Following The Floodlights

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Today’s game against the reigning champions Leicester is certainly one of the great landmark days in the clubs illustrious history. A spanking new main stand awaits a crowd of over 50,000 for the first time in over four decades, the surrounding area is taking shape and looking good, and the side are showing promising signs in the early part of the season that entertainment is the name of the game. Not sure the heart can take much more after the tail end of last season.

The date of today’s encounter also brings back very fond memories of a game almost 34 years ago now, my first ever Reds game. The memories have been flooding back for the past few weeks as it was against the League of Ireland champions Dundalk in the European Champions Cup. Dundalk have come back to the forefront of Irish football in the past number of seasons and just a matter of weeks ago they came within one leg of reaching the Champions League group stages before going down to the Polish champions Legia Warsaw in the last qualifying round. Although they do have the bonus of the Europa League group stages and the much needed TV money that will come with that. Not bad for a club that was on its knees just a few years back.

Back in the late 70’s early 80’s the lilywhites were also a very successful side, providing tough opposition to the likes of Celtic and Tottenham in European competition and winning Leagues and Cups under the watchful eye of Jim McLaughlin, who also acted as a Liverpool scout on this side of the water. Dundalk is just a mere 30 miles from where I lived – but 30 miles in those days was well…miles away. And Dundalk – although a smallish town was huge in comparison to the tiny town of Ballybay in Co. Monaghan. But as it happened it turned out a butcher’s shop in my own town was selling tickets for the game. No logging in at 7.30am for a ticket sale in those days. And with Kenny and co up the road the begging started in earnest. Only problem was that I had two other brothers, one a red the other a hammer, but both more senior than me. My father had a Beetle Volkswagen car that would maybe go five miles before it broke down, turned out it was ideal training for years for us lads, pushing it up and down the road, and not the same Volkswagen, just a slightly different shade of blue every so often. Come to think of it, maybe it was the same one all along. Quite the impression of the Flintstones we must have made, much to the amusement of everyone in the neighbourhood. Finally after much crying I managed to convince my parents that I was worthy of going to the game. I clearly remember challenging any of the family to ask me anything about the side, Height?, well Kenny was 5ft 8”, Sammy 5ft 7” easy. I knew everything about the reds those days and it worked, a few years of studying everything red had worked the oracle.

No way was that car of ours going to make the trip so we all piled in with another family from the town who had a much better car and it could actually make the trip. So 8 of us set off. Two adults and the rest of us crammed in the back. 30 miles was quite the trip at the time we had a packed lunch with us. Dundalk’s ground, Oriel Park, had the classic four floodlight pylons; think of the Subbuteo floodlights, that was them. Quite exciting for a 10 year old that had never been to a proper football game, and now it was a game where I would see my heroes. Jesus Christ I was going to see Kenny Dalglish in the flesh, under the lights, in the European Cup.

The away side had forfeited home advantage with the Co Louth side who were anxious to maximise the home gate – learning from their experience back in 1969 when they were defeated 10-0 in the Fairs Cup at Anfield, in front of a gobsmacked Gerard Houllier, only for 5,000 to appear for second leg at Oriel Park. This time it was a 16,000 sell out paying record gate receipts of £68,000

Heading into the ground we were quite close to the Liverpool coaches that were pulling up, seeing young lads pile out, in gear I had never seen before, hairstyles I had certainly never seen before – one or two punk rockers, mochican hair. I was out of my depth here. In awe of the surroundings.

It didn’t take too long for the Dundalk side to also be out of their depth, as the reds went to kill the game before the second leg at Anfield. Two goals from Irish favourite Ronnie Whelan, the first after eight minutes, took the edge out of Dundalk’s play and Ian Rush added a third before the interval with the fourth coming from David Hodgson. I was taking it all in, staring at Bob, Joe and Roy in the dugout, the next minute Kenny and Souness where in my sights all the while making sure I implanted all of it into my mind, it worked, it’s still there. After Liverpool scored the fourth goal we started to make our way to the exits. I would have stayed to the bitter end but what can you do. I recall hearing a cheer and laughter from the crowd, turns out Bruce had over carried the ball and a free-kick was awarded to the home side. This was followed a few seconds later by an almighty roar as the home side scored what was a well-deserved consolation goal from the free kick. And that was it; school the next day was full of boasting about where I was the night before.

