Red All Over The Land – Issue 202

BuxZBAkIEAAImckThere was a late availability sale for today’s first game of the season just days before you read this. I would think it would have lasted all of 2/3 minutes before the sold out signs were up, such is the demand to see the reds in action. The decision to up the criteria of CAT A and B games to 14 instead of 13 (which had been in place for 5 years) caused quite a stir and took a lot by surprise. But it’s the drop from 14 to zero for games such as Everton, Man City, and Arsenal that continues to cause angst amongst reds. Surely 14 to say 10 or 7 games recorded on cards from the previous season would be a fairer system, and of course rewards loyalty. We all know that the club has to make money and attracting new “members” is a large part of that – and the success of last season has generated thousands of new members in the clamour for a match ticket this season – basically Liverpool are box office at the moment and the free for all sales are really pot luck nowadays. Hardly a fair system.

I recall last season’s sales in July were pretty easily navigated, November’s slightly less so, but the side were beginning to show signs of a top 4 challenge at that stage so the interest was there. Nevertheless, match tickets for games such as Sunderland last March were readily available before the realisation hit that we could go on and win the league. So what happens should we slide ever so slightly this coming season? Let’s hope it doesn’t happen, but if it does, I can’t see us getting as low as 35,000 as we did for Bolton in 2011, Joe Cole bundling the ball over the line in the 90th minute for a 2-1 win in what was a freezing day. But the chances are that the “super-fan” will turn their attention to something else in which to spend their money on and leaving the loyal supporter to once more fill the gap left by the part-time fan. The increased capacity can’t come quick enough.

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Southampton have been the butt of many jokes this summer as they seemed to off-load half their team to Liverpool and Manchester United but gaining upwards on £80 million in the process. Whether its good business remains to be seen as Ronald Koeman tries to stamp his own mark on a side that have been a joy to watch since their return to the top flight.

The two clubs have had many battles and the south coast side were serious title contenders to the reds the year Joe Fagan won the treble. Danny Wallace was always a thorn in the side of the Liverpool rear-guard and his two goals in the home fixture at The Dell in March 84 opened the title race wide open for a time, with the saints eventually finishing second to Liverpool. It was a fine side that Lawrie McMenemy assembled, with Shilton, Mills, Moran, a young Mark Wright and an ageing Frank Worthington pulling the strings. Frank was one of the entertainers of the game, and in 1972 Bill Shankly tried to sign for the reds. The recent failed medical involving Loic Remy reminded me of this. Worthington was a notorious womaniser; the breakdown of his move to Liverpool is one of the game’s enduring urban legends. Having all but signed, the deal fell through because he failed a medical. The rumour was that he had a dose of the clap. In fact he had high blood pressure – but that was brought on by excessive sexual activity. Bill Shankly told him to have a break, and return for a second medical. Worthington went to Majorca, continued his lifestyle and duly failed the medical again. It just wasn’t to be.

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The Fields around Anfield Road are certainly different this season with the demolition of houses to make space for the long awaited stadium expansion. It doesn’t seem like that long ago since we were marching in protest against G&H after their broken promises, remember, “The spade has to be in the ground within 60 days”. A few months before the end of last season we were marching down the Anfield Road for other reasons, as thousands gathered to welcome the team bus before the lads entered the ground. It was unique to Liverpool FC and it’s something that will hopefully continue on into this season.

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