On 2nd November 1963 Anfield was filling up nicely and an expectant crowd assembled on the Kop looked forward to the afternoon’s game against Leicester City. Shankly’s men were sitting in third place in the top division just two points behind Sheffield United and Manchester United, having played a game less, and had won their last five league games (including a 2-1 derby victory over the old enemy).
So it was that spirits were high for the visit of their bogey side Leicester City, who had knocked them out of the FA Cup at the semi final stage seven months earlier thanks to a Stringfellow goal which broke Kopites’ hearts. http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=43266
However, Liverpool would eventually go on to win Shankly’s first championship in the spring, it would not be events on the pitch that wet November Saturday, which would have a lasting effect on the proud football club.
As was the tradition in the early sixties, the public address system would run down the top ten singles in the 45 minutes prior to kick-off, in Anfield’s own version of The Chart Show. Unlike today, the ground would be pretty much filled by 2:30pm, as fans took up their favourite specs on the terraces. In order to amuse themselves as much as anything else, the pre-match period would be occupied by the singing for which the Kop was already becoming famous.
That particular afternoon, as Bill Shankly and his men made their final preparations under the Main Stand, the chart rundown was going on as usual above them.
Adam Faith, Chuck Berry, local lads The Searchers (Sugar and Spice), Shirley Bassey, Trini Lopez (If I had a Hammer), The Crystals, Roy Orbison and Brian Poole & The Tremeloes blasted out from the primitive speakers around the ground.
Then at number two it was The Beatles singing She Loves You. This was a huge favourite, and the Kop sang along with gusto. The mood was high as the teams were awaited. With the Kop now in full voice the speakers crackled as the Anfield DJ placed the stylus on the number one record.
The new number one song in the United Kingdom was, of course, Gerry and the Pacemakers with “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. The Kop swayed and sang and an anthem was born.
(for BBC Panorama footage of the Kop singing ‘She Loves You’ pre-match vArsenal see http://www.holymoly.com/football-news/ye-olde-football-video-liverpool-fans-full-voice-kop-singing-beatles-songs50770 - can you spot Stan Boardman on the Kop?)
The song stayed at number one for four weeks before “She Loves You “replaced it. Soon Gerry’s song was dropping out of the top ten, but the Liverpool fans demanded that the DJ continued to play it and so the tradition of playing YNWA prior to kick-off at Anfield was launched. There has not been a home game in the 48 years since at which the famous anthem has not rang around Anfield. The name of the song now features on the club badge, on the Shankly Gates and is as much a part of LFC as the Liver Bird.
As was the custom in those days, Leicester City beat Liverpool that day, with Gordon Banks outstanding in a 1-0 win.
I have been with, and loved, Liverpool through its not so good days to glory days. Recently, it has really disturbing to read a few comments, tweets and blogs.
How can anyone give sticks to Nuri Sahin and talk about letting him go without loving him? How can anyone blame Allen after having worked so hard? Rubbishing out Downing? What is with Jonjo being abused?
Do you think, they or any new member would celebrate the way we celebrated in the past? They will remeber everything that you said and did in tough times.
A Red-man on the pitch is not there to bullied by us. They are the best out all the Reds around the globe to represent us!
Xabi wants to come back to Liverpool for nothing else but the love he has for the club. He finds life and energy through those sincere fans who have never stopped singing, never mind the stage of the game or the result. Thats why Reina celebrated goals even if he didn't score them. The fans were his family and he knew we would take care of him when things do not go well and love him through his tough times.
Make a player feel home, make them feel important thats what pushes their adrenaline. Thats when the real celebration comes!
The true fans, have shed tears of joy when they were happy on the pitch. Also smiled, when they could not win it for us to keep their morals high and give them comfort. They are the ones who would silently swallow their tears and grief when things go wrong and come out to celebrate when we win! They would go upto the extent of hugging and kissing the person standing beside them. They would sing songs for the players!
This is to those living in ignorance: Treat your team as a part of you. You don't blame your legs for not having won a 100m race! Our team does not enjoy drawing a match forget about losing which is evident in their eyes. When you fail to see it, they fail to be on the same page of celebration after scoring, after winning!
A family member can never be a critic! If our 'bests' are not doing well, its our responsibility to sing and shout louder for them! Only when you do so, you really understand - 'YNWA'!
You will Never Walk Alone!
So we waited all day on Thursday and Friday for the verdict, to no avail. After a weekend of further deliberation the FA ‘Independent’ Team kept us on tenterhooks throughout Tuesday. As the day moved into dusk, the cynical amongst us predicted on twitter that maybe they would wait until the evening’s two vital Premier League games were under way before issuing their verdict – and lo and behold at 2 minutes past eight came the news that Luis Suarez, Liverpool FC and it’s supporters had feared but had not believed possible.
Luis Suarez was found guilty of misconduct and banned for eight matches along with a fine of £40,000.
My reaction was one of disbelief and fury. However, we had not been in the hearing room, so it was possible that the snippets of evidence that had been leaked did not tell the full story. Maybe El Pistolero had over-stepped the mark to a degree beyond that which we had been led to believe.
It did not take long before this thinking was blasted clean out of the water. Liverpool Football Club wasted no time in issuing a statement that left no stone unturned in making absolutely clear that Luis Suarez would be backed all the way in the quest to clear his name. The fact that the statement was obviously penned by persons that had been present during the presentation of evidence over three ten-hour days, spoke volumes about how much of an injustice the club perceives this judgement to be. Liverpool FC certainly responded with both barrels.
In contrast the country’s media and pundits, generally piled in with a diametrically opposite view. So called leading journalists praised the FA for its actions. Despite the FA and Evra (in his statement to the panel) both accepting that Luis Suarez is ‘not a racist’ banner headlines proclaimed him as such.
At a guess I would say that those lazy journalists and headline editors rushed to the presses a little early and the strength of Liverpool Football Club’s response may well have caused a ripple of concern at the prospect of ‘defamation of character’ libel actions.
I applaud the club for their unequivocal response. I wrote in an earlier blog about the possibility of a smear campaign orchestrated by our old adversary, with a view to hounding Luis out of the country into the eager arms of Barcelona or Real Madrid. In order to counteract this possibility I think the club have done exactly the right thing. Kenny Dalglish used one of his rare ventures on to twitter to reinforce the backing asking his legion of followers to ensure that Luis will never walk alone. I am sure that the red army will not let Kenny or Luis down.
It is not the length of the ban that bothers me. Yes, Suarez is our talisman but Liverpool’s squad is stronger than for many years, and we can compensate for a month or so without any player. Consider that the team that won on Sunday had, amongst others, Maxi, Dirk Kuyt, Andy Carroll, Martin Kelly, Jamie Carragher ready to step in- and with our skipper returning soon, the strength of our squad should be able to cover for the loss of players for a spell.
No, it is the good name of Suarez that is paramount here. The lad was convicted on his own evidence by all accounts. He told the commission what he had said. Without this co-operation, and with a total denial instead, it is hard to see how even this cockeyed kangaroo court could have come up with a guilty verdict.
Notwithstanding the validity of the verdict, the severity of the ban must also be questioned. Reading’s John Mackie admitted racially abusing a Sheffield United player using words much less ambiguous and much more abusive, and his sentence was .... a three game suspension.
So, is the length of the ban a political slap around the face towards Sepp Blatter, after his recent ‘shake hands’ utterances? Can the FA justify suspending an English player for 3 games, whilst banning a Uruguayan for almost three times the term? Or is it the old chestnut of using a high-profile player to make a statement of intent and using him as an example?
Surely that would not happen. Surely the Football Association could not use a player’s reputation and blacken (oops) his name in order to meet their latest agenda? Surely there is no history in this regard?
In 1974 Kevin Keegan and Billy Bremner were both sent off in the inaugural Wembly Charity Shield. In those a days sending off was a rarity, even more so at Wembley. The normal suspension at the time was two to three games. Keegan and Bremner were both given ELEVEN match bans, for no reason other than the game was an FA showpiece at Wembley. Hard to justify, but Liverpool accepted the decision.
In the 1978 League Cup Final replay, Liverpool were beaten 1-0 by Nottingham Forest thanks to a John Robertson penalty. Television proved that Phil Thompson’s tackle on John O’Hare was a couple of feet outside the box. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsc0bn52xiw In his post-match interview Thommo admitted deliberately fouling O’Hare but was adamant it was outside the area. In the first case of it’s kind the FA saw fit to charge Phil with bringing the game into disrepute and he after a grovelling apology (on the orders of Bob Paisley) he was given a fine. Liverpool accepted the decision.
In March 2008 there was great controversy when Chelsea’s Ashley Cole turned his back on a referee who was trying to issue him a yellow card, and generally displayed contempt for the official. A media outcry followed and the FA decreed that a new RESPECT campaign would be launched. The following weekend Liverpool visited Old Trafford and before the break Javier Mascherano was shown a second yellow card (for dissent). His dissent was clearly visible on tv. He repeatedly asked ”What for?” to Steve Bennett, and Mr Bennett chose not to engage in conversation, instead he branded the yellow, then red, cards. It should be remembered that Mascherano was the first LFC player to be dismissed that season, at the later stages of March. Javier and his team mates had been complaining to the referee throughout the half about the rough treatment being dished out to his team-mate Fernando Torres. Typically, the United assaults on Liverpool’s number 9 went unpunished. Torres was eventually booked for complaining, and Mascherano stepped in to ask the ref why. Red card.
The FA had made their mark. Once again a Liverpool player was used as an example. Mascherano’s ban was increased from the usual one-match suspension to three games. Liverpool again accepted the decision. (Although Rafa referred to it in his famous ‘facts’ press conference)
As far as I can recall, Javier Mascherano was the lone victim of the FA’s much heralded Respect Campaign.
It seems that on this occasion, Liverpool Football Club has decided that simple acceptance does not bring any benefits, and I for one read the statement with pride. It spoke for all of us.