10-14-9-1982-dundalka-europeancupI still have the programme of course and have always followed the fortunes of Dundalk ever since and in the subsequent years the reds ventured over to the town for well attended pre-season friendlies and of course they presented us with one Steven Staunton for a snip at £20,000.

At the time of writing Dundalk are on their way to retaining their title and another crack at the holy grail of the Champions League is very much on their agenda next season. Wouldn’t it be great to welcome the reds back over the sea again  – back in the Champions Cup.


Treating God leads to Trip to Heaven

As in most parts of Ireland there is a huge reds following in the North West of the country. When lifelong red, Aiden McGuirk, heard that Robbie Fowler and Jason McAteer were due in the area to do a Q&A session he thought that it would be an ideal moment to get close to his idols. But Aiden, a Neuromuscular and Physical Therapist by trade planned to get closer than most. He takes up the story. “When I first seen the advertisement for the evening with Robbie and Jason, I thought I have to try and find a way to treat them. After all, they are retired sportsman and both had experienced serious injuries in their careers. I was not thinking about publicity, although that was clearly going to be a bonus. The opportunity to treat two of your idols just doesn’t happen every day so I was determined to at least give myself a chance”. It was an occasion the married father of one clearly wanted to be involved in, even leaving the following morning free from appointments, just in case.

The night itself went well; the two lads regaled those in attendance with stories from their glittering club and international careers. Aiden had his business cards in his pocket, the plan being that he would get Jason and Robbie to at least sign them and wish the business luck. “I was third in the queue to meet the boys, as I got closer I was losing courage. Maybe it was best not to annoy them, just get a photo and move on like everyone else.” Then fate took a hand, McAteer sat down suddenly and winced in pain. To me that was the sign. I walked up with my card and said jokingly; “if you need me to have a look, I’ll sort it no problem”. Jason responded “mate if only I had you here today, the pain is killing me”. It seemed to be a case of a missed opportunity; as they were booked for the night and playing a round of golf the next morning, before heading back to Liverpool to work for LFCTV. But the lads were very appreciative of the information and wished the business luck and that was it. Or so he thought.

The following morning the phone rang and the familiar scouse tone of Jason McAteer was on the other side asking whether Aiden was able to meet them for a treatment as the golf had got the boot. He explains, “This was it, my professional head was clear; I knew what I needed to do to get the treatment done. The fan inside me was screaming of course and I had to calm myself for a while. The treatment on Jason went very well, and I even got to treat the left foot of Robbie Fowler or as he is better known to all reds, GOD. Jason McAteer even tweeted to his thousands of followers at his delight at the treatment – good publicity for sure.

Fast forward six months and with his physical therapy business established, Aiden was in discussions with McAteer once again. This time it really was a dream come true. “They must have been happy with what I had to offer in Donegal because this time the call was to invite me to Anfield to work on the players ahead of a legends charity game. I couldn’t believe it; here I was, treating players in the famed Liverpool FC home dressing room. Players like Patrick Berger, Gary McAllister, Phil Neal, Jan Molby and John Aldridge amongst others. I even got to sit in the dug-out with one of the famous boot-room men, Liverpool’s ex-manager, Roy Evans.” aldo

It was a surreal moment. “To be in that dressing room with all that history and banter, listening to the legends talk about the past was an absolute pleasure, I even got to take a penalty in front of the KOP – and thankfully, I scored. I was very grateful for the opportunity from Liverpool Football Club to come over and treat in a club with so much history, and hopefully I’ll return in the very near future.”

Aiden would like to extend his gratefulness to Jason McAteer, a true professional and a genuinely nice guy who he appreciates went out of his way to organise his Anfield trip with Liverpool Football Club. “To me Jason is a true Liverpool great, one that looks after his own, and that’s Liverpool Football Club in a nutshell”.


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.


