The Liver Bird  

Monday, 20 June 2011

7 Days, 7 Guests - Keepers

Today's article is the last article in the 7 Days, 7 Guests feature on The Liver Bird. Thank you to all of you that took the time to take part!


Today we have an article on some of the unsung heroes between the sticks at Anfield written by Emil who you can follow on Twitter @EmilLFC7.



WITH a number of comings and goings expected this summer at Anfield, one of the positions that King Kenny is expected to change is that of understudy to Pepe Reina.
The current reserve is Brad Jones who arrived for a little over £2 million 12 months ago. However, there remain some doubts over Jones’ Anfield future with the Reds offering a contract to former Liverpool keeper, Brad Friedel, who chose Spurs over a move back to L4.

So, here is a reminder of some former bench-warming goalkeepers from the past who had one of football’s toughest jobs.:

Steve Ogrizovic

Had the misfortune of being understudy to goalkeeping legend Ray Clemence for four years and later, spent a season in the shadow of Bruce Grobelaar, ‘Oggy’ managed only two first team appearances before leaving for Shrewsbury and later being a mainstay in the Coventry side of the 80’s.

Chris Kirkland

Bought in the summer of 2001for £6m when the Reds made the double goalkeeping purchase of Jerzy Dudek and Kirkland, after then-No.1 Sander Westerveld became increasingly error-prone. Kirkland was regarded as one of the brightest prospects in the game but a series of injuries saw him shipped out to Wigan in 2006. Played 45 games for LFC, including a run of group games in Europe in 2005 when they went on to win the Champions’ League in Istanbul.

Bob Bolder

Like Oggy before him, Bolder’s Liverpool career coincided with a goalkeeping legend’s ever-present run for the Reds. Bought in 1983 from Sheffield Wednesday and sold on to Sunderland in 1985, Bolder failed to make a single appearance for LFC due to the form and fitness of Grobelaar, although he did win a European Cup medal as an unused sub in 1984 European Cup.

Billy Molyneux

Joined the Reds as an amateur in 1961 and turned to pro in 1963 but found his route to first team football blocked by Tommy Lawrence who was known as the ‘Flying Pig’. Made his solitary first team appearance in a league game when Shankly rested the Flying Pig, shortly before the 1965 FA Cup final. Molyneux left Liverpool for Oldham in 1967.

Brad Friedel

Joined LFC for £1.7m in 1997 and made 25 first-team appearances for the club, Friedel was understudy to first, David James and later Sander Westerveld. Friedel made his debut in 1998 against Aston Villa, a club we would later play for, and went on to make 11 appearances in his first season but struggled to make an impact in his two last seasons at Anfield. Left Aston Villa this summer and was said to have been offered a contract by Kenny Dalglish, but the 40-year old decided to sign for Tottenham who have offered Friedel more first-team opportunities.  

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Sunday, 19 June 2011

7 Days, 7 Guests - Transfer Talk

Today's post is by Stuart who you can follow on Twitter @strtbrdsn. In case you haven't noticed, the transfer window is open and Stuart decided to talk about transfers in his guest post.

One of the first thing in Kenny Dalglish's mind seems to have been getting that very "homely" feel back into Liverpool - he clearly understands the importance of having some foreign flair in their but you only have to look at the sort of targets we're allegedly (and I hasten to emphasise ALLEGEDLY) being linked with to see what the idea is - get back to the old way with a genuine English spine with a scattering of foreign talent to accentuate it where required - the most obvious name here being Suarez who everyone can agree is an absolute delight to watch when he plays, a true talent - but to get that undeniable Liverpool feel back to the place.

Personally my main problem with this somewhat admirable idea is that you are fully aware that buying English players brings with it a huge, sometimes unwarranted mark-up in price. Is Andy Carroll really worth £35M? Is Jordan Henderson really worth £20M? Of course not but then again a player's "worth" is only really what a club is willing to pay for his services and if we're willing to part with that much cash then who are the selling clubs to argue? That said I still find it quite shameful, if Carroll was Belgian we might not have paid more than £15M and if Henderson was Uruguayan or Bolivian, I highly doubt we'd be looking at paying more for him than Arsenal paid for Samir Nasri or Spurs paid for Luka Modric.

We've seen the same with previous transfers, most notably Darren Bent when he left Charlton Athletic and we refused to pay £16.5M along with Rafa's unwillingness to spend £18M on Gareth Barry (looking more and more like a good decision since his move to Man City) but as a mate pointed out today - a dangerous precedent has already been set by spending so much money on Carroll. Clubs will see what we're trying to do and will naturally increase their fees knowing that we'd rather pay an extra £5M than sign the French, Spanish, Belgian, etc... alternative to whichever player we're looking at.

