About jeffgoulding

I am Jeff Goulding, I am the author of three books about Merseyside Football; red Odyssey: Liverpool FC 1892-2017; Stanley Park Story: Life, Love and the Merseyside Derby and We Conquered all of Europe: Red Odyssey II. You can also find my work on www.thisisanfield.com I hope you enjoy your time on my pages. You'll never walk alone.

TikTok, the Hegelian Dialect and Jurgen F*@#ing Klopp


By Simon Meakin

In his final match preview of the season, Simon Meakin reflects on an incredible journey. And, as he looks ahead to next season, he has a special request for Klopp.

We’re finally reaching the season’s end.  A little bit later than planned and an end that for a while looked like it would never be reached at all, forever lying tantalisingly ghost-like just out of view, whispering on the wind about could have beens and might have beens, lost in a haze of annulments and PPG.

But we’ve got there.  The most extraordinary season I’ll ever likely to know is finally drawing to a close.  To be honest, winning the title with seven games to spare has meant the last few games have been a little bit of a damp squib compared to the magnificence that has gone before (yes winning the title with seven games to go was beyond my wildest dreams but still not keen on this losing matches lark). And before I launch into my full blown eulogy Jurgen, the one comment I’m going to write in the “Could do Better” box of your end of year report is “Would you mind awfully if you took the FA Cup a bit more seriously next year now the 30 year title drought has been sorted?”  If I’m looking at the Semi-Final line-up of the usual suspects and realise I’m going to have to hope Arsenal win it again for the 400th time that’s not good. 

I think my all-time favourite Liverpool match was the Michael Owen smash and grab against them in Cardiff in 2001.  Even better than Istanbul (don’t ask me why.  It just was).  Although I say was because even that cannot hold a candle to Barca and Trent’s corner.  I cannot conceivably imagine a scenario where that could possibly be beaten.  But I still love the FA Cup.  A bit more of that would be nice.  If the other big boys can all reach the semis so can we.

But some might say that might be being a bit curmudgeonly to the magnificent man from Stuttgart (something I’ve only just found out now).  Other famous sons and daughters of Stuttgart include Timo Werner (will he be the one that got away?), nineteenth Century philosopher Hegel (famous as you won’t need reminding for the Hegelian Dialectic) and Tik-Tok stars LisaandLena (me neither?) as well as Porsche and Mercedes Benz, but none can compare to the Mighty Klopp. 

There is nothing this man can’t do.  Sir Bob Paisley may have been the greatest manager who ever lived (three European Cups in nine years – only one less than Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs combined in their entire histories) but I can’t imagine he broke out the moves on the dancefloor to celebrate our 1976 title triumph in quite the same way Jurgen did (unless he did and Ronnie Moran’s phone just ran out of battery at the crucial time?).  Klopp is Disco! 

It’s a little known fact that when JK Rowling started out, her publisher advised her not to use her full name as “boys didn’t read books written by women” (I say little known, but given I found this out from the back of one of my sons Harry Potter books and about 10 billion copies of those have been sold – to put that into context that’s even more than “We Conquered All of Europe” by the legendary Jeff Goulding – so possibly not quite all that “little known”).  What is definitely less well known is that it actually stands for Jurgen Klopp Rowling in homage to the great man. (this has absolutely definitely been Fact Checked).  And what do you think JFK stood for (I’ll leave you to decide what the F might spell)?

And I’m assuming that planning permission has already been submitted for a 300ft tall bronze statue of Klopp to be erected across the entrance to the Mersey, proudly straddling both banks like a modern day Colossus of Rhodes.  Yes Tranmere Rovers fans you might have one or two quibbles, but just think of the boost to the Birkenhead tourist industry from having the eighth wonder of the world on your doorstep.  Although thinking about it the Mersey is quite wide.  Is 300ft high enough?  Or would we end up with a statue of Jurgen doing the splits (Klopp is disco!).  Might be an issue if cruise ships are constantly clonking against the Klopp crown jewels while trying to dock at the Pier Head.  Better make that 3,000ft high!

We do still have one last game of football to play at Anfield of course.  One last exorcism to carry out to finally banish that dark day six years ago when Brendan Rodgers unlikely, glorious but ultimately doomed title challenge came hurtling off the rails.  And it was an unlikely challenge.  This was a team that not only decided to do away with the concept of defending entirely but had managed to finish below Everton and only one place above West Brom the previous season.  Being Liverpool even our failures are wide-screen.  Panoramic.  Our title hopes that year didn’t just waft away with little more than a small sigh and a “pfft”.  This was title bid as Shakesperian tragedy.  Everyone remembers this game.  And the catastrophic collapse at Selhurst Park.  In the same way they remember Michael Thomas 1989 and they’ll remember last year’s epic charge (is this the same with other clubs?  Man U in the Aguero season waiting to celebrate on the pitch at Sunderland maybe?  Beyond that I’m struggling).

But we need to win this one.  Even with the title won it was disappointing to lose our 100% home record against Burnley.  Particularly as no top-flight side had gone through the season without dropping a point at home since Queen Victoria was on the throne.  And even worse it meant that my 100% record at predicting the correct result came to an end.  And following that with an even more disappointing result at Arsenal (Did Harry Maguire and David De Gea manage to sneak on the pitch wearing Van Dijk and Allison masks?  A bit like that cheeky Manc chappy who once gatrecrashed the Man U team photo at Bayern Munich to earn a Gary Neville death stare?).

But with the title presentation to follow I think we’ll be fired up for this one.  It’s a huge shame it will be behind closed doors as I can only imagine what the atmosphere would have been like with Anfield packed to the rafters.  I’m going for  a 3-0 win for my final prediction.  Started off by Mo repeating his absolute exocet of a goal in this fixture last season (just an excuse to mention my favourite goal of the season), Mane to get the second, and a late penalty for Firmino to take to make it a full house for our front three and for him to finally get a goal at Anfield this season (there is a small part of me that thinks that it would even more impressive to have absolutely obliterated the league without our nominal No 9 actually needing to score one single home league goal the entire season.  That feels like taking the proverbial.  But that would be nothing to the delight of seeing him finally break the duck).

And on to Jordan finally, finally lifting that Trophy.  Champions of the World, Champions of Europe, Champions of England.  The heavens will rejoice and choirs of Angels will break out into song.  Judi Dench get up on your bench, take up your trumpet and blow it!  It’s finally come home!

Liverpool vs Burnley: Dolly Parton, Sonia and the Ginger Janis Joplin


By Simon Meakin

It’s that time again. The weekend is here and the Reds face the Clarets at Anfield. That can mean just one thing – it’s time for Simon Meakin to take us through another one of his unique match previews. You won’t find anything like it anywhere else.

