OK. So at the start of an insanely busy and hugely crucial month it’s that lot from down the road up next. Despite Alisson clearly getting a bit bored and deciding to liven things up by channelling his inner Grobbelaar, we start December maintaining our eight point lead at the top but more crucially are now 11 whole points ahead of Man City (and 14 clear of an increasingly irrelevant Chelsea). Leicester may now be our nearest rivals but it’s still City I’m most wary of. I simply don’t trust the blighters not to suddenly perform some sort of witchcraft or hocus-pocus like deciding to reel off 20 wins on the bounce. Can’t take your eyes off them for a second, I tell you.
If we can make it past the Sheff Utd game at the end of the Christmas and New Year period with our lead more or less maintained, and hopefully having (finally) won the World Club Championship, got through to the knock-out stages of the Champions League and our kids having got us through to the semis in the League Cup then I’ll be a very happy man (I don’t subscribe to this trying to get knocked out of cup competitions early to concentrate on the League – I want to win everything! In particular it would seem a waste of the lunatic win over Arsenal if we went out with a whimper).
And so we’re in rude health as we face our blue-hued friends (I suspect I mean friends here in the same way that Boris Johnson constantly refers to “our European Friends” every time he talks about Brexit). Although I have made them sound more like the Smurfs. Proper or Barron Knights version (“Where are you all coming from? We’re from Dartmoor on the run!) available.
It’s still not clear by the time we get to Wednesday whether Marco Silva will still even be in charge as Everton are clearly not in rude health (lots of rude words raining down from the Gwaldys Street yes, I’ll grant you that). This is despite allegedly winning the last couple of transfer windows. I hadn’t previously been aware this was a thing and I’m not sure whether it means they get awarded an actual window to go into their ever bulging trophy cabinet, along with the arched window from Playschool and some of those ones Ted Moult used to flog possibly?
Or, maybe their trophy cabinet is just made out of windows? All the better to see their massive haul of big shiny cups. They’ll be searching for their first win at Anfield since approximately 1276 when Oleg the Serf, returning after six weeks out with bubonic plague, scored a controversial winner which was allowed to stand after Martin Atkinson’s VAR review took two hours, mainly because he had to catch and slaughter his own chicken in order to read it’s entrails.
I have to admit at this point that I had a narrow escape from being a poor benighted Everton fan myself, given that my Mum came from a long line of Blues (despite having been born in Anfield). Luckily she was never really interested in football (as far as I can work out she has only ever been to one match, the main highlight of which was “Rowdy” Yates attempting to throttle a Fulham player.
She still gets affronted when I tell her that Everton are not my second club (or third club really – she does accept the Hereford supporting bit) as she seems to work on the principle that how much you support a club should be in direct proportion to how close the ground is to where you were born. I’ve decided to go with this and adopt an irrational hatred of Robbie Fowler’s Brisbane Roar on the basis that Brisbane is a “good hike” from Fazakerley Hospital.
My Mum also claims that my Dad’s family must have been the Black (Red?) Sheep of the Scotland Road catholic community, given she swears blind that Everton were the catholic club, but I’ve met many people who seem to think it was the other way round. I’m beginning to suspect that there was no actual religious split at all. Liverpool were famously formed by a breakaway group from the Everton club (after an argument about whether it was better to win the Champions League on a regular basis vs winning the transfer window and sacking your manager every October) so I’m kind of guessing they probably all went to the same church anyway. But I’m sure someone with far more knowledge of the history of both clubs can put me right on this.
Highlights against Everton? Too many to choose from, from Rushy’s four goals to Origi’s comical winner last season. But one of my favourites has to be Gary McAllister’s 40 yard last minute winner in 2001 which was crucial in sparking off the late surge to snatch our first ever qualification for the Champions League (although I’m told we might have previously done alright in the same competition in a previous guise).
It’s interesting to speculate what would have happened to Gary’s old club had he not scored that goal as it effectively condemned Leeds to their near-death spiral given it turned out “Publicity” Pete Risdale had mortgaged the house, including posh goldfish and Seth Johnson, on Champions League qualification. We probably wouldn’t have got Harry Kewell for a start and then where on earth would we be?
Another favourite memory dates from the last Merseyside derby with standing on the Kop, when leaping forward to celebrate coming from behind to lead 2-1 courtesy of Brisbane Roar’s (Booo!) Robbie Fowler, the entire Kop seemed to part in front of me and I went hurtling about 20 rows forward before actually finding some supporters to crash into. It took me most of half time to actually battle back up to my mates. And looking at the fixtures that season I think that must have been the last ever goal I celebrated on that old Kop. Don’t think I made it to another game until the last day against Norwich when we failed to score at all. The last goal that standing Kop ever did celebrate turns out to have been by Julian Dicks of all people. Penalty against Ipswich. Now there’s a quiz question you never knew the answer to.
I do have to admit that this game doesn’t quite carry the same weight it did when I was living in Liverpool and surrounded by Everton fans at work (along with a Stoke fan who pooh-poohed the idea of it being a proper derby at all on the basis that the players never got hit in the face by pasties hurled from the crowd – apparently par for the course in the world famous Potteries derby – I do wonder if in the big Truro-Falmouth Cornish derby they throw Wedgwood China at the players instead?).
But we still need to win it of course. I’ve given up trying to predict clean sheets at Anfield so I’m going to go for a 2-1 win because that’s what we win all our games by these days. Let’s say Firmino and Wijnaldum. Late scrappy consolation from Richarlison. Everton manager sacked again (Where is Marco Silva coming from? He’s from Goodison on the run!).
As the Reds gear up for a huge encounter with title rivals, Manchester City at Anfield this weekend, Simon Meakin is back with another completely unique match preview.
So we’ve staged a well earned comeback against Spurs, a dramatic late comeback against Villa and a frankly ludicrous comeback against Arsenal. Then, we followed all of that up with a mundane, run of the mill win against Genk – who I had to admit I had to check was an actual real place when the Champions League draw was made; a bit like Neil the dim one out of the Inbetweeners having to ask “what is Swansea? Is it some sort of animal?”