The team already has a distinctly British feel to it, we're playing like an 80's Liverpool side, harrowing every single player, chasing every single ball and I don't mind admitting a swell of pride at the thought that, at some point next season, we could field an entirely English back line of Robinson, Kelly, Carragher and the hugely-impressive Flanaghan with the likes of Spearing, Gerrard, Shelvey and Carroll playing ahead of him. It's also possible that depending on how the transfer window pans out we could see 5-6 Liverpool players in the England squad, something we haven't really seen for a while.

I do look at some of the targets though and wonder if they're the best but at the end of the day - The King wouldn't do ANYTHING unless it was in the best interests of the team, the club and the fans and I say that with 100% honesty. If Kenny decides that Stewart Downing is worth more to the team than Juan Mata then he will get the full backing and support of millions of Liverpool fans the world over including myself... although Mata and Arda Turan are players I would damn near kill to see playing at Liverpool.

Above all else: in the King we trust and long may his reign continue.

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Saturday, 18 June 2011

7 Days, 7 Guests - "Two Man Team"

Today's article takes us back to that fantastic season of 08/09 and back to that old gem of a phrase "Liverpool are just a two man team." Written by Michael Owen who you can follow on Twitter @mfowen91. He also runs a top #LFC blog called The Anfield Opinion which you can visit here.

If you believed the media at the time, Liverpool’s side of 2008/09 was a “two man team” to quote a seemingly never-ending list of Sky Sports pundits who graced our television screens throughout the season.

According to the tabloid press Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres were the only players in the side worthy of the world-class title, whilst the rest of the squad, seemingly, was seen as a mere hindrance to our numbers eight and nine over the course of the season.

Of course as the next season came around, and Liverpool’s fortunes changed for the worse, hindsight was the word of the day, as many players who were rarely mentioned by the ever-so-knowledgeable pundits became world-beating superstars whose departure was a hammer blow to the Reds’.

There were, of course, a number of crucial players in Liverpool’s side which were unsung heroes of what is considered by many to be the Reds’ best campaign in nearly two decades. Here’s a look at some of the players the pundits didn’t acknowledge.

Alvaro Arbeloa

In many respects Arbeloa was the exact opposite of his replacement Glen Johnson. He arrived at Anfield a relative unknown and for a low fee, he wasn’t an international footballer with a string of major clubs behind him and he was far from as ambitious going forward as his successor.

But the Spaniard was as solid as a rock throughout the 2008/09 campaign. Whilst he may not have picked up many man of the match awards he rarely made any mistakes, either. He was the prime example of a model professional that got on with his job in a no-nonsense manner and was certainly a key part of the Reds’ watertight back line.

Due to his contract drawing to the close Real Madrid signed the full-back for a bargain basement price, and due to Johnson’s defensive frailties it is only in recent months, with the emergence of Martin Kelly and John Flanagan, Liverpool that have found a solid replacement for Arbeloa.

Yossi Benayoun

There were question marks over Benayoun when he arrived from West Ham in 2007, but the Israeli midfielder showed the fans his purchase was justified in the 2008/09 campaign, playing all across the midfield and chipping in nine goals along the way.

Throughout the season Benayoun was often likened to Liverpool legend Peter Beardsley, and at times it was a fair comparison. Benayoun made quick and clever moves in and around the box, not scared to take on a player, he was, and still is, a rare breed in that he is an intelligent footballer who may be accused of lacking a little pace, rather than the other way round.

One of the highlights of Benayoun’s time with the Reds was his last-gasp goal against Fulham at Craven Cottage, which was met to a chorus of “We’re going to win the league” from the travelling Liverpool faithful as the midfielders goal put the Anfield side back on top of the Premier League table.
But Benayoun’s strength was to be his downfall. His positional versatility meant he often found himself playing out of position and due to a prolonged injury the following season the former West Ham man only found himself on the fringes of the Liverpool side, resulting in a move to Chelsea in the summer of 2010.

Xabi Alonso

It may seem strange to include Alonso in a list of unsung heroes of the 2008/09 campaign, but despite it being arguably the Spanish internationals best season at Anfield the “two man team” line was still being spouted as the midfielder placed perfect balls into the path of Gerrard and Torres.

It was a dramatic turnaround for Alonso. After putting in hit and miss performances in the previous campaign Alonso looked to be heading for the exit door in the summer of 2008, with his move to Juventus set to fund a deal which would bring in Gareth Barry.

But when the negotiations broke down Alonso found himself still on Liverpool’s books as the season kicked off. Clearly feeling he had a point to prove Alonso had a near perfect season for the Reds, placing picture perfect balls, in his trademark fashion, up to the front men and controlling the play in the middle of the park.

The Spaniard also formed a great partnership with fellow midfielder Javier Mascherano, with the two of them being the perfect balance of creative flair and endless determination. The two of them, coupled with the more advanced Gerrard, made for a menacing midfield only made worse for the opposition by the fact it was spearheaded up top by Torres.