Why does the sun keep on shining? Why does the sea rush to shore?  Don’t they know it’s the end of the Premier League?  It ended when we won it a couple of weeks back.  Apologies for mangling the lyrics to “The End of the World”, originally a 1963 hit for one Skeeter Davis (who was a big influence on Dolly Parton according to Wikipedia, and had a propensity for appearing on American country music programmes with Dougall from the Magic Roundabout on her head according to YouTube) and covered by red-haired Scouse popstrel Sonia, but that’s how it feels at the moment.  It’s almost a surprise to find that there are still football matches going on.  OK there are some minor issues to be settled such as relegation, European places etc but it appears that we are also under some contractual obligation to still turn up, kick a ball around and walk away with three more big shiny points (unless its anywhere away from home within 50 miles of Anfield.  We don’t seem to have been all that great at that – we clearly need a longer walk to make it worth our while).

Unluckily for Burnley it turns out that Turf Moor is a grand total of 51.4 miles away from Anfield (according to the AA Route Planner anyway.  If any crows want to start arguing the toss please go ahead) Which means that we came away with a 3-0 win way back in August which included a thirty yard Trent cross cum/shot that sailed over the keeper (and unfortunately appears to have been marked down as an own goal after taking a deflection).  And also set a new club record 13th win in a row (on our way to 17 in total, which hasn’t even turned out to be our best run of the season).  And that’s what we’re going for now.  More records.  Most points, most wins, most home wins, biggest winning margin, largest parsnip, bonniest baby (I’m putting Firmino down for that one – I’m sure he had dazzling white teeth and immaculate hair when he danced right out the womb – although possibly points deducted if he was sporting his current curly, Vera Duckworth rocking Prince style pink rinse).  I want to break them all!

Hopefully Klopp can motivate them to keep going until the finishing line.  It reminds me of watching Seb Coe breaking world records as a kid.  You can find footage on YouTube of his legendary 1981 world record run in Florence.  I think I had school sports days on better quality tracks than the one he was running on (if you look closely I’m sure you can spot the PE teacher in his Adidas three stripe track suit and the kid made to run in his pants after he forgot his games kit) yet he was so far clear of the field he managed to win an 800m race by 900m (probably). Only two runners have ever beaten that time almost forty years later.  That’s want our season to be like.  The equivalent of Seb Coe in Florence.  No slacking off now boys!

And having discovered that Curtis Jones’s goal v Villa equalled another club record of 17 different league scorers in a season I now want us to go for the all-time record for that as well.  I’ve no idea what it is but I’m going to be very disappointed if Klopp doesn’t name a front three of Joe Gomez, Neco Williams and Allison for this match.  Hell he should even stick himself on the bench and bring himself on to take any last minute penalties if he can.

That would of course be taking Burnley far too lightly.  Sean Dyche (a man with a voice so gravelly he could earn a few extra quid as Lancashire’s Premier Ginger Janis Joplin Impersonator) has done a remarkable job with Burnley, still in with a shout of a spot in Europe next season.  It’s a club with a proud European heritage.  European Cup quarter finalists no less in 1961.  And this from a somewhere with a smaller population than Southport (which may have a beach bigger than Bulgaria but not exactly renowned for those big European nights against Barca under the floodlights at Haig Avenue).

Burnley are not a side I’ve seen too many times at Anfield although I was there last year to watch what was at times a surprisingly nervy 4-2 win before a last minute Mane goal settled the nerves during the run in to our ultimately doomed title challenge.  I did also once pay a visit to Turf Moor to watch them play Wolves in a second division match. Starring a Mr P “Gazza” Gascoigne, the fake breast wearing, inappropriate invisible flute playing Clown Prince of English football.  And in my opinion the greatest English player I’ve ever seen (yes I know it might be sacrilege to nominate someone who never played for us).  But not based on this match.  Hauled off at half-time with Burnley 3-0 down, to watch his teammates almost salvage a draw without him, he never started another match at that level for Burnley or anyone else ever again.  The only other sides he ever played for were the unlikely pair of Chinese titans Gansu Tianmi and Boston Utd.  It’s fair to say he’d be a shoe-in for the “They Played For Both Teams” section of the programme should Gansu Tianmi’s much anticipated pre-season tour of Lincolnshire ever come to fruition (it would be like Wham in China in reverse but much massive.  And minus Pepsi and Shirley).

Now if that hasn’t got your excitement building to fever pitch I know something that will.  Following on from the midweek win at Brighton which put us on 92 points (to put that in context that is Man United’s record points total.  Ever.  Which they achieved in a 42 game season.  We’ve done it in 34) we’ll return for our penultimate match at Anfield and win 3-0.  Two more goals for Salah as he chases the golden boot plus a last minute penalty for Joe Gomez (go on Jurgen you know you want to) for win number 31.  Sean Dyche to nip off early as he’s second on the bill at the Phoenix Club. Bolton (tonight Matthew I’ll be appearing as Ginger Janis).

We’re on that closing straight now.  The lactic acid might be burning in our muscles but the finish line and those records are in sight now.

And just as a reminder in case anyone has forgotten.  We’ve won the League!  We’re Bigger stars than Dallas!  We’ve got more silver than Buckingham Palace!  Red Machine In Full Effect!

Shirley Maclaine, Faye Dunaway and the Champions of England


By Simon Meakin

Simon returns with his quirky look at this weekend’s encounter with Aston Villa. And, as you’d expect he’s feeling pretty self-satisfied right now, a bit like Shirley Maclaine or is that Faye Dunaway?

Champions!  We’ve done it!  Champions!  At last!  Champions!  After thirty years of hurt.  Champions!  They can never take that away now.  Even if we fall apart like Mourinho’s Chelsea title winning side (careful about slagging off any Portuguese female doctors we happen to have lurking around on the payroll somewhere Juergen) we’ve won it now.  The curse is lifted, the monkey is off our backs.  We’ve reached the sunlit uplands and can now bask in our glory.

One of my favourite ever photos was of Shirley Maclaine, sitting, feet up, on her balcony the morning after she had won an Oscar, orange juice on the table, papers proclaiming her triumph scattered all around her.  Although when Terry O’Neill (no not Terry Neill, the man who put the Boring in Boring Arsenal as their manager in the seventies and eighties – unless that was Don Howe), who took the photo died last year they republished the photo in many journals and it turned out it was Faye Dunaway not Shirley Maclaine, she was sitting by a swimming pool and it was a pot of coffee.  But apart from the actual actress, the coffee, the swimming pool, better sanitation, irrigation roads etc when has my memory ever failed me? So clearly I’ve forgotten how bad my memory is.  For all I know everything I’ve written in these blogposts has been wronged.  Maybe I’ll check back and find out I’m actually an Everton fan and turns out I should be busy drowning my sorrows??