And now, this is it! The big one! It’s not even Christmas but it’s time to roll out the cliches; Title decider! Championship six pointer! Season defining encounter!
Speaking of Christmas and cliches does anyone remember the one about West Ham always coming down with the Christmas decorations? They always used to somehow be challenging at the top of the League until December. Usually with Dave Swindlehurst bagging an unfeasible number of goals. What Hammers fans these days wouldn’t give to at least have the chance to be dragged from the loft, checked for faulty bulbs that might knacker the entire circuit (more than likely the Andy Carroll light) before being put up with the Christmas decorations in the first place.
Right, now that I’ve gone and blown my Christmas bolt in early November (what the hell am I going to write about for the Boxing Day match) let’s focus on the Man City match (I was just going to say “City” there but I don’t want fans of Norwich, Kansas or the City of London accusing me of arrogance). Normally the above cliches would be just that, cliches, but given the performance of City over the past couple of years any chance to take points off them feels crucial.
It was arguably our failure to take more off them last season that did for our title hopes. And, given our performance since the start of last season, the possibility of going nine points clear of them while only having to play them once more would start to get me just a little bit excited. Unlike some Liverpool fans with a hatred of anything “Manc,” I’ve never minded City (that red lot from the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford are a different kettle of fish entirely).
I’m not sure whether it’s because “my enemy’s enemy is my friend,” the fact I liked their kit growing up or just their past comedy tendency to arse up and shoot themselves in the foot at every opportunity (deliberately playing for a draw against us on the last day of the season and promptly getting themselves relegated for not being able to add up anyone?). Sadly this trait seemed to rather irritatingly disappear at the exact same time large bundles of dodgy Qatari oil money appeared.
I also went to university in Manchester and (whisper it very quietly) really liked the place (apart from the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford of course – which is famously not in the City of Manchester). I used to cycle past their old training ground in Moss Side every day (hoping to sneak a glimpse of legendary players like Andy Hinchcliffe or Ian Brightwell). My mind might be playing tricks on me in my old age but, from what I remember, it pretty much consisted of what looked like a bunch of Goals five-a-side pitches. Pep would be choking on his Jamon Iberico and Patatas Bravas had he had to put up with those kind of facilities, and with me pedalling past and trying to gawp through the fence to try and spy on his Tika-Taka based tactical genius
Mind you, given that he would have also had to put up with Niall Quinn playing up front, I’d imagine even his Tika-Taka levels of genius might have been stretched a bit. Man City do not have the best of records at Anfield it has to be said and that’s putting it mildly. I read somewhere a couple of years ago that Anfield was the only ground they had failed to win at since they became billionaires, but it’s actually much worse than that.
They have incredibly only won twice at Anfield since beating us in an FA Cup tie in 1956 on their way to winning the tournament, despite Bert Trautmann famously playing most of the final with a broken neck. This is a game still used by football fans of a certain age – i.e. so old they looked like Tommy Hutchinson in his prime – as exhibit number one in why modern day footballers are a bunch of namby-pamby pansies, who wouldn’t know what had hit them if they played in the good old days, along with other exhibits such as shoulder barging, having a crafty Woodbine mid-match, compulsory 14 hour shifts down the mine before kick-off, tackling from behind, and being allowed to infect the opposition centre-half with Smallpox.
One of those wins was due to a last minute Anelka winner in the Houllier years. The other, more famous win (to my mind at least) was the 3-1 win on Boxing Day 1981. I’ve got vivid memories of this game as a child, as I clearly remember the fact that it left us 12th in the table over Christmas (fully 11 places behind a Dave Swindlehurst inspired West Ham no doubt). Equally, I can clearly remember the 10 year old me not being worried about it as, in my youthful naivety, I simply assumed we would still win the League, because “that’s just what Liverpool did.”
The incredible thing was that I was right. We did. I believe we hold the record for coming from further back at Christmas to win the title than anyone else ever. Although my memory isn’t quite as clear as I thought as I’ve always had it in my head that an inspired Trevor Francis scored two of their goals. Having just watched the game back on You Tube he didn’t actually score at all.
The win was more to do with performances to forget from Grobelaar and Phil Thompson. The game also apparently involved Big Joe Corrigan being hit on the head with a bottle thrown from the crowd according to my mate.
As for this weekend’s game it’s going to be quite a nervous one, for me at least. Hopefully, Klopp will have the players sorted. There’s a chance to go nine points clear or potentially have it cut to just three.
I was toying with predicting my first draw but let’s go for yet another 2-1 win. Hopefully not leaving it as late as Villa. Firmino and Mane with Gabriel Jesus getting one in return and us sitting pretty, eight points clear of Leicester.
Liverpool will face Leicester City for the 112th time this weekend. Here I look back at one of the Reds biggest wins in the fixture, a 5-1 victory at Anfield in 1934. As we will see, it would prove a rare oasis during what would turn out to be the club’s wilderness years, in the 1930s.
It’s the 17th November 1934, Liverpool are gearing up to face Leicester City at Anfield. The club is a fading force, having failed to win the title since 1923. Unlike their all-conquering forebears, this was a Reds side that was far from untouchable.
With George Patterson in the dug out for his second spell as manager, the Reds were struggling. Patterson was a popular man at the club and literally lived in the shadow of Anfield – his home was in Skerries Road, minutes from the Kop. However, by the time Leicester came to visit, his team had already shipped eight goals twice in two humiliating defeats during the opening games of the season.
The first had been an 8-1 mauling at Highbury, and the second had been delivered at Leeds Road, when Huddersfield Town had plundered eight without reply, just a week before the November clash with Leicester. That game could easily have ended 9-0, had the Reds keeper, Arthur Riley, not saved a penalty in the 37th minute.
So, this was a Liverpool side languishing in mid-table and having finished regularly in the bottom half of the table in previous seasons, appeared to be going nowhere. Therefore, Reds supporters must have been looking with some relief at facing a side whose defence was perhaps even weaker than their own.