Alonso was arguably the biggest loss of the three when he headed to Real Madrid for £30 million, the last two seasons have been dominated by people wondering how different it would be with the Spaniard back in the side.

But Liverpool, thanks to Fenway Sports Group and Kenny Dalglish, have a bright future with some immensely talented players on the books, hopefully a side good enough to achieve, and improve upon, what that “two man team” did in the league in 2008/09.

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Friday, 17 June 2011

Fixtures 2011/2012

Were you there this morning frantically logging on to the website to check which ground we were going to win the league at in May? Haha! Maybe a bit ahead of myself there!


Liverpool open the season away at Sunderland which is a decent first fixture i feel. Arsenal is our next match and Bolton makes up the opening month of August.

October and February are exciting months for Liverpool fans, the derby at Goodison on the 1st of October is swiftly followed by Manchester United at Anfield on the 15th! In February we face United on the 11th and then Everton straight after on the 25th.

For once i feel we've been given a very pleasing final fixture with an away trip to Swansea, ok final home game would have been better but i don't think we can complain. Chelsea at Anfield is our other fixture in May.

From a selfish point of view i was looking also at when we face me fellas team Wolverhampton Wanderers. We've got them at Anfield on the 24th September, gutted because he'll be at work so he can't watch it with me if they they put it on the box. Then we face them on my Dad's birthday 31st January at Molineux and if my boss still keeps me on (I hope he does! lol) I'll get my free seat!

I also always look at the fixture closest to my birthday and this year it's Swansea at Anfield on November 5th. Due to a lack of cash and my part time job clashing with fixtures as you all know i hardly ever get to see the lads (hoping to use uni fees next year though! haha) so I'm gonna try to get myself a ticket for that one i think with birthday funds, that's the rough plan anyway.

What fixtures stood out for you? The full list is below.

AUGUST

13 - Sunderland (h)
20 - Arsenal (a)
27 - Bolton Wanderers (h)

SEPTEMBER

10 - Stoke City (a)
17 - Tottenham Hotspur (a)
24 - Wolverhampton Wanderers (h)

OCTOBER

1 - Everton (a)
15 - Manchester United (h)
22 - Norwich City (h)
29 - West Bromwich Albion (a)

NOVEMBER

5 - Swansea City (h)
19 - Chelsea (a)
26 - Manchester City (h)

DECEMBER

3 - Fulham (a)
10 - Queens Park Rangers (h)
17 - Aston Villa (a)
20 - Wigan Athletic (a)
26 - Blackburn Rovers (h)
31 - Newcastle United (h)

JANUARY

2 - Manchester City (a)
14 - Stoke City (h)
21 - Bolton Wanderers (a)
31 - Wolverhampton Wanderers (a)

FEBRUARY

4 - Tottenham Hotspur (h)
11 - Manchester United (a)
25 - Everton (h)

MARCH

3 - Arsenal (h)
10 - Sunderland (a)
17 - Queens Park Rangers (a)
24 - Wigan Athletic (h)
31 - Newcastle United (a)

APRIL

7 - Aston Villa (h)
9 - Blackburn Rovers (a)
14 - Fulham (h)
21 - West Bromwich Albion (h)
28 - Norwich City (a)

MAY

5 - Chelsea (h)
13 - Swansea City (a)

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7 Days, 7 Guests - Red, White And Blue

Today's post is by Stephen Brandt you can follow him on Twitter @KingKennyfanlfc his article is a tale about being a Liverpool fan and living in America. I think a lot of my readers may be able to relate to this post by Stephen, for more from him his blog can be found here.

Those who know me, know I’m obsessed with the UK.  I blame my father, but I also thank my father on that one. Everything from the Avengers, to The Bill, to soccer I pretty much watch or do something with. But let’s step this back for a minute. What if said person wasn’t from the UK, or haven’t ever been in the UK? Would that be normal? Or would the be Stephen Brandt?

I’m not saying I’m abnormal when it comes to the global sport, but for where I live, and the media coverage of the sport, it should be a shock. A little history on me, I’m Stephen Brandt, and I was born in Columbus Ohio. I was raised in Rochester NY, and went to high school in Minnesota. So there’s no real hot bed of European soccer coverage for a 32 year old man. Yes I know calling myself young is kind of funny.
               
But what made me a Red when the only matches I could see are the German league, Manchester United, AC Milan, and Chelsea matches? Well, Bill Shankly,  and yes I know I just  said I’m only 32, and how would I know him? Well, I was fortunate to be maturing at the time of the internet. Anything and everything about Liverpool is easy to find online.
               