But the reason I love that Shirley Dunaway/Fay Maclaine photo is the way it captures that absolute peak moment when someone is on top of the world, they have achieved everything they set out to do, that small moment in time when they can just sit back and luxuriate in their triumph.  That is where we are now.  There is no more to be done (OK a few more teams to beat, a few more records to break).  Champions of Europe, Champions of the World and now Champions of England.  We are at the zenith, the moment will be fleeting and there will never be another one quite like it.  That’s not to say we won’t be sitting here next year celebrating another title, far from it.  But no other title will ever feel quite as sweet as this one.  And I genuinely don’t think I’ll ever see another Liverpool team as perfect as this one to my dying day.  So drink it in and enjoy it while it lasts.

The one downside of course is that there were no fans to witness it, although given that they would have all been Chelsea and Man City fans it’s more accurate to say that there will be no fans at Anfield to welcome home the Champions against Aston Villa.  Forty years to the day (give or take two months) after I was at Anfield on 3 May 1980 aged nine years old to see us beat Villa 4-1 and claim our 12th title.  The first and so far only time I’ve seen us do it.  I can remember the morning of the match vividly, putting on my favourite track suit that my Mum had laid out for me only for my Dad to almost have a fit when he saw me ready to head off to watch Villa resplendent in Claret and Blue (quite why I had a claret and blue tracksuit in the first place I’m not too sure – was my Mum a secret fan of hairy goal machine Peter Withe?  A man who I was confident could have easily got a job as Captain Caveman’s stunt double when he retired as long as his leaping up and down in a mad rage and boinking people on the head with a bat skills were up to scratch). 

My main other memories involve accidently dropping my programme through the fence at the front of the Anfield Road terrace, so I must have had a good view of our title winning performance.  And standing in front of a closed down, derelict and padlocked Exchange Station waiting for a bus to the ground while a punk march went past.  And to a 9 year old in 1980 there was nothing more exciting than punks! (yes I know that punk was by then officially “dead” but there were people sporting mohicans for gods sake (except possibly winning the title on the same day).  It wasn’t until years later that I heard of the famous march to save legendary nightclub Eric’s from closure so I fondly imagined that I was standing there in my (by now) non claret and blue clothing watching the likes of Pete Burns, Holly Johnson and Pete Wylie march right past me.    Except that it turns out the famous Eric’s march was in, well March.  Not May.  So either I was on my way somewhere entirely different on that day, or it was another march entirely.  Was that what punks did when they weren’t gobbing on each other and pogoing?  Go for a stroll down Tithebarn Street?  Or maybe my worst fears are true, my memory has completely lost the plot and I was actually off to cheer on (Hang on a minute? Cheer?  Sorry it’s Everton here.  I mean boo!) Gordon Lee and Big Bob Latchford to scrape a glorious 18th place.

Other highlights against Villa include seeing us cruise past them 3-0 at Old Trafford in the 1996 FA Cup Semi-Final (David James excitedly bounding back to the team coach afterwards to Google “where can I buy white spice boy suits” only to remember they hadn’t invented online shopping yet.  Then trying to Google “what on earth does Google mean?”…I could run with this for a while…).  And seeing a very young Jamie Carragher score a thumping header against them for his first ever goal for the club (and more than likely the last one I ever saw – I’ve got a horrible feeling I saw him score more goals for Man U than for us).

So on to Sunday’s match.  I should have a bit of a soft spot for the current Villa team as they are managed by former Hereford legend Dean Smith (and record signing to this day – a cool eighty grand from Halifax in 1994 – yes I realise that the fact our record signing dates from a time when John Barnes and Ian Rush were still playing for us says a lot about the Mighty Bulls).  But his Yin is kind of balanced out by the Yang of John Terry.

We came very close to losing at Villa Park back in the November dark before a dramatic late comeback thanks to a rare Andy Robertson goal and a Mane winner.  Villa are in dire form, our hangovers should well and truly have cleared (something about City game?) and while we possibly won’t hit the heights of the magnificent performance against Palace we’ll match the scoreline with back to back 4-0 wins at Anfield.  Wijnaldum, Firmino to finally break his goalscoring duck at Anfield (I love the fact that we can win the title with seven games to go, be 23 points clear without the closest we’ve got to a Number Nine actually needing to score any goals at home whatsoever), The Ox and Keita.  Jurgen Klopp to be spotted lounging by the dugout/swimming pool/balcony still wearing his Oscar night frock, chilling with his pot of coffee and paper strewn all around him.  And the headlines just say one thing.  Champions!

Sherlock Holmes, Countdown and Chasing the Title


By Simon Meakin

With the Reds ready to face Crystal Palace and achance to edge ever nearer to a first league title in 30 years, Simon Meaking returns with his usual match preview.

Well. When I decided to embark on a one-off series of match reviews for each
Premier League match at Anfield last August I wasn’t quite expecting a season like
this. Yes I know I could qualify to join Sybil Fawlty on Mastermind, specialist subject
the Bleedin’ Obvious with that statement – point me out one amongst us who
predicted we could potentially move to within one win of our first title in 30 years v
Crystal Palace at Anfield in late June in front of no fans, and I’ll show you someone
who has clearly got Vladimir Putin to hack in to their old Twitter posts and doctor
Back in August I was frankly feeling a bit apprehensive about the new season. Could
we really summon up the emotional energy to compete against what felt like the
remorseless Man City machine having fallen so agonisingly short last time.? It felt
like being up against a Terminator (For some reason I see them as being more like
the other one from Terminator 2 rather than Arnie). Never in a million years did I
expect us to be 20 odd points clear in a procession for the title.
And that’s before the truly surreal (and making no bones about it for many people
tragic) turn of events over the last few months. I had to look back to try and
remember what I’d written about the Bournemouth game. It turned out to be a bit
tighter than the comfortable 3-0 win I’d predicted, but we did clinch a record
breaking 22 nd straight home league win. The place in the Champions League quarter
finals I was confident we’d book didn’t quite happen alas and the Monday night trip
to our neighbours took slightly longer to arrive than expected (only one day of the
week out in the end to be fair, but a match that could be described as “slightly more
daylighty” than your average night time kick off – and yes should I ever end up on
Countdown confronted with a board saying “yhigaldyt” I am definitely having that as
my nine letter word).

I was at Anfield for the Bournemouth game and went to the Cabbage for a few post-
match beers to celebrate our win. Everything seemed (sort of) normal(ish).
Stepping through the door on the way out of the pub was like stepping into another
dimension (I’m sure if you go back and look at the CCTV footage of the Cabbage car
park you’ll see that sort of swimmy, wobbly effect beloved of sci-fi films signifying
this sort of thing). At that precise point my wife phoned me, spooked by empty
shelves in London shops, and sent me on a Magical Mystery Tour of every chemist
and supermarket between Anfield and Lime Street (not sure the Beatles had the
London Road branch of Boots in mind when they wrote the song to be honest),
stocking up on as much hand sanitiser and Aspirin as I could lay my hands on (all I
can say by way of apology for this wanton display of panic buying was that at least I
left all the bog roll). Got on the train back to London and that was it. Haven’t set
foot in a pub since, haven’t left London since, (in fact barely been more than 2 miles
from my house bar the odd bike ride).
And no football. Until now. Watching the derby was a very odd (and frankly a bit
dull at times) experience particularly after turning off the fake crowd noise for the
last ten minutes. It sounded like it was being broadcast from the local baths. With
the players taking particular care not to break the “no running” bit of the “no bombing, no diving, no heavy petting” rulebook. I wouldn’t have been surprised to
find some kids having a surreptitious wee in the corner of the pool/pitch had any
actually been allowed in. It was a Merseyside derby as watched by Sherlock Holmes
in an opium induced stupor rather than the raucous, Jamie Carragher somehow
managing to not get sent off type I’m used to.

