Now, 24 years later, I still watch my team most weeks but I also developed a keen interest in the people, like me, who watch it. I started documenting British football fans in 2004 and ever since, it’s been an ongoing project.
I think that what originally connected me to this subject was that I could combine two of my biggest passions, supporting Liverpool and taking pictures. Now after four years I’m more interested with the social documentation of this culture. I like both the real-life passion and rawness of the support, but also the super-realism that is more apparent at people’s homes.
One of the main reasons to photograph Liverpool fans in a positive light is because all through my youth, the fans had a horrible reputation for being hooligans, especially in Europe. However, I had generally experienced a friendly atmosphere at home games and when I started to travel abroad, the fans were treated badly by the local police. Now I believe British football grounds are the safest in Europe.
Football is by far the most tribal sport and fans are the most passionate towards their team. It’s only football where fans wear thousands of replica shirts, sing songs throughout the game, travel across the world to follow their team and live their lives through the team. However after saying this, a group of England cricket fans called, ‘The Barmy Army’ do have a similar fan culture.
Some of the images were shot in a British Legion club in central London. The Royal British Legion is a UK charity providing financial, social and emotional support to people who have served, or who are currently serving, in the British Armed Forces. In the club everybody was supporting England in the European Cup, and the game went to a penalty shoot-out. The club where I photographed also acted as a community center for the people that lived nearby in the council estate.
Other photographs were taken at fans' homes around the UK. One of the subjects was 92 years old and had supported Liverpool all her life. Just before I shot her, she appeared on a national TV program in a feature called Fan of the Month. At this age she was still organizing a group of fans to travel a 300-mile roundtrip each week to follow their team. The shot was taken in her bedroom, a unbelievable collection of Liverpool memorabilia dating back 60 years.
The photograph of the two smiling ladies was taken at one of their homes. They have been going to each home game together for the last ten years. One of their unique activities was they would cut out players’ faces from newspapers and magazines and then make badges out of them.
Other photographs in the collection are taken before and after Liverpool matches, both in the UK and abroad. The shot of the guy showing off his ‘man tits’ was taken in Cardiff at about 11 a.m. He is Norwegian and had started his day at 4 a.m., with a bottle of vodka, needless to say he was certainly under the influence by 11 a.m. Moments later he had passed out, but only until the next round of drinks came his way.
— Adam Rubin