These were tough times for working class cities like Liverpool. The opening of the ‘Queensway’ Mersey tunnel in the July, a tremendous feat of engineering and a sign of civic ambition, masked the suffering and hardship faced by many on Merseyside and across the country. Just two years later marchers from Jarrow in Tyneside would begin their epic march against hunger, poverty and unemployment. They would be joined by comrades who set off from Liverpool. joining the Merseyside contingent was none other than the author, George Orwell.
These were fertile times for those who would sew division and hatred in the UK and across Europe. The year had begun with a huge rally by the British Union of Fascists in Birmingham. Oswald Mosley had addressed an audience of 10,000. Demagogues and opportunists were using the misery of working people to whip up racism and fear. Sound familiar?
Mosley’s politics never gained ground in Britain despite these turbulent times. However, it was a different story on the continent. Within five years, the whole of Europe would be at war. It would be a conflagration that would ultimately burn up the entire globe and cost 50 million lives.
Football then, as it is today, must have seemed a rare form of escapism in a world that to many would have appeared to have lost its collective mind. So, against this backdrop, thousands of Liverpudlians made their way to Anfield to see their heroes do battle. Not as many as in previous years though.
The opening game of the 1934/35 season, a 2-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers, had seen over 31,000 file through the turnstiles. However attendances soon slumped.
This was a decade that belonged to Everton. They had the greatest striker in the country at the time – Dixie Dean was a marksman without equal. They secured two league titles in 1932 and 1939, and they also won the FA Cup in 1933. Perhaps it wasn’t the dominance we see today, when super-rich clubs can create cabals that lock the rest out, seemingly forever. But, in the 1930s Blues’ supporters would have had a lot to crow about, far more than their Red counterparts.
So, in the face of Liverpool’s poor form, lack of silverware and the scarcity of disposable income in a city ravished by unemployment, the attendance for the visit of Leicester was a paltry 18,790. The Liverpool Echo even commented on the amount of space in the Paddock (an area at the front of the Main Stand) as the game got underway, and suggested that it may have been due to the early kick-off time – the match started at 2.30pm.
Liverpool might not have had a marksman of Dean’s rare talents on their books, but they did have the prolific Gordon Hodgson. The South African born Hodgson would score 244 goals in 377 games for Liverpool and he would grab three of them in this game.
Still, this was a tie between two struggling sides. Defensively, Leicester were poor. They weren’t tearing up any trees in attack either. Still, they managed to score the first goal in the 24th minute.
Liverpool had been much the better side and Vic Wright had smashed a shot off the upright in the third minute. Wright had made his debut for the Reds in the previous season, a 4-1 thrashing of Birmingham City. However, Gordon Hodgson stole the show in that game, scoring all four of Liverpool’s goals. Wright would leave the club in 1937, having played 85 games and notching 33 goals.
Liverpool were making all the early running against the visitors, and their back line had seemed well in control. Then midway through the first half Leicester’s John Summers sent in a delightful cross into the Reds penalty area. Danny Liddle leapt into the air and attempted a spectacular scissor kick. The Reds goalkeeper, Arthur Riley dived across his goal and managed to parry the goal-bound effort. However, Liddle wasn’t to be denied and, with the Reds defence ‘spreadeagled’ as the Echo put it, he regained his footing, chased the ball down and smashed it into the roof of the net.
It was 1-0 to Leicester and the relatively meagre crowd inside the stadium must have feared the worst. However, Liverpool and Gordon Hodgson had other ideas. Inside five minutes, the Reds were in front.
The equaliser came in the 27th minute after a delightful one-two between Alf Hanson and Hodgson saw the latter level spectacularly. The celebrating Kop end would have barely had time to finish cheering before Liverpool went in front. Just a minute after they had levelled, the pair were at it again, combining brilliantly to bag Liverpool’s second.
This time, a slide-rule pass by Hanson left five Leicester players chasing shadows, leaving Hodgson with a simple tap in. Fists punched the frosty air as relief and joy swept around the stands.
What followed was wave after wave of Liverpool attacks, and only Leicester’s goalkeeper, Jimmy McLaren, prevented the Reds from running away with the game. Stork, a Liverpool journalist who wrote for the Echo, described it as the ‘the fiercest onslaught on a goal I have seen for some time.’
Leicester were lucky to get into the dressing room at half time, still in touching distance of the Reds. However, they wouldn’t be able to resist Liverpool’s forward line after the break.
Liverpool were in control throughout the second period, and a very poor Leicester team simply couldn’t cope with them. Then disaster struck for the visitors. George Gibson left the field through injury and with no substitutes allowed, they would have to face the Reds ferocious attack with ten men, with just over 30 minutes to play. Minutes later, Liverpool’s Tommy Johnson send the ball forward, Hanson – again the provider – headed the ball to Hodgson who dutifully headed it past McLaren.
It was a sublime move and a sweet finish. Hodgson had netted his first hat-trick of the season and Liverpool were in cruise control. Gibson made a brave attempt to rejoin his team mates, but his injury proved too painful and he would eventually bow out for good.
Leicester were vanquished. Had this been a boxing match, the referee would have already called time. Instead, Liverpool were allowed to continue and in the 82nd minute Hanson would grab his fourth assist of the match, lobbing the ball into the centre and presenting Wright with a glorious chance, which he headed past McLaren.
It was now 4-1 and with the away side out on their feet, there was just time for another. Hanson was now terrorising the Leicester goal mouth. He hit the post in the 86th minute and was generally causing mayhem. Perhaps, that was the reason why the previously brilliant McLaren committed a catastrophic howler just two minutes later.
With just two minutes left on the clock, Harold Taylor, a former Stoke City player who joined the Reds in 1932, poked the ball tamely towards the Leicester goal. After pulling off a string of first-half saves that kept his team in the game earlier, McLaren stumbled and fell, allowing the ball to roll into the net. It may have seemed harsh on the goalie, but Liverpool were good for their five goals.
The victory was a much needed boost for the Reds. They would go on to win four out of their next five games. Their revival under manager Patterson, would eventually see them to a creditable 7th place finish, after a horrific start to the season. This would be their highest league finish of the 1930s.