The man had so many quotes, so many ideas, so many ways to drag a club that was in a poor state, that to pick one, would be wrong. So what did I do? Pick one! It wasn’t that easy, because he spoke so much during his time. I wish I had been alive during his time, to witness most of it.
Talking about the Liverpool fans - 'I'm just one of the people who stands on the kop. They think the same as I do, and I think the same as they do. It's a kind of marriage of people who like each other.'

               
So what does this mean? The manager is one of the fans. And how many managers has Liverpool had who aligned themselves with the fans? Only the good ones, that’s where that manager who started out the season went wrong to start. Kenny is a supporter in a legend’s body, Bob Paisley loved the fans and didn’t want the manager job, and then there’s Shanks, who constantly praised the fans.
               
Why I bring this up is, that in so many cases the management, players, etc think of themselves as better than the fans. That has to stop, if the great man could all those years ago see it, why can’t more people, probably just as smart as him do the same? Think of Kenny, while he never was directly influenced by Shanks, had it second hand. And he loves the fans, almost always talks about the supporters.  If you can connect with the fanbase, no matter what sport it is, that is one major way to get yourself instantly loved.
               
If you are getting a theme with me talking about Kenny a lot, I love that man, he’s the main reason I’m a LFC fan.

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Thursday, 16 June 2011

7 Days, 7 Guests - Istanbul

Today's article is by Gareth Roberts, if you use Twitter you will probably know @robbohuyton from his Well Red blogging to his fantastic Well Red magazine which you can purchase online here.


I'm sure a few of you have already read this post but Gareth was kind enough to allow me to post on here for my 7 Days feature. He was one of the lucky ones in 2005 who experienced every inch of Istanbul.

IT STARTED with a miss...

When the ball dropped to Eidur Gudjohnsen at the far post it was like someone had pressed the mute button. It was the loudest night on the Kop in my lifetime (I swear the actual stand was moving) yet in that split second you could hear a pin drop (or perhaps a fart or two squeak out of the thousands of twitching Red arses...).

Breath was held, hands went to faces – with Jerzy Dudek flailing on the floor it looked a cert the net would ripple as the Chelsea striker took aim...but it didn't.

In that moment, I knew it – we were going to a European Cup final. We, Liverpool, a team featuring  Djimi Traore, Igor Biscan and Milan Baros. A team that had finished 37 points behind title-winning Chelsea, in fifth place, behind Everton, and on the same points as Bolton with 14 league defeats to our name. We were going to Istanbul with number five in our sights.

Talk of getting to Turkey began in town, when we eventually got there. That was after what seemed like hours of embracing people I'd never met, and barking 'Get in' at everyone who crossed my path wearing Red.

No-one wanted to leave the Kop that night. And no wonder. Our last European Cup final had come 20 years earlier. This was the taste of the big time another generation had been waiting for – me included. I was eight in May 1985 and can just about remember watching Liverpool and Juventus go through the motions after the horror of what had happened before - a black day which I barely understood at such a tender age.

I watched that final, like many a Reds game, in the back room of my ma's on a crap Pye black and white portable telly. This time though, I'd be there - in the same country, the same city, the same ground as the Reds. And this time I'd win it with them.

It was the usual score on getting abroad – fans were shafted left, right and centre by travel operators, hotel owners and the rest.

After being fortunate enough to qualify for a ticket – a miracle in itself – it was decided to swerve the fleapit hotels that were charging Hilton prices. As much as I wanted to fly over and get on the ale, money was talking.

Without the time, or the inclination to be fair, of some other Reds who trekked all over Europe by road, sea and air to reach Istanbul, we opted for the flight there and back option. It was a bit of a bank-breaker (or should I say credit card), but so what? This was a once in a lifetime chance, the opportunity to be part of history – to experience a European Cup win first-hand and not just have to watch videos, read books and listen to old fellas grin their way through their tales of 77, 78, 81 and 84. Now I'd have my own story to tell.

John Lennon Airport was a buzz of anticipation, even the taxi driver had seemed bang up for it and he wasn't going. And Lennon himself (well the statue) was kitted out in a fez (right) for the occasion.

But from the moment we touched down in Turkey (after a delayed flight), things didn't go quite to plan. Omens looked bad. While the early embarkers were living it up in Taksim Square, we were told on arrival that our coach, under police advice, would be heading for the harbour. Sound.

And so we arrived. Deffo a harbour. We wandered aimlessly about for a bit before turning up a side street. There were a few Reds here and there but there were more AC Milan fans in this end of Istanbul.

The sun was shining, the ale was calling but this wasn't where the party was at. We had hours to kill before we had to return to the coach and this was about as exciting as Widnes on a wet Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the texts continued to drop into my phone's inbox. "It's boss here, you know. Loads of Reds. Get down here."

I could picture the songs, the banter, the laughs. And here I was stuck on a Saga holiday.