Liverpool FC’s statement says more than I could ever say on the subject. They know the facts. The club is supporting Luis Suarez. As is Kenny Dalglish. As are his fellow team mates. Tonight the nation’s viewers will see the extent of support that Luis has from his adoring fans.
Luis Suarez is not perfect. However he is one of us and until anyone can PROVE that he is guilty of anything sinister he will get the full backing of the supporters. For every cheap shot directed towards our number 7, we will increase our vocal support.
Whilst we get behind the lad, maybe others should admit that their philosophy is “If you can’t beat him, FRAME him!”
Welcome to the first official blog from the Liverpool FC Foundation!
We thought it would be nice to say hello to everyone on The Kop and update you all on what we have been up to, who we are and where we are going.For those of you who don’t know the Liverpool FC Foundation, we have been working out in the community since 2002. We work locally in and around Liverpool and across the globe reaching out to those who need it most.
The Foundation team helps turn the lives around of children and adults who need it most. By delivering a range of award-winning programmes including football coaching, skills training, personal development and life changing experiences, we have been able to motivate and inspire positive change in communities. Thousands of children and adults have already benefitted from our work in the last ten years and we are proud of what we have achieved.
Over the last few months, whilst still working out in the Community, we have been busy updating our programmes, and laying the ground for a new look Foundation. You may already have noticed our new logo, which has been used in the matchday programme and also in the LFC monthly magazine and in the next couple of weeks the new Liverpool FC Foundation website will be launched and we hope you will take a look and let us have your feedback.
We are hoping to make some announcements in the next few months about a new era for the Foundation so please keep checking back for regular updates! We will aim to update our blog once a week to give you an insight in to the work we carry out in the Community on a daily basis, but also to keep you up to date with new events and activities, and also introduce you to some of the team!
Thanks for reading and YNWA.
Liverpool FC Foundation
The Liverpool FC Foundation is a registered charity 1096572 and currently delivers its programmes using a number of grants along with some additional funding from the Club.
129 touches of the ball
115 passes with 93% accuracy 20% of which were LONG
I will slap anyone who says Gerrard can no longer play for us
Experience,desire,and talismanic ability CANNOT BE BOUGHT,just look at Lampard and Scholes
After a week of tinkering and collecting names, the apology letter to Tom Adeyemi was delivered to Oldham Athletic by GrottonRed.
Shortly afterwards the following appeared on the Oldham Atheletic official website:
Tom Adeyemi has received a massive show of support from Liverpool fans in the wake of the abuse he received during the FA Cup tie at Anfield.
The on-loan midfielder has taken delivery of an 1,800 name petition which had been compiled on the Anfield club's website.
It is the latest backing Adeyemi has received as genuine football fans have rallied behind the 20-year-old.
Adeyemi said: "I would like to thank everybody who has sent messages of support - they haven't only been from Latics and Liverpool fans but from all over the country.
"I have received lots of e-mails as well as handwritten letters and it has been brilliant to know such a lot of people are supporting me.
"It has been great to receive the petititon which shows the vast majority of Liverpool fans are supportive on me."
Adeyemi added he has put the incident behind him.
He said: "It is for others to deal with and all I want to do is to concentrate on my football and make sure it doesn't affect my game.
"What disappointed me was the media coverage that weekend was all about me and it took away from the team how good an account they gave of themselves at Anfield."
I would like to take this oppertunity to thank every single one of you 1800 who signed the letter. It has truly made a difference.
Thanks especially to GrottonRed and Scousedancer. Were it not for these two this would never have been possible.
I am an extremely proud Red today. THIS is why I support the club. We truly have the best fans in the world!
YNWA. Each and every one of you.
Lets's see if any of the people who have got it in for andy carroll can find something to critisize him about today after that performance.
He was one of our best players, possible the best one so how about he gets some credit for once.
Have always believed he can deliver and always will, in carroll we believe.
Quality win might i add, we were not at our best granted but a win is a win especially against the scum
There is nothing more torturous for a football supporter than the 2 minute wait before a penalty-kick is taken against your team. All of a sudden, you begin cursing the man who decided on such mammoth sized goals as you become convinced that your goalkeeper is not capable of sideways motion anymore. So imagine how all us Kopites felt when Brad Jones strolled onto the pitch at Ewood Park, facing a penalty from the menacing (and ex-Evertonian, just for good measure) Yakubu as his first and rare piece of action. Our natural reaction as on-lookers was to close our eyes and seek help and guidance from above.
In the end, it turned out we weren’t the only ones looking for inspiration in that moment. As Jones dived to the correct side of the goal and smothered Yakubu’s strike, our Australian goalkeeper rose to his feet, tucked the ball under his right arm and pointed his left to the sky.
There was more to this celebration than just delight at making a crucial penalty save. You could see it in his eyes; you could feel it in his body language, just a complete grasp and understanding as to why he had saved it. You could see the passion from the way Glen Johnson and Martin Skrtel ran full throttle over to their mate and colleague to join with him in his moment. You could see it in the way the crowd went berserk as if they had discovered a time-machine and transported themselves back to Istanbul, May 25th 2005. For anyone that was remotely aware of the story of Brad Jones and his family, this was a poignant moment that will forever linger in our memories.
In June 2010, Jones was preparing for the World Cup in South Africa with his Australian teammates; the pinnacle moment for every professional footballer. On the eve of this special tournament, Jones got a phone call that would change his life; his 4 year old son Luca was diagnosed with leukaemia.
“It makes football completely irrelevant, even a World Cup,” commented the Socceroos captain Lucas Neill in the aftermath of hearing the devastating news of his fellow countryman. For as much as playing football at the highest level and on the biggest stage is a wonderful experience, everything was put firmly into perspective that day for Brad Jones and his partner Dani.
This led to a year of treatment for Luca, which came in sync with Jones moving to Liverpool from Middlesbrough in the summer of 2010. So as we fans went through the trials and tribulations that those years had to offer on the football pitch and in the boardroom, the Jones family suffered through the same period with a grieving authenticity that is hard to comprehend.
For his treatment, Luca had to undertake months of chemotherapy, blood transfusions and a bone marrow transplant. At first, the Joneses were led to believe that Luca was on the mend after a successful stem cell transplant, but just as 2011 shone new light on the family's future, Brad and Dani were left devastated once again as they were told the cancer had returned.
There is a saying about Liverpool Football Club that there is “no heart as big” due to the family atmosphere and understanding of the emotions inspired from tragedies that deeply affected our proud supporters and the city. Liverpool fans did everything they could to show their support for Luca and his treatment, with Twitter becoming the main outlet for kind messages and heartfelt donations to a player’s family who despite his limited appearances on the pitch, became a symbol close to our hearts when we felt the Liverbird etched over it.
A year had passed since Luca was initially diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, yet Brad and Dani had wonderful news to inform Luca on - Dani was pregnant with a baby boy. “Nico was such an active baby that he (Luca) could feel him in my tummy, even at that early stage, and Luca was even picking names for him ... even though they were mostly related to Spider-Man!”
Unfortunately, the rollercoaster ride would not avoid another dip for the couple and poor Luca.
On November 18th 2011, after nearly a year and a half fighting the leukaemia with a variation of his Daddy’s Liverpool shirts on him every step of the way, Luca sadly passed away aged just 6.
When the Liverpool team stepped out onto the pitch in the games that initially followed, you could see how it affected all the players – Brad’s teammates and friends – as they wore their black armbands with utter sincerity and respect. The minute's silence tributed at Anfield to Luca was greeted with every ounce of perfection and reverence. This was one of our own that was hurting and we all desperately wanted to show our support in whatever way we could.
The year that followed must have been extremely difficult for the Jones family. Brad returned to Melwood and continued training in the wake of his ultimate heartache, waiting for the moment to step into the spotlight and put his Luca Jones-inspired gloves into action. On 10th April 2012, against Blackburn, Jones got his chance.
Every time Brad Jones hears Gerry Marsden utter the words “At the end of a storm there’s a golden sky”, he must feel he saw a glimmer of this in reality whenever he thinks back to this week in April. Liverpool were playing Blackburn in their final league game before they played Everton in the FA Cup semi-final on the eve of the 23rd Hillsborough anniversary. Only a few days earlier to this Tuesday night encounter at Ewood Park, Dani had given birth to a baby boy – Nico.
So by knowing all this, and seeing Jones thrust his arm so emphatically into the night sky, we who knew understood the magnitude of this moment. Brad spoke about Luca in his post-match interview: “Luca is with me every day. His picture is in my wash bag, his toys are in my travel bag. I take him everywhere. In that sense, I’ve definitely got someone watching over me. It was nice to save the penalty as it has been a difficult time with losing my son. Maybe he gave me that good fortune.”
At home, while Nico slept, Dani celebrated her partner's moment: “I thought I was going to throw up! When he saved it we were jumping up and down, and then I remembered I’d just had a caesarean!” she laughed.
Yet there was more to come. Due to the suspension of both Pepe Reina and Doni, Brad Jones was to be the man between the sticks when Merseyside took over the capital along Wembley Way. Playing in a FA Cup semi-final is special, playing at Wembley is special, and playing for Liverpool is beyond special, but with a unique backdrop to this game both personally for Brad and collectively for the club with Luca and Hillsborough, the proportion of specialness required to sum this day up is unimaginable.
On that sun-soaked Saturday afternoon, Jones had a tremendous game and Liverpool came from behind to beat their local rivals at Wembley… again.
When the full-time whistle went, amidst the scenes of screaming Scousers, spilt pints, and a grinning Scottish King, Jones collapsed to his knees and faced the ground, trying to take it all in. Eventually he raised both his hands in the air and with his eyes closed he thanked his oldest son.
In some way ourselves, whether through vivid tears or a sudden feeling of being all choked up, we all thanked Luca that day as well.
