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

 

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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.


LFC’s SECOND RATE INFORMATION ‘HEIGHWAY’

LFC’s SECOND RATE INFORMATION ‘HEIGHWAY’ – RAOTL ISSUE 185

So the WBA game has been moved to Monday February 11th. No complaints, we are due to play a Monday night game at some stage. Strange one though as we play in the Europa League that week, but the fixture change was announced before our successful trip to Udine. You work that one out! But why oh why is the official Liverpool FC website so slow in releasing news on fixture changes amongst other things. It’s been happening time and time again for the past number of years; so much so that’s it’s now the last place I look when it comes to any fixture news relating to Liverpool Football Club.

It really used to get on my nerves when we frequented the Champions League, whether it was the day of the group or knock-out phase draw (great days). The main talking point was would we be playing Tuesday or Wednesday, a choice we don’t have for Europa League Thursdays of course. Meanwhile all the airlines, train companies and hotels are busy putting up fares as we waited on confirmation of the match date. Luckily I knew a guy that works with UEFA and he was able to email me details as soon as he knew the dates were known, again, well before the website gave out the information. Saved me a fortune at times. Still, most fans didn’t have that luxury.

Sadly the situation doesn’t seem to be improving any time soon – pity we can’t take a lead from other clubs. The news of the game change seemed to take top priority for the powers of be within WBA, along I might add with the welfare of their traveling support. WBA had tweeted that their game against Liverpool had been re-scheduled at 11am on Tuesday 4th December. It was on their official site ten minutes later. Yet for one of the best supported teams in world football we had to wait another two hours for Liverpool FC to announce the very same news on their website – And it didn’t end there. The FA Cup live games were also announced on the same day, Liverpool were picked for the 4pm slot on Sunday 6th January and once more the ‘offy’ was more than an hour late with the news. Shameful when you consider the multi-media outlets available to us nowadays.

It shouldn’t be this way; it’s not as if the fixture changes are announced without the club having any prior knowledge. We know that clubs are consulted by the TV companies and local police about re-arranged TV games. I don’t profess to know how long they would have known about the changes, but I’m guessing it’s the day before at the very least. As usual it’s the fans that lose out. Why wait to relay the news to fans. At least give them a chance to get one over on the train and plane companies before the usual price hikes.

As an OOT this causes untold travel heartache, not only to overseas supporters but to Reds living and working throughout the UK. Train fares from London are sometimes more expensive than a flight from say Ireland. Of course you book flights/boats/trains at your own risk, that’s a given and in reality supporters should wait until the game is confirmed. Yes, in a perfect world that is true, but us fans are always looking out for a bargain and we can’t resist the cheap flight/train fare whenever it’s presented to us.

All we are asking is for the official site to get up to speed with the rest of the league clubs; surely it can’t be that hard for the club to delegate someone to upload important fixture news when it first becomes available.

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A tribute to Phil Taylor, a former player and manager of Liverpool Football Club was due to take place at the Aston Villa game recently and there’s a fitting tribute inside this issue. Bristol born Phil died on December 1st at the age of 95 and had served Liverpool FC as captain and manager for a total of 23 years. At the time of his death Taylor was Liverpool’s and England’s oldest international. After a bit of searching and advice from historian Jonny Stokkeland we believe the honour of the oldest surviving Liverpool player now rests with Sammy Smyth who is now 87 years old.

Born in Belfast on 25 February 1925, Smyth played for his hometown club Linfield before moving to Wolves in July 1947 for whom Smyth scored a goal in the 1949 FA Cup final. Smyth was moved on to Stoke for a fee of £25,000 where he remained for one season when Liverpool came calling. Bizarrely he made his debut straight away when Liverpool visited the club he had just signed from but Stoke came out on top 3-1 as the reds struggled to remain in the top flight. Smyth more than played his part, scoring 7 goals as the reds stayed afloat. It wasn’t to last.

Sadly a year later he couldn’t prevent the reds suffering relegation despite scoring 13 from 26 games. The pull of his native Belfast was too strong and Sammy returned to play with Bangor in 1955 where he was a bookmaker and opened a sports shop business. With a scoring rate of 20 goals in just 44 appearances Sammy Smyth certainly made a lasting impression at Anfield in his brief spell at the club, a scoring record many would be proud of in the modern game.  @dmoenlfc