Time to go. So we did - how far could it be? A couple of other Reds had the same idea and a taxi was shared. But it seemed that in this part of the world driving schools are run by The Stig. Swerving in and out of traffic sporting a 'I don't give a f*** grin' isn't the best combination for a taxi driver. I could picture the compo claim already - if I lived to put on the neck brace.

While snarled up in traffic on route to Taksim, a couple of local kids shouted to us. "Liverpool," said one. "3-3" said the other, holding up the right amount of fingers (using two hands, obviously - it was Istanbul, not Wigan).

At the time, we thought nothing of it. Looking back, well it's a bit weird, isn't it?

After what seemed like a lifetime, we reached Taksim. After the ride we'd had, I didn't know whether to open the door or jump out of the window Dukes of Hazzard style.

Taksim Square (above) was just a sea of red. Banners, flags, Reds on a roof, Reds in a tree, Reds up a lampost, songs, ale, sunshine...now we're talking.

We met up with a couple of mates who'd blagged their way to Turkey on the pretence of working - one for the Daily Post, the other for the Echo (colour piece my arse).

After filling us in with tales from the night before, we headed for the bar and bumped into another couple of journalists, one who greeted me with the matter of fact: "Thought you'd be here." It was like I'd bumped into him in the Asda rather than in a foreign country thousands of miles from home.

Istanbul, what we saw of it in our short time there, was a cracking city and if I've got one regret from that trip it's that I didn't get to see more of it. The people, too, were spot on. They seemed genuinely amazed, or perhaps bemused, by just how many Reds had made the trip. Loads of locals turned up with cameras and video cameras to film the loony Englismen with faces as red as their shirts filling up on Efe.

Even the waiter at the restaurant didn't seem to mind too much at a poor attempt by Nick Peet to get a free scran. He was totally on to the attempt to clean the plate and pretend he hadn't helped himself buffet-style to a big plate of spag bol...

The fella on the market stall didn't bat an eyelid either, when the same Mr Peet ordered six cigars as we searched for a taxi: "It's for when we win, mate."

News had filtered through that the ground was in fact a good way out of the city - 20 minutes to half an hour was the grossly inaccurate estimate that was bandied about.

Straightforward enough then, or so you'd think. We split into two groups and jumped into a yellow cab each. But we were barely around the corner when our cab turned to reveal Tony Barrett's (above, right, with Jon Jones) cab parked up with a worrying plume of steam heading skywards from the bonnet. Another cab rolled over the cobbles....containing John Aldridge, who clearly found the sight hilarious.

Not sure Tony did though, and he was even more unhappy when the plan to decorate the cab in red backfired when a local kid whipped his scarf en route to the ground!

Back in our cab, things took a turn for the strange when the driver - on a motorway - began craning his neck out of the window to shout to some suited up Turks in a Mercedes.

A full-on conversation took place at about 80 miles an hour. Next thing, we're pulling over. "Eye, eye, mate, f*** these off, carry on, we've got to get to the ground here."

"They'll take you," said the cab driver. "They want to go near the ground - they need people with tickets with them to get past the police."

Now in any other circumstances alarm bells would be going off. They could have been anyone, it could have been a scam, we might have been getting kidknapped...

"Tell them we'll go if they pay for the cab," said Nick.

And they did. Next minute we're all getting into a Merc with a pair of complete strangers.

Despite the suggestions coming through on the text, their intentions were not sexual and we eventually arrived at the ground, a modern - if odd-looking - bowl-type stadium in the middle of nowhere. It looked like Mars. Mind you, there's probably more ale on Mars.

There wasn't a can to be had by the time we arrived, so we had to make do with the tail-end of a fans' festival which at this point consisted of Pete Wylie knocking out Liverpool songs on stage.

That stage was soon full of Reds and the Turks got jittery with one organiser hilariously trying to warn about health and safety as fans bounced around him singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.

One fan grabbed the mic and shouted: "Jose Mourinho, I hope you're enjoying Emmerdale Farm, lad!".

In the ground it struck home just how many Reds had made the pilgramage, a good three-quarters of the Ataturk was Liverpool - some feat considering the location.

Before the match got going there was an opening ceremony. Pretty pointless, but when you're there you watch it, don't you? So as everyone stood on seats to get a look, I followed suit, only to feel a prod in the back. "Get down will you, I can't see."

"Neither can I, that's why I've stood up here like everyone else has."

"Just get down."

"You get up - then you'll be able to see."

"Get down."

And so it went on with the Victor Meldrew of Liverpool fans until his mate joined in as well.

"Get down."

"Oh f**k off, will yer." And on that note, I turned back to the pomp of ceremony only to feel an attempted shove from behind.

There's only so much a man can take, and at that point I was going to swing for the pair of them. My mate Jon had clearly spotted the red mist and pointed out that a Turkish jug wasn't the best place to try and watch a European Cup final. So I left it... still got back up on my seat though.