Red All Over Ireland – Issue 199

ImageUnable to travel to the Tottenham game was bad enough but then not even being able to watch the game on the box was almost a step too far. What’s the point of a 2 year olds birthday party anyway, they haven’t a clue what’s going on. So it was a case of going back to my youth and listening to the Radio as the reds ran Spurs ragged a few weeks back.

And I was glad I did – It brought me back to an era when all we had to update us was Ceefax or Teletext, if you had a remote control TV that is. Luckily we also had BBC Radio Two for second half commentary – SECOND HALF! Many a glorious moment I had listening to the Reds on a Saturday afternoon as we marched towards title after title. Even better was the midweek show which started at 8pm. It was commonplace for games at Anfield to kick-off at 7.30pm in the 80s, which meant by the time the radio programme was on, we were 30 minutes into the action. So I had to wait until the programme announcer, usually Byron Butler, to set the scene and utter the words; “and already there has been some action at Anfield, Peter Jones describes the action”.

As you can imagine, the tension for those first few seconds were unbearable, so it all depended on the first player he mentioned as to who actually scored, so in those days it usually started with “Souness has the ball …..” YESSS…before the ball hit the net you knew it was the reds that were in front, of course the move usually finished with “and Rush scores”. The tension was over until the action started “LIVE” from the commentators. What huge games, what memories. Liverpool taking the lead through Ray Kennedy in Munich in 81! The Germans were so arrogant after the first leg even I believed it was going to be a step too far – step up Howard Gayle to run the Germans ragged as the red army marched on Paris. TV would win the day for that one as Barney stole through to shatter Real Madrid. Although I do have the radio commentary stored away on a cassette tape somewhere – just have to find a machine to play it on now!

The commentators themselves were important cogs in the machine; it was their job to transport the listener to the game. Some went onwards to TV like Alan Parry and George Hamilton; some were more suited to radio and have stayed there. Bryon Butler would always present the cup draw from Lancaster Gate, more nervous moments and much more drama than what we have nowadays with draws being made before the previous round has even been completed. Denis Law was a good summariser in those days and proved to be an ideal sidekick to the then young Alan Green and later Mike Ingham. But there was none better than the late great Peter Jones, cool as you like he’d announce “And Liverpool have won the European Cup”.

Memories of Peter Jones at the microphone transports me back to 1989 – I’ll deal with the Arsenal title decider first. Of course it was on ITV but I was involved in a local football game the same night and would miss most of the first half. But as a goalkeeper (at the time) I had a plan – I had a radio in the back of the net. And it wasn’t long before I was in the back of the net myself as I totally lost my bearings whilst thinking I had heard some dramatic action, the ball floating over my head into the goal. Meanwhile it was 0-0 at Anfield. At half-time my manager said “I don’t know where you were for that goal” I did, my mind was at Anfield.

Running home after the game I heard the Alan Smith goal go in, was it a goal, well yes it was – got in for the last 15 minutes of the game and over to Brian Moore on the TV. One minute says Steve McMahon, but then it happened, “Arsenal come streaming forward now in surely what will be their last attack. A good ball by Dixon, finding Smith, for Thomas, charging through the midfield. Thomas, it’s up for grabs now! Thomas! Right at the end! An unbelievable climax to the league season.”

Unbelievable it certainly was – but the Anfield crowd stayed on to applaud the new champions – the club had been through so much – it was only 7 weeks previous that we had played Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough. Irish TV had the game live and when no news was forthcoming from the Irish station of what was happening it was over to Radio 2 for what was to be an emotional three hours. BBC 2 Sports Report that day is still vivid in my mind, Peter Jones who was to die a year later whilst covering the boat race described the scene at Hillsborough in only a way he could.

“The biggest irony is that the sun is shining now, and Hillsborough’s quiet and over there to the left are the green Yorkshire hills, and who would’ve known that people would die here in the stadium this afternoon. I don’t necessarily want to reflect on Heysel, but I was there that night, broadcasting with Emlyn Hughes, and he was sitting behind me this afternoon, and after half an hour of watching stretchers going out and oxygen cylinders being brought in and sirens screaming, he touched me on the shoulder and said ‘I can’t take anymore’, and Emlyn Hughes left.