Which brings us to Crystal Palace. Managed by one Roy Hodgson. A man who’s time
at Liverpool was to put it mildy “not regarded as a total success”. I know some
Liverpool fans who try to claim that that era never actually happened at all and it
was all a bad dream (the mysterious Cabbage Hall “Bermuda Triangle” car park
wibbly wobbly crack in time working its strange powers again maybe?). My only trip
to Anfield during his reign was to witness us lose to Blackpool (Blackpool!) while
suffering with a stinking hangover so it’s safe to say it’s never going to be troubling
my list of top ten Anfield moments.
Another fun fact about Crystal Palace is that it is the only football team to begin with
five consonants (something to bear in mind, if fired up from owning the Countdown
panel’s collective ass with my “Daylighty” zinger I then forget about picking any
vowels in the next round). On a more footballing note Palace have been a bit of a
thorn in our side over the last few years. The last ten minutes at Selhurst Park in the
infamous collapse that put the final nail in our title challenge under Brendan Rodgers
still brings me out in a cold sweat. I was so incensed at our spineless performance
after they beat us in Gerrard’s final match at Anfield that I flounced out of the
stadium in a big diva hissy fit worthy of Elton John at the end of the match rather
than stay for the Gerrard farewell (although it did mean it was the quickest I’ve ever
been served my post-match pint in the pub). They inflicted Klopp’s first defeat at
Anfield on us (I had to apologise after I sent an expletive filled text about Palace to
the wrong person after that one). And they inflicted Klopp’s last (league) defeat at
Anfield as well (albeit more than three years ago). Even last year they gave us a right
old scare before we scraped over the line in a rollicking 4-3 win.
But win we did last year. And I predict we’ll do so again. It’ll be hard fought and
nail-biting for the packed crowd of, er, none. We’ll need to come from behind (this
is Liverpool, we don’t do things the easy way. Even with a 25 point lead we managed
to end up in a situation where the whole season could have been null and voided).
But we’ll eventually shake off the rust and do it. 2-1! Mane equaliser and Bobby to
get the winner in front of the (not very full) Kop to put us on the brink of ending
thirty years of hurt. To put us on that final march to Manchester. After which, when faced with a board saying “hpiancosm” in my final Countdown round I’ll know what nine letter word that spells. CHAMPIONS!
unless Super Frankie Lampost* goes and steals our thunder by beating them first
of course.
** My wife’s humorous nickname*** for Lampard
*** The Lampost bit. She has never called him Super to the best of my knowledge.

Fellini, Fruit Machines, Salah and Stopping the Rot


By Simon Meakin

Simon Meakin reflects on a sombre couple of weeks for the Reds, but looks ahead to this weekend’s game against the Cherries, with positivity and a few fruit based gags.

There is an unusually sombre tone to this week’s review.  Black clothes have been donned and heads bowed in mourning. Somewhere in the distance, a church bell rings amongst much wailing and crying (I’m imagining a scene in an old Italian village in a film by Fellini or one of the old Italian masters here – not that I’ve actually seen any Fellini films, unless he did Ghostbusters?). 

Yes Liverpool are officially having their first blip of the season with three defeats in the last four games (and the one win being a very scraggy one and mostly thanks to Fabianski having a blip or two of his own). It’s actually come as a bit of a shock to lose some football matches. It’s like a throwback to the old days (2018 – so long ago that Theresa May was still Prime Minister and Ed Sheeran was in the charts) when we used to lose football matches several times a season. This might be what it must feel like supporting any other football club. I’m not sure I like it. 

Our treble dreams are over, our Champions League hopes are in the balance and our 22 point lead in the league has suddenly been whittled down to, er, 22 points having played a game more. So it’s time to stop the rot (and at the same time hopefully set a new top flight record of 22 consecutive home wins – which does indicate that it’s perhaps not the biggest lot of rot that ever needed stopping). 

So, maybe it’s timely that Bournemouth are next up. A team that we’ve never lost to at Anfield and checking back through the record books have only ever failed to beat at home once (a 2-2 draw thanks to a late Josh King equaliser, apparently, although I can’t say it rings many bells).

We haven’t exactly played Bournemouth that many times to be fair so that unbeaten home run doesn’t exactly rank that highly in our glittering list of achievements (did you know we’ve also won six European Cups for example?).  Which does also mean that I don’t have a huge amount of famous games against them to reminisce about. Nor can I wax lyrical about childhood memories of the Cherries, which turned out to be a complete load of cobblers when I’ve checked back. 

Although mentioning their nickname has set me off thinking about whether they’re the only football club (nick)named after fruit?  There is, to my knowledge, no football club nicknamed the Bananas, the Pineapples or the Melons. Cue Benny Hill type fnar fnar at the mention of melons as that is of course one of about thirty thousand nicknames for ladies bosoms in the English language. I mention that purely so I can reference the old Jasper Carrott sketch where he simply unleashes a stream of euphemisms for various rude bits. I tried (in vain) to find it, just so I could hear him say ‘leading the llama down the lift shaft,’ in a Brummie accent – surely the best description of the act of luurrve ever?  (Beats Barry White any day). 

Blackpool are nicknamed the Tangerines, but I think that’s more to do with the colour than the fruit. Quite why, when ‘Right chaps – what shall we call ourselves?’ came up as agenda Item 5 at some board meeting, they decided to go down the fruit-based avenue would be best, is anyone’s guess, never mind the fact that they then decided to go for the one that’s always the worst one on any fruit machine?  Where they looking to recreate the sudden fleeting rush of excitement of getting three cherries, only for it to immediately turn to disappointment as you realise that you’ve only won 20p?

Bournemouth also happen to be the only Premier League club I’ve never seen Liverpool beat, or indeed play (although I’ll hopefully be putting that right on Saturday). So, sadly I have no amusing first hand anecdotes to share. My main memory is of that time a few years BVD (Before Van Dijk) when no lead was too great that we couldn’t chuck it away and turn 3-1 up and cruising with 15 minutes to go into a 4-3 defeat.  Although looking at the team sheet from that day, Clyne and Lovren appear to be the only actual defenders in the team. So lord knows what formation we were playing. 

