Updated: Dec 18, 2020
Welcome to the second edition of our FanConnect series. Today, we are talking to Dan Bennett from LFC Victoria on Vancouver Island, Canada.
Dan is originally from Scotland, and moved with his family to Canada when he was a youngster. He's married to Mhairi, and they have two young boys, Charlie and Callum. Oh, and a dog called, what else?..... Paisley.
Let's chat with Dan:
Q. Hey Dan, welcome. So the first question has to be this. With a Geordie father, a mother from the south of England, and born in Scotland, how did you end up a Liverpool fan?
A. (Laughs) Yes, it's a bit of a strange one isn't it. I am originally from Dumfries, Scotland and our local team was Queen Of The South, so let's be honest, THAT wasn't gonna happen. My mum's family had recently moved to the west coast of Canada back then, so I started watching the Vancouver Whitecaps because of them.
I was a budding goalkeeper myself, and a big fan of the Whitecaps goalie - a certain Bruce Grobbelaar. They also had Peter Beardsley playing for them, so when both of them moved to Liverpool, they automatically became my club of choice in England.
Once I started watching them regularly, I was simply blown away by the majesty of John Barnes. As a kid in the school playground, I always bagsied being John Barnes - which to be honest was easy, cos no-one else wanted to be him in my part of Scotland. (laughs) But if the Whitecap lads had lead me to Liverpool, John Barnes really sealed it for me.
Then when I was 10, our family followed the others over to Canada, where we've been ever since.
Q. So, in terms of Liverpool players, who would be your favourite from the current squad and who'd be your all-time favourite?
A. From the current squad, it's James Milner. He's everything the club is about. He's working-class, humble, loyal and gives everything to the cause. He's also such a comedian on social media; he's hilarious. Our youngest lad Callum's middle name is James in honour of him.
My wife Mhairi was pregnant during that amazing Dortmund game at Anfield, and I'd suggested in passing that maybe we should name the kid after one of the goal scorers. I wasn't quite able to convince her to call our son Mamadou, but I did try. (laughs)
In terms of all-time, it has to be Stevie G. His loyalty, his leadership - he was hardworking, determined, passionate and lived & breathed the club. There are some ex-players who are still 'our players' if you know what I mean; he's not Stevie G the Rangers manager - he'll always be Stevie G the Liverpool legend.
It was such a shame that he and Jurgen Klopp missed each other by just a year or so and he never got that Premier League medal he so deserved.
Q. Great choices Dan and you've summed the two players up perfectly. So how about your favourite ever Liverpool moment?
A. Well, my first ever visit to Anfield and being inside that amazing stadium was pretty special.
But other than that it HAS to be the Barcelona comeback, because, well.. it was just about impossible wasn't it? Bobby and Mo, two of the fabled front 3 missing; Shaqiri's cross; Gini's explosive 2-goal introduction; corner taken quickly; the stadium erupting; John Aldridge going berserk; Coutinho getting subbed after an hour; Messi's face; Suarez's blank stare; the media coverage afterwards. It simply had everything.
You might ask why does it exceeds even Istanbul. Well, for fifty odd minutes of the Istanbul game I was completely miserable (laughs). The Barcelona game was complete exhilaration for virtually the entire 90 minutes.
Oh, and talking about Istanbul, you know when Gini came on the pitch and we needed 3 second half goals? Well, he scored in minutes 54 and 56 - the exact same minutes that Stevie G and Vladimir Smicer scored to start the comeback in Istanbul!
Putting it in perspective, in terms of the greatest achievement for me as a fan, it's definitely winning the Premier League. But in terms of the greatest 'moment', that Barca game is it for me.
Q. Wow, never knew that about Gini's goals! So Dan, you're the President and co-founder of LFC Victoria on Vancouver Island, Canada. Tell us about it...
Well, it was 2015 and we used to go around to my mate Jimmy's house to watch the games. It was great at the time, but we really needed a proper pub to watch games at.
So I went searching for a place that would not only show the games, but might even turn the volume up (laughs). Nowhere at the time specifically showed football games. They'd flick to the channel if you asked them - maybe - but nowhere you could be sure of, especially if it clashed with hockey games.
Anyway, I finally settled on the Irish Times in downtown Victoria. Not only is it a superb pub, but they were really accommodating and friendly about it.
I started watching games there by myself sitting there, of course, in my Liverpool shirt. There was another fan who I didn't know at the time, Matt Bingham, who also sat at the bar so we of course got chatting. That was the start of it all. We decided to have a go at maybe getting more Liverpool fans to come and join us, so we started a Facebook page.
It then came to our attention there were other Liverpool fans who watched the games at a place called Yates Street Taphouse just a few blocks away from the Irish Times. We got in touch with someone on-line called 'Loco LFC' and anyway, to cut a long story short, when we finally met, he and I already knew each other! We were both goalies from the same amateur football league.
So, after a bit of banter and "my pub's better than your pub" we decided to form one group and make the Irish Times our home base.
Another huge help back then was the manager, Damian Merino, and the pub's marketing manager Elizabeth Sandhu, had both previously worked at an LFC pub in Vancouver, so they knew the potential and were hugely supportive of us. We couldn't have done it without their help.
So to this day, myself, Laurence Glover (Loco) and Matt are President, Vice-President and Club Secretary.
It started slowly, but we've grown from a handful of fans to a fully fledged fan club now. The pub is open for every live Liverpool game no matter what time the game. It's packed for most games and we are finally in the process - as of literally this week - of applying for official 'OLSC' status with Liverpool. We're really excited about the future of our Supporters Club and how it's grown in such a short time.
Q. Great stuff Dan, and yes, it is a special place to watch the games for sure. So, last question, any particular story or stories that stand out for you since you started the fan club?
A. Yeah, there are two really iconic moments.
The first goes back to that Borussia Dortmund game in 2016. The pub was as full as it had ever been and buzzing with anticipation - only for us of course to go 2 goals down after 9 minutes. (laughs)
Once again we were left needing 3 goals in Europe in only 25 minutes! When Dejan Lovren headed in that 91st minute winner it triggered the first moment of Liverpool fan insanity at the Irish Times. The place went absolutely ballistic - unlike anything the pub had ever experienced before. I always say that LFC Victoria was truly born that day. Oh, and James Milner had two assists, including the winner. (laughs)
The second was the Real Madrid Champions Final in 2018. I know that seems a strange one to pick, but again it's to do with how much of an impact that game had for us as a fan club. We packed it out completely and there were more outside that couldn't get in.
But it was the reaction to defeat that summed up the spirit of what being a Liverpool fan is all about. The final whistle went but everyone stayed, singing and chanting. Then a Scouser who I didn't know at the time, Louis Burgess, jumped up on the bar leading our very own Kop Choir and we roared out Liverpool songs for hours after.
That day, the Irish Times, famous for its St Patrick's Day parties, sold more Guinness than it had ever done on any previous St Patrick's Day! Result aside, it was another brilliant time, and one where the pub staff and management realised just how special it was to be the home of a Liverpool Fan Club.
Oh, and then we made sure Louis was back again to lead the sing-song for the 2018 final, and this time he brought his guitar (laughs).
We've had many great days and nights there since, but those two occasions will live long in the memory. With Jurgen Klopp in charge and the squad we have now, I know there's many more to come too.
Well, Dan, cheers mate. It's been a pleasure speaking with you. Good luck with the OLSC application and see you soon in The Irish Times for a game.
FanConnect is a weekly blog featuring Reds fans' stories from around the world, and brought to you by the KopConnect team. If you like this feature, we would appreciate you sharing it with all your fellow Reds. YNWA.