A tale of two Liverpools

I HAD been meaning to write about AFC Liverpool for a while, but other things kept getting in the way. Rick Parry might know the feeling.

It’s interesting that Liverpool fans are forming a new club at a time when life behind the scenes at Anfield is as chaotic as it has ever been.

AFC Liverpool’s founders insist that the new club is not a protest against the Hicks/Gillett regime at Anfield. In that sense, then, they are not another FC United. But as the publicity bandwagon gathers pace, those founders may have to get used to saying: “We are not another FC United.”

And yet the similarities are there. A group of supporters of a top Premier League team have decided that there is something not right about what is going on at the top of the English game, and have set up their own club in response.

AFC Liverpool are in the process of applying to join the Vodkat League (a rare case of a sponsor making a┬ácompetition much less of a mouthful – it was the North West Counties League), and all the indications suggest that they would be accepted, just as FC United were in 2005.

Just as FC United are, AFC Liverpool will be run as a co-op. And just as FC United did three years ago, AFC Liverpool will hold player trials next month (the deadline to apply for a trial, though, is Sunday, so I wouldn’t hang about if I were you), and the new manager – whoever that may be – will start to place together a team from there.

FC United were a Godsend to the North West Counties, creating record attendances and bumper gate receipts for their opponents wherever they went, and ensuring worldwide atention for the league. For those reasons alone, it’s perfectly understandable that the Vodkat League would be keen to repeat the story.

I get the impression, though, that AFC Liverpool are not terribly keen to allow any FC United comparisons to stick. That’s why AFC are so keen to clarify that the club is a protest against the rising cost of Premier League football, not against Liverpool or their owners.

“It is expected that AFC Liverpool fans will still support Liverpool and (those who can afford to) will still go to Anfield to support the Reds,” says a statement on AFC Liverpool’s website.

“The club is meant as a grassroots addition to Liverpool FC, not to be a replacement for it. We see ourselves very much as part of the LFC family – LFC’s little brother.”

Anyone who has ever had a little brother will tell you that they can be irritating little blighters, so there’s a chance that the relationship betwen Big Liverpool and Little Liverpool may not run too smoothly. Still, family is family.

AFC Liverpool have attempted to answer the chief concerns that any Liverpool fan may have about the newcomers here.

One question the site doesn’t answer – perhaps can’t answer – is the one that will be asked by every time-served non-league fan in the country. It’s the question that FC United are still being asked three years after formation.

And the question is: “Are you in it for the long haul?”

That’s a question which can only be answered in actions, not words. An exciting adventure awaits you, AFC Liverpool. Now it’s up to you.

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