In my lifetime as a Liverpool supporter, I’ve only experienced two players receive undeniable love and recognition from the Kop for minimal appearances on the pitch: Gary McAllister and Brad Jones. Both players share similar statuses in that their most memorable LFC moment will be remembered as against Everton (not a bad accolade eh?). However for where Gary Mac had his wonderful set-pieces and sparkling bald head, Jones affected us supporters on a different level. Brad always seemed the type who is quite reserved and very humble. His honesty has always been highly noticeable whenever he plays or speaks. His smile is unflappable; his work (along with Dani) for Luca and stem-cell research has been commendable.
On behalf of every Liverpool fan, stripping back the red and just being human, to you Brad and your family, you’ll never walk alone.
- by Ryan Levis (@Ryan3Levis).
I hardly wanted to write what I believe all over again whilst debating with my Man United supporting Cousin on a social networking site however I did want to let Kopites know of what I see as to be true about our team. You may have to read between the lines but I'm sure you'll get where I'm coming from.
I said to him; You look at the here and the now. Our first team are playing badly results wise . I look further down the line. I look at our youth team who have 25 more points than yours in the table. We've been buying some great youngsters. Pelosi, Pettersen, Ibe, Texieria to name a few. We have to compete in a different way. When United found success they did it at the right time, not by knowledge but by a fortunate set of circumstances. Money from Sky, the premiership and TV money came when your class of the early nineties came on board. Since then youve increased your revenues to a point where we couldnt compete. We had our worst manager ever dismantling our club with the likes of Julian dicks and Razor Ruddock. Those revenues enabled you to buy players of a higher calibre. We struggled with changing players managers and owners ever since. I'm not taking anything away from you but you have to put it all into context. This is Kenny Dalglish's first full season. If he wins two cups and brings in great potential we can succeed. You however can now go out and buy who you want and why shouldnt you. Not so long ago we had Hodgson as manager, 350m in debt, no trophies, Mascherano Alonso and Torres had left and had two cowboys who couldnt give a rats arse about our side owning the club. We now have one of our greatest managers at the helm, £0 debt, weve signed the biggest kit manufacturers deal and the biggest kit sponsers deal in England, ambitious owners and have 1 trophy in the cabinet with a potential 2nd on its way, were also back in Europe albeit the europa league and our squad was trimmed down by 19 pieces of deadwood last summer. This is stage 1 and I'm happy with what we have achieved.
I went on..
I'm not making excuses but if you want to know why we are underachieving in the league you might want to look at a few facts. 1) Our captain and most influential player has been out injured for half of the season. 2) Our player of the season last year Lucas Leiva has been out nearly the entire season. 3) Suarez has missed 9 crucial games due to his ban 4) We brought in 9 players who have never played together last year 5) We've hit the woodwork 27 times in all competitions. 6) We can't just bring in anybody we feel because we don't have the champions league status and we can't get in to the champions league without having the best players available which is why we need to bring in the future players of this world, not the already established ones.
Our first 8 names on our team sheet are good enough to beat anyone and I mean anyone. We need better attacking players with pace. The reason United are top is because you have 5 strikers of good quality and 5 wide players of good quality. Your defence is no better than ours but your attacking players are. Attacking players always cost more money because scoring goals is what football is all about. Hopefully winning the FA cup will be enough to entice players of a better calibre to our club, if not we will have to be patient until these promising youngsters reach a level where they can mix it with the best. Pep Guadiola said last year “The academy of the Liverpool is the only one that can compare to La Masia of Barcelona FC.” he said. “If Liverpool can manage those lads in the academy, then maybe 20 star players can arrive from that academy”.
I just want everyone to realise where we are at the minute and not despair. We've had many lows but given time I have faith. Kenny Dalglish is the right man for this job and knowing his great character it's evident in the job he took and the challenges he faces. What we don't need as a club is people believing the media scaremongering that goes on when things don't go our way.
Be knowlegeable YNWA
So, here we are. Six years later. Six long, and at times, difficult years. I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed.
I decided to revisit (and to be frank, re-write) my account of that night in Istanbul. I hope you enjoy it.
Tuesday May 24 2005
Then, as now, I was working in Sheffield. We’d opted to travel in and out of Istanbul on the day of the game. Annual leave was at a premium, so I found myself heading to work as normal on the Tuesday, albeit with a bag full of clothes. A colleague of mine had been to European Cup Finals in the past, and he and I spent the day discussing his experiences. As you’d expect coming from a truly red family, I was already well versed in tales of European Cup finals, but I was happy for the distraction. I was very kindly allowed to leave early, and with that, my journey began.
I wandered through the city, trying to imagine what it might feel like to see my boys lift the European Cup, to finally be able to say ‘I was there when….’ when the old discussions came around in the pub. I think I was still contemplating how I would feel when I reached Widnes station, and saw me Ma’ sat in the car, waiting for me. On the way back we stopped for some tea from the Chinese – Chicken Fried Rice, Chips and Curry Sauce. I was definitely home now.
Soon after we arrived back at my parent’s, my uncle arrived, and the travelling party of me, me Da’ and his eldest brother was complete; my other uncles and the lads from the Salisbury (Granton Road Salisbury, mind) were already there.
Actually, the fact that my uncle was so prompt shouldn’t be understated; he is notorious for being late. He’s lived in Coventry for years, and once flagged down a cab from the hard shoulder of the M6 to take him to “the station” after his car broke down. Not unreasonably, the cabby asked if he meant Birmingham New Street. He of course meant Lime Street; he was heading there to catch his train to Paris for the ’81 final.
Back to 2005 and our flight from Liverpool was scheduled for 00.05, meaning we had to be at the airport for around 10pm. By the time we arrived the airport was already a sea of red - a sign of things to come. The bloke in front of us was trying to check in a tin foil replica of the European Cup, but the girl was having none of it, so it became his hand luggage. It doubled up as a fetching bag, at any rate.
Flying from Liverpool Airport made the journey all the more special, it was a much better feeling than flying from Manchester, as we’d done when travelling to Dortmund. There was just a greater sense of community. Even the bitters were wishing us well, bless ‘em. In 2001 the Mancs just growled at us.
We decided to try and sneak a pint in before the flight, and headed up to the bars, passing the statue of John Lennon on the way. He was already groaning under the weight of scarves, hats and flags.
After a swift pint it was time for us to make our way to the boarding gate. As the queue shuffled along I started to receive text messages from friends who had already arrived in Istanbul. Opinions were divided, to some people it was a ‘Sh*t hole' and to others it ‘rocked'. Within 24 hours we would all learn first hand about the contrasting feelings Istanbul can evoke….
May 25 2005
Any notion of a comfortable flight and some sleep disappeared as we boarded. The plane that had been chartered wasn’t exactly modern, and had been re-fitted to carry the maximum number of seats possible. This meant the seats were tiny, and there was a bare minimum of legroom between the rows. Oh well, at least we were going to be fed. At 2.30am the crew came around with our meals. Given the time we were expecting something light, so all three of us accepted the foil covered provisions we were offered.
As I unwrapped the scran, my sense of anticipation evaporated faster than it had on Christmas day 1986 – the Teddy Ruxpin year. I was greeted with Potato Salad with Dill, Chicken and Leek in a cream sauce and Lemon Cheesecake – the perfect midnight snack, I'm sure you'll agree. Anyway, we ate it (well you do don't you) and then spent the remaining hour or so trying to wrestle some comfort out of our 'seats'. It didn't happen.
We landed in Istanbul at around 6am local time, and joined the queue for Passport Control. I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite widely, and consequently my passport is filled with many immigration stamps from around the world, but none of them is as cherished as the one that says “UEFA Champions League Final May 25 2005”
As we exited the airport and the sun began to rise, we boarded one of the hundred or so busses which were waiting to take us to Taksim Square, our home for the day, in the European side of the City. The journey took about an hour or so, and at times more closely resembled a destruction derby than a morning commute. Motorways went on for long stretches with no lane markings, and there seemed to be a general indifference towards self preservation amongst the drivers. As we were in a bus, we were bigger than most of the other traffic, so it was more entertaining than harrowing.
When we arrived at Taksim Square – we saw that Uefa, the Champions League sponsors and the Turkish authorities were holding a ‘party’ for us, and decided to investigate the various stands. Each of the four major sponsors had interactive exhibitions which you could participate in, which was enjoyable for about five minutes, but soon got dull. There had also been a huge screen erected which was showing highlights of our route to the final on a loop, and it would also be used to broadcast the game to those supporters unable to get tickets. The best part of the early morning was being able to meet and talk to Alan Kennedy and David Fairclough, two bona-fide Legends, in-between their media work. Both we're really friendly and open, and just as excited as us to be there.
After a while we wandered down the road to a cafe and had a sit down with some coffee (and a lager), to try and combat the tiredness that was beginning to descend. A lot of fellow reds were also enjoying a beer. It was 08.30 now and the looks on the locals faces as they headed to work were priceless - I don't think they appreciated that we'd been up all night.
After an hour or so we moved on to a cafe within Taksim square, overlooking the park. We spent a happy couple of hours there, watching fellow reds enjoying a kickabout and/or sunbathing. As lunch time approached, we began to get a little hungry, so my dad called the waiter over, and asked "Do you do toast?" (complete with a mime of spreading butter). "Toast…?" came the puzzled reply "..no sir, no toast, sorry.". A little while later we tried again with a second waiter, only this time we adopted a more general approach and asked if they did any food at all. "We only have Toast sir.", came the reply…..
Later we had a mooch around the colourful nearby streets and bazaars (interspersed with a few beers) and arranged to meet my mate Chris, his brother and friends at a pub next to Taksim square. On our way back, we saw one of my favourite banners ever:
Bellamy has grabbed the goals and the headlines recently, as has Gerrard and even Carroll. But throughout this season I think one player has been consistently high class who nobody has mentioned.
