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.

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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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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.


Remembering W.E. Barclay

ImageThis article appears in the latest issue of Red All Over The Land

Just before Christmas Norwegian based Liverpool FC historian, Jonny Stokkeland and local man George Rowlands unveiled a headstone in memory of the man who suggested the name Liverpool FC to John Houlding. That man was W.E. Barclay. Barclay also had the unique distinction of managing both Everton and Liverpool. It was the end of a long journey for Stookeland and Rowlands to finally see the Dublin born Barclay’s name finally displayed in Anfield Cemetery, fittingly in the shadow of both the Anfield Road and Goodison Park stadiums. We at RAOTL wanted to get to know a bit more about Jonny and he kindly answered our questions below.

The Scandinavian support for Liverpool FC is legendary, who were your heroes in red growing up?

Kevin Keegan. No doubt about that!!  And I was so lucky to meet him in Academy in Kirkby, about 5 years ago. A meeting I will never forget!

Your first trip to Liverpool and memories?

August 1992. It was a dream come true to see Anfield – And it was in time to stand on The Kop as well. I was in Istanbul in 2005 and have visited Liverpool 41 times now. I try to visit Liverpool 3-4 times a year. I end up staying for up to two weeks as I continue my research. I will be back in April and May.

Your heavily involved with gathering information of past players/managers – what got you involved in this type of research and how much time do you spend researching?

I was born in 1968 and have been a LFC supporter as long as I can remember. I started collecting information about Liverpool FC and all ex-players in 1980 when the Norwegian Supporters Club was founded. It was not easy to find much information then. All I had was Brian Peads book the first Complete record book which came out in 1986 and then Doug Lammings Who`s Who in 1989. That was a revelation. Then I met Eric Doig, the grandson of the great Liverpool goalkeeper Ned Doig in early 90s and we have been friends since then. He took me to the central library in Liverpool. Nowadays I use most of my time in other libraries in England. Crosby, Birkenhead, Bolton, Stoke, Rochdale, Heywood, Bury, Nelson, Accrington, Burnley, Blackpool, Blackburn, Darwen, Preston, Huddersfield, Sheffield and Birmingham have all been visited. We have also used several weeks in The Football League Museum in Preston + visit Lancashire FA, Lancashire Record Office and Liverpool County FA.2 years ago I went to London and used 1 week in the Collindale Library for my research.

A headstone for W.E. Barclay in Anfield Cemetery has now come to pass; can you tell us the process you had to go through to bring this project to it’s conclusion?

After a lot of talk, me and George Rowlands got It put up when I last visit Liverpool in December. At last Liverpools first secretary (manager) got what he deserved. Very little had been written about him in history books. George found his birth details in Ireland and his sad demise in Liverpool.  He was the forgotten man in clubs history. Image

Have you any more LFC projects lined up in the future?

Well, Sveinung Egeland put together a fantastic PC programme some years ago. We have more than 4800 names and more than 12 000 matches in our archives. We try to find all match facts for all matches played by first team, reserves and junior teams – And we try to follow all players from birth to death, all their clubs and other work. We buy birth and death certificates to get everything as correct as possible.

I met George Rowlands five years ago, and he is an expert on ancestry. He has been of great help. So has Kjell Hanssen with his excellent newspaper archives. And we also have contacts in South Africa, USA, Norway and England.

We signed a long term contract with Liverpool FC a few years ago in which our collection is part of the LFC Official Archives. We get questions from ex-players, families of ex-players and supporters all the time. So I am always a busy man! I can be contacted at jstokkel@online.no if somebody needs any information or maybe can help us.

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LFC historians: Eric Doig, George Rowlands, Jonny Stookeland and Kjell Hannsen


Would Shankly have survived the football forums?

The reds at home to Cardiff almost 54 years to the day since Bill Shankly was appointed manager of Liverpool Football Club. Not the best of starts for the new boss, a 0-4 reverse at Anfield. Can you imagine the reaction to such a start today. Lets go back in time and fast forward to the present day – it’s doubtful Mr Shankly would have survived in the current climate.

FOOTBALL FORUM 18th DECEMBER 1959

Hunt59: Best of luck to Mr Shankly in his new role as Liverpool FC manager. Let’s hope we start with a victory over the blues from Cardiff.

KemlynRoader: I second that. What a coup for Mr Shankly to obtain total control of first team affairs as well. Unheard off, he must have good methods of persuasion.

Kopite1947: This is a new departure and one I’m not best pleased with – Mr Shankly turned us down once before and we go back cap in hand – No thank you Mr Shankly. The club missed out on the great Liverpool captain, Matt Busby, and we will never live that down.

