I hate to wake up early, but I made an exception last week. I couldn’t miss a chance to watch British expats gorge themselves on fish and chips and pints of draft beer — before 10 am on a Saturday.
The occasion for the early morning hubbub was the bi-annual Liverpool v. Manchester United match. The English Premier League, the top soccer league to which both teams belong, schedules the match times based on the level of rivalry between the teams. The more intense the hatred, the earlier the match. The earlier the match, the less time for fans to get drunk and start fights. The Liverpool — Man United rivalry is one of the league’s most intense. As a result, it gets the earliest start time. Subtract the 6 hours’ time difference, and the match begins at 8:30 am here in DC.
I rolled out of bed at 7:20 am — the same time I do on a weekday — and arrived at Lucky Bar soon after the match started. I expected that no one would be at a bar so early in the morning. I was wrong. The backroom, which was outfitted with several big screen TVs showing the match, was standing room only.
I was bought to the game by two Liverpool fans, and we were outnumbered. Manchester supporters comprised nearly the entire the crowd. When Man United scored the first goal, they cheered uproariously. I felt surrounded. Then we scored — and then again and again and again (Liverpool beat Man United by 4 to 1) — I felt like the member of an obnoxious minority. People jumped in the air, hugged each other and danced around in circles. Someone ran over and high-fived my jersey-wearing friends. I was embarrassed. Not a sports fan, I haven’t seen fans get so excited since, well, ever. It was far too early in the morning — and I was far too sober — to participate. But like anything, the cheering, the dancing and cheesy stadium cheers all seemed more charming in an accent.