Daniel Agger first came to this club in 2006. Since then, he has been in and out of the team, often through injury, sometimes through the selection of Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel and bizarrely, Sotirious Krygiakos.
However this season he has played 23 games, and I believe the team is all the better for it!
I've always liked Agger, and it has been such a shame that he has been unable to gain a regular starting place in the team until this season. He is a top class player, with so many different talents. He is great in the air, winning so many aerial duels, but also fantastic on the floor, winning a great number of tackles every game. He puts his body on the line and makes crucial blocks, and times his sliding tackles excellently.
Going forward is also where he really goes from being a great defender to something more. He is such an asset to the liverpool team. Not many sides boast a centre back that can defend excellently but can add another dimension to their attack, both from open play and set pieces. When Agger comes forward, one of the opposition midfielders has to go to him, leaving another one of our guys unmarked. But Agger can go alone if he wants to. He has the ability to beat players, play passes and of course has a smashing shot on him.
One of the best things King Kenny has done since returning to the club is dropping Carragher to the bench. It pains me to say it, as he's been a great servant to the club, but his time is over. Agger and Skrtel work together fantastically and both are coming on amazingly with each others help.
I just wanted to say that Daniel Agger has been one of the players of the season so far, and he deserves more credit for it! Let's hope he can continue his excellent form.
Imagine having never seen your team win at Wembley or play in Europe, challenge regularly for the games top honours and fill its trophy cabinet with a glittering array of silverware while a worldwide fan-base roared its appreciation.
Try to envisage what it would be like to follow your team week in week out around the backwaters of English football’s lowest echelons, forced to live miserably in the shadow of your closest rivals in a ramshackle stadium where an ever dwindling crowd had long been affected by the club’s general malaise.
For the modern day Liverpool fan, and indeed a generation or two before them, it’s an unthinkable scenario. But it’s one that could have well befallen this club had it not been for what Bill Shankly and his Liverpool class of 1961/62 achieved 50 years ago this weekend.
Think S*unthorpe United, Rotherham, Walsall, Bury and Bristol Rovers, to name just a few teams who, half a century ago, were competing on a level playing field with the Reds. And compare how our paths have differed in the intervening years.
Could Liverpool Football Club have plummeted in a similar direction? If it hadn’t been for the story that’s about to be told, lower league mediocrity may well have been something Liverpudlians had long grown accustomed to.
Thankfully it’s a hypothetical question that we’ll never know the answer to. Because in April 1962, after eight years in the Second Division wilderness, Liverpool finally hit on a winning formula once again and escaped the shackles that had been threatening to strangle this once proud club.
This is how they achieved it...
When Bill Shankly took charge at Anfield in December 1959 promotion was his number one goal. Champions of England just 12 years previous, Liverpool had fallen on severely hard times. A rapid return to the top-flight had been expected following relegation in 1954. Instead, the club and its followers were handed a sentence much longer than ever imagined. Shankly came to set them free but was well aware of just what a massive task he had on his hands. By drawing on the passion of the crowd he knew the potential was there for the club to reclaim its place back among the elite. All he had to do was provide them with a team to be proud of.
The new man immediately laid down his blueprint for the future by ridding the payroll of what he perceived to be ‘dead wood’. Within 12 months 24 players had been shown the door. Successive near misses in their quest for the ‘Promised Land’ though was the cue for much stronger action to be taken. ‘Always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ was becoming an all too familiar saying around Anfield at the time.
Tommy Leishman, Gordon Milne and Kevin Lewis had already been recruited to his ranks and together with the likes of Alan A’Court, Dick White and Jimmy Melia plus a promising crop of youngsters in Gerry Byrne, Ian Callaghan and Roger Hunt the foundations were in place for another attempt to breach the top two in the division.
It was clear for all to see, however, that in order to take that next vital step, more quality reinforcements were needed. Attempts to bring in players of such calibre as Jack Charlton and Dave Mackay had been thwarted by the club’s reluctance to spend big and Shankly was becoming increasingly agitated.
It had long been mooted on the terraces that the club’s directors were seriously lacking in ambition; the belief being that promotion would ultimately involve more expenditure on their part. And while there was no tangible evidence to support this claim the manager was slowly beginning to think along these lines too.
Fortunately, future hopes changed for the better when Eric Sawyer, a good friend of Everton Chairman and Liverpool shareholder John Moores, was co-opted onto the board. Crucially, he shared Shankly’s vision for the club and soon persuaded his fellow directors that the Anfield purse strings needed to be loosened in the pursuit of success.
Scotland forward Ian St John was immediately targeted and a club record £37,500 fee agreed with Motherwell in May 1961. St John became an instant crowd favourite, scoring a hat-trick on his first appearance in a Liverpool Senior Cup Final defeat to Everton. Yet he had to overcome Melwood’s ‘Scouse Mafia’ before being fully accepted by his new team-mates. Arriving with such a huge price tag around his neck meant he was initially treated with some suspicion by Liverpool’s local contingent who far outnumbered his fellow Scots. That was soon put right though, helped by a sweetly delivered left hook on the training pitch and the arrival of a partner in crime.
Having strengthened his forward line, solidity at the back was the next priority and Shankly set his sights on Dundee United defender Ron Yeats. Following protracted negotiations with the Tannadice club a further £22,000 was eventually splashed out. At one point of this drawn-out transfer saga it looked as though Liverpool may miss out their man and when finally given the green light to complete the deal Shankly dashed to Edinburgh in a director’s Rolls Royce to seal the transfer of the man who would become his ‘colossus’.
As usual around Anfield, hopes were high that the coming season would finally be the one. This, of course, was nothing new. But on the eve of the of the 61/62 campaign St John, writing in his new weekly Daily Post column spoke about the possibilities of a Super League sometime in the near future and the importance of Liverpool being part of that. While the Reds were once again fancied to be among the front-runners for promotion, however, they were not considered the favourites. The bookies and pundits declaring that Newcastle United and Sunderland would be the teams to beat – a claim Liverpool soon made a mockery of.
On a baking hot afternoon in the West Country Liverpool started the season with a more than satisfactory 2-0 win over Bristol Rovers and didn’t drop a point until their seventh fixture, a goalless draw away to Brighton & Hove Albion.
Ten of the first eleven games were won, most at a canter, and the press were unanimous in their belief that Liverpool were already bound for promotion. Especially considering that during this run both Newcastle and Sunderland had been defeated home and away. Writing after the 3-0 home victory against Sunderland, Horace Yates in the Daily Post commented that this ‘was the finest team Liverpool have had in years’.
The two news signings had certainly made a big impression and writing about St John, Yates added: ‘If ever a man has breathed life back into a forward line it is this talented Scot.’ Following the equally impressive 2-1 win at Newcastle, it was the turn of Yeats to take the plaudits. ‘I doubt if Liverpool will ever make a more valuable signing than this giant of a Scottish centre-half,’ wrote the Daily Post correspondent.
Liverpool’s exciting brand of football – 31 goals scored in those first eleven games and just four conceded – not surprisingly attracted big crowds. Gates at Anfield regularly topped 45,000, occasionally 50,000, and never dipped below 30,000, while the full-house signs were commonplace when the Reds rolled up at the smaller opposition grounds elsewhere in the division.
Despite the earlier friction between the Scots and the Scousers there was a great sense of togetherness about Shankly’s team and the starting eleven of Slater, White, Byrne, Milne, Yeats, Leishman, Lewis, Hunt, Melia, A’Court and St John remained unchanged during the this eleven-game unbeaten start. But with Yeats on the injured list and St John away with his country the boss was forced to reshuffle his side for the trip to Middlesbrough in early October and a first defeat ensued. Dick White suffered the misfortune of becoming the first ever Liverpool player to put through his own net twice in a game and so bemused was keeper Bert Slater that he came out for the second half with his jersey on back-to-front!
Fortunately, it proved to be nothing but a minor blip. Liverpool bounced back to record what would be their biggest win of the campaign – 6-1 at home to Walsall – the following Saturday and although a further four defeats followed before the New Year the Reds remained top of the tree, a position they would indeed occupy for the entire season. Yeats captained Liverpool for the first time during one of those defeats – 1-0 away to Rotherham on Boxing Day – but it was Slater who found himself in the firing line. Shankly believed he was at fault for the Millers’ last minute winner and the diminutive stopper was on borrowed time.
Having opened up a healthy lead in the race for promotion thoughts turned to the FA Cup in the New Year and an exciting run saw First Division Chelsea beaten 4-3 at Anfield in round three, an incredible game in which the Reds had to survive a late onslaught after being 4-1 up at half-time. Kopites were certainly getting full value for their three shilling (15p) admission fee as the next week another high-scoring thriller saw Norwich beaten 5-4, a match also memorable for the fact that Terry Allcock netted all four for the visitors.
Interest in the FA Cup was eventually ended by Preston North End in a fifth round second replay, with future Red Peter Thompson striking the all-important only goal of the game at a freezing Old Trafford. In the immediate aftermath of that cup exit it was announced by Chairman Tom Williams that Liverpool had swopped to sign Burnley goalkeeper Jim Furnell, placing a huge question mark over Slater’s future at the club. Furnell was pitched straight in for his debut in a 1-1 draw at Walsall just five days later and the man he replaced never played the club again.
Revenge over Preston came in a league meeting between the two sides at Anfield towards the end of March and it was a game notable not only for Roger Hunt’s club record equalling 36th goal of the season but also for St John receiving his marching orders following a 47th minute fracas with North End centre-back Tony Singleton.
St John was not instantly suspended though and celebrated scoring a hat-trick - his first in the Football League and first at Anfield – at home to Rotherham. Prior to this game Roger Hunt was called up by England and he marked the occasion by scoring Liverpool’s other goal to break the record for most Liverpool goals in a season set by Gordon Hodgson back in 1930/31. He was to finish the campaign with 41, including five hat-tricks.