This was a game and a season that would prove a rare oasis in what was undeniably Liverpool FCs wilderness years.
It’s September 1946, we’re three games into the first football league season since the end of World War 2. The Reds are about to take on Chelsea, and the Kop is about to witness one of the most remarkable games of their lives.
The war was over, the guns that had wreaked death and devastation across the globe had been silent for a year. Soldiers were still returning to rebuild their broken cities and the people continued to exist on government rations. Though the carnage had come to an end, life continued to be a struggle for millions. Thank God for football.
Games had continued throughout the war years, with clubs organised into regional leagues. The likes of Bob Paisley and Billy Liddell had signed for Liverpool before the commencement of hostilities. They would have to wait years to make their debuts, having to satisfy themselves with unofficial matches interspersed between active service in Europe.
In 1946, the football league resumed and Liverpool manager George Kay had assembled a formidable team. The club had not won a league championship since 1923. All that was about to change.
Kay, a pioneer who understood the importance of nutrition, decided to get his players out of the country in preseason. He took them to America, where they could build up their pale and malnourished frames with ‘steaks and malts.’ It proved to be a master stroke.
Kay, born in Manchester in 1891, managed the Reds for a total of 357 games. His first game in the dugout came in 1936. We’ll never know what glory he could have achieved where it not for the war, but that’s true of so many of the Reds’ greats. The 1946-47 season would prove to be a spectacular high point of his career though, with Liverpool winning the title in 1947. They had simply outrun, outfought and out thought their competition, and that inspired preseason will have played a vital part in that.
The omens had been good, as Liverpool toured New York, St Louis, Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia and New England. They racked up 70 confidence boosting goals on tour, in front of packed stadiums, full of expats and locals. The highlight will have been a 12-0 hammering of a Philadelphia select at Yellow Jacket Field.
Then it was back home to a few knockabout games as the team re-acclimatised in the North West of England. Confidence in the red half of the city would have been soaring, as news of the US tour was lapped up by its citizens in letters sent home to the Liverpool Echo by the manager. Imagine the sense of eagerness and excitement, as supporters looked forward to the resumption of league football, for the first time in seven years.
However, Liverpool got off to a stuttering start that gave no hint of a first league title in 23 years. They saw off Sheffield United 1-0, in the season opener at Bramall Lane. The win came courtesy of a 90th minute strike by Len Carney. They followed that up with a disappointing 0-1 home reverse to Middlesborough in their second outing though.
Their fourth match, saw them thrashed by Manchester United, 5-0, in a game that was remarkably played at Manchester City’s ground, Maine Road. Had anyone suggested Liverpool would go on to lift the title in May, to a Red who had witnessed the humiliation, they’d have surely been given short shrift. The game had left United top of the table, and the men from Anfield languishing in 12th.
However, the Red Men would find their feet in a season that saw them score 84 goals, a figure that more than compensated for their occasionally leaky defence. In a foreshadow of the Rodgers era, Liverpool would often need to outscore their opponents to win the points, conceding 52 goals in a 42 goal season.
Kopites would have been given a glimpse of what was to come in the teams third game of the season, against Chelsea at Anfield. It would be one of the most thrilling games any one had ever seen.
The game got underway amidst unseasonably hot weather, on Saturday 7th September 1946. The official attendance was 49,950 but the numbers were likely to be much higher, as crowds continued to pour into the ground up until half-time, when the gates were finally locked. Even then, crowds of local kids continued to scale the wall on Anfield Road and found their way into the stadium regardless. The desire to see the Reds in action was so great, that even those locked out, some 5,000 people, remained at the ground, their ears pinned to walls, listening to the roar of the crowd inside.
It was the weekend. Work was over for a while, and tens of thousands of Scousers had tossed their cares and worries to one side, at least for 90 minutes. There was no place on earth they wanted to be, than right there, in or around Anfield.
Those inside would be treated to 11 goals in what would be one of the most remarkable games in an age. At the end of it, Liverpool would emerge the victors, but not before Chelsea had threatened one of the most incredible comebacks of all time.
Making their debuts that day, despite having
signed for the club seven years before, were Bob Paisley and Billy Liddell. The
Echo would proclaim that the pair had transformed the red attack. It wasn’t
without justification either. Liverpool were 6-0 up after 50 minutes.
Making their debuts that day, despite having
signed for the club seven years before, were Bob Paisley and Billy Liddell. The
Echo would proclaim that the pair had transformed the red attack. It wasn’t
without justification either. Liverpool were 6-0 up after 50 minutes.
The game got off to a blistering start, when Liddell opened the scoring inside two minutes, turning in a corner. The ground rocked as joyous supporters showed their appreciation. The man who would go on to define the club and who the Kop would call King Billy, was already 24 years old and had played 152 times for the club, scoring 82 times.
These appearances had been in the unofficial
inter-war games, and didn’t count. However, they would have mattered to the
supporters who continued to follow the club throughout the dark days of World
War 2. He would have been a hero, even then. This is how the Liverpool Daily Post recorded the goal:
Success came in exactly two minutes and Paisley
was the man who went forward to get the corner kick which produced a direct
goal for Liddell. The corner swung in, and Robinson, trying to punch away, put
the ball on the inside of an upright whence it turned into the net.”
The reporter felt Liddell was lacking match
fitness though and suggested this may have explained Chelsea’s second half
rally. In the first half though, Liverpool were irrepressible. They added
another three thanks to a brace from Bill Jones on his debut, and a goal from
Willie Fagan on the stroke of half time.
By now, the vast crowds on the Kop were
beginning to struggle with the heat. Packed so tightly under the tin roof, many
were becoming concerned for the safety of scores of youngsters who had climbed
onto the huge terrace. Though the local press claimed it had little to do with
‘packing,’ the conditions must have been incredibly uncomfortable.
Thankfully, police would allow hundreds of kids
to descend from the huge stand and sit along the touchline that surrounded the
pitch. There they would feel the fresh air on their cheeks and enjoy a
remarkable second half.