“The gymnasium here, at Hillsborough, is being used as a mortuary for the dead, and at this moment stewards have got little paper bags, and they’re gathering up the personal belongings of the spectators. And there are red and white scarves of Liverpool, and red and white bobble hats of Liverpool, and red and white rosettes of Liverpool, and nothing else.

And the sun shines now.”

It’s the single most poignant piece of radio commentary I have ever heard, and ever will hear.

JFT96
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Just A Little Respect

The below article was written after Brendan Rodgers first home league game in charge. The game in question was against the then champions, Manchester City. Even the most optimistic red could not envisage the dramatic turnaround in fortunes that this season has produced as Liverpool Football Club chase the ultimate prize once more.

August 2012 and it’s the first game home league game of the season and the champions of England run out at Anfield. How many times has that happened? Quite a few as it happens. But this time it’s not the redmen running out as league champions but those in the sky blue kit that take the plaudits from the away end. The super-rich Manchester City finally claimed the top prize in English football in dramatic circumstances last May on what can only be described as SKY TV’s ultimate wet dream. The citizen men of Manchester hadn’t won the top prize in 44 years and now boast some of the worlds top players. How times have changed. We once put 10 goals past city in three days back in October 1995. But I’m not bitter or jealous, how could I be. They have a long way to go.

18 League titles, 7 FA Cups, 8 League Cups, 5 European Cups, 3 UEFA Cups

Midday down at the Albert Dock and the sun is beaming down. Another new era at Anfield has begun with the appointment of Brendan Rodgers. His first competitive game at Anfield couldn’t have gone any better with the defeat of FC Gomel in the Europa League. In league terms the new regime has had a rocky start. An opening day 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion is up there with the 1-0 shock defeat to fellow Black Country side Wolverhampton Wanderers on the opening day of the 1981-82 campaign. It was a season that ended with a League championship and League Cup success. We can only dream of league glory these days. But still, Brendan will get the time and hopefully the finance to enable us to compete once more.

18 League titles, 7 FA Cups, 8 League Cups, 5 European Cups, 3 UEFA Cups

I feel like one of the players on an early morning stroll – getting the pre-match nerves out of my system if you will. It’s great to have the footy back again. Euro 2012 was a welcome distraction, even if it does play havoc with pre-season plans. Then the Olympics stole the limelight, it was easy to get caught up in the emotion of it all as well. But let’s face it, whether it’s Beth Twiddle or Katie Taylor grabbing the headlines, all I really wanted to know was the Charlie Adam tackle on Gareth Bale THAT bad. Bale did himself no favours at all in crying to the press about big bad Charlie. But Tony Pulis and Stoke must have been impressed with Charlie’s enthusiasm, so much so, that they paid £4 million for more of the same.

As usual there was a good crowd around the docks soaking up the last rays of the summer and as I walked across the road towards Liverpool One I could see a commotion outside the Hilton Hotel at Liverpool One. As I get closer I can make out the Ellison’s coach outside the hotel and a large group surrounding the coach. Closer again, and the majority are decked out in our new home kit. Even closer again, and it’s the Manchester City coach and our supporters are at the ready, the clicking has begun, the phones are out. How did it come to this?

18 League titles, 7 FA Cups, 8 League Cups, 5 European Cups, 3 UEFA Cups

Frankly, I was embarrassed at what I was seeing, maybe I’m also overreacting? It’s the modern game isn’t it? Football celebrities everywhere, believing the hype, pumped up by the SKY machine. Bullshit. I don’t have a big problem with parents and kids, well maybe the parents should know better. But groups of grown men were standing around in LFC gear waiting for god knows how long in the hope that they might just catch a snap of Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez’s arse in a photo? No, sorry, but I’m out. I was brought up in the era when visiting teams were scared out of their wits to come to Anfield – the game was over before it even started. It worked as well; we nearly always came out on top, particularly against sides like city. Even when they did turn us over, a Boxing Day 3-1 victory in 1981, we went on to win 20 of our last 25 games to win the title once more.

