Updated: Dec 16, 2020
Today we chat to Greg Schuman in California. I met Greg at KopConnect in Vegas in 2019 and we've been friends ever since. A native of Oceanside, California, Greg tells us how & why he became a Liverpool fan and just how much the club matters to him. Here's his story...
Q. Hey Greg, nice to speak with you. Tell us where you're from and a little about yourself.
A. Hi Alex, well, I'm from Oceanside in California and have always lived in this part of the world. It's best known as an air force and military town so it's not exactly a hotbed of Liverpool fans. (laughs)
Q. So, having said that, how did you become such a die-hard Red?
A. I'd always been a fan of youth soccer and had followed the US National Team at the World Cup. In 2009 I started watching Seattle Sounders games. But then - and I remember the game exactly - it was against Man City in February 2010 - I was watching the game when I suddenly heard the Liverpool fans passionately singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' and it really resonated with me.
I was going through a bit of a hard time personally back then and that message of hope about there 'being a golden sky at the end of a storm' really hit home. Something about feeling that passion and hearing the fans sing that song did it for me. It inspired me to look more into the history of the club.
When I read about the iconic fans, the fight for justice by the people and fans of Liverpool and the whole feel of the club, well, it just felt right. I knew right then, this was 'my' team and it turns out I was right. Once this team is in your blood, no other club matters.
Q. So true, Greg! You're a very well known fan across the US now. How did you go from being one fan in Oceanside to being part of the nationwide LFC community from South Carolina and Florida to San Francisco and Seattle?
A. After a few years watching the game pretty much on my own, I found out there was an official OLSC pub called The Princess in San Diego which is about a 45 minute drive from me, so I decided to give it a try. As bad luck would have it, it was the away game against Stoke when we lost 6-1. I'm surprised they let me back in. (laughs)
Seriously, as is typical with Liverpool fans, they were so welcoming even though I knew nobody there when I walked in. A special shout out to Liz Hagen, one of the staff there who made me feel so welcome. After my second game there, which was actually Jurgen Klopp's first game in charge, I got to meet the guy who runs the OLSC, Steve McGlynn as well as one of the local Scousers, Lisa Gaffney. They too welcomed me with open arms.
As the Liverpool fan base has grown, so has the number of official supporters clubs. I'm now a member of the Carlsbad OLSC which is much closer to my house so it's easier to have a few pints (laughs) but I owe a lot to the San Diego Reds.
Then, last summer, I went to your KopConnect event in Vegas in 2019 and met so many people who remain close friends to this day. We have a Saturday zoom group now and loads of fellow Reds, many who were there in Vegas, join in every week. The Liverpool family is so incredibly welcoming, I feel now I have friends for life, from all across the world. I'm being honest here when I say that Saturday group and their friendship has seriously helped me get through these miserable covid lockdowns.
Q. I hear you Greg. So, with 10 years as a fan now under your belt, who are the stand-out players for you, then and now?
A. When I became a fan, both Gerrard and Carra were at the peak of their powers. I took to both of them, not only because I loved the fact they were homegrown boys, but for their passion, commitment and will to win. They put their heart and soul into every minute of every game - and of course both were exceptional players; local lads who won the European Cup, UEFA Cup, League Cup and FA Cup together. They're both legends; it's just a shame they just missed out on the Premier League.
As for today's squad, it has to be Mo Salah. He's a world-class striker and part of arguably Liverpool's greatest ever front three. But it's how he carries himself - he comes across in interviews as if he's almost embarrassed to be a star and I really admire that humility from someone who's so revered by tens of millions across the world. He goes about his business on the field in such a carefree manner too, breaking record after record along the way.
Q. Great choices mate. So what's your most iconic moment as a Red? There've been a few over the last few years!
A. Yes, there have for sure, but one stands out - and, honestly, I promise this isn't just because I'm talking to you. It has to be the KopConnect Vegas event in 2019. As a relatively new Liverpool fan from Oceanside, I'd never - and still have never - experienced anything like it.
I really didn't know what to expect when I signed up for it, but it was a truly amazing three days. To be in the company of hundreds of other like-minded Reds singing, dancing, cracking jokes, partying, hanging around the pool singing karaoke with Liverpool legends was just fantastic. Marc Kenny nailed it on stage on the opening pub night too, the crowd was bouncing - and that was two nights before the game!
Greg at KopConnect in Vegas 2019 standing out in his purple kit.
And then of course, the outpouring of passion, the tears, the camaraderie in McMullan's for the Champions League final win just made it the experience of a lifetime - and to be there celebrating in a pub with Roy Evans, David Johnson and Howard Gayle was surreal. It was, honestly, one of the times of my life.
Q. Wow, thanks Greg. We'll do it all again as soon as we are able. I know in your time as a fan you've been lucky enough to meet more than just the three players you've mentioned...
A. Yeah, I've been really lucky. We get quite a few legends nights and LFC related events in Southern California and I've been fortunate enough to get tickets to quite a few.
Over the last few years we've had events with Alan Kennedy, Steve Heighway and David Fairclough so I got to meet and chat with each of them. For obvious reasons, my fondest memory now is meeting Ray Clemence at Joxer Daly's pub, home of the Los Angeles OLSC.
Ray was such a lovely guy and I'm so glad I got to meet him. Liverpool's greatest ever goalkeeper. Unfortunately I didn't get my photo taken with him that night but I'm honoured to have met him.
Actually, every one of the legends I've met have been amazing. They're another reason I love this club. It's always said we're part of something much more than just 'fans', it's an LFC family, and that's how it feels when you meet the ex-players and see how they interact with the fans.
Q. Great stuff Greg. Any final thoughts?
A. I just want to reiterate just how special this club is, and how much it has done for me as a person. From helping me through hard times, to helping me to build real friendships all across the world. It seems mad to say this having been a fan for only 10 years or so, but I can't imagine life without this club now. I am honoured and proud to call myself a Liverpool fan. The greatest club in the world.
A. Greg, many thanks for sharing your story. it's been a pleasure. See you soon on zoom, and hopefully in person in 2021. Have a great Christmas and New Year mate. YNWA.
FanConnect is a blog series featuring Reds fans' stories from around the world, and brought to you by the KopConnect team.
Alex Malone is a lifelong Red and co-founder of KopConnect, as well as a columnist for This Is Anfield.
If you like this feature, we would appreciate you sharing it with all your fellow Reds. If you're not already a member, we'd love for you to join our KopConnect Facebook group. YNWA