Jack Balmer, a Scouser from a family of Evertonians and future captain of the club, grabbed the Reds fifth, two minutes after the restart. He was far from a fans favourite, and many would let him know during games. Still, the bald-headed striker would play 309 times for the club, scoring a very creditable 110 goals. Bob Paisley would list him as one of his ’50 Golden Reds,’ and spoke of his sadness at Balmer’s treatment by some supporters.
Liverpool were cruising now, and when Liddell
hit the sixth goal just three minutes later, those kids on the touchline would
have been barely able to contain themselves. Then the game changed completely,
and the Londoners mounted a fierce fight back. 22 minutes later, they and every
Red in the ground would have been chewing their fingernails.
Goals from Len Goulden, and Jimmy Argue in the
55th and 64th minute would have caused the mutterings on the Kop to crank up a
notch, but the two-minute brace from Alex Machin in the 70th and 72nd may have
led to a full-fledged revolt. The score was now incredibly 6-4 and the Reds
defence was rocking.
However, the Liverpool crowd had long since
been singled out as different by the nation’s media. Famed for their ability to
get behind the team when they were needed, the seemingly put aside their
anxieties and helped George Kay’s charges to ride the waves and steady the ship.
In truth, Chelsea had given themselves a
mountain to scale when they fell six goals behind. They’d given Liverpool a big
scare, but after their fourth, they simply ran out of steam. Willie Fagan, who
had rounded off the scoring in the first half, repeated the feat in the second.
He hammered home Liverpool’s seventh in the 87th minute, no doubt much to the
relief of the Kop.
Liverpool supporters would get used to not
keeping a clean sheet during this season. There would be setbacks and defeats
home and away, but the Reds were simply too good for the rest of the league.
They clinched the title in the most bizarre of circumstances, on the 14th June
Liverpool beat Wolves 2-1 in their final game
of the season but had to wait two weeks to know whether they had clinched the
title. While the win had robbed Wolves of their chance win the league, Stoke
City could do it, if they beat Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, in their final
game. However, due to a bitter winter, that led to many fixture postponements,
that game wouldn’t take place until two weeks later.
And, it would coincide with the final of the
Liverpool Senior Cup, which pitted the Reds against Everton. That meant
Liverpool faced the possibility of winning or losing two trophies on the same
day. The tension inside the ground would have been hard to bear, as the Reds
laboured to a 2-1 victory over their neighbours to secure the cup and local
However, according to Billy Liddell, the only
thing on anyone’s mind was what was happening miles away in Sheffield, and the
game between Stoke and Sheffield United. Stoke lost the game and the result was
announced over the speaker system, near the end of the second half, to a packed
and raucous Anfield crowd. Liverpool were champions of England once more, and
they had beat the Blues to the senior cup.
In my mind’s eye, the first game of the season at Anfield conjures images of sun-baked streets, the Sandon car park packed to overflowing and chippy queues spilling out onto pavements. Not this season though. Instead, on Friday 9th August, L4 was warm, wet and muggy as it greeted the Champions of Europe and their adoring followers. In many ways this was an unfamiliar start to a campaign.
There was even a new object of pilgrimage too. Added to the old haunts – the Shankly statue – the food-bank collections, the myriad pubs and fan-zones and the fanzine sellers dotted around the stadium was a giant mural of Trent Alexander-Arnold – an ordinary kid from Liverpool, whose dream came true.
Scores of people made their way along Anfield Road to Sybil Road, where they would find a row of terraced houses basking in their new found fame. To their right, on the opposite side of the road, the great Georgian town houses, a symbol of the area’s affluent past stared on in green-eyed jealousy.
For all the wealth and power of those ghosts of Liverpool’s past, they would never have felt the passion and adulation experienced by this working class lad from West Derby and his team mates. One-by-one they queued to have their picture taken in front of his image. In the rain, Kids younger than Trent and perhaps dreaming that they one day will adorn a wall, or be idolised by generations, posed in front of the painting. Maybe, they dreamed of scoring in front of the Kop and feeling its power rattle their bones.
That’s the point of the mural, isn’t it. To inspire, to reach out and say ‘there’s a chance for you too. If you work hard and sacrifice like me.’ Maybe. But there’s no harm in dreams anyway. We know. At Liverpool, perhaps more than anywhere else, we know that.
The rich merchants of Anfield Road have gone, it’s our place now. That’s because we’ve dreamt of glory for each other, and then fought to make those dreams a reality. Just like Trent, Jamie and Stevie and all the others who have graced our history, have dreamed.
So, all around me were the old familiar places juxtaposed with the new and the unusual. And, the game itself turned out to be a mirror of all of that.
There was the old swagger we enjoyed last term and evident in the first half against Norwich, accompanied by the never-satisfied few who bemoan every miss-step and proceed to hound their favourite whipping boys throughout the game, irrespective of the quality of the performance.
For example, the sight of Origi being dispossessed shortly after Norwich had scored their meaningless consolation was greeted by one inexplicable shout from a fella near me.
‘Get him off, he’s shit!’
It was greeted with tuts and expressions of disbelief, but it still jarred. Another guy had shouted to Henderson to “get off and stay off,” at half-time. This is a phenomena almost as old as Anfield itself. For all our famed support and never give up mentality, we have always been ‘blessed’ with such absolute idiots.
Jack Balmer, Liverpool’s bald-headed striker of the 1930s and 40s, who hailed from the same district of West Derby that gave rise to young Trent, was often on the receiving end of abuse from supporters. Bob Paisely once wrote about how his treatment at the hands of some fans had hurt the player, who had scored 98 goals in 289 appearances for the club.
In the pub, before the game, we had been talking about how Ronnie Whelan had often been a player who could do no right, in the same way the current captain, Henderson, can never satisfy some people today. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who watched the game in the 80s who will admit they did it, but the Irishman would frequently hear their shouts on the pitch.
Just like Henderson though, Whelan would answer his critics by winning the biggest prizes in football. He could do no more. Neither can Jordan.
