The Blue Angel, Kevin Keelan and consorting with Canaries

By Simon Meakin

Simon Meakin channels his inner Ronnie Corbett, as he looks forward, backwards and sideways to this Friday’s clash with Norwich City, at Anfield.

Nickers Off Ready When I Come Home.  That’s apparently what Norwich stands for according to my mate.

Many Liverpool supporters I know – particularly those from Liverpool itself it seems – appear to operate a policy of strict neutrality when it comes to other teams.  With the obvious exceptions of Everton, Man United, probably Chelsea and whoever we are fighting with for the title, fourth place or whatever. City were never really that much of a rival until the last few years, despite being Mancs. I get the impression that most Liverpool fans don’t really care who wins between say Sunderland and West Brom.

Whereas I’ve always had a different view.  I’ve always had certain favourites and other teams I’ve disliked throughout the leagues.  Usually for absolutely no rational reason whatsoever. For example, I’ve always quite liked Middlesbrough, never liked Sunderland; Rochdale good, Stockport, I can’t be doing with them. 

Some have remained constant, others have ebbed and flowed. Maybe it’s because they went from playing beautiful flowing, football to being a bunch of cloggers or vice versa.  I really don’t like Mansfield purely because of the derogatory comments one of their fans posted about Liverpool supporters after we played them in the cup a couple of years back.

The point of all this is that I have a favourite other Premier League team.  And it’s Norwich.  I’m not sure whether it’s because I liked their kit, or because they were the first team I ever saw at Anfield back in 1978 aged 7. We won the game 3-0, although I thought we’d only won 2-0 until my Dad put me right. Oh, and I remember being really impressed that their goalkeeper was called Kevin Keelan, which was pretty much the same as Kevin Keegan in my book. 

It’s certainly not because of any connection with Norwich.  I’ve only ever been there once, to see a girl I’d met in the Blue Angel.  It didn’t really work out.  Took about three days to get there, she drank too many beers and ended up chucking up everywhere, and I think at one point suggested I should “consort” with her mate instead.  On the plus side I did see Gonch out of Grange Hill in the pub (possibly engaged in a hair-brained moneymaking scheme to sell toast or something). So it wasn’t all bad.

Whatever the reason I’ll admit to a little bit of a warm glow when they got promoted back to the top flight.  So, once Friday is out of the way, I’ll be wishing them well for the season ahead and hoping that they do more of a Wolves than a Fulham.  They’ve even got a German manager so what could possibly go wrong!

Norwich were also the last ever team to play at Anfield when they still had standing on the Kop.  I can’t remember much about the game to be honest other than we were awful, and we lost.  I’d always thought the score was 1-2 but on checking it turns out it was 0-1.  I really don’t have a good track record with remembering Norwich scores.  What I do remember is the price of the ticket.  £7.  And Liverpool’s promise that the move to an all-seater stadium would most definitely not lead to a big hike in ticket prices. Oh no sir.  Not ever.  I’ll file that one along with the claim that Paul Stewart was going to be the next Ian Rush!

My favourite Norwich game though had to be the prior season when we beat them 4-1.  Thanks in no small part to a dominant central midfield performance from a pair of 19-year-old starlets named Redknapp and Hutchison which led me boldly to predict we were looking at England’s central midfield partnership for the next ten years.  And, if it wasn’t for Redknapp’s terrible luck with injuries, I think I’d have been proved right.  Well, that and the fact that Hutchison mysteriously turned out to be Scottish, and that he seemed to devote more of his time to sticking Budweiser labels on his cock in Labinsky’s than actually playing football. 

I must point out that during my in-depth research for this article, I’ve discovered that Hutchison was actually 21 at the time, which slightly messes up the narrative.  Most of the rest of my in-depth research however involved reading a Daily Express article with Louise Redknapp talking about getting over her split from Jamie.  Talk about investigative journalism at it’s finest!  Move over Woodward and Bernstein.  I’m taking over!  And, of course Louise, in the reasonably likely event you’re reading this, I’m up for a pint if you need someone to talk to.  Unless you’ve moved to Norwich.  I’m not doing that drive again.

Back to the football.  My other favourite Norwich memories have to be Luis Suarez related.  And the fact he pretty much scored at least a hat trick against them every single time he played them.  Best of all were the four goals he scored against them in the December during the ill-fated Rodgers championship bid.  That run-up to Christmas saw Suarez at his absolute zenith in my opinion, as he drove us to the top of the league on Christmas Day.  His fourth best goal that night was worthy of being a Match of the Day goal of the month contender.  I defy anyone, anywhere to show me a goal that good that doesn’t even make the players best three goals of the night.

Anyway, time for a match prediction.  Last time we played them was in a lunatic 5-4 win in Klopp’s early days at the club. Lallana grabbed a last-minute winner, after we almost managed to shoot ourselves in the foot against a side tumbling into the Championship.  We’ve learned how to defend a bit since then though. So I can safely say that won’t happen again unless Van Dijk falls down a well.  I’m going for a comfortable 3-0 to ease us into the season.  A Bobby double and a late Keita pile-driver after coming off the bench.

By Simon Meakin

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