You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Connections

A Red Sox fan falls for Liverpool soccer

Boyfriend spurs her new passion for British futbol.

Gracia Lam

Soccer? Well, of course I’d heard of it. I’d watched Bend It Like Beckham twice and seen Brandi Chastain tear off her soccer jersey in victory. And who doesn’t know that people the world over are crazy about futbol?

However, I wasn’t one of them. Just the opposite. To know-nothing me, the game looked simple, requiring feet, a head, and stamina. Then I met Jonathan, who is originally from Liverpool. Need I say more? (Well, I could, such as “fell in love with” rather than “met.”) He never missed a match, whether live or DVR’d, due to an unavoidable conflict, such as his day job. Weekend plans revolved around the matches. I didn’t mind; in fact, I found his viewing habits endearing and Nick Hornby-ish.

Continue reading below

Occasionally, I’d be present for such a viewing. I’d look up from my knitting when a ruckus signaled a goal scored. So when did I get hooked? It was the first home game after Luis Suarez’s 10-game suspension for biting a Chelsea defender; it was also 10 days after the birth of his second child (Benjamin — same as my son!). Suarez brought the baby onto the pitch pre-match, then went on to score, brilliantly.

Does my recent conversion sound like merely a crush? I hope not. Yes, it’s only Suarez whom I follow on Instagram, but I appreciate all the Reds, marveling at their talents, their genius feet, often repeating what my father used to say about Rico Petrocelli at short, “Poetry in motion!”

Jonathan is an excellent teacher and a purist, cheering when an opposing player scores handsomely. (Pre-immersion, that could confuse me, especially when I hadn’t figured out which team was wearing which color.)

A spectator’s bonus: Brits in the broadcast booth. A player is observed “cutting a very disenchanted figgah.” Reactions may be described as “vociferous” or “a genuine moment of mirth,” a yellow card as “a decent riposte,” or a scoring attempt from afar “Audacious!” — not the vocabulary I hear during baseball play-by-play.

A friend observed, “How interesting that while your buddies are watching Downton Abbey, you’re watching soccer,” by which she means lords and ladies on PBS versus hooligans on NBC Sports. So not true; so unfair — her hooligan innuendo. Luckily I had exculpatory evidence: Besides the entire stadium singing Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (our theme, thanks to Gerry and the Pacemakers’ 1963 cover), Jonathan tells me that at halftime, at Anfield, the season ticket holders are served tea and biscuits.

This Red Sox loyalist is going to Yankee Stadium in July to see Liverpool play Manchester City. I sometimes worry, not aloud, What if Suarez doesn’t come? And what if it’s too hot to wear the LFC scarf Jonathan gave me on Boxing Day? My best friend, who humors me when I announce, “Liverpool won three-nil!” has started calling Suarez my “beloved.”

Meanwhile, the real-life beau and I, if watching separately, text about the match. The exact moment I felt I earned my football merit badge was after he texted, “Who did Sterling replace? I missed that.”

I knew the answer! I wrote back jubilantly and correctly, “Coutinho!”

It’s a loovly thing when two people care so much about the same team. Jonathan has two grown sons and I have one, so to me the Liverpool FC lads feel something like a family we adopted together. Recently I heard him tell a friend that I was the only woman he knew who understood the offside rule. Eavesdropping from the kitchen, I smiled. In the arena of sweet nothings, what more could a girl ask?

Elinor Lipman’s latest books are The View From Penthouse Band I Can’t Complain. Send comments to connections@globe.com.

TELL YOUR STORY. E-mail your 650-word essay on a relationship to connections@globe.com. Please note: We do not respond to submissions we won’t pursue.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.