But, for all the familiar bitter barbs from the minority, the atmosphere during the game was a throwback to the fan-parks of Madrid and the glory of our run to the final. The mosaic displayed at kick-off told the world, as if they didn’t already know, that the Reds were back on their European perch. That represented something new in the recent context, a trophy win to gloat about. The monkey is off this Liverpool team’s back.
The Kop bellowed, at every opportunity, ‘We are the champions, champions of Europe.’ If it’s not unbearable for our rivals yet – it won’t be long before they are tearing their hair out. That’s exactly as it should be. We’ll keep it up for as long as they would, if we had lost the final – times six.
Imagine singing that for twenty minutes solid at Old Trafford or Goodison. imagine the fume. Brilliant isn’t it.
Roared on by a jubilant and at times carnival-like Anfield, the players switched through the gears in the first half. That’s not to say Norwich were out of it though. They threatened a number of times, and Alisson was called upon to twice prevent what looked like a certain goal. One save produced a crescendo of applause from the Kop and repeated chants of his name.
Not since the days of Clemence and Grobbelaar have we had a keeper of this quality. In fact, in one of those moments in the game, where your mind drifts, I began to muse on whether Alisson may well be one of the best since the days of Elisha Scott. Such is his command of the area and ability to calm his defence, I can surely be forgiven my reverie, no matter how premature it might be.
So, the sight of him clutching his calf and falling to the turf deep in the first half was like an arrow through the heart. We can only hope the injury isn’t as bad as it looked. The sight of him walking off, rather than being stretchered was the smallest crumb of comfort.
What was heartening though was the roar of approval for Adrian, as he ran onto the pitch. This was the Kop as it should be, as it always was. Getting behind the man with the Liver Bird on his chest, regardless of any misgivings. Once he crosses the white line, he’s one of us and part of the fight.
Back in June, the former West Ham man could scarcely have dreamed that he would be running out in front of a huge crowd at Anfield – for the European Champions, and with the team already 3-0 up. The reserve keeper showed no signs of nerves.
Liverpool had gone ahead inside ten minutes, thanks to an own goal by Grant Hanley, who had turned in a cross from the left from Divock Origi. From my vantage point, it had seemed like the hero of Madrid himself had scored and we roared his name. It didn’t matter though, he can rightly claim the assist.
Then came Mohammed Salah with the Reds’ second in the 19th minute. It was a crucial goal in my view, and not just in terms of the match. So much of Salah’s game is in his head, and the confidence he will take from kicking off his season with a goal is immeasurable.
The sight also of Bobby Firmino with the assist and the resultant chants of ‘Egyptian King’ followed by our mesmeric ode to his Brazilian strike partner were all welcome signs of the old and familiar Liverpool. The Liverpool of last season, at one with its people and relentless on the field of play.
With barely half-an-hour on the clock the Reds were three up. This time we were watching van Dijk score, and Salah was providing the ammunition. His lovely cross from the left was headed home with aplomb and we were ecstatic. None of us quite knew what to expect before the game. It had potential banana skin written all over it.
However, the Reds had simply picked up where they had left off the season before. Memories of a forgettable preseason had evaporated and the explosion of euphoria was reminiscent of much bigger games. The Reds were back in town.
The potentially disastrous loss of Alisson was brushed aside, when on 42 minutes Origi found the net with a brilliant header, following a superb cross from Trent. The young Scouser was also picking up where he left off last time out. He had found his groove and the Kop found its eleven button.
Amidst the noise and jubilation half time felt like a kick in the teeth. An unwelcome interruption. And, so it proved to be.
As I bounced down to the concourse underneath the famous old terrace, I entertained thoughts of a complete rout. Of six, seven, maybe even eight goals. Well, a Kopite can dream. But, while the second half was hardly a nightmare, it was a shadow of the first.
In truth, Norwich deserved their one goal. They had given it a go and some the of the football in the final third was impressive. It remains to be seen whether the real Norwich emerged after half time, and if we can expect better results for them in the coming season. They will certainly look for the positives in that second period as they plot their bid for survival.
For Liverpool, the one bright spot in the second half was Sadio Mane. The last to return to preseason, he showed no signs of rustiness and was a thorn in Norwich’s side from the moment he entered the fray, replacing Origi. Both players received rapturous applause as one departed and the other ran on to the pitch.
The visiting supporters sang ‘1-0 in the second half.’ You’d imagine that’s exactly what their manager will have told his players in the dressing room. Restricting the European Champions to just four goals, and grabbing a consolation at Anfield maybe the benchmark for a team like Norwich. It is also a sign of the progress made by Klopp and his players.
So too are the mutterings and grumbles of some Liverpool supporters, as they left the ground. This was the first game of the season. The Reds will undoubtedly improve and grow into the campaign. We can only hope that it will include Alisson. But Adrian looks a competent deputy. Meanwhile the team can only beat what’s in front of them.
A number of messages greeted me when I arrived home. One of them, on social media, was from an Everton fan. It said we had looked like Brazil in the 70s, during the first half. But it warned of burn-out and suggested better teams would have turned us over in the second half.
Neither assessment was fair in my view. Liverpool did what they needed to do against a plucky Norwich team geed up by the optimism of a new season in the top flight. It was a free hit for them and expectations among their fans were low. That wasn’t the case for the six-times European Champions (have I mentioned that we won the European Cup?).
For our rivals those comments are a sign of wishful thinking. It’s fun living inside their heads, and the rent is so low, it almost feels like we’re squatting.
The bar has been set for the Reds now. They rule over an entire continent after all. Ambitions and expectations, are soaring. The fact that some are bemoaning a 4-1 home victory on the opening day of a new season, is perhaps another symbol of the team’s rebirth.
Let’s all hope that, as annoying as those moans might be, they become another familiar feature of the Anfield landscape. I could live with that.
George Scott became one of Bill Shankly’s first signings in 1960. He spent five years at Liverpool Football Club, walked out at Wembley in the 1965 Cup Final as a member of the squad, and was top scorer in the second team three years running. He left with a personal letter of recommendation from Shankly himself.
Tales of Anfield Road is honoured to bring you his story, unedited and in his own words.It is moving, entertainment and informative.