Lallana was the only sub used and looking at the rest of the bench you realise how far we’ve come in the last few years.  Moreno, Klavan, Woodburn, Ejaria and some unknown 18 year old by the name of Trent Alexander Arnold, who was still 10 days away from his Premier League debut. Whatever became of him?

On a more positive note, my favourite memory (and if I’m being honest my only other memory) is of Salah’s goal against them at the Vitality Stadium last year when he managed to leave half the Bournemouth side dumped unceremoniously on their backsides (almost my favourite goal of last season, but just pipped to the post by the same player’s exocet missile against Chelsea).

Salah seems to love playing against Bournemouth, having hit seven goals in five games and never failing to score against them (unless he made one of his ultra-rare appearances in a Chelsea shirt against them). So I’m banking on him to silence the clanging chimes of doom, apply a coat of top notch rot-stopper and lead us back to the sunlit uplands of winning lots of football matches by leading their defence a merry dance again, bagging a couple more for his collection in a vibrant much improved performance for the Reds.  Cherries squashed (maybe into some sort of yogurt or jam). a 3-0 win with Firmino getting the other one. 

That will set us up nicely for another big European night at Anfield, where Klopp sticks his 10p into the machine gets three bells and hits the jackpot. £4, a place in the quarter finals and a little Monday night trip to our old friends from Walton to look forward to.

Liverpool vs West Ham: Batman, Tangerine Smoke and Tiger Feet


By Simon Meakin

Simon Meakin is back with a bang. Here he discussed the crisis at the Etihad, 1960s American TV, 70s pop combo, Mud and somehow manages to look ahead to Monday’s tussle with the Hammers. Enjoy.

Chaos!  Mayhem!  Cheating!  Deception! Points Deductions! (Maybe).  Yes I’m announcing the news of Man City being caught bang to rights for (let’s not beat about the bush here) cheating and lying in the style of those 1960’s Batman serials with their Pows and Thwacks and poisonous gases, that despite always being bright pink or green or yellow seemed to take Gotham Police Departments finest by surprise every episode.  Did no-one ever tell the next guy down on the rota to guard the really big important safe with a diamond in it, to watch out for dodgy blokes in green leotards letting off flares in a particularly nice shade of mauve or Dulux Autumn Sunset?).

We’ll have to wait and see what punishment the Premier League and FA come up with (more than likely nothing more than City being sent to their room and being banned from Snapchat for a week).  But Premier League, if you are going to deduct points do it next season.  Not so much because we don’t exactly need any help winning the league this season, but because I don’t want any uncertainty hanging over us when we do win it (not being quite sure whether we can celebrate because City have whacked an appeal in for instance).  Or, even worse. clinching the title at the end of the committee meeting when the points deduction is decided.  Whatever happens it needs to happen (appeals and all) while Leicester can still catch us.  Or, if not, once we’ve already wrapped it up.

I realise I’m spending half my West Ham preview talking about Man City. But, re-reading my Man City preview, it turns out I spent half the time in that one talking about West Ham (and Dave Swindlehurst in particular). So I think that pretty much evens things out (it’s almost as if I planned it that way – I am the master games player – I see every move 15 steps ahead – although if that really was the case, maybe I should be putting these talents to better use than talking about Dave Swindlehurst?  I could become a criminal mastermind instead.  If anyone knows of any large diamonds being stored in big safes nearby, and how I can get my hands on some tangerine coloured smoke bombs, please drop me a line).

It’s been a while since my last preview, thanks to the winter break.  And, I have to say I’ve come back refreshed and raring to go.  I can’t praise a mini-break in Colwyn Bay in February highly enough.  Had a bit of a hot streak in the seafront arcades and was able to use my winnings to indulge in some high end retail therapy in the local Home Bargains (although I have to say the staff in there do get a bit uppity when you try and purchase some new pants with a bucket full of two-pence-pieces).  I’ll upload the photos on to Instagram just as soon as I work out how to open an Instagram account. James Maddison eat your heart out!

I did almost have to cancel my holiday because of the Shrewsbury replay, but luckily I managed to find a toddler to write the review once Messy Mayhem had finished at the local playgroup, with James Milner on hand to supply crayons and moral support. We’ve also managed to pick up six more (unexpectedly hard fought) points against Southampton and Norwich, moving remorselessly closer to that title. There was a slight hiccup in the Champions League though. Still all to play for, but there’s that nagging doubt that we can’t keep pulling it out the bag at Anfield on big European nights.  Can we?  Yes we can!  Maybe.

So what of West Ham? They were another team I had a soft spot for as a kid.  It became a bit of a cliche but they always did seem to play proper passing football, and this seemed to persist well into my adulthood more so than with other clubs which supposedly had a similar tradition (Ipswich were another one).  I can remember the Ian Bishop (he of the long straggly hair who looked like he wanted to be in Iron Maiden) inspired team in the early 90’s playing some lovely football (although I think they ended up getting relegated).  And although the passing football force was strong in that one, it wasn’t strong enough to survive an encounter with Darth Big Sam unfortunately.

I can also remember the 1980 FA Cup Final with John Lyall leading out his team in the glorious sunshine (the FA Cup Finals of my childhood were always played in glorious sunshine – I’m sure that is a fact) resplendent in a cream blazer (not quite Spice Boy 96 but still enough to stand out in my memory) and thanks to a famous Trevor Brooking goal vanquishing the dark forces of boring boring Arsenal with the infamous Willie Young (the only footballer ever who also happened to be the guitarist out of Mud.  If you don’t believe me you can see him on You Tube performing Tiger Feet on the Christmas Top of the Pops in full on Obi-Wan-Kenobi robes and Christmas Bauble ear-rings) committing a notorious professional foul on 17 year old Paul Allen (got me very het up as a 9 year old at all the injustice in the world that did!).  And, more importantly, avenging the team who had knocked us out in the semi final after endless replays.

The romance has worn off West Ham in recent years it has to be said though. What with that “lovable” pair of rogues Sullivan and Gold in charge along with sidekick Karen “Catwoman” Brady (she doesn’t look like a cat, I’m not sure I’ve seen her in a skin-tight black catsuit, she doesn’t drink from a saucer or bring dead birds in from the garden, but I’ve spotted an opportunity to shoe-horn a meaningless Batman reference and I’m going for it), rattling around in a Stadium paid for by my taxes (my taxes!  Possibly some other people’s taxes as well) with David Moyes (Football Genius™) at the helm.

All is not well at West Ham and I feel this is the match where we’ll really let rip, with no game for five days either side.  A 6-1 hammering (pun absolutely intended) with a Firmino double (Pow!), one each from Mane (Thwack!), Mo (Clonk!), Gini (Zap!) and Minamino coming off the bench late on from his debut goal (Crump!). West Ham to somehow get a goal somewhere (that Haller feller maybe).

So there we go.  This review has been brought to you by me whilst listening to Tiger Feet by Mud (featuring Willie Young and Drake). Which has inspired me to write my own version.