Handbags out the way, it was on to the game itself. At 3-0 down, all of a sudden we seemed a long way from home. The bravado, the adrenaline that had been surging through thousands of Reds all day, had gone.

We were outclassed in that first half. As we trudged into the bowels of the stand, no-one said a word, there were just a few shakes of the head, puffs of the cheeks and wipes of the brow. We were f***ed.

"We've just got to keep a clean sheet second half," someone eventually piped up. "Otherwise, this could be about 7-0t got to keep a clean sheet second half," someone eventually piped up. "Otherwise, this could be about 7-0. We could be on the end of the worst result in a European Cup final ever."

As some lads left for the hills, unable to take anymore, I thought of the Bluenoses, the Mancs, Andy Gray, all those Soccer AM beauts. They'll all be loving it.
And my dad. "All that money to watch a bunch of fellas kicking a ball? You must be mad..."

Now you know why I was watching the '85 final on the portable...

Everyone talks about the rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone just before the second half but I barely remember it to be honest. I have vague recollections of singing it, but it was more out of duty than hope. I didn't for a minute think we'd get back into it.

The rest, as they say, is history, you all know what happened next...

When Andriy Shevchenko missed we just went nuts, absolutely nuts - I've got some phone footage somewhere of me letting out this primal scream (see videos below) I remember falling over seats, rolling on people, bear-hugging strangers. I even fell on my old mate Victor Meldrew from earlier - we held each other in a special moment and then just laughed, there's no time for fighting when you've just won the European Cup!

As I struggled to take it in, I remember Carragher diving into the crowd, Riise running around aimlessly (no change there, then).

Then out came the cup. It was miles away from us yet it looked massive. It was massive. It is massive. And it's ours. For keeps.

After more bear-hugging, dancing and handshakes, me and Jon(below right) had to leave for our plane. Not that we knew where our coach was parked as we of course hadn't arrived at the Ataturk in it.

We wandered about for a bit amongst rows and rows of identical coaches before eventually spying a fella we recognised smoking outside the coach. "Alright lads," he said, nodding, with a dirty smirk on his face like he'd just done the deed. But it was that good...

On the coach, it was quiet. Nobody had anything left. Everyone was shattered. The players will tell you they put everything into the match. Well so did the fans.

"Who missed that last pen, lad?" piped up this fella.

"Shevchenko"

"Nah, I'm not having that."

It was funny because I'd said the same in the ground. As he was walking up, I'd tapped Jon and said: "There's no way he'll miss, he's quality."

But it was meant to be. At the airport it was chaos. People everywhere, no-one knew what was going on - but no-one cared. Even the bizarre token system to get a pint was ignored and laughed off. There was no spoiling this.

Arrving back at Liverpool, I had a spring in my step despite having no kip for God knows how long. I was there when we lifted No.5. I was there for the greatest comeback in football history. I was there when a lad who grew up a stone's throw from my mum's lifted Old Big Ears as captain of Liverpool Football Club.

That's put us on the map, that's made them sit up and take notice. I even got a text off a Bluenose - and a fairly bitter one at that.

"Were you there?" it asked. I couldn't type fast enough. "Fair enough lad, youse deserved it." I nearly fell off the train seat.

Train? Yep, train. I'd got my head down for a couple of hours and now I was on the train to town - totally done in, but walking on air with a permanent smile. It was time for the victory parade...

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Wednesday, 15 June 2011

7 Days, 7 Guests - Being A Liverpool Fan

Today's article is a great piece simply about what it means to be a Liverpool fan. As most Liverpool fans know, supporting your club is not just a hobby, it's a part of your life. The article is written by Senaly and you can follow her on Twitter @sena16suarez.

Being a Liverpool Fan

Like most Kopites, over the last few weeks, I’ve been subjected to endless banter and mockery from Mancs who can’t shut up about how they’ve overtaken our record. Of course, the Barcelona magic shut them up momentarily, but they soon retaliated with ‘at least we’ll get to try again next season’. But in all these word-wars the one comment that hit me the strongest came from a mate who said, “Look I think Liverpool’s a good team, but Man U is a better one. Why do you support them anyway? Everyone likes to be on the winning side, so forgive me for backing a team that’s actually won the league in my lifetime!”

So I stopped to think about this...why do I support Liverpool? Well, to be honest, I first supported them because dad and uncle did! They even painted my cot in Liverpool colours! So I grew up knowing that the answer to who do you support was always Liverpool. As I got a little older, I watched the finals and major games that were broadcast here in South Africa and I took a liking to Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard. At barely 10 or 11, I liked them because I found them incredibly cute and because they scored lots of goals! I didn’t know much more about football and I simply judged clubs by wins and losses. In 2004, I took a bigger interest in football because one of my best friends was a soccer nut and I needed to be able to talk to him! In high school everyone was soccer-mad. Sadly, I don’t remember too much of Istanbul – I remember sitting around with my family, us all being very disappointed at half-time, a very fast comeback, the suspense of the penalty shootout and the sheer joy at our victory – but my best memories of 2005 were at school, running in early in the morning and just cheering and laughing at the sight of my fellow Reds, seeing lots of Liverpool shirts peeking out from under school shirts, and one boy who sat in a taxi on his way home, holding his scarf open out the window, screaming “Liverpoool!!! You’ll Never Walk Alone!!!”