In 1944 my mother was engaged, married, gave birth to me and was widowed all in that year.
My father was killed in Normandy, two months before I was born, whilst serving in the Gordon Highlanders. It was left to my Mum and my Granddad and Grandmother to raise me until the age of five, when my mother remarried a wonderful man who became my father until he passed away in 1991.
In late 1959 I was playing for Aberdeen Schoolboys and my footballing ability had been spotted by a man named Jim Lornie. Jim was caretaker at my school and also a scout for Liverpool FC. The Dons [Aberdeen] were my heroes. Initially I only wanted to play for them. Then, when I was 15, Liverpool came along. The furthest I’d been up to that point was just down the road to Dundee.
Jim persuaded my mother to reluctantly let me travel to Liverpool for a week’s trial. After playing in a trio of games for the clubs “C” team against Blackpool, Everton and Preston I was invited to Anfield to sign for the club as an apprentice professional.
My grandmother asked Bill Shankly “Where exactly is Liverpool?” Shankly’s reply was instant: “We’re in the second division now but we’ll be in the first division next year make no mistake about that.” Such wit and confidence made an instant impression on me. My mind was made up, I was only going to one club.
Bill Shankly was born in the mining village of Glenbuck in South West Scotland, 103 years ago. It is now almost 60 years since he arrived on Merseyside to take over the manager’s job at Liverpool FC.
He was a fantastic character who was full of charisma, passion, drive, enthusiasm and humour. Bill possessed an undefinable God given charisma that rubbed off on everyone who crossed his path.
He had a tremendous passion in his voice. He loved boxing and gangster movies. I always thought he seemed to model his harsh staccato style of speaking on one of his great cinema idols Jimmy Cagney (with a Scottish Accent of course).
In January 1960, at 15 years of age, I was waved off to Liverpool at Aberdeen Station by my Granddad, with nothing more than a small suitcase, £20 in my pocket and a head full of dreams. Sadly the next time I came home was to attend his funeral as he passed away a few months later.
This still saddens me greatly today. I was 350 miles from home and about to become one of Bill Shankly’s first signings at Anfield. I arrived at Lime Street Station along with Bobby Graham and Gordon Wallace, where we were met by Joe Fagan and Rueben Bennett. Rueben was an amazing character who used to tell some wonderful stories of his days playing as a goalkeeper in Scotland.
We drove along Scotland Road with Joe and Rueben and Joe said “this is the famous Scotland Road, and there is a pub on every corner and woe betide you boys if we find you in any of them”.
We arrived shortly at 258 Anfield Road. This was to be my lodgings for the next few years. The large house was only a stone’s throw from the Kop.
My first wage as an apprentice professional was £7.50 per week, of which I gave £3.50 to my landlady for my lodgings and sent £2.00 per week home to my Mum in an envelope to help the family out. I was left with £2.00 per week, which was enough in those days for a young man to have a great time for a week in Liverpool. That included being able to watch The Beatles start their career playing live in the Cavern in Mathew Street.
In May 1961, outside the secretary’s office, I found a complete record of the week’s wages to be paid into Barclays Bank in Walton Vale for every player and member of staff at Anfield. Unbelievably the total wage bill for every player and all of the coaching and managerial staff at Liverpool Football Club was five hundred and thirteen pounds, thirteen shillings, and two pence.
The following day we were taken up to Anfield and introduced to two young lads. One of them had a face like a map of the Andes and looked much older than his age, which was only fifteen like us. He had a fairly gruff Scouse accent. The other lad was tall and dark haired and seemed a little shy. Bill said “I want you to meet Tommy Smith and Chris Lawler, boys”. We all signed as apprentices the same week.
After two years as an apprentice professional, I signed full time professional forms for Liverpool on my 17th birthday, 25th October 1961.
We reached the FA Youth Cup final v West Ham United in 1962/3, losing 6-5 over the two legged final. We won 3-1 at Anfield and lost 5-2 after extra time, at Upton Park. The winner was a highly disputed late goal, where we were robbed by the referee, Jack Taylor. He later went on to referee the World Cup final in 1970, in Mexico City.
Finally Shankly put all of us, Bobby Graham, Alf Arrowsmith, Tommy Lawrence Gordon Wallace, Phil Tinney, Tommy Smith and Chris Lawler in for our reserve team debuts at Old Trafford, in the semi-final of the Lancashire Senior Cup against Manchester United, in 1962/3. And, we won 5-2. Bill was ecstatic.
We were like his version of the Busby Babes, and we had beaten a very experienced Manchester United team on their own turf. We lost the final 2.1 against Burnley at Turf Moor, who fielded virtually their entire first team. We also had to play with ten men for most of the match, after Tommy Lawrence had to go off injured. I did score our only goal though.
The 1960s was a period where there were only black and white television pictures; there were no mobile phones, no computers, no sky television and no action replays, no all seating stadiums. The player’s shirts had no names on them and were numbered from 1 to 11 and there were no substitutes allowed.
There were no agents, foreign managers or foreign players. The players played for the love of the game. It was a different era. The pitches were muddy and you could get away with murder when the referees back was turned. They never had fifteen cameras following every move and incident like they have now.
One of my first memories of Bill was not long after my arrival at Liverpool when we were standing in the centre circle at Anfield, while he was showing my stepfather and myself around what was a rather dilapidated stadium at the time. Bill said:
“Your boy is lucky to be here Mr Scott. This place will become a bastion of invincibility and they will all come here and be beaten.”
My father worked at the time as a gardener for the Aberdeen City Council, and during the conversation Bill asked him the question “Who are you with Mr Scott?” My Dad replied “I work for the City Mr Shankly,” whereupon Bill responded by saying in his best James Cagney voice, “What league do they play in?”
As Apprentice professionals, after cleaning the first team’s boots, painting the stands and clearing the rubbish from the Kop we used to play 5-a-sides in the car park behind the main stand every Monday morning. The opposition in these games was usually Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan, Ronnie Moran and Reuben Bennett. Our side was Bobby Graham Gordon Wallace, Tommy Smith, Chris Lawler, and me. We never ever won those games because Shanks and company would have played until dark to make sure they got the result.