That win left the Reds on the brink of promotion and despite taking just one point from the next two games nothing was going to stop them. With six games to go just two more points were required to confirm the seemingly inevitable. Southampton were the visitors to Anfield on Saturday 21 April and Liverpudlians prepared to party. The weather was atrocious with heavy rain falling throughout the day and while it restricted the attendance to just over 40,000, when a full-house had been expected, it failed to dampen supporters’ spirits.
St John missed the game through suspension as a result of his sending off a few weeks. Football League rules of the time stipulated that he wasn’t even supposed to be in the ground but the man who had replaced Billy Liddell as the new idol of the Kop, was never going to miss this and sneaked in alongside the fans.
The Saint’s replacement was Ellesmere Port-born Lewis and he duly delivered, scoring twice before half-time to ease any nerves. Although there was no further scoring it was time for the parties to begin and wild celebrations greeted the final whistle. The jubilant crowd invaded the pitch and refused to go home until the victorious players came back out for a final curtain call. When they did many were thrown high into the air, with the previous year’s two pivotal signings Yeats and St John ending up on the Kop.
As the news sunk in that Liverpool were finally back in the Promised Land, congratulatory telegrams poured in from all corners of the country, some from the most unlikely of sources. Matt Busby, a popular Liverpool captain of the pre-War era and now manager of Liverpool’s soon-to-be intense rivals Manchester United, said: ‘A club like Liverpool deserve to be playing in the highest class.’
Even those in the blue half of Merseyside seemed to welcome their return: larger-than-life local MP, and staunch Evertonian, Bessie Braddock, admitted it would be good for the city to have two clubs competing against each other in the top flight again.
Victory over Southampton not only secured promotion but also the title and following the final home game of the season against Charlton Athletic there were more celebrations as the team proudly displayed the first piece of silverware won by the club for 15 years.
It had been a long barren spell but this was to be the start of a glorious new chapter in Liverpool history. Speaking at the time, Bill Shankly described leading Liverpool to promotion as his proudest moment in football and while there was much greater glory to come it must never be forgotten that it all began with the Second Division title-winning season of 61/62. If Liverpool hadn’t have gone up then, maybe the rest wouldn’t have followed.
Don’t miss ‘Going Up – the story of Liverpool’s promotion winning season of 1961/62’, featuring Ron Yeats, Ian St John & John Keith. Watch it now on demand here http://www.liverpoolfc.tv/news/latest-news/on-demand-going-up-documentary
Or on LFC TV Saturday April 21st at 9pm and Sunday April 22nd at 8pm
Dirk Kuyt. Just the man you want if you need a penalty slotted home with the last kick of the game. The man who pops up with ridiculously crucial goals in the huge occasions. Bought by Rafa for £10m as a striker he was instantly converted into a right midfielder and hasn’t complained once. His work-rate and work-ethic is unmatched at Liverpool and probably in the Premier League. But it's his penalties which had me thinking just how many of them he'd scored and how crucial they'd been for Liverpool Football Club.
First, let's look at past penalty takers at Liverpool though. We fortunately, have had some of the most accomplished penalty takers in the game. Phil Neal, Jan Mølby, Billy Liddell, Danny Murphy, Steven Gerrard along with Dirk Kuyt are just some of the many names you could mention.
Overall Liverpool have had 75 different successful spot-kick takers since our inception. We have scored a total of 463 spot kicks since the first Liverpool game some 119 years ago. The most prolific of our 75 spot-kick takers was Jan Mølby, who converted 42 of his 45 penalties. He is closely followed by Phil Neal who scored 38, although he did miss 13.
Billy Liddell also managed his fair share of penalties during his career, scoring 34 of his 41 penalties. In more recent memories Danny Murphy managed a 100% record from the spot, scoring all eight of his attempts from 12 yards, including that winner at Old Trafford. Then there is Steven Gerrard, who has dispatched 24 of his 31 penalties to date.
From excellent penalty takers to our worst offenders; Michael Owen has to be up there missing 10 of his 23 penalties for the club before moving to Real Madrid. In total Liverpool have only missed 161 of their 624 spot kicks, which is some feat but with the quality penalty takers as I've mentioned it's not surprising really.
Liverpool’s ability to convert from the spot has also only ever seen us defeated twice in penalty shoot outs. The first came against Wimbledon in 1993 and more recently against Northampton in this season’s league cup defeat.
Now onto Dirk's exploits as penalty taker. He also has a 100% like Danny Murphy had scoring all eight of his penalties, five of these penalties coming from last season. (2010/11)
Here’s a list of all 8 Dirk Kuyt’s penalties including that decisive one against Chelsea in the Champions League Semi-Final shoot out:
1) 01-5-2007 – Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea (Agg: 1-1, Liverpool win 4-1 on penalties) Dirk took the last penalty vs. Chelsea after some super saves by Pepe to take us to the Champions League Final in Athens. (Not strictly counted as a penalty scored, but for crucial moments, I'll count it!)
2 & 3) 20-10-2007 – Everton 1-2 Liverpool. Two penalties vs. Everton even when Gerrard was playing shows the character of the man. Sami Hyypia's OG put Everton ahead before a Gerrard bursting run from almost our own half led to a foul in the box and the sending off of Tony Hibbert. The second one came after Phil Neville decided to re-enact a Superman scene, flying to his left with his arms to stop a Lucas shot. Kuyt stepped up with those nerves of steel and gave us the win.
4) 20-1-2010 – Liverpool 2-0 Tottenham. Dirk slotted the first penalty home but had to retake it after Howard Webb (no surprises there!) called for a re-take due to supposed encroachment. After slotting the first one to Gomes’ top right-hand corner he slipped the second one away into the left hand side of the goal along the floor.
5) 20-11-2010 – Liverpool 3-0 West Ham. After a handball by Danny Gabbidon, Dirk Kuyt slotted the resulting penalty straight down the middle to make it 2-0. Dirk then pointed to Gerrard when celebrating who was in the stands. The skipper has obviously given him the advice that Robert Green always dives clear of the centre of the goal.
6) 16-01-2011 – Liverpool 2-2 Everton. Dirk Kuyt stepped up after a foul on Maxi Rodriguez by Tim Howard. With this penalty dispatched he levelled with Phil Neal, scoring the most goals against Everton from the spot (3).
7) 20-03-2011 – Sunderland 0-2 Liverpool. Kuyt’s penalty was the first of the game vs. Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. After Spearing’s great Gerrard-esque bursting run into the box he was brought down. Kuyt did as Kuyt does and slotted it home to the keepers left.
8) 17-4-2011 – Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool. Last kick of the game vs. Arsenal. Kuyt stepped up in the 102nd minute of the game to slot home a vital equaliser in our late push for the Europa League. Robin van Persie had only just put Arsenal ahead after the 98th minute. The lateness of the goal coming down to Jamie Carragher’s concussion after a clash of heads with fullback John Flanagan.
9) 01-05-2011 – Liverpool 3-0 Newcastle. Kuyt’s penalty was the second of a 3-0 win against Newcastle. Suarez made the penalty himself from sheer persistence after Pepe’s long ball downfield. Kuyt stepped up and stroked it along the floor to the keeper's right.
Why is it that we are so successful at penalties? Is it the Kop sucking the ball into the net? Do you think Dirk should be the full-time penalty taker even when Gerrard is back for next season?
Please leave your comments below.
You can follow me on Twitter @m1cklfc
April 15th. Blue skies, sunshine. Semi-final day.
The reds and the blues are on the march, hoping to meet at Wembley in May.
Life doesn’t get much better than this.
Red shirts, scarves, coaches, cars.
Songs, jokes and Motorway Services adorned in red.
Leppings Lane, a sea of fans.
Where’s the crowd control?
Where are the queues?
Mild panic, we may miss the start
“Don’t worry, son. They’ll delay kick off.”But no, they’ve started and there’s thousands outside.
At that moment a decision was made
By a man out of his depth
‘Open the gates and let them all in’
An ill-fated move.
With one simple order death was summoned to Hillsborough that day.
Eager to see their heroes, the innocents streamed in
Spoon-fed into a fatal abyss.
Ahead lay a tunnel, beyond that the pitch bathed in sunlight.
With every step, with every additional body
The pressure increased.
Cries of distress.
There was no way out, there was no way back.
An invisible black cloud formed over their heads
Forming like a mist clinging to the blue cage fences.
Cries of pain.
Cries of anger.
Cries for help.
Met with little response by those who were there to protect.
By now it was no longer a football match
It was a disaster.
When help was needed it did not arrive
A catalogue of errors would leave 96 dead.
96 fathers, brothers, sisters.
Young and old alike.
As the litter blew across the terraces and the blue steel stood twisted and bent,
The mistakes were being compounded.
They twisted the knife with their lies.
A city and a football club was on its knees
They cried for help but instead were kicked in the teeth.
‘They were late’
‘They stormed the gates’
‘They were drunk’
‘They looted and spat’
‘They killed their own’
Mistakes can be forgiven, but not wilful lies.
The people who we are supposed to rely on ground our name in the dirt
Families condemned to decades of hurt.
Duckenfield, I accuse you.
Thatcher, Hurd, I accuse you.
Kelvin McKenzie, I accuse you.
You let us down. You fanned the lies which were spread
Reported by the world, taken as read.
But the people of Liverpool never gave up.
Good people fought .
Families have split up.
Family members have passed away without knowing what really happened.
Over twenty years passed and hopes faded.
We listened to the ill-informed abuse and mockery.
Still the 96 were remembered with dignity and love.
Many good people refused to give up.
A true blue hero stood up and vowed his support. (Andy Burnham)
For once a minister backed up his words with actions.
Five Prime Ministers, countless Home Secs have been and gone and yet
Somehow the anguish has been allowed to fester.
Yet for every villain of the piece there’s hundreds to thank
In a matter of hours the facts will be known
There will be more tears and more anger
And more questions ’why?’
