Red All Over The Land -Issue 197

ImageAfter the dramatics of the victories over Arsenal and Fulham in the league, we go into today’s encounter hanging onto coat-tails of the top three. Who would have thought it? Hopefully Sunderland, Stoke or our neighbours down the road caused an upset yesterday to enable us to climb even higher in this crazy league campaign. With Gary Monk’s Swansea side sandwiched between Europa League encounters against Rafas Napoli, today is a great chance to put more points on the board. We faced Swansea in not to dissimilar circumstances last season. As they prepared for the League Cup Final, the reds showed no mercy to run out easy 5-0 winners at Anfield, it was ample revenge for the reds as Swansea defeated the reds on route to their first domestic trophy. Same today please, but can’t be greedy all the time, 1-0 would do! Be just 11 league games left then. Exciting times.

Swans fans don’t need reminding it was the current reds supremo Brendan Rodgers who finally guided them back to the promised land back in 2011, and the captain on that historic day, Gary Monk is now in the opposite dug-out after the rather surprising dismissal of Brian Laudrup. But aside from that there is a special bond between the two clubs – for it was Swansea who provided the opposition at Anfield the day after Bill Shanklys funeral in October 1981.

Managed by one of Shanklys great players, John Toshack, Swansea had climbed from 4th to 1st division in four years. On route he had enlisted the help of European Cup winners, Tommy Smith and Ian Callaghan in what was an unbelievable journey for the Welsh side. On this particular match day, Tosh would pay his own personal tribute to Shanks. During an emotional minute’s silence before the match started; he proudly wore the red shirt of Liverpool with his famous number 10 on the back. Looking back on the game itself, Swansea went two goals in front before a brace from the penalty spot by Terry McDermott levelled the game at 2-2. Terry might find himself a tad lucky to be awarded the second spot-kick. Dai Davies in the Swansea goal took exception to Terry’s second pen by casually flinging McDermott into the net after he levelled. The media would have field day today, have a look on http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/13843449. After that game the reds were lying in 13th position, 10 places behind their opponents. Come the end of that season, normal service had been resumed with the reds on top but Swansea finishing a very creditable 6th position in the top flight.

The excellent relationship between the sides grew over the years, Ray Kennedy lining out for the Welsh side and the likes of Jan Molby, who went on to play for and manage the Swans in the mid-1990s, reaching a play-off final at Wembley in 1997 but losing to Northampton Town.

And amongst the playing staff today we have Joe Allen on the red side and injury permitting we welcome back Jonjo Shelvey to Anfield. Jonjo divided opinion amongst the reds fan-base, but was never shy in the challenge, and hey he got up Fergies purple nose as well. Whatever happened to that side he managed anyway?

It’s not too often Everton gets a mention in this publication without some sort of witty punch-line but here goes:

Just a few weeks back Everton Football Club held a ceremony at Anfield Cemetery to rededicate the grave of one Will Cuff. In the role of Everton FC secretary and chairman, Cuff served the club for 60 years, overseeing four league titles and two FA Cups – but he also played a huge role in bringing together Liverpool and Everton after the bitter spilt in 1892.

Speaking at the graveside, author of the book ‘Across the Park’ and football historian, Peter Lupson, said; “You all know that in 1892 there was a terrible split, out of which Liverpool emerged as a separate club. It was a bitter split. It began to slightly thaw by the time John Houlding had died and in 1902 three Everton and three Liverpool players carried his coffin, which was something of a breakthrough.”

But it was the result of Will Cuff’s friendship with a man who had a similar status and stature at Liverpool called John McKenna that enabled the clubs to continue to heal the rift. Lupson explains; “These two men together, through their deep friendship, brought about a unity between Everton and Liverpool that was remarkable when you think about the depth of the split. Within two years of Houlding’s death they’d arranged for joint match programmes to be published from 1904 to 1935 – that’s 1,100 joint match programmes. In 1906 Everton won the FA Cup, knocking out Liverpool in the semi-final 2-0, but when Everton came back with the trophy, McKenna and all the Liverpool directors were at the station to welcome them home and congratulate them. “

When McKenna died in 1936 it was Cuff who led the tributes saying “I think the greatest man in football has gone” he continued “He will live long in the memory of all who had anything to do with the governing of football. Fearless, outspoken, and absolutely honest, he was well named Honest John”. The following year, Cuff unveiled a plaque at Anfield in memory of his friend John McKenna where it is still displayed.

And when Will Cuff died in 1949 his service was conducted by former Liverpool captain Parson Jackson where the Liverpool chairman stated ‘Will Cuff was a man who set a grand example to everyone in football’.

It’s refreshing to see clubs honouring their past stalwarts whilst also acknowledging the role of other clubs also. Which brings us to Tom Watson, the first great English manager, Watson won the league title three times with Sunderland and a further two times with Liverpool. To date he is still the longest serving Liverpool manager in the clubs history. In a previous issue we highlighted the embarrassment that Watson now lies in an unmarked grave in Anfield Cemetery. Thankfully both Liverpool and Sunderland intend to mark his achievements. Black Cats historian Rob Mason and Liverpool FC museum curator Stephen Done have been in discussions with various interested parties to agree on the wording and it is hoped the memorial will be in place before the clubs meet on March 10th. However this may change due to possible FA Cup action, so check the clubs website or Red All Over The Land on facebook where we will post up any details of the event.                                                                                    davidmoenblog.wordpress.com

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