I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Monday, December 31, 2012

My marks for Liverpool FC 2012. Fans 10. American owners 0. How dare you treat Kenny like that?

Since I kicked off this page in the summer I have knocked out a few blogs on the subject of Liverpool Football Club. In this I am far from alone! Twitter and the Bloggersphere really do show the absolute jaw dropping hugeness of the club’s worldwide following.  I got a taste of this when I posted a blog on the eve of the Prime Minister getting to his feet in the House of Commons and finally lifting the lid on twenty three years worth of lies and cover up. Within a few minutes of posting the thing it was retweeted and retweeted again and within 48 hours it had been read five thousand times.

This is it in case you are interested
Now 5000 reads might be small beer for some but for me it was staggering, especially when the comments poured in from all corners of planet earth. There were about 10,000 of us in the Leppings Lane End on that desperate sunny April afternoon back in 1989. For years and years the rest of the country dismissed us as bleating, whinging Scousers who were not worth listening to. When we attended away games we were taunted as ‘Murderers’. ‘Always the victim, it’s never your fault…’ But over those very same years, Hillsborough has become our glue. And the ten thousand who lived through it were joined by millions of others who saw behind the curtain of lies.

And we got there in the end.

There was a classic moment during the home game against QPR last season. Joey Barton trotted to the corner flag by the Kop to take a corner. The day-trippers armed with handfuls of carrier bags from the club shop booed him because that is what Sky Sports had told them to do. Joey Barton = Pantomime Villain. When they do a feature on him before the Super Sunday game they set the pictures to a back drop of bad boy rap music. Good old Rupert Murdoch knows the commercial value of the bad boy. They set those tills a ringing don’t they Rupe? But here’s the thing. As the day-trippers booed, the vast majority of those on the Kop rose to their feet and applauded. They were not remotely interested in the Sky Sports bollocks. They knew the truth. Joey is one of ours. He had helped us get over the line when we needed 100,000 online signatures to force the issue onto the floor of the House of Commons. And I have no doubt that the day-trippers must have gone home and done a bit of online research and soon found their way past the Murdoch poison to the truth as told by those who know it.

It occurs to me that all my football moments of 2012 are fan related. Obviously right up there at the top of the list was the sight of David Cameron telling it straight. He went up a mile in my estimation that day. He spoke like a Prime Minister should speak.

Next up. It has to be our neighbours from across Stanley Park and the absolute class they showed before their home game against Newcastle. ‘He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.’ Too bloody right. Memories of that epic Cup Final back in 1986 when 100,000 of us emptied the city and headed south to the old Wembley. The real Wembley. For a real Cup Final. And someone sprayed graffiti onto one of the signs on the M62: ‘Last one out switch the lights off’. Another time. Another place. Three years before the sky fell in. What a contrast our fellow Scousers at Goodison offered to the pondlife from Old Trafford who sung out ’Murderers’ to an empty Anfield 24 hours earlier. Wankers.

Number three. Getting to the Christmas Number One. That was the moment when it became clear that the realisation about what went down that afternoon had spread way beyond the Liverpool family. Joe Public became our brother and Simon Cowell was shoved to one side.

Number four was the brilliant moment when the fans of Young Boys of Berne unfurled their huge Hillsborough banner and the whole of Anfield rose as one to acknowledge them. It was football beyond Sky sodding Sports and all the redtop hype. It was a fan thing and it counted.

Something that has added a new dimension to my life as a Red of 41 thick and thin years is my bi-weekly dose of The Anfield Wrap. There will not be many who are reading this who are not already familiar with this bloody excellent Podcast. Just in case you have never tuned into the lads, then here is where you need to go.

If you want the genuine voice of Liverpool Football Club this is where you need to tune in, not the commercialised anodyne dross that makes up so much of LFCTV. So keep it going lads. We might not be up to much on the pitch but we are the reining European Champions when it comes to Podcasting!

One final fan moment and one that harked back to the days when the humour of the Kop was legend the world over. Suarez is brought down on the edge of the box. The ref blows up and gives a free kick. The Kop spontaneously rises to its feet for an ironic standing ovation and within seconds the whole of Anfield joins in. Bloody brilliant.

So much for the fans. What of the club? A little earlier I mentioned the fact that I have been a season ticket holder at Anfield since 1971. Sure, it’s a long, long time. Lots of highs and lows. In August 1986 and 1989 there was a decision to make. Twice being a football fan had become a matter of life and death. In 1985 it was a matter of death for 39 Juventus fans and of course in 1989 it was our turn. The decision? Do I really want to keeping going? Is it worth being a fan when going the match means witnessing people having their jackets thrown over their lifeless eyes? You know what? On both occasions the decision was made in seconds. Of course I was going to keep going. To have stopped would have seemed like a betrayal. Being a Liverpool fan means more than merely shouting for 11 blokes in red shirts who I have never met. It is something indefinable; impossible to get a real handle on; important. No way was I ever going to walk away from it.