PhilTaylor1950: With Hickson and Hunt on form I can see no reason whatsoever why Liverpool can’t challenge for a top four finish this season and whilst it may take Mr Shankly a few years to get us promotion and back to where we belong I believe it will be worth it. We have found the right man gentlemen. I can assure you of that.

LiddleBilly: Does anyone know what time the soccertram leaves for Anfield this Saturday?

MoranLB: Soccertram leaves from the Aldelphi every half an hour from 12pm onwards. Don’t think there will be too many at the game this Saturday. Some say they can’t make out the players from the back of the Spion Kop. I said it when they were installed two years ago, Floodlights will not work and won’t attract more spectators to football. And I was right.

DashingDaveH: I hope Mr Shankly will be paying a good deal of attention to the reserve side, we have some very good youngsters with a special mention to young Callaghan who I feel could do a good job for Liverpool FC and could play in the first team until the late 1960’s at least.

StubbornStubbins: Anyone going to Charlton for the Boxing Day Fixture?

Balmerlegend: Well I would like to travel but would we make it back in time for the return fixture on the 28th? Maybe we could ask Mr Shankly for a lift back ha ha

20man: Please pray that Danny Malloy is playing this Saturday afternoon. He’s now scored three own goals against us whilst playing for Cardiff. I predict a revenge 3-2 win for the reds this Saturday.

 FOOTBALL FORUM 19th DECEMBER 1959

(Liverpool FC 0 Cardiff City 4)

Hunt59: If Mr Shankly doesn’t know what a tough job he has on his hands he does now. But he’ll get it right.

KemlynRoader: Cardiff got the start they needed, jolly good team they are as well. Up to third now.

Kopite1947: I told you giving a manager sole responsibility for the job would lead to problems.  I gave the director’s box a piece of my mind at the final whistle

PhilTaylor1950: Hickson and Hunt never got a sniff from Sullivan and Baker who were in top form. Mr Shankly will have a good look at the youngsters I hope and build a team for a promotion push next season.

MoranLB: Danny Malloy didn’t even get on the score-sheet. I was at the back of the Spion Kop, I could barely see with the poor lighting and cigarette smoke. But at least I was warm. Back again for Charlton.

StubbornStubbins: Young Jones played ever so well on his debut – with Callaghan playing well for the reserves this team may look very different in the new year when Mr Shankly gets a good look at them on the training pitch.

Balmerlegend: I like the way Mr Shankly speaks, he has the common touch he said afterwards “Naturally I’m disappointed but it’s just as well that I’ve seen the team give an off-form display in my first match. I’ve learned quite a few things this way,” Seems a honest man.

20man: I had Danny Malloy down to score a o.g. on my coupon – only hope we have of getting promotion is winning the pools. Maybe John Moores will come across to this side of Stanley Park and invest in the reds.

 FOOTBALL FORUM 19th DECEMBER 2013

(Liverpool FC 0 Cardiff City 4)

Luis7: Keystone cop defending, this has been a woeful performance.

stevielegend: I can’t believe the board has given this man full control over team affairs. This is a fcuking joke.

5times: What a loada shite. New players required Shankly, and no money, we are doomed.

KD: Absolutely pathetic, while Moran was our best player there seems to be no communication at the back when he plays, Allen was good on his debut and Hunt is terribly overrated and never looks arsed. Good luck Shankly.

Lucas09: Fooking joke, we’ve nothing in midfield – Hunt is ok up front but we never looked like doing anything. Nothing but two wins from our two games against Charlton now.

GlenJ: That is up there with the worst Liverpool performances I have ever seen and I was at the 5-1 home defeat to The Arsenal seven years ago – even at this early stage Shankly needs to look at himself in the mirror. The team selection was all over the place. The communication between Morris and Campbell was awful. That midfield needs some major surgery. Fcuking shit

RafaB: It was a really bad result we know that, but how we perform next game against Charlton will tell us a lot more about the team and the new manager. Embarrassing result.

RobbieF: Show me somebody who thinks Jimmy Melia should be in the team and I’ll show you an idiot. Send Dave Hickson back across the park as well, useless.

Ronnie5: Take a photo of the league table because unless Mr Williams invests heavily we won’t be challenging for promotion this or next season. Mr Shankly must be wondering what he has got himself into here. We are on the way to no-where.

Rush9: We need to win our next two against Charlton IMHO. And hope that Sheffield Utd and Cardiff drop more. At least Everton are having a shit season as well. As for Mr Shankly – he’ll be lucky to last the season with this performance, talks a lot, but nothing to show for it.