The one thing that totally steeped my love for Liverpool, was the signing of Fernando Torres. I took a liking to Torres back when he was at Atletico Madrid, when his captain’s armband opened to reveal the words “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. He was wearing our sacred words! His heart belonged at Liverpool. I watched him in the 2006 WC and I fell in love with Spain because of him. I thought he was incredible, such finesse, such speed and such awesome goals! Then in 2007, Fernando signed for Liverpool FC – I was ecstatic! We still didn’t see alot of games – only Champions League games were broadcast live – but I cut out every Liverpool article to grace our papers, followed the log with intense scrutiny and watched every sports bulletin in the hope of catching Liverpool goals and victories.

I also read Steven Gerrard’s autobiography and began to understand the dynamics of what was England’s most successful football club. Over the last three years I’ve been able to watch a lot more football. I’ve been able to appreciate the magic of European nights, the thrill of Anfield games and the magnificence our Kop. Yes, I suppose that makes me a relatively new Kopite but let me assure you that my faith and loyalty to our club is as fierce as that of any age-old fan!

Which brings me back to the question of why? Well, I support Liverpool FC because of the mentality of the club, the dedication of our players and the loyalty of our fans. I didn’t have the privilege of supporting my club during its glory years – we’ve hardly won much in the time I can remember. Yet Liverpool fans keep their heads held high and rally behind the team no matter what. We don’t boo our players of the pitch when they’ve had bad games, we applaud rival goalkeepers as they run up to the Kop end, we show our victors the respect of full stadiums for a full 90 minutes. We criticise players’ bad decisions, yes, but we encourage them to do better. We admit our weaknesses and accept that our opponents were deserving winners – unlike other clubs who find fault with every tackle and every refereeing decision. Our players play fair; we don’t dive! Our players don’t throw tantrums (like a certain Shrek-faced striker I can think of), they respect our manager and they respect the opposition. They never give up – a trait instilled through Rafa’s “It’s not over till it’s over” attitude. I love our resilience, our passion, our humility and as our recent form has brought out, our joie de vivre!

I’ve been watching LFCTV and following the Liverpool trends on Twitter and I’ve learnt so much about our history. I’m so proud to be part of a club with such a rich history...I’m proud of the way in which Kenny and Marina Dalglish sacrificed their own time attending the funerals of the Hillsborough Disaster victims, the way fans around the world unite against The S*n newspaper and condemn it for its lies, the entire Justice For The 96 campaign. I’m proud of the way we put the rivalries aside and mourn the victims of the Munich Air Disaster. It’s not only about the tragedies either. I support Liverpool because of legendary footballers like Ian Rush, John Aldridge, John Barnes, Kevin Keegan, Graeme Souness and of course Kenny Dalglish. I read in awe of Bill Shankly’s Boot Room and how he reshaped the entire team. I support them because I admire the achievements of Shankly, Paisley, Fagan, Dalglish (round 1), and Houllier.

I love how Liverpool fans around the world embrace each other and welcome every fan into the LFC Family with open arms. No one chastises you for supporting a team from a city you’ve never been to or anything like that. I love the way we always believe we can pull of the impossible – lol, towards the end of the season I’d even begun to hear some slightly delusional and less clued-up fans claim that if results went in our favour, we could win the league! But that’s what it’s all about...the way in which we never stop believing in our players and our manager and the way we put our hearts and souls into every rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

That motto itself is a big part of why I support Liverpool, and in my opinion, a big part of what being a Liverpool fan is all about. What a song, what a message. Opposition fans love to hit back at our YNWA chants by saying “Real men walk alone” but what they are too naive to see is that our club’s slogan and song have nothing to do with that. YNWA is a motivation and encouragement to our players, to continue to give their best because no matter what happens they have our support. It’s a commitment us fans make to our team, a promise that we will always be there and always stand by them (or walk alongside them). Our players are able to go out there and simply play their hearts out, never fearing the wrath of the Scouse crowd, because they know, we’re always on their side.

I support Liverpool for the magic of Anfield. I love the way we play better for our Anfield crowd, the way we try to keep our fortress free of opposition goals and the way Anfield defeat hurts so much more because we view it as our temple. I love the defiance with which we say “This Is Anfield”. I love how the boys touch the sign as they run out – keeping Shankly’s famous words alive: “"It's there to remind our lads who they're playing for, and to remind the opposition who they're playing against."