Instead it was last summer that for the first time in 41 years I really wondered if I wanted to renew my season ticket. Why? Because it seemed like Liverpool Football Club was no longer my Liverpool Football Club. Instead it had been made plainly obvious that our treasured club has become an item on the balance sheet for a few blokes in Boston. They had snapped their fingers and told Kenny Dalglish to drop everything and jump a plane across the Atlantic and then they sacked him.

Let’s just give that sentence a paragraph of its own.

The bastards made Kenny get on a plane to Boston and they fired him.

Now don’t get me wrong here. I’m not a blind sentimentalist who will blindly demand that Kenny is unsackable simply because he is Kenny. Of course our league position was crap and of course the cash he splashed on the likes of Stuart Downing and Andy Carroll was ridiculous. Fair enough I am old fashioned enough to see a season where we won one trophy and got to a final in another and hit the bar a million times wasn’t actually all that bad. Basically a Wembley final and a trophy is a bloody big deal to the fans, especially when it comes in a season when the bastards at the far end of the M62 win nothing. The fact that it doesn’t do much for the bottom line profits of a bunch on American carpetbaggers is of no concern to me. Should a manager who has just taken us to two Wembley finals be fired? Of course he shouldn’t. Should the only working manager to have won the league with two different clubs be fired after a year and a half? Of course he shouldn’t. And should he be replaced by a guy with no kind of record whatsoever? Be serious. They wanted a ‘yes’ man and they got a ‘yes’ man. End of story.

But in the end my dithering about renewing my season ticket wasn’t about the football rights and wrongs of the decision to fire Kenny. It was about the way it was done. These arrogant bastards proved they are not remotely close to getting what Liverpool Football Club really means, just like the day-trippers who booed Joey Barton didn’t get it.

In 1989 Kenny and Marina Dalglish attended EVERY funeral and a couple of years later those endless harrowing events more or less pushed him into a nervous breakdown. In the weeks and months after Hillsborough, Kenny Dalglish showed himself to be much more than just a great player and a great manager.

He showed himself to be truly great man.

Our great man.

One of the lads on the Anfield Wrap put it perfectly. This wasn’t just a question of firing Kenny Dalglish. It was a question of firing OUR Kenny Dalglish.

Here is what you should have done you bastards. YOU should have got on a plane and come to see Kenny in HIS office at Melwood. You should have treated him with the respect a dignity he has earned more than any person on this planet. But you didn’t. You clicked your over privileged fingers and made him come to you. Well shame on you now and forever more. I don’t care if you win the league one day. I for one will never, ever forgive you for that.

I heard Kenny’s son Paul on the podcast and he said that his dad doesn’t feel welcome at Anfield any more. Can you believe that? Kenny Dalglish doesn’t come to Anfield any more because a bunch of Americans who have made a few bob on Wall St have made him feel unwelcome. Quite frankly the thought of this puts a feeling of black murder in my heart. How dare you? How bloody dare you? You absolute bastards.

So it was for a while I seriously considered chucking it in. Do I really want to give £800 to people who have made sure that King Kenny Dalglish doesn’t feel welcome at Anfield any more?

Well I didn’t and I don’t. But what other choice is there? Our Anfield is now their Anfield. The fact that I am still there every week is probably largely down to the lads at The Anfield Wrap. They are a constant reminder that in the end it will always be OUR club and not THEIR club. One day they will be gone but we will still be there. They try to turn ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ into a tacky marketing tool to punt overpriced tat to gullible dickheads. Well so be it. Those of us who have been around longer than they have know better. We know the true worth of those words. None of us had to walk alone on the long road to the Ataturk Stadium. And those of us who survived the Leppings Lane have ever had to walk alone for 23 years. That is what joins up Joey Barton and the Young Boys fans and that show of ultimate class at Goodison Park.

That is why I decided to grit my teeth and send my £800 across the Atlantic. I didn’t want to walk alone and why should any arrogant Yanks with dollar signs force me to walk alone.

My wish for 2013? Simple. I wish Kenny would buy himself a season ticket for the Kop and come along every week. And all the millions of Liverpool fans all over the world could trumpet it from the rooftops. They might make you feel unwelcome Kenny but we never will. Because Liverpool Football Club is not and never will be THEIR Liverpool Football Club. It is OUR Liverpool Football Club. It is YOUr Liverpool Football Club. Just like you are and always will be OUR Kenny Dalglish. They say that form is temporary and class is permanent. Bang right. Well let’s just hope that the Yanks are temporary. Because the fans and Kenny are what is truly permanent.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent article. It's left me deep in thought. I'm of the belief that sentimentality is all well and good but the time's come to modernise. To put it bluntly, ask Utd fans whether they'd rather have our spirit or their trophies. There's only one answer. I'm naturally nostalgic but I recognise that whether we like it or - football is a capitalist venture and as was mentioned on this week's TAW podcast, clubs are like sharks, they either move forward or they die. On the field it's felt a lot like that to me over the last 20 years. I'm prepared for a bit of exploitation. We have to be a winning club. A shark. Anyway, my point was this has me having second thoughts. It's almost like it's reached the areas I've put a wall up in front of to block out. Thought provoking article.