@dmoenlfc             davidmoenblog.wordpress.com


Finally Bursting That League Cup Bubble

Red All Over The Land  – Issue 193 – @dmoenlfc

Today we have West Ham United as visitors and hopefully after the Hull and Norwich games in the past week we are still in amongst the top four places. Hard to imagine that it’s only 5 years since we drew 0-0 at home to the hammers to go top of the league– it wasn’t enough to please all in L4 that evening with sporadic boos ringing around the ground at the final whistle at the ‘disastrous’ outcome. A lot has happened since then of course and what we would give to be heading to the summit after today’s encounter.

Recent activity between the two clubs have centered on transfer deals; in the opposing squad we have ex reds in Stewart Downing, Joe Cole and the unlikely to feature Andy Carroll. Sadly none of the three set the world alight during their stay at Anfield, although Andy Carroll will be fondly remembered for his goal in the Merseyside FA Cup semi-final. If any of the lads are reading this, maybe you could tell that goalkeeper Jaaskelainen that the KOP applauds every visiting goalkeeper that comes to Anfield.

The reds have fared much better in recent transfer activity between the clubs, Javier Mascherano and Youssi Beneyoun arriving in 2007 with a large degree of success. Go back a further 14 years and we had a man who would write himself into the Anfield history books, Julian Dicks. It was a deal the Boleyn Ground occupants couldn’t turn down, the hammers getting in two pretty decent players in Mike Marsh and David Burrows for Dicks. He wouldn’t last long at Anfield, signed by Graham Souness to add more aggression to the back line; he would last just a year at Anfield. Souness’s replacement, Roy Evans, didn’t fancy the player and amid concerns over his fitness he was eventually shipped back to West Ham, who must have been delighted with the overall outcome of the deal. Still, in his brief sojourn he would become the answer to a common Liverpool FC quiz question. Who was the last Liverpool player to score in front of the standing KOP? None other than the Terminator himself, netting a 75th minute penalty on Grand National day 1994. The reds lost their last two home games to nil against Newcastle and Norwich respectively.

We have also went head-to-head with West Ham on three occasions with silverware at stake, yes I’m counting the Charity Shield game of 1980, hey I was 8 and it meant everything to me at the time and the 90,000 plus in attendance as well. A Terry Mac strike proving to be the only score of the game. Both sides would meet again in two cup finals, the much written about Gerrard FA Cup final of 2006 and the 1981 League Cup final, which also had its fair share of talking points and was to be Liverpool’s first triumph in the competition.

West Ham had won the FA Cup in 1980 as a second division side with a rare Brooking header overcoming hot favourites Arsenal. The following season they easily won promotion to the top table once more and with it another cup final appearance against a Liverpool side who were on the way to winning a third European Cup later in the spring.

As per the norm when Clive Thomas was in charge – controversy was never far away. A Sammy Lee ‘goal’ in the first half was ruled out for offside before Lee was once again in the action late on in extra-time. This time the Liverpool man was felled in the area after a crunching Alvin Martin challenge and as the hammers defence rushed out leaving Lee lying prostate in the area and in an offside position – Alan Kennedy simply rifled the ball past Phil Parkes. GOAL-NO GOAL? Thomas ignored the lines-man’s flag and gave the goal and with it surely a first Liverpool FC League Cup triumph. Not to be, to West Hams credit they piled forward. Ray Clemence pulled off a magnificent save from a Ray Stewart free-kick and from the resulting corner; Bootle born Alvin Martins headed goal wards, only for it to be punched off the line by Terry McDermott, a sending off offence today. Ray Stewart didn’t miss many penno’s and he sent Clemence the wrong way as both sides headed for an April Fool date replay at Villa Park. As they carried their tired limps off the sapping Wembley surface, I’m sure Alan Kennedy was cursing his luck, he was within seconds of scoring what would have been a cup winning goal. His time would come later that year in Paris and again in Rome three years later.

The replay was a much more open affair and it was the second division side that opened the scoring when Paul Goddard nodded in after five minutes. But the east-end joy was short-lived, within 30 minutes Liverpool had scored the goals that would take the cup to Anfield for the first time. Kenny Dalglish brilliantly hooking home a volley before an Alan Hansen header with the help of Billy Bonds knee won the day for the reds who were playing in their change strip of white shirts and black shorts. Simple strip back then, a classic – probably never to be seen again without some sort of zig-zag design to spoil it.

We did like that cup didn’t we, maybe it was the taste of milk the victors enjoyed afterwards, although stories emulating from that period would suggest most of the team were impartial to the black stuff than the white. We liked it so much that we decided to keep it for four years on the bounce before Clive Allen haunted us on Halloween night 1985. It wasn’t a bad return of silverware for a cup we hadn’t won at all up to 1981.