“We’re Top, We’re Top, We’re Top, We’re Top, I really love my Jurgen Klopp!”.

“He won’t get the Chop, Get the Chop, Get the Chop, Get the Chop, I really love my Jurgen Klopp!”

“We Beat the Slop, Beat the Slop, Beat the Slop, Beat the Slop, I really love my Jurgen Klopp (even though he didn’t turn up)!.”

We got a Club shop, Club shop, Club Shop, Club Shop, I really love my Jurgen Klopp”

He might consign West Ham to the Drop, To the Drop, To the Drop, To the Drop, I really love my Jurgen Klopp!”

Liverpool vs Southampton: Evil Edna, Matt Le Tissier and Molby’s Shorts


By Simon Meakin

Simon Meakin returns to mull over a momentous January, which puts Liverpool in pole position for their first league title in 30 years. He reflects on the tussles with United, Wolves and West Ham and looks forward to this weekends home clash with Southampton, with a few customary detours along the way.

This pretty much feels like it. Salah’s last minute goal against Manchester United seemed to unleash something in the Anfield crowd, who finally seemed to believe that the title is coming home after thirty long years. I’m not sure I was quite there myself at that stage. The crucial point for me came a few days later in the cold and dark of Molineux with the mist rolling in from the stands. 

To be frank, we were on the ropes and taking a bit of a beating at times during the second half.  I had the feeling that our unbeaten run was under more threat than at any other point during the season so far.  Yes we were never actually losing at any point, unlike the games at Old Trafford and Villa Park, but the dynamic in those games seemed different as we were chasing the game and I always felt we could get something.  This time I wasn’t feeling at all confident about us getting back off the canvas had we gone behind.

But we managed to not only survive but, thanks to Bobby’s late goal, even to steal away into the mist with all three points like a Will ‘O’ The Wisp. I’m thinking more of the strange mystical light of folklore rather than the Kenneth Williams version constantly being menaced by Evil Edna the big square angry telly, just after Grange Hill finished. To be clear (after a quick Google) I’ve just discovered that Disney remade Will ‘O’ the Wisp a few years ago and turned Evil Edna into a flat screen TV (complete with Netflix and BT Sport no doubt!). 

We faced six games in a row after Christmas, against teams in the top eight, and won the lot.  And, then we followed that up with what was a pretty much routine, nothing much to see here, win against West Ham (other than Trent at one point deciding to see how hard he could welly the ball against his own post just for the hell of it – answer “quite hard”).  Which does now mean that we’ve now done something that none of the great Liverpool sides of the past ever managed, and beaten every other team in the league in the same season (please see my last blog for details). Incredibly, Norwich now stand as the Premier League side who have gone the longest without losing.  All of five months and a grand total of zero games.  Daniel Farke must be proud of his boys achievement.

So even though the bitter winds of winter have yet to depart (or if I’m being honest yet to actually even show up at the door thanks to global warming) I’m calling it that we’ve got this thing won!  No if’s, no but’s.  Klopp won’t admit it but it’s a matter of when rather than if now. 

So, on to our favourite feeder club Southampton.  Out of all the clubs I’ve previewed so far, I have to say that this is the one I’m struggling most to remember anything memorable from the times I’ve watched us against them. I have seen them at Anfield a few times but the only thing that springs to mind is Matt Le Tissier, who apart from scoring some of the most beautiful goals I’ve ever seen also has to be possibly the laziest player I’ve witnessed in all my time watching football.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone move around less on the pitch (and I’ve seen Jan Molby play at Hereford, for Swansea, in his dotage and wearing what Norris McWhirter later officially confirmed were the worlds largest pair of shorts). 

What does stick in my mind though is us being handed our arse on a plate at the Dell on more than one occasion in the 1990’s, usually with at least one Le Tissier wonder goal and a Rod Wallace thunderbolt thrown in. It seemed to be a right bogey ground, up there with the notorious plastic pitch at Kenilworth Road, and Coventry City (who were just simply a bogey team wherever we played them).

This match won’t be the foregone conclusion it probably would have been a couple of months ago. Southampton have gone streaking through the field like Ayrton Senna trying to get to the post office before it shuts. It’s the sort of run Bobby Robson’s Ipswich always seemed to go on when I was a kid, suddenly going from the relegation zone to the top three quicker than Jimmy Hill could light his pipe. If Chelsea continue to wobble it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that they could even sneak into the Champions League places. I’m unclear what Ralph Hassenhuttl has done to turn things around but it’s certainly seems to be working. 

Part of the reason is of course the form of one Danny Ings, once of this parish and a rare example of our school exchange programme, with Saints working the other way (in return we got a moody French kid who just rolled his eyes and went “pah!” in a Gallic fashion every time he got taken to Nando’s as a treat. And then trying to get Curtis Jones hooked on Gauloise’s. Plus Sadio Mane).  A player I always liked and was at Anfield to witness him scoring a rare goal v Norwich (in the dying days of the Rodgers era in what also turned out to be the last time I failed to see us win at Anfield).  Huge shame that injuries meant he never really got a chance with us but it just shows how far we’ve come, that he’d be unlikely to ever get a look in these days.

The other best thing about Southampton is of course the fact that Ralph Hassenhuttl is apparently German for Ralph Hare-Hutch.  Not an expert on how things are hare-wise in Austria but from what I’ve seen of hares over here they are a damn sight bigger than rabbits. So, either they have very small hares in Vienna, very poor standards of animal welfare or the literal translation of huttl is really ‘small B&Q garden shed’.

Right, on to the match prediction.  But before I do so I’d like to blow my own trumpet for getting my last match prediction almost spot on for the second time this season.  Right scoreline and correctly forecast that Salah would finally break his duck against Manchester United. And, I more or less got the second goalscorer right as well (when I said Shaqiri would get it, I meant Virgil Van “Shaqiri” obvs. I was just using the nickname known only to me and the lads in the dressing room, thanks to his, ahem, strong resemblance to his Swiss twin, their shared love of things with holes in (cheese, dykes, Everton’s plans for their new stadium) and the fact that if you spelled out their names together on a Scrabble board, you can get rid of all the hard letters apart from Z (I always knew I’d find a use for Christian Ziege one day).

As for Saturday’s game. 3-1 to us to equal City’s record of 20 consecutive top flight home wins. Keita (after Klopp decides on a bit of rotation), Salah, and Firmino.  The inevitable curse of the ex-player meaning a Danny Ings consolation is inevitable. And then we go marching on into the winter break, needing a maximum of four (four!) points to clinch our place in next season’s Champions League. On the 1st February!

PS.  We’re going to win the League!

The Lost Shankly Boy: A New Title Coming Later This Year


I am delighted to announce my fourth book has been picked up by those wonderful people at Pitch Publishing. It is a collaboration with George Scott, one of Bill Shankly’s first signings. The book will be published in Autumn. Watch this space for updates.

