By Daniel Zambartas.
There has always been an ardent support for Liverpool football club from Cyprus. In 2017, Cyprus won the award for ‘Official Liverpool FC Supporters Club of The Year’. In the same year, Ian Rush opened the ‘Liverpool FC International Academy Cyprus’ in Nicosia. For decades, there has been a pub in Limassol dedicated to supporting Liverpool. The pubs themselves may have changed, but the passionate support has not only been sustained, it has grown throughout all the years, and is now at its greatest, largest and loudest at the sea-front pub Barley’s.
Every week, over one hundred Reds, mainly local, turn up to watch Liverpool in action. Drumming, singing and shouting, the Liverpool family gather round at Barley’s for hours before, during and after a match. After Liverpool’s Champions League success, the Club released a video featuring celebrations of the Reds 6th European cup victory from a variety of different cities around the world, including footage from Barley’s in Limassol. The clip is only a few seconds but displays the sheer pandemonium the fans at Barley’s caused on that special night out of joy from Liverpool’s glory. For the rest of this piece, as a Barley’s regular since it was designated the pub in 2015, I will be describing a more detailed insight of the Limassol Reds’ experience of a match day at Barley’s.
Hundreds of metres away, a legendary thunderstorm of crimson vehemence can be heard. “Allez Allez Allez” rings out, excited footsteps thunder, flashes of red lightning shine from a mad man’s hand, a spark in the scarlet fog. Anticipation. When Liverpool play, it’s not only the players that warm up, it’s the fans. Chanting about their team is a mere preparation for the emotional rollercoaster of the match itself. A huge variety of nationalities, race and sexualities all unite to support Liverpool. Everyone is accepted, the only requirement is that you are a red. The beauty of a club like Liverpool is that it brings everyone together, from passionate locals to bubbly South Africans to a Scot playing You’ll Never Walk Alone with his bagpipes to the Scousers themselves, all cultures join at Barley’s to support the club. So many different languages can be spoken, but the only language needed is Liverpool. Inside, the pub is stacked with supporters, hardly an empty spot in sight.
As the game kicks off, there is a huge roar from everyone in the bar, the build up of tension whilst waiting for kick off is released in a simultaneous bellow of encouragement. The drum is struck, the fast rhythm reminiscent of Liverpool’s tempo on the pitch. Barley’s is Limassol’s Anfield. The bar section of the pub is the Kop – the fans stand up for the whole game and sing and shout louder than anyone else. The Main stand is the outdoor section of the pub, this is where the majority of fans are found and there is a mixture of consistent fans that go to the pub weekly, and fans that are going for the first time or turn up occasionally.
Inside the pub, the Kenny Dalglish Stand and the Anfield Road end is seen. There are several courageous supporters of the opposing team here, who are often the first to leave after a big game. Jeering, singing and cheering all take place inside, everything louder with no place for the noise to escape. Liverpool begin to look dangerous. Zip. Trickery. Pace. The supporters know a goal is coming, and pandemonium will strike. The ball flies into the back of the net, the commentator’s words interrupted by deliriously deafening cheering, some shout “GOAL!”, others shout “YES”, while some just scream as loud as they can, a release of pure emotion. It’s an earthquake inside Barley’s, feet stomping, drum banging, deafening cheers.
Strangers turn around and hug each other. No one cares – Liverpool have just scored, and that’s all that matters. With a minute to go on the clock, the pub goes silent. Everyone holds their breath. The odd fan yells out an instruction, or there is applause in unison at the slightest bit of time wasted. Seconds to go. High pitched whistling rings around the pub. Finally, the camera pans to the managers shaking hands, that’s game over, that’s another Liverpool win. A roar of relief sirens out of Barley’s, tears in eyes, beaming with joy. The away fans in the Anfield Road section scuttle away. The fans can now celebrate, sheer joy and delirium vivid in the faces of hundreds of Liverpool’s supporters, dancing and chanting “Allez Allez Allez”. At the end of the storm, there is a golden sky. In this golden sky, the sun has just risen…