But finally, finally,
96 angels will sleep soundly in the sky.
RIP the 96. Justice for the 96
My Season Review – Part 4 of 4
By mid-January Liverpool Football Club and its supporters were already unrecognisable from what had been seen at the turn of the year. The King was back.
He had stepped off a long haul flight to watch his new charges have their FA Cup campaign strangled at birth by Howard Webb’s penalty award to Manchester United and then his Premier League debut as Liverpool boss saw Blackpool complete a double over the reds. However the buzz around the city and amongst LFC fans worldwide was in direct contradiction to the team’s current form.
Liverpool were going into the Anfield derby on the back of three straight defeats, and with only last gasp New Year win over Bolton to show from their previous seven games.
Maybe if the derby result were to go awry, then the self-doubts would make a speedy return and the Dalglish-doubters in the media would be proved correct. Already, I was having to endure ‘bubble-bursting’ jokes at work, but, believe me, there is such a thing as the Dalglish factor, and it was this that meant the Liverpool hordes arrived at Anfield on a sunny winter’s Sunday full of optimism.
The first 45 minutes against Everton that day did much lift the heart of everybody associated with Liverpool FC. Liverpool simply blew the blues away in that first half, with a brand of flowing, attacking football that had the Kop purring. Significantly Poulsen’s place in the team at Blackpool was taken by young Jay Spearing and he responded with his best performance in a Liverpool shirt.
Unfortunately Agger had to come off at the interval and Everton hit us with two sucker punches, meaning that we were grateful to Dirk Kuyt for his prowess from the spot in salvaging a point. It would be the start of an impressive scoring run for the Dutchman in the second half of the season.
Significantly, Fernando Torres was awarded Man of the Match and following his strike at Bloomfield Road it looked like the King had helped him to rediscover his magic wand.
Liverpool followed up this derby draw with a stunning three goal romp at Wolves. The result was impressive enough, but it was the return of the famous Liverpool pass and move which really had the fans grinning. Torres struck twice, one after a 31 pass sequence.. The good times were definitely returning. Nothing could dampen our spirits.
On the Wednesday the reds rather laboured to another win over Fulham courtesy of a Pantsil own goal, the biggest surprise being the lack-lustre display by Torres considering his recent exploits.
On Tuesday 25th January LFC Weekly Magazine devoted a six-page spread entitled ‘The Torr-ific Ton’, celebrating Torres’ feat in becoming the record goalscorer of top-flight goals in his first 100 appearances. His total of 63, eclipsing even Ian Rush’s 61.
48 hours later the first news was leaking that Chelsea had bid for Fernando Torres. At first we laughed it off, after all the Spaniard had pledged his future once again to Liverpool only weeks before. However, by the Friday it was becoming clear that Torres was instructing his agent to advise LFC that he wanted the offer to be considered. Liverpool fans were in shock. This was our talisman. Part of the so-called two-man team.
Reports of a call-my-bluff negotiating game with Ajax for the signature of Luis Suarez were suddenly relegated to the inside columns, Torres was the big story. As we all know, Torres left for Chelsea. Sky got the mandatory shots of idiots burning his shirt and Liverpool concluded the Suarez deal. With £50 million burning a hole in their pocket, Liverpool’s new owners sanctioned a £35m deal to lure Andy Carroll from Newcastle and by the time the transfer window closed Liverpool had a brand new strike force.
It would be several weeks before the Kop saw Carroll in a red shirt, due to injury, but the mercurial Suarez was soon thrilling the fans with his skill, workrate and attitude.
As Torres struggled for form and goals in London, Luis Suarez turned out to be an absolute revelation.
Ironically the fixture list threw up a meeting of Liverpool and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in which Torres would make his debut. The newspapers and Sky TV had already decided that the script was written for Fernando to score his first Chelsea goal against his former team-mates.
On a wonderful afternoon, all Torres had to show for his big day was a plagiarised flag, a body check from Agger, a shot into row Z and a first hand example of Jamie Carragher’s defensive expertise. Oh, and the manager’s hook. As he sat on the Chelsea bench, he had a pitchside view of the reds celebrating in style as player of the month Raul Miereles hooked into the Pensioners’ net.
And so the Dalglish era was well and truly under way. The old sprit was back. The pass and move (and move some more) had undoubtedly returned.
Over the coming months this was to continue. An Dirk Kuyt hat-trick, and an inspired performance form Suarez saw off Champions-elect Manchester United, and Manchester City were similarly despatched in a brilliant Anfield performance. The unhappy knack of losing to sides at the wrong end of the table re-surfaced, with losses at West Ham and West Brom, but by the time Liverpool faced Tottenham in early May they were within a victory of clinching a fifth spot in the PL, which could not have been imagined in January.
By now the inevitable permanent contract had been awarded to Mr Dalglish, but sadly (?) Liverpool failed to pick up the points to ensure Europa League football next season.
Obviously European football is normally an absolute minimum requirement for Liverpool FC, but having not qualified there is now a real possibility to use this as an opportunity to maximise our assault on the top of the league next season. We must use this as a positive, and I am sure that Kenny and his staff will do their utmost to ensure that we make the most of the additional preparation time available.
Also during the second half of 2010-11, Rodolfo Borell’s Under 18’s came to the fore of fans’ awareness. I spent many Saturday mornings at Kirkby throughout the season and had taken every opportunity to endorse their performances, even making a public plea on LFC TV’s Kop Talkin’ show urging fans to get down to Kirkby. The side were playing brilliant football, with excitingperformances from Brad Smith, Matty Regan, Stephen Sama, Conor Coady, Craig Roddan, Tony Silva, Michael Roberts, Michael Ngoo,Adam Hajdu amongst others. After disposing of Palace at Anfield in January, it was the 4th Round tie on St Valentines night against Southend that really made people sit up and take notice. Nine goals were despatched past the hapless Southend keeper that night with Raheem Stirling bagging five goals.
Soon after Raheem was rewarded with a trip to Prague with the first team squad,along with Coady.
Raheem Stirling is a truly exciting prospect, but he has a fair way to go yet. He has a good character though, as demonstrated at Carrington against Manchester United when he was on the receiving end of unmerciful unfair punishment, but time and again he was happy to torment the aggressors.
Meanwhile Adam Morgan was also making headlines scoring in fifteen consecutive matches in a Liverpool shirt (netting 19 goals in that run), and Kristjian Adorjan continued to impress in his continental number 10 role. Adorjan finished the campaign with an unbelievable 18 assists to his name.
Liverpool’s youngsters were to learn a hard lesson by finishing the season without reward, failing at the last hurdle in the league (thanks to the denial of a nailed on last minute penalty in the final game v Wolves) and losing to Man United in the FA Youth Cup thanks to a temporary loss of discipline.
Obviously only time will tell how many of the U18 squad will succeed to first team level, but it is clear that the crop is as healthy as it has been for the last decade or more. To get a decent harvest, first the crop has to be healthy and Liverpool have a wonderful crop in place.
With John Flanagan slotting effortlessly into the first team and Jack Robinson also earning his spurs the encouragement is clearly there for the youngsters. Conor Coady and Andre Wisdom were also rewarded with places on the bench before the season ended.
For the first time in a long time Liverpool has a manager in place who knows the players at all levels by first name, and because of this the club is reconsidering its transfer strategy. The plan is to develop the young players and promote, thus enabling the transfer strategy to concentrate on a small number of ‘marquee’ signings.
And so the season is over, and as usual the speculation on transfers gets into full swing. It seems that LFC has been linked with just about every decent player in Europe, whether they are for sale or not. Of course, none of this is via encouragement from the football club. Liverpool will do their business in secret, and will announce when they are ready to, and not before.
There are so many people who are ‘in the know’(ITKs), yet who predicted the exact timing of Kenny’s return, or of his permanent deal being announced.
Who (apart from Guillem Ballague) saw the Torres affair in advance. How many linked us with Andy Carroll.
The danger of these irresponsible transfer claims, is that they build up expectations unreasonably. Some of the players mentioned may not be for sale at all. Some may be demanding silly money. Some may only consider Champions League participants.
Kenny Dalglish, Steve Clarke and Damien Comolli will undoubtedly have their list of possible and probable targets. Targets that fit in with the club’s long term project. Players that fit the profile that we want. If it transpires that the players we buy are not those at the topof the ITK wish list, this should not be seen as accepting second best, just on the basis of some idiot’s speculation.
Liverpool Football Club only improved one league position on the corresponding time last year. However this tells but a fraction of the story. LFC is in a vastly better place than we were 12 months ago.
On this date in 2010 Rafa Benitez’s sacking was announced. We were at the mercy of owners who would take us to within four hours of going bust. The people running the club at board level were inadequate, at best. We were facing a transfer window withminimal funds at our disposal.
Today, we have solid foundations from the bottom to the top. There is a thread running from the Academy right up to John Henry’s Boston office, with everyone pulling in the same direction, with a common goal.
The pain of seeing Manchester United unashamedly gloating over their 19th Title win, has been tempered massively by the knowledge that at last Liverpool are in good shape to maybe start registering a few notches themselves on the Premier League trophy.
See you in August. It should be fun.
Followme on twitter at www.twitter.com/briandurand56 (@briandurand56)
I Found this article and I guess It's better to share..
Oliver Stone once said: “Paranoia is having all the facts”. Many of us die hard football fans know exactly what he means.
I've long held the view that something very fishy goes on in English football.
I’m not the most naturally trusting of guys anyways. When it comes to institutions, I'm downright skeptical of them. I have very little respect or trust in governments, police, and media or football institutions. It's not me being paranoid either: week after week, I’m proven correct on my doubts about them (to any Liverpool fan the findings of the Hillsborough report came as absolutely no surprise).
When it comes to football, it's not even lack of trust. It's plain common sense.