Here’s a taster of what the book promises to deliver:

An enthralling tale of triumph in adversity and hope over despair. The story of a poor boy from a fishing village in Aberdeen, who dreamed of playing football and ended up rubbing shoulders with one of British football’s greatest, Bill Shankly.
Shankly would assemble a team to rival ‘Busby’s Babes,’ his very own ‘Shankly Boys.’ With Tommy Smith and Chris Lawler already at the club, he would add a raft of young players to the squad, including Gordon Wallace, Bobby Graham and a 15-year-old George Scott – the lost ‘Shankly Boy’.

Here Scott provides a fascinating and unique insight into modern Liverpool’s formative years and Shankly’s Anfield. His is an untold story of a dream crushed and of a career rebuilt in Scottish football and taken to new levels in the South African Premier League. The lost Shankly Boy: George Scott’s Anfield Journey, is a must read for every kid who dreams of football glory. It is a never-say-die tale of passion, commitment and hard work that will be identifiable to anyone who has ever tasted the pain of rejection – only to rise again and grow stronger.

Liverpool vs Manchester United: Benny Hill and the Big Red Boa Constrictor


By Simon Meakin

Simon Meakin takes a look at this Sunday’s titanic clash with Manchester United, in a match preview like no other.

And we danced all night to the best start ever!  Woo!  Yeah!  Big shout out to young person’s beat combo, One Direction for perfectly encapsulating what is now officially, The. Best. Start. Ever.  And, not only in the English top flight but in any of Europe’s big leagues. 

I’m now wondering how may more games we need to win to break the record in Europe’s small leagues (I believe that’s their official title).  Although I’d imagine someone like Dynamo Berlin in their 1970s Stasi-backed pomp probably managed to rack up 300 wins on the bounce without breaking a sweat (I can’t imagine who would have even dared try to take a point off them knowing that that the team, coaching staff and entire support would probably have been dispatched to the nearest gulag quick-sharp, while the result was “unwritten” in the paper next day.

Our football now seems to have entered a new dimension. The games against Sheffield United and Spurs felt unlike our previous matches this season.  Completely dominant in possession against sides that barely attempted to cross the halfway line.  It’s starting to become reminiscent of peak Pep-era Barcelona (see the 2011 Champions League Final against Man U as evidence.  I’ve never seen them so impotent.  And that’s when they were still quite good).  But (whispering it quietly) it does make for slightly sterile football matches.  I think we actually managed to send ourselves to sleep for the last twenty minutes at White Hart Lane (or New White Hart Lane, or Not White Hart Lane or Highbury or whatever they call it these days) given how easy things had been until then.  All part of Jose’s latest master-plan no doubt, and it almost worked. 

And to make it clear I’m not complaining here – I’d be delighted to send millions of Sky Sports subscribers to sleep if we romp to the title.  It’s up to the other team to try and stop us.  We are basically crushing the life out of teams.  So after my range of Big Red Combine Harvester merchandise mysteriously seems to fail to impress the LFC marketing department I’m planning to sneak back on to Dragon’s Den to unveil my latest new club nickname. The Big Red Boa Constrictor!  Although that does sound a bit Benny Hill-ish (“Hello there young lady! Would you like to come home and see my Big Red Boa Constrictor?”)  Although I might suggest to Jürgen that he could maybe mix it up in training by hiring a saxophone player, having Jordan Henderson dress up in a nurses uniform and getting the entire squad to run in and out of the bushes in Stanley Park really fast, all in a line, while Jordan’s clothes mysteriously fall off and everyone tries to slap Fabinho on the head.  Always worth trying something different to gain that little extra edge surely?

Anyway, back to by far the greatest team the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford (it’s not far from Manchester I believe) has ever seen. The auld enemy (not sure why I’ve come over all Scottish here.  It’s not the Old Firm Derby).  But ever since I was a small child these have been our biggest rivals.  These have been the ones I’ve been most desperate to beat.  More so than Everton or whoever we were fighting it out with for the title.  Even when they weren’t that good (although sadly I’m too young to remember when they were really bad and Denis Law managed to relegate them to a backdrop of their fans fighting, while wearing ludicrous trousers).

But even in those days we always seemed to struggle to beat United as often as we should have (sorry I should be clearer here.  That’s Manchester United.  There is only really one United and that’s the late lamented Hereford United RIP, God Rest Its Soul).  And that didn’t exactly improve when Ferguson turned up and they actually started winning everything. Okay, sometimes we might have been occasionally well beaten but I’ve lost count of the number of times we seemed to lose to scrappy late goals or their keeper having a blinder.  John O’Shea only scored about six goals in his entire career but I reckon about 14 of those were winners against us.

But that only makes the good times all the sweeter. Top of the list has to be the 4-1 demolition at Old Trafford when I thought Torres was without question destined to become our greatest ever player (rest easy King Kenny. Your crown is safe – for now).  Other highlights include a pile-driver from a young Stevie G, THAT goal from Riise and a hat trick from the mighty Dirk Kuyt from a combined distance that was probably less than the length of my big red boa constrictor (I’ll leave you to debate how long that might be).

Favourite memories from matches I was actually at include winning 2-1 at Old Trafford circa 1990. The first victory there for many years and the last for quite a few more, and achieved despite John Barnes deciding to go for own goal of the year by sending a lovely lob over the keeper from 25 yards.  And also last year’s 3-1 win at Anfield when Santa came to deliver an early Christmas present, including an extended Christmas break to a Mr J.Mourinho care of the Lowry Hotel, Salford. 

Less pleasant memories include seeing Jamie Carragher trying to outdo Digger by scoring two own goals.  And the aftermath of our 2-1 win at Old Trafford circa 1990, when we thought we were being clever slipping out of the police cordon leading us back to the Liverpool coaches to get back to my student digs, only to find that thousands of angry seething Mancs had all spotted our sneaky move and decided they were going to lynch us (in some cases trying to climb out of the back window of the top deck of a bus in their desperation to get at us). Rapidly coming to the conclusion this wasn’t the best thought out plan ever, we turned tail and just about made it back to the cordon unscathed (in my mind I cleared the central reservation Colin Jackson style although I suspect the reality was a little less graceful). 

I’ve always wondered what became of the one nutter who followed us, thinking we were up for a ruck, and went charging into the angry mob on his own, while wearing a Liverpool shirt. He actually thought we would be right behind him. It really can’t have ended well for him.

As for Sunday’s match I really, really want to win this one. Not only to take another step closer to the title, and not only because of the rivalry but also because these buggers have had the temerity to be the only team to have stopped us winning.  I’m not sure we’ve ever managed to beat every other team in the league in a single season (we failed to beat City last year, I probably don’t need to remind anyone about not beating Chelsea in the ill-fated Brendan Rodgers title bid season and even our record breaking 1979 team couldn’t beat those lot from Goodison). Win on Sunday and we’ll only have West Ham to go.