Lastly, I support Liverpool FC because I love the style of football they play. The spontaneity and flair with which Spanish Liverpool played and the Pass-and-Move style developed by Shankly and the others. It’s a far cry from some of the reluctant football we’d begun to see last season and I love that King Kenny has been able to bring that back, because it’s the Liverpool Way. I’ve enjoyed the LFC games of this year more than I can really remember ever enjoying it before!

So in summary, I support Liverpool FC for the brilliant attitude and personality of our club and its players, for the fantastic history, for the family Reds all over the world share, for “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, for Anfield, and for the love of the game. Why do you support LFC?

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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

7 Days, 7 Guests - Boo Boys

For 7 days The Liver Bird is being hijacked by guest bloggers. I am delighted to be showing you some fantastic pieces from Liverpool fans who you can also follow on Twitter.

First up this week with an article on the "Boo Boys" is Ian, you can find Ian on Twitter as @Ian_LFC and you can also check out his blog here.

Lucas Has Survived the Boo Boys – Who’s Next?

“I’ve paid my money so I’m entitled to my opinion” is something I’ve heard spoken many times in The Kop over the years. In recent years, in the pubs packed on a match day, you’ll hear similar albeit with the money paid going over the bar. So what are the protestations about and who makes them?

Liverpool supporters, the “greatest fans in the world” have always had an element of the fan base that will get on a Liverpool player’s back, constantly, often ignorantly; and game in, game out.

This has always rankled with me. Yes of course we’ve had players not good enough to be in our team, you know them so I won’t name them. Oh and by the way the list we come up with will be different because, yes, we are entitled to our own opinion.

When I’ve been at the game, or watching in the pub (as I often have to these days) I’ve always been one who “suggests” to fellow supporters that they should support and not slag off players which then leaves me open to the “We’ve paid our money so we’re entitled to our opinions” brigade.

Well so have I paid, to support the eleven selected that day, and I will always encourage players having a bad game even if I do slap my hands to my face at times when I think their decision making may not be the best. A player having a poor game but trying and not hiding should be supported and applauded in my opinion.

I believe that it is often a lazy supporter, or one who doesn’t understand the game, that picks up this “slagging off” mentality. In recent years it has been Lucas who has had to endure the boo boys. In the pub, if someone got a bad pint it was Lucas’ fault!

At times in the early days I felt like I was waging a one man crusade in support of Lucas, although Twitter has taught me that there were always at least three of us standing up for the man!


Last season of course Lucas shone for the most part and now the boo boys are on the look out for a new target!

Lucas is in good company of course, Ronnie Whelan used to “get it” from the fans that just “didn’t get it”. Steve Staunton was another, so bad we signed him twice!

Does any one remember Luis Garcia (he drank Sangria)? I recall a tap in against Chelsea in 2005 that briefly shut up the boo boys who’d been on his back all season and changed our history forever.

I could go on but there’s no point in harping back.

In the future I would hope that lessons can be learned and that people will realise that the end of the game is the time to debate the merits of particular players but during the game you should get behind the team. Yes have an opinion but don’t just shout moronically for the duration!

In reality I think that I will be making the “support the team” suggestion for ever and a day, much to the delight of my daughter who is often sat by my side as my blood is boiling over and I’m “suggesting” to the “meat head” in corner to be a nice supporter.

I’ve paid my money so I’ll take my chance! YNWA

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Friday, 10 June 2011

Jordan Henderson: Welcome To Anfield

Pick yer boots...

Liverpool completed the signing of Jordan Henderson yesterday after a week or so of him being top of the rumours list it appeared to be a battle of wits settling on a price. Eventually the brains of the club managed to agree a fee with Sunderland and the young prospect is now a Liverpool player after passing a medical.

Believed to be in the region of £16million plus Ngog i feel that was some good business from Comolli. Perhaps a bit more than i would have liked to see us pay but especially when concerning English players, this is the way the window is at the moment.

I wish David Ngog the best of luck and think he could thrive at a club like Sunderland, along with their problems up front lately he could be just what they're looking for. He scored the first Liverpool goal i ever saw live so I'll certainly never forget him! Haha.

Captain Steven Gerrard seems happy with the latest signing describing the ex Sunderland man as "... a good player with energy." With Henderson's position Gerrard is also aware that the club is beginning the process of finding "the next Steven Gerrard" it's great to see the club building and not just throwing cash around, they appear to be aiming for players who can grow with the club, which i like.

There's no doubt this lad has potential, i just hope that he can get a quick hold in training and prove himself within the starting eleven. I have high hopes.

Next up i feel is the signing of a natural winger, something i think we've craved for a few seasons now. Juan Mata seems like it could be a realistic option and with his left foot i think he'd be great for Liverpool.

Here's to some more exciting weeks in the transfer window!

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