There’s been a lot of extremes when it comes to Liverpool Football Club in the past couple years. Wins and losses, trophies and relegation. It has largely been the Men’s team enjoying those successes, that sunshine, while the Women’s team languish in the dark.
This weekend, though, the roles finally flipped and the Men’s team suffered a loss, while the Women’s team continued their unbeaten streak and were able to maintain their lead even after conceding a goal and cutting that lead in half. The Women’s team played Coventry United on Sunday, shortly before the Men’s team played Aston Villa — one ended in victory, another in a historic loss.
The nature of sports conversations means, though, that one of those matches will be the focus until the next one — and it won’t be the Women’s match, or their unbeaten streak.
And that’s the problem, isn’t it? After going without consistent wins last season, the Liverpool Women’s team have yet to outright lose, having only one draw since the season began. While it may be easy to downplay it by saying their opponents are in a lower league, as they are now, it is still something that deserves more notice than it’ll probably get.
Even as the Men’s team goes into an international break, and don’t play their next match until October 17th, the focus will likely be on the mistakes they made that led to a ruthless Aston Villa running rampant over them. There will be plenty of pieces about what the absent players would’ve done and how they might’ve saved the match, or what players made what mistakes. There will be articles and podcasts and analyzations ad nauseam about what that team could’ve, would’ve, should’ve done to keep a yo-yo team like Aston Villa from scoring 7 on us.
When the focus could be on the positivity of the Women’s team. About how their offense has finally been able to make the connections that lead to goals, how their link up play has allowed them to move through other teams with ease. How they were able to go two goals up in the first half, concede one in the second half, and not lose their cool. Melissa Lawley scored her second of the season and new signing Amalie Thestrup scored her first - celebrations that should’ve been shared with fans in a better way. There’s also the bit about Lucy Parry coming on to become the youngest player ever to play for the women’s team — something the club prides itself on, it’s Academy and integrating those players into the senior squads. They wasted no time in tweeting about that moment, either.
While fans will be agonizing over every single goal conceded by the Men’s team, they will be missing all those positive things happening at the Women’s team. Despite all the problems that led them to be relegated, they have made the most of it and now sit at the top of the Championship League table with 10 points out of 4 games. That is incredible, and something we were celebrating with the Men’s team up until Sunday.
These positive moves will be missed, because of how the matches are put up on a delay, because of the small coverage they are given by the media at large, and by the club itself. It’s a shame, really, because the Men’s team could probably use the break from the scrutiny — especially as they go away to their national teams for friendlies that probably shouldn’t be happening in the first place.
When there is equality in the teams literally everyone benefits. The Women’s team could use the support, the celebrations of their progresses from where last season ended. They could use the encouragement, as the focus should shift to them, just as the Men’s team could probably benefit from the diminished criticism. Liverpool is already a worldwide club, a worldwide name. There are fans all around the globe and given the chance, they would probably, hopefully, choose to support the Women’s team as well.
And while the club has done more work to make the club more accessible, they are still the first steps. It’s about maintaining that work, that effort, to make the team more accessible to those fans.
For now, those of us that do pay attention to and support the Women’s team are left to bang the drum, spread the good news that they scrapped to find a win on Sunday and they have kept up their own unbeaten streak. They have been able to pull themselves through that struggle and while hard matches are upcoming with the Continental Cup group stages - the first of which is against Manchester United Women (including Americans Christen Press and Tobin Heath) on Wednesday - things are finally, finally, looking good for them.
The depressing part is that there are very few people paying attention, and those of us that do pay attention have to do the heavy lifting of raising our voices in support of them.
Something we’ll happily keep doing, as long as we have to. Fans of any team, of any sport, are happy to share their passions with the world, most of the time, and real change isn't going to happen overnight. These moments are so easy to learn from, though, and it seems maybe that the club is learning.
The best thing we can do is stick around, for the Women's team to celebrate them, and their successes. That's what I'm here for, to share that passion for them, and hope that it ripples out to anyone else.