In recent years, we've had a huge number of corruption scandals all across Europe. Several of them in Italy, the corrupt referee Hoyser in Germany, Fenerbahce being docked their title in Turkey, Spain's second division scandals, Marseille a while ago in France, Porto in Portugal etc...
Of course, the one league where nothing ever gets proven to be dodgy is in England. The richest and most watched league in the world is, we are told, completely squeaky clean.
Leaving aside the sheer ridiculousness of that statement, ask yourself this: if corruption gets proven all across Europe, how is the most popular league in the world, with the biggest prize monies in football, whose clubs are owned by some of the richest people in the world, run by stakeholders that are the most powerful media moguls in the world, immune from this? With the amounts of money at stake, how has it managed to be so clean for so long?
To dismiss any talks of corruption in the premier league is to fall for 2 of the traits that characterize the English the most: a sheer egocentric belief that they are better than anyone else and their complete faith in the country's institutions. To them, it’s entirely logical that that stuff goes on abroad where institutions are corrupt, but it’s impossible in England. Just like diving is a foreign disease and Uruguay is the epicenter of racism, unlike the multi cultural tolerance of middle England.
I share neither of those traits. By pure logic, when I see corruption in every facet of English life (MP's expenses scandal, banking sector, the war on Iraq, Leveson enquiry, Hillsborough, The Guilford 4, The Birmingham 6 et all...) as well as entire European football, I ask why is it impossible as many deem, for it to be happening in English football too?
I have followed football since 1986. I have seen for years how Manchester United benefits from refereeing decisions. I don’t need an investigation to tell me this: it happens on a near weekly basis to the point where people are so immune to it, they laugh it off.
I have seen the influence Alex Ferguson has on every facet of the English game. When his Darren son got fired as manager of Preston North End, I watched with bemusement as Ferguson immediately recalled his loan players from Deepdale. I then watched in horror as another club in the premier league, managed by Ferguson’s father’s friend Tony Pullis, also recalled their loan players from PNE.
The message was clear: Mess with Mr Ferguson or his children, and you will be punished.
And not just from Mr Ferguson either. By his friends in football.
Recently, ex referee Jeff Winter stated that he once sent Roy Keane off in a match. He was then criticized by Ferguson and not given a Manchester United game to referee for 2 years. He saw that as punishment as he said that “The FA is reticent to give Manchester United games to referees that Ferguson has criticized in the past”.
Read that statement again. Ferguson criticizes referees that give decisions against his club. Most likely, these decisions happen in games Manchester United lose. The FA reacts to the criticism by not assigning said referees in future Manchester United games. Thus, the only referees assigned to United games are ones that Ferguson approves of.
The referees that have given decisions Ferguson deem to be incorrect against United, however, no longer referee their games (usually the most high profile ones). It’s a terrible indictment of sporting impartiality, justice and the way the game is run in England. This form of selective referee assignement led to the Juventus scandal in 2006.
Winter’s comments prompted me to do my own research. I focused on the referees that took charge of United 2 biggest high profile losses in the last decade or so.
Alain Wiley refereed United’s 4-1 loss to Liverpool in 2009. In that game, he gave both United and Liverpool penalties and sent off Nemanja Vidic. All 3 decisions were absolutely correct and Wiley was praised by Sky TV co-commentator Andy Gray for his performance. Not even Ferguson complained.
Later that year, Wiley was given another United game to referee and despite sending off Kieran Richardson of Sunderland, Wiley was lambasted by Ferguson for being “fat and unfit”. The game ended 2-2.
That would be the end of Wiley’s refereeing career. Wiley, it says cryptically on his Wikipedia page, “agreed to retire” at the end of that season. Agreed with whom? No one knows.
Last season, Manchester City romped to a 6-1 win at Old Trafford, inflicting on their rivals their biggest embarrassment under Ferguson. The referee on that day was Mark Clattenburg. He sent Johnny Evans off in the second half for a clear professional foul.
There have been 34 Man United league games since that day. The number of times times Clattenburg has refereed them? Zero. Not a single one.
It seems that the FA, for whatever reason, doesn’t want Clattenburg to referee Man United games anymore. Some of us more paranoid folk may just wonder who’s behind that decision.
The FA has no hesitation to hand United games to Howard Webb though: he’s been the most used referee in 34 United games since the 6-1 defeat to City.
Webb’s history in Man United games are well known and documented. All I have to say on the matter is that more than 18% of the penalties he’s awarded in his ENTIRE premier league refereeing career have gone to Manchester United. Over a 9 year period, that’s a huge percentage.
So in closing, let’s resume what we’ve discovered. We have an ex premier league referee who has openly stated he was not handed a Manchester United game for 2 years after sending off one of their players. We have an FA who, in said referee’s words, don’t hand Manchester United games to referees that the United manager has previously criticized.
We have a referee who took charge of a heavy United defeat and “agreed to retire” a year later after being called unfit by Alex Ferguson. We have another referee who hasn’t been handed a United game to officiate since he reffed a heavy United defeat 34 league games ago.
Meanwhile, the most used official in United games in that time is the man who has handed 18% of his entire career penalty awards to Ferguson’s team.
Factor in the fact that Manchester United CEO is ON THE BOARD OF the English FA, Alex Ferguson is a knight of the realm with political connections that go a lot deeper than football (just read Allistair Campbell’s diaries if you don’t believe me), and the evidence in the Darren Ferguson sacking that clubs that cross Ferguson get punished by his friends, and you have all the tools there for someone more investigative than me to really delve into.
But yet, nothing happens. Year on year, I watch as not a single journalist utters a peep on the subject. I watch as decision after decision goes United’s way and people in the UK, so much better than everyone else and trusting of their institutions remember, brush them off with insouciance.
In Italy, there would have been phone tap investigations a long time ago. In "so much cleaner than everywhere else" England, we’re paranoid.
Why is that?
Well, when you look at who runs the sport in the country, you understand a bit more. Rupert Murdoch’s Sky live off the premier league. So do his other publications like the Sun. The English media’s last priority is going to investigate and damage one of their biggest cash cows.
Imagine the hit to the revenue streams of the media and clubs if corruption is proved in the premier league? The richest league in the world, so carefully and beautifully marketed across the world, would suffer a huge blow. The effects an investigation would have on Manchester United, the cash cow’s biggest cash cow, would also be devastating.
So it’s all swept under the tabled and every refereeing decision shrugged off. “They even themselves out” we’re told by journalists who get banned from United press conferences for asking a question about team selection.
God knows what would happen to them if they investigate United’s behind the scenes dealings.
Maybe, like Preston, they’ll learn that if you cross Man United, all of football will turn their backs on you too…
What do you guys think?
On the 9th of April 1975 a man was born in Toxteth, Liverpool who would have a marked impact on the history of Liverpool FC. This man - Robbie Fowler. Robbie grew up supporting Merseyside rivals Everton, but at age 14 he had been snapped up by scout Jim Aspinall into the ranks of our youth. From that moment on, his blood would be red, both literally and figuratively.
Robbie made his debut for Liverpool in the 93/94 season in the League Cup where he scored one against Fulham. The return leg of this fixture would see Fowler bag an incredible haul of 5 goals - only the fifth Liverpool player to have ever done this. His debut season would prove to be a good one, ending with a tally of 18 goals (1 less than Ian Rush who had played 13 more games). At the end of the season Robbie was selected to represent the England at the u/18 European Championships which they subsequently won. Robbie, grabbing the golden boot with 5 games in only 4 matches.
His first full season for the club would show just what a devastating striker he was. In his first 3 matches he had 5 goals, including the fastest ever Premier League hat-trick against Arsenal - a record which still stands. He also scored in both legs of the League Cup semi-final which was crucial for Liverpool on their way to winning the cup. He featured in every single match (57) for that campaign (league and cup) and ended with a haul of 25 league goals and 31 all in all. These exploits won him the PFA Young Player of the Year Award.
1995/96 saw a peroxide blonde Robbie at it again. He hit 3 past Arsenal again and 4 past Bolton, but his best performance came at Old Trafford where the Scouser bagged 2 classic Fowler goals against United and stole the light from a returning Eric Cantona. Again, Robbie would go on to win his second PFA Young Player of the Year Award in a row - an accomplishment which has only been matched by Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney. He had made his England debut during the season and his form was rewarded with a call up to Euro 96.
The following season saw the departure of Liverpool legend Ian Rush, and as his protégé, Robbie assumed the number 9 jersey...and then the goals kept coming. Fowler wasn't the quickest, nor the tallest but he has renowned as a player who could poach them in from close range or hit a 25 yard screamer and was adept with both left and right foot. His 4 goals against Middleborough saw him bring up his 100 for Liverpool in only 165 matches - one match faster than mentor Rush and again he reached 30 that season. His character shone both on and off the field, Robbie received the Uefa Fair Play award for trying to stop a referee from wrongfully awarding a penalty for him, and later famously showed support for the Merseyside Dockers. He had reached a level of popularity amongst the Liverpool fans that had not been seen since the days of one Kenny Dalglish.
The next season would see Robbie plagued with recurring knee injuries, an increase in 'temperament issues' and the rise of a young Michael Owen. The bad season was topped off by Robbie missing the '98 World Cup. He seemed fond of finding himself in controversial matters. In 1999 Robbie was banned for 4 matches for celebrating his goal against Everton by snorting the white line. This was done to hit back at the continuous (and unfound) allegations that he had been using drugs. The FA also slapped him with a further two match ban for an incident involving Graeme le Saux of Chelsea where Robbie mockingly shook his behind at him following rumours of le Saux's sexual orientation. (All of which I might add were rather entertaining and showed a side of wit and character rather than one 'bringing the game into disrepute').
