I know that when I actually sit down and think about it.. I am ridiculously proud to be a Case. So much so that when I married Pete I didn't want to lose it. For me I guess it was so much more than a surname. It has so much history.. and the weird thing is that a lot of that history, I wasn't even around for.. it was before my time.. but blimey.. I still so strongly feel that it belongs to me..
A couple of years ago my Dad wrote his autobiography. Reading the first few chapters, Dad reliving the very early days when he was first signed to Liverpool.. playing his first match.. how he felt at that time. It was like finding your Parent's diary.. hearing his 19 year old self talking. It just really made me think..
That era was so special.
And I felt such an urge to step in to it. But I guess.. as a photographer ‘stepping in to it’ for me meant more than just reading up on the history of what the team achieved. I was interested in more than that.
I was interested in the fans.
In how it felt..
The game has changed so dramatically. All the die hard fans, ones that have supported the club for 30, 40, 50 years.. it’s all changed so much for them. It's a huge business now and it feels like this particular time in football’s history is pretty poignant. It’s the last remaining generation that have a foot in the club all the way back when you could scale the fence.. when the players were local lads from the next street.. when it felt like one big family.
So much is changing. The old cafes around the ground are soon to be knocked down as developers have bought them up.. slowly it’s all disappearing. You walk around the ground and it’s the 'tourist' fans the club wants.. they spend the money on merchandise. It's feels like now it's about tv deals and foreign investments. I guess the corporate machine is now such a huge part of the game..
So I feel the need to tell their story. The story of Liverpool football club's family.. of my family. The fans that have given so much.. who have travelled to every home and away match, year in year out.. who sing YNWA at the top of their voices before every game.. who's whole family over three, four generations are red.. who, when I meet them, talk to me as if if they know my Dad.. (thick Scouse accent).. 'Oh yeah.. how is your Dad?'.. 'Say hello to Jimmy for me'.. 'Oh we love our Jimmy'.. 'Tell him to get his boots back on'..
For me.. without ever living there, Liverpool.. and Liverpool football club is my home and this project is just as much about me as it is the people I’m photographing. I’m not entirely sure where the project is heading but right now I’m just so happy to keep surrounding myself with such a huge part of my history.. a part that I didn't even realise I was missing..