So it’s going to be tight.  But as ever I’m going to predict a Liverpool win. 2-0 to the Big Red Boa Constrictor.  Salah to finally break his duck against Man U and Shaqiri to reprise his act from the bench.  Although unlike Jose, Ole will remain at the wheel having perfected the art of winning just enough games to remain in his job without ever threatening to turn Manchester United into a force again.

Oh, and memo to Jurgen. As a Hereford fan, do not let the kids lose to the Slop in the FA Cup. Repeat do not let the kids lose to the Slop in the FA Cup. Don’t expect them to be as big a pushover as that shower from the last round. Curtis get your shooting boots on again!

Liverpool vs Sheffield United: Back to the Future with the Beautiful South


By Simon Meakin

Simon Meakin says farewell to the last decade and looks forward to the first game of the next one. The Reds take on Sheffield United on Thursday 2nd January and Simon gives us his unique take on the match.

In the words of the legendary football pundit Kate Bush, December Will Be Magic Again. I thought last December must surely rank as not only the greatest single calendar month in Liverpool’s history but most likely in anyone else’s ever.  Not only did we win eight games out of eight, they included a 96th minute derby winner (with added comedy goalkeeping), totally outplaying Man U and dispatching Mourinho, and hammering Arsenal 5-1.  Added to that the nerve shredding win over Napoli (and where would we be now, had Allison not made that last minute save?) and Man City’s sudden Christmas wobble which left us seven points clear at New Year (yes we all know how that turned out but that wasn’t the fault of December) and I’m thinking that we would never see such a fabulous month again.

And yet, just one December later and we could actually already have a better one.  Another eight wins, including scoring five in a Merseyside derby for the first time in over thirty five years, destroying our nearest title rivals on their own ground and becoming world champions (I might be repeating my last blog entry slightly here but hey why not!).  And with both City and Leicester wobbling we are almost over the hills and far away at New Year this time.  The only blot on our copybook was the Carabao Cup defeat to Villa but given the team we put out does that even count?

That’s our most intense month out of the way.  Although it won’t feel like it to the players as straight up its surprise package of the season Sheffield United (although to be fair they will have had an extra day than everyone else to recover from extortionate Uber prices and Jools Holland’s Hootenanny).  Relegation favourites at the start of the season they are instead battling for a place in Europe and remarkably are only six points off the Champions League spots.  Which means that we’re now in the middle of a run of six games on the bounce against the current top eight.  So another tricky match coming up.  The game at Bramall Lane was one of our toughest of the season and needed a goalkeeping howler to give us the three points at what is a bit of a bogey ground for us (that was our first win there since 1990 and ended a run of only three wins in 25 visits stretching all the way back to the 1940’s).

I’ll be paying only my second visit to Anfield this season for this one (the first was the City game which didn’t go too badly).  As far as I can remember, I have only ever seen us play Sheffield Utd once before in what was the dawning of a new era as it was the very first Premier League game at Anfield.  We won 2-1 but oddly enough the only goalscorer I can remember was Brian Deane for the Blades.  It turns out our goals were scored by Mark Walters and Paul Stewart, which may give some idea as to why it turned out to be the dawning of  a fairly rubbish new era from our point of view.

I didn’t realise watching on a balmy late summer’s evening that I was witnessing a football revolution.  Looking back it’s remarkable how quickly things changed from the late 1980’s to say the mid 90’s.  There are lots of theories as to the sudden transformation in football’s popularity, from the necessary post Hillsborough stadium reconstruction and modernisation through to Italia 90 and Gazza’s tears, the impact of Fever Pitch on the middle class view of football to the apparent sudden discovery of ecstasy by football hooligans who decided to stop punching each other and instead start phoning random numbers stuck to phone boxes and drive round the M25 for four hours trying to find a secret field with a rave in it.  But the impact of Sky Sports and in particular the money it brought into the sport (more so than the actual launch of the Premier League itself – much as the blissed out former members of the Inter City Firm in Ibiza and Islington Times Literary Supplement readers were enthralled by the changes in the league’s governance structures I suspect that if that’s all that had changed things wouldn’t have changed very much). 

I once read some Tory MP claim that the railways were basically an anachronism, should be shut down, and that had the petrol engine been invented before the steam engine they would never had needed to exist in the first place, as everyone would already have had cars (I would have liked to have seen him trying to battle his way into Central London every day in his chauffeur driven limo if that had been the case).  Nonsense in my view but in a similar vein I sometimes wonder what would have happened to football had satellite telly been invented before video recorders. 

It’s little remembered these days that when Sky first launched it threw all of its money into movies rather than sport and almost went bust before belatedly latching on to the Premier League cash cow.  But if people had not already had the option of nipping out to their local Blockbusters to rent out Back to the Future 2 on VCR would they have maybe rushed out to buy satellite dishes instead, saving Sky from bankruptcy and meaning they would never have needed to plough billions into football?  We’ll never know (unless some mad scientist manages to go back in time in a De Lorean, accidentally runs over the bloke who invents the video recorder and arrives back in the present day to discover Gary Newbon broadcasting to an audience of 95 from a shed behind some razor wire, for some TV station that looks something like that “Scorchio” one from The Fast Show, while Joel Matip is late for kick off as he’s too busy driving his Uber to supplement his minimum wage income, and has got stuck in the horrendous traffic caused by Lime Street never having been built in the first place).

I’d mentioned that I thought I’d only seen Sheff Utd once before, but now I’m not sure. I have this other memory of us playing them and seeing Beautiful South front-man and big Blades fan Paul Heaton in the Arkles pre-match (although far from being the born and bred Yorkshireman I thought he was, it turns out he was born in Bromborough and his Mum was from Woolton!).  The Beautiful South were playing at the Royal Court that evening and he was reportedly pretty well oiled by the time he got on stage post match.  I remember it was an evening kick off. That must mean I was also at the next home game which we managed to lose to a relegation bound team (and on my birthday as well!).  I’ve got absolutely no memory of the match itself but clearly the new era had not just dawned by this point, but had reached about 11 o’clock in the morning with Liverpool still in bed with a hangover and the sheets pulled over our head.

But setting the controls on the De Lorean to the present day things are looking a lot brighter.  I managed to correctly forecast a return to narrow wins and that Mane would be amongst the scorers against Wolves.  Just not that there wouldn’t be any other scorers (thanks to VAR that late Virgil bullet header wasn’t required).  I’m feeling a little more confident that we’ll manage a more comfortable win this time.  Let’s go for 3-0 for this one and the Caravan of Love to keep on rolling.  Bobby to continue his hot streak, Origi to start and score and Lallana to bag his second of the season. 

Happy New Year!  And to the dawning of another new era.  And a big thank you to the boss.  Jurgen Klopp.  He’s come to sparkle the dark up.