Being Fowler though, he wouldn't lie down and the 2000/2001 season would prove to be his best. With regular skipper Jamie Redknapp out with serious injury, Robbie would jointly assume the armband with Sami Hyypia. Together the pair would see the club to a famous cup treble, winning the FA Cup, League Cup and Uefa Cup with Robbie scoring in the latter two. However, his best season would soon turn out to be his last season. Following Robbie's long-time friend Steve McManaman's bosman move to Real Madrid, Gerard Houllier decided to cash in Robbie while his stock was high. Despite goals galore and an unwavering desire to stay, he was shipped off to Leeds for 11 Million pounds.
He remained a loyal Liverpool supporter though, and made the trip to Istanbul in 2005 to watch the Red's run out victorious in the most epic Champions League Final of all time.
Six months later and the unthinkable had happened. Robbie Fowler had returned to Liverpool on a free transfer. Many fans coined it as the 'second coming' of the 'prodigal son'. He may not have been the awe inspiring player that he had been years before but he stilled showed glimpses of brilliances and added to his impressive tally for the club. A tally which would end on 183 after 369 games for the club. His last game in a Red jersey came a year and a half after rejoining in a match against Charlton for which he was given the captains armband, and unlike the last time, he was given a proper Liverpool farewell.
Aston Villa's keeper at the time Mark Bosnich had earned a PHd in Robbie Fowler's goals and couldn't help admire the striker:
Upon Ian Rush's departure from Liverpool, he had this to say about Robbie. From a man like that, you don't get higher praise!
Former player Graeme Souness was also an admirer: . These thoughts were echoed by former manager Roy Evans
For this and more, and check out www.bekkersblog.webs.com or follow me @bekkers_blog
I thought I'd mention a rather interesting interview with Jordan Henderson that was printed in The Guardian this week (http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2013/feb/01/liverpool-jordan-henderson-inteview). Hendersron has tended to avoid media exposure in the past but recently he has started to engage in interviews, some of which have given a rare insight into what a young signing has to face when joining Liverpool. Sometimes, in an age of multi-million pound contracts, we can be rather cavalier as to the daunting future that faces a young player who joins our club specifically. There are few clubs in the Premier League that ask such consistently high standards of its players, mainly because we've been spoiled by such high quality players in the past, but with the signing of young players like Fabio Borini and Philippe Coutinho it is worth acknowledging the human experiences these newcomers will go through. In this interview Henderson reveals himself to be an eloquent and determined individual so I've chosen to reproduce a selection of his own words rather than my own interpretation as they give a more accurate insight into his character.
On criticism in the media:
"Maybe one of my friends might say: 'Have you heard what they're saying?' It's probably affected my mum and dad more than me, to be honest. Like anyone's parents, I doubt they've enjoyed seeing their son criticised."
On whether he was homesick when he first joined Liverpool:
"No, it was just different. When I was at Sunderland I didn't think I was the star or anything but here you have people like Stevie and [Luis] Suárez and Pepe Reina and Carra [Jamie Carragher], who have been the best players for many years. And straight away, you have to try to match their ability. It was a step up, a challenge. I felt I was playing well at times, just not on a consistent basis which is what you have to do at Liverpool.
"That's what I needed to get my head around the most: that I had to do it all the time, not just occasionally. When you come to a club like Liverpool you need to perform straight away and consistently. Looking back, I don't think I did that. There were games when I thought I'd played well. It just wasn't every single week and that isn't enough for a club like Liverpool. I needed to learn that."
On Joey Barton sending out malicious tweets about 'the policeman's son from Sunderland' during Euro 2012:
"It's something Joey likes to do. He doesn't like to play by the rules, does he? I don't know him and I wouldn't ever let that affect me. Joey likes to express his feelings and that's clearly how he felt at the time. That's his opinion. It doesn't bother me at all."
On Liverpool offering him as part-exchange in their attempt to sign Clint Dempsey from Fulham:
"It wasn't a nice thing to hear. I didn't want to go anywhere. I wasn't playing regularly and they gave me the option if I wanted to go. I told them: 'No, I don't want to, I want to keep fighting for my place.' I came to Liverpool wanting to stay here for the rest of my career. I certainly didn't want to leave after a year.
"OK, it might not have gone to plan at the start, but I knew I could turn around and get it right. I knew I just had to take it on the chin. Even though I wasn't in the team, I felt that if I kept going, kept working hard, kept fighting, I would get my chance again, and that I would take it."
On how Brendan Rodgers has worked with him:
"The manager's been brilliant with me, to be fair. He's told me the things I need to work on and how I can get better. He's looked back on previous games and talked to me about the things I can improve tactically, how I can be more disciplined, the positions I take up. I feel as if I've done that now. I'm still working on it but I feel I'm doing better now."
On the difficult moments:
"I would be more down than anyone if I hadn't played particularly well"
On the medical condition that nearly stopped his footballing career before it had started:
"It was Osgood-Schlatters. It wasn't good. It's a growing pains thing and I had to have a lot of treatment on it. I just shot up immediately and didn't have any kind of physique to deal with it physically.
"I was tall, all arms and legs, and a bit gangly. I'd been at Sunderland since I was seven but I was getting bad knees and stuff and I think they were unsure of what to do, whether to keep me or let me go. That was a really nervous time for me. Towards the end of that season I started to pick up a bit and started to fill out. They decided to stick with me, thankfully. But it did hold me back for a good while."
On the manager's reaction to the 3-2 defeat at Oldham in the FA Cup:
"Everyone knows that he was right. He didn't go too far. Everyone at this club and inside this dressing room were shocked and pretty disgusted at how we performed. No disrespect to Oldham, but we have to be going there and winning quite comfortably. What he did was good man-management in my view and it has given us all the kick up the backside we perhaps needed."
On the gap between Liverpool and the top teams:
"I don't think we are too far away. There have been a lot of good performances – Norwich, Sunderland, QPR, Man United in the second half. When we go into the big games, whether it's Arsenal, Man United, whoever, we feel we can beat anyone."
On how football can be impatient:
"But I don't think what's happened will have done me any harm. I think I might have needed it, to be honest. You will get criticism throughout your career. All the best players have had it at some stage and they haven't let it ruin their careers. I won't either."
It's hard not to be impressed by how driven Henderson is, although I think the difficulties he experienced during his first season at the club affected him more than he is making out. Having said that, the lack of self-pity is a characteristic that seems to radiate from all of his responses and it's not difficult to see how he has managed to force his way back into the team. However, the overriding comment that stuck with me was this - 'I came to Liverpool wanting to stay here for the rest of my career. I certainly didn't want to leave after a year'. It is rare these days to hear such commitment to a club from someone so young and when the norm is often to do your stint and move on to pastures new I find it encouraging that there are still players out there willing to follow in the footsteps of Gerrard and Carragher. I hope Henderson manages to make that desire a reality because he displays the nearest characteristics to the two aforementioned modern Liverpool greats of any player in our current squad.
Being an American in Liverpool, I always get the same reaction when meeting people: "What are you doing here?"
The answer seems simple enough to me...it all started with my growing love for Liverpool FC when I was back in the states. Some people think that I'm crazy, others say I'm smart.
I was never a big fan of football when I was back home in sunny Florida. It's popular amongst youth mainly, but I never got involved at the time.
However, I remember the day it hit me...and I became interested in this Liverpool FC and what it was all about.
My friend Dave, a massive Liverpool fan in the states, told me to turn on the television to a certain channel because his favorite team was playing one Saturday morning. Having nothing better to do, I obliged and switched to our dedicated soccer channel.
I didn't know who was who or what was going on at all...but I remember asking questions to attempt to figure it out. I wanted to know more about this game. My brother walked into the room and asked, "Why are you watching soccer?" My answer was I really didn't know, but I was intrigued.
I bugged Dave with a lot of questions from that point on. As a Red, he was happy to answer them all, and thanks to the internet, I learned more about his team. I remember he even bought me my first Liverpool scarf that I still bring to matches with me from a small soccer store we visited in Los Angeles. I've even recruited a few more fans...my love for this club has sprung curiosity amongst my friends and family, who now keep tabs on the game and ask me questions. I love explaining why Liverpool FC is the best to them!
I spent the summer watching the Euros to help understand the game more. Torres was the hero that year for Spain. I was overjoyed at that at the time since he was our young star at the time. I bragged to everyone!
So it became a ritual in my house on Saturdays or Sundays to watch Liverpool play. My family got involved too. My brother and I bought our first Liverpool shirts (mine an away plain and his a home shirt with Torres) and proudly wore them on match days. My curiosity of the game turned into a passion. My brother and I both took up the sport as well, with me playing in co-ed leagues after work and him in youth clubs on the weekends.
I was near the end of achieving my Associate's degree and was looking at options for my Bachelor's. Not being impressed with the local universities for my chosen degree in Media, I looked beyond...WAY beyond. To Liverpool.
I first visited in the summer of 2009 to explore my university options and take the opportunity to visit what I deemed at that point (and still do) 'the sacred ground' that is Anfield. Although there were no games on at that point, I still got to see Anfield (no tour though, as it was sold out the whole time!) and went to Melwood too. I met some amazing people along the way who also helped my decision to pick this city to stay in further my education. Not long after, I was accepted into Liverpool Hope University in Media Studies.
Since that time, I have been to several games. My friend bought me a ticket to the Europa game against Urziceni. Seeing the pitch for the first time was overwhelming. It's a feeling that doesn't really go away though. I get goosebumps when You'll Never Walk Alone is played before the match. I atill smile everytime I see Jamie Carragher on the pitch (as he is a legend).
As I near the end of my second year at the uni, I decided I wanted more than what the classroom offered. I knew I wanted to be involved in sports, and if I was lucky, Liverpool FC. My hard work paid off and here I am sitting in the LFC TV offices.
I may not have been supporting for very long, but LFC is a family that has welcomed me with open arms. I felt welcomed into this family even when I was thousands of miles away in Florida because this is a global club.
I do get homesick still occasionally. I miss my friends and family back home greatly and I am still an American through and through, and I am very proud to call myself an American LFC supporter. But I love this adventure that LFC has taken me on!