18 League titles, 7 FA Cups, 8 League Cups, 5 European Cups, 3 UEFA Cups

I swiftly move on towards the centre of Liverpool One and meet up with a few reds and as we are standing there in the middle of the main shopping area we become engulfed by a crowd of people, not kids, but grown ups and they are all in pursuit of the city squad who are having a pre-match walkabout. It was one of the most bizarre sights I have ever seen – one man stops and proudly tells me he got a picture with Mancini, and wait for it, Brian Kidd. Brian fucking Kidd, the man who nearly leapt as far as Bob Beaman onto the Old Trafford turf when Steve Bruce scored that goal to send Man Ure on their way to the title in 1993. Still, it’s something to post on facebook isn’t it. “Me and Brian Kidd on the day the champions came to Anfield”. Nice.

It’s not right is it? It’s certainly not Liverpool Football Club. I’m not saying abuse teams; just don’t treat them as if they are some sort of gods. It’s the support we give our team that unnerves the opposition – it always did.

Look what it delivered.

18 League titles, 7 FA Cups, 8 League Cups, 5 European Cups, 3 UEFA Cups

Fast forward to April 2014 and what a transformation – City come to town but this time not as Champions of England but still in the shake up for top honours. Vying for the title with City are Chelsea and one Liverpool Football Club who are currently playing some of the best football their supporters have ever witnessed. The feel-good factor around the club is infectious. The atmosphere in and around the ground these last few home games has reached fever pitch as Brendan Rodgers and his team chase the big prize, breaking records as they go about their business. The penny has dropped. Something tells me that City won’t be met with such a welcome party this time as they leave their hotel for this shoot-out, a walk around Liverpool One? Not a hope.

This is different. This is Liverpool. We are Liverpool. And it won’t be long before we add to our remarkable;

18 League titles, 7 FA Cups, 8 League Cups, 5 European Cups, 3 UEFA Cups

 


Red All Over Ireland – Issue 198

ImageIt’s been too long a wait since the Southampton game – in truth we football supporters have little patience anyway. We are always looking forward. In June when the fixtures come out the potential end of season points tally are already being totted up – “Ah Hull away in December, 3 points there will set us up nicely for the very tricky Spurs game coming up, and we have a great run-in and should win the last six”. I do it every season.

After winning our first three games this campaign, I was told that we should be winning the next six as they were all very winnable. That would have been 27 points on the board after 9 games! It would have been very nice indeed. Of course it wasn’t to be. It’s impossible to predict the twists and turns throughout a 38 game season, but even the most optimistic red would not have dreamt how close this side are to the summit of the table when pouring over the fixture list last June. It’s just great to be even looking ahead to what are vital games in the race for top honours and we are well and truly part of it.

Going to print we don’t know the outcome of the Man United game but no matter what the result the redmen will still be in a strong position to return to Europe’s top table once again next season. This coming week we face two teams in a relegation battle and another with their eyes still firmly fixed on a top 4 finish. Cardiff are fighting for their lives and after looking like their appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjær was going to be a mistake on the tanned ones part, the victory over the already doomed Fulham may well have kick-started their fight for survival and the game against Cardiff is unlikely to be done and dusted before the end of the first half as it was last December at Anfield. But it’s certainly a game we should be winning.

Sunderland have been involved in a cup final and a cup semi-final in the last few weeks and won neither of them. The semi-final defeat at Hull bared no resemblance to their decent performance in the League Cup final reverse to Man City. They won’t have Fabio Borini available for selection at Anfield of course, the Italian has had a productive loan spell in the North-East and should report back to pre-season training at Melwood with renewed hope that he has a future at the club. Speaking of Sunderland, I had the pleasure of meeting Eric Doig recently. Eric is the grandson of the famous Sunderland and Liverpool goalkeeper, Ned Doig. Born in Arbroath Ned was actually on the books of the club when they beat Bon Accord 36-0 in the Scottish cup, and to this day is still the clubs most capped international with two caps for Scotland.  Moving to Sunderland via Blackburn, Ned made his name under the guidance of Tom Watson at Sunderland, winning an incredible four league titles before joining Watson at Anfield and winning a second division title. Buried in an unmarked grave Eric finally erected a headstone in honour of his grandfather last December, situated just a few feet away from his manager Tom Watson.

