“As far back as I can remember, I never wanted to be a Liverpool fan …”
That’s how Martin Scorcese might have begun his epic look at “The Life” had he been born over here. And in the unlikely event Goodfellas had been about football, rather than the Mafia. Actually, I quite like the thought of Mark Lawrenson being ice picked in the back of the neck, bundled into the boot of a car and then stabbed repeatedly because he just couldn’t keep his moaning mouth shut. It has the feel of poetic justice.
Too much? Look away now, ye faint of heart, because here be monsters: Scouse ones.
Let’s get straight to it then. I have alluded to it in the past, but just what is it about Liverpool Football Club that winds me up so much? Well, for starters, everything. I hate their sodding Shankly Gates, the “This Is Anfield” sign, the Anfield Rap… everything. It’s hardwired into my very core, it has been since childhood. I grew up in the 80’s. As unlikely as it may seem to those of you who are, shall we say, a little bit younger than me, back then Liverpool won everything. Or, at least, they seemed to.
The first FA Cup Final I remember? 1986; Liverpool 3 Everton 1. With that triumph, Liverpool sealed a historic double. And, in the process, the tracksuited King Kenny’s status as the God of all Gods. Nevermind the fact that he’d taken over a side who had reached the European Cup Final one year previously (we’ll get to that). Of course Dalglish still holds that status despite (because of?) his ridiculously one eyed defence of bitey racist, Luis Suarez. Suarez, of course, had just been handed the first of many lengthy suspensions for racially abusing Patrice Evra. Liverpool, as you can see below, overreacted ever so slightly, behaving as if the game’s governing bodies had killed their heroic number 7.
And people call Arsène Wenger myopic.
Ok, if I was being fair to Liverpool, I’d have to acknowledge that I’m well aware of Dalglish’s glittering past in the red shirt. But I’m not. And I’ve got ahead of myself. Sorry about that.
1985 was the first European Cup Final I was allowed to stay up and watch. Well, I would have been allowed, had some of the Liverpool fans present not caused the collapse of a wall, which crushed 39 Juventus fans to death. With chaos reigning, I didn’t get to see the game (as a seven year old child, of course I still wanted to), but at least I was able to get up in the morning. Unlike 39 Italians.
English clubs were banned from European competition for 5 years as a result of Heysel. And so, when Arsenal won the league title with the last kick of the 88/89 season, at Anfield of all places, we were denied a place in European football’s premier competition. Thanks, Liverpool. Obviously, that title victory was “thrilling” for everyone, except those associated with Liverpool Football Club. And Spurs. It seems to me that there is still a bitterness about that “most unbelievable climax” to a league season over 25 years later.
Witness the way Alan Hansen is visibly choked whenever he has to give praise to Arsenal on Match of the Day. Actually, you don’t have to worry about that anymore, do you? Witness the Telegraph article, published on the 25th anniversary of Liverpool’s dethroning, which suggested that our triumph was down only to Liverpool fatigue. Liverpool’s fans may have clapped us off that night. The subsequent realisation that we popped their little bubble- one league title in the last 25 years- has been a little harder to swallow.
History, it seems, is written by the winners. Unless, that is, it’s Liverpool who lost. There are some Liverpool fans out there who will tell you that this all ancient history. They’d be right too. But then they’d have to concede that much of their proud history is (Five times! Five times!), in football terms, positively Roman.
If you want to rewrite your history, it’s helpful to exert an unhealthy influence over the media. Liverpool have fifth columnists everywhere. Ok, Hansen and Lawro are on their way out, but Monotowen and Jamie Carragher have joined the likes of Jamie Redknapp, Phil Thompson and Graeme Souness in spreading the Liverpool agenda.
Actually, that’s not fair on Souness, whose punditry, I do enjoy. However, once a Scouser and all that… Phil Thompson could be heard tellling the world about how Alexis Sanchez had made a mistake by joining the team who finished 5 points behind Liverpool but, y’ know, actually won something last year. It was a theme the legend in his own lunchtime, Brendan Rodgers, took up. He dismissed Sanchez’s decision to sign for us as a matter of the Chilean’s missus preferring Oxford St to… whatever it is Liverpool have got. Nothing to do with our football club, nothing to do with our revered manager, Arsène Wenger, the squad of serious quality he is now building or our 16 years in the Champions League. No, just a shopping preference.
This struck me as really disrespectful towards our football club. But perhaps, thinking of Liverpool owner John Henry’s reaction to last summer’s legitimate, if ill conceived, Suarez bid, we shouldn’t be surprised. Alright, so Arsenal haven’t won a league title since 2004 and 13 is not quite as many as 18 but… how can I put this? Oh, I know, the last time Liverpool won the league title my little sister was 3; she is now a qualified solicitor. You’re. Not. Famous. Anymore. Or YNFA rather than YNWA. And, please, don’t get me started on that.
Not that you’d know that if you listened to the entitled Liverpool fans bleat on about how great they are; helped by the Liverpoolisation of the media, we are subjected to constant discussion of the Liverpool way. That is, when the Liverpool fans who started an online campaign to get Sanchez to sign for Liverpool aren’t too busy telling us how crap he is and how they never really wanted him in the first place. The perpetuation of “The Liverpool Way” myth conveniently forgets how the likes of Benitez and Houllier would regularly string a Death Star style deflector shield in front of their goal whilst merrily encouraging a bit of “Hoofball” for years and years and years. Only they’d use 10 warm bodies to do it. Roy Hodgson must have wondered what all the fuss was when he followed suit only to massively enrage the Liverpool faithful a couple of years back.
What was their problem? What is their problem? Anyone know?
Right, I think I’ve said enough. I’m glad I got that off my chest.