The home game against Tottenham Hotspurs will bring the month to an end and a victory here would surely see us create a big enough gap between ourselves and the North Londoners. It’s been a strange few months for Tim Sherwood. Winning at Old Trafford and impressive victories at Newcastle and qualifying for the last 16 of the Europa League. On the other hand, they can ship goals at an alarming rate as we reds know only too well. But what we will know by the end of this month is whether us reds can still dream of league glory – Over to you lads.

 davidmoenblog.wordpress.com


Reds fans glad to be bach

This May bank holiday (Friday 2nd to Monday 5th) the annual pilgrimage to Moenchengladbach by a group of Liverpool supporters takes place. This will be 8th consecutive annual friendship visit by a group representing Liverpool FC  and one that includes taking in a match at Borussia Park, with Mainz providing the opposition to Borussia on Saturday May 3rd. It’s a friendship unique in world football and one which has blossomed over four decades.

When Liverpool and Borussia Moenchengladbach met five times during the 1970s the stakes were high – with the Reds taking the spoils, edging out the Germans 3-2 on aggregate in the final of the UEFA Cup in 1973 and then four years later the European Cup was secured for the first time as Gladbach were beaten 3-1 on a memorable night in Rome. The rivals faced each other again in the semi-finals a year later when Bob Paisley’s side booked their passage to Wembley by overturning a 2-1 deficit with a 3-0 victory at Anfield. But the bond which was forged between the two sets of fans on those glorious European nights has not only stood the test of time but strengthened. Image

It is Kopite and Annual LFC Supporters Moenchengladbach friendship visit organiser Graham Agg, who leads the pilgrimage of Reds fans to Germany. Once more he is expecting it to be a special occasion. He explains how the trips came about; “This friendship goes back to those great games in the 1970s and it really took off after some Borussia fans came to Liverpool in 1991 to present a cheque for 21,000 Deutsch Marks (about £7,000) to the Hillsborough fund. That meant a great deal and in 1992 a group of Borussia fans started coming over to Anfield every year to support us during their league’s winter break. I speak fluent German having lived over there for a few years so when they came over in 2006 I met up with them for a night in town. I was chatting to one of them who said the relationship between the clubs was great but that it was a bit one-sided. They had been coming over here since ‘92 but there wasn’t much coming back the other way. I was a bit embarrassed and decided we needed to do something about it.”

So with the 30th anniversary of the two clubs meeting in the European Cup final in 2007 approaching, the Netherton native took action and 25 reds made the trip across to Germany in 2007. It proved to be an unforgettable experience with the hospitality and friendship shown to the traveling reds second to none.

Graham remembers that first trip fondly ”Just before Gladbach’s final home game a few of us went on the pitch to unveil a special friendship flag to our German friends. Their fans roared and then chanted ‘Liverpool, Liverpool’ before giving a perfect rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. It was very emotional and we decided then to do it every year. We’ve been seven times now and every year it gets bigger and better and the supporters who have joined me on our friendship visits have been superb ambassadors for both Liverpool FC and the city.”

Those attending this May for the first time may well think they are back at Anfield; Graham explains; “Their official supporter’s club house near the stadium has a corner dedicated to Liverpool Football Club. And in the stadium, their corporate hospitality is in the LFC suite which has a framed picture of the Kop from the 70s. It really is remarkable. Both Liverpool and Moenchengladbach are working class cities so I think that’s why the fans identify with each other so much.”
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Those on the trip this year can enjoy a guided tour of the impressive 54,000 capacity Borussia Park.  A tour of the pubs/bars in the Moenchengladbach Altstadt (Old Town) and a visit to the Borussia Moenchengladbach “Fanhaus”, the official BMG Supporters Club, where they have a whole corner dedicated to Liverpool Football Club. This is where the official presentations will take place. On match day there will be an all-day LFC/BMG Fan Party in the BMG Fan Haus followed by live music from local German bands. There will also be free time to visit the nearby cities of Cologne or Dusseldorf.

If you are interested in joining Graham and the rest of the crew traveling for the 2014 LFC Supporters Moenchengladbach Friendship visit please contact Graham ASAP on grahamlfc@aol.com as places are going very fast.