The first team won the league in 1964. I had made the most appearances for the reserves, and I was top scorer by some way. The week before the celebration dinner Peter Thompson encouraged me to ask for a wage rise, so I nervously went in to see Shanks to plead my case.
Bill said it was not normal practice to award increases in the playing season but in my case he would make an exception. He gave me an envelope, which he asked me not to open it till I got home. When I opened the envelope it contained a £15.00 voucher for a mohair suit from a men’s outfitters in London Road.
The next day I asked Joe Fagan about it and Joe said Bill had told him I had been in to see him and that he wanted me to look as smart as the first team at the celebration dinner at the Adelphi Hotel at the end of the month. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
During the three years 1963, 1964, and 1965 I went on to make 138 appearances in the reserve team at Anfield, scoring 34 goals. I had the most appearances and scored the most goals in the reserve team over that period. I was then included in Shankly’s first team squad for the 1964 preseason tour of North America and was sure I’d get a chance to play because there were so many matches.
Unfortunately I sustained an injury and the club signed Phil Chisnall from Manchester United. Phil went instead of myself. I was gutted as it was my big chance to break through at last. But it was not to be. I’d even got my club suit, bag and all the equipment for the trip. Shanks let me keep the suit, said it would be a collector’s item someday. I gave it to my mother to mind and she accidentally gave it to the Salvation Army.
It was so different then from the Liverpool of the modern era. When reporters asked Bill Shankly what the team was he used to reply “Same as last season”In the 1964/65 season I ended the season at Liverpool as leading goal scorer in the second team at Anfield for the third successive season, but still could not break in to the first team. I was with the squad for the cup final when we won the FA Cup at Wembley and this was the first time that Liverpool had ever won the Cup.
It was a fabulous occasion, the greatest day in the clubs history at that time. I remember walking on the Wembley pitch with Bill Shankly Bob Paisley and Peter Thompson an hour and a half before the game. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck when Bill looked at the Liverpool fans behind the goal and said to Bob Paisley. “Bob we can’t lose for these fans, it is not an option”
I remember that wonderful reception at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, and trip home on the train where we drank champagne from the FA Cup, and once we passed Crewe you could not see the buildings for flags and bunting. When we arrived at Lime Street station there must have been over 500,000 people in the streets as we made our way to the town hall for the official reception. I stood behind Shankly on the town hall balcony and it was absolutely electrifying.
At the time I was in digs with the great Liverpool winger Peter Thompson. When we eventually got home to our digs later, I found a letter from the club waiting for me from Mr Shankly.
I opened it thinking that I had been permanently promoted to the first team squad, and that 1966 would be my big breakthrough year. However, I was brought right back to reality when I saw that the letter stated that, at a board meeting of the Directors of Liverpool FC, it had been decided to accept an offer from Aberdeen for me for £12,000. It was a good sum in those days and it ensured that I received £1,200 signing on fee. I used it to purchased a brand new Mini for £535 (God knows how much the same car would cost today).
On the Monday morning, I went in to see the great man as I was very upset. I asked him why he was letting me go as, having been top scorer in the reserves for three seasons, I thought I could break in to the first team. He then proceeded to make the most wonderful sacking any manager has ever implemented.
He said to me “George son, there are five good reasons why you should leave Anfield now.” I was puzzled and asked what they were.
“Callaghan, Hunt, St John, Smith, and Thompson” he replied “The first team forward line, they are all internationals son”.
I was in tears and it was then that he showed his motivational powers, humanity and his greatness when he said the words I will never forget. “George son always remember at this moment in history you are the twelfth best player in the world.”
When I asked what he meant by this outrageous statement, he replied. “The first team here at Anfield son is going to be the greatest team in the world and you are the leading goal scorer in the reserves, I have sold you to Aberdeen go back home and prove me right.”
He could see how upset I was and came round from his desk put his arms round my shoulder and said to me. “Son you have been here with me since the start but it’s time for you to move on. Think of yourself as the foundation stone of the Liverpool cathedral. No one sees it but without that stone the cathedral doesn’t get built.”
I don’t know how he came up with these statements that inspired people. He was just a working class ex miner from that little village in South West Scotland Glenbuck. It was amazing. He told me I was the best player ever to play for his reserve team. He also gave me a written reference that day, which is my proudest possession to this day. This is what it said:
“George Scott played for my football club for five years from 1960 to 1965 and during that time he never caused anybody any trouble.
I would stake my life on his character.
This reference has helped me more than I can say throughout my life.
George Scott, 2019
Coming soon, on Tales of Anfield Road, George’s time at Aberdeen and more Anfield memories.
For many of us, when we think of the history of Liverpool Football Club, our thoughts rarely stray beyond the arrival of Bill Shankly and the 1960s. This is entirely understandable. After all, Shankly transcends his role as manager, and his ethos and philosophy came to define the club for generations.
However, while it is true to say that the great Scot rebuilt a club languishing in the second tier of English football before setting it on a course to becoming, to use his own words, a ‘bastion of invincibility,’ focusing solely on on his achievements does a disservice to the many men who steered the club through its formative years, and who created foundations that have stood the test of time for over 127 years.
One of those men is George Patterson. Born in Liverpool, he served the Anfield club in various roles over many decades, before going on to live out his days in the shadow of Anfield, before passing away in May 1955, at the age of 68. George was living in number 21 Skerries Road at the time of his death – just two streets away from the football ground where he had plied his trade.
It was perhaps fitting, for a man who had given his whole career to the football club, that he would end his days within earshot of the mighty Spion Kop. If I close my eyes, I can imagine him making his way to the stadium on match days, walking among the supporters and sharing a few words with them. maybe he would have joined them for a tipple in the nearby pubs.
The role of manager has evolved considerably over the years. In the early days of the club, what we would call a manager was referred to as club secretary. And, the role did not involve picking the team. That job was the responsibility of the board.
Patterson joined the club as Assistant Secretary to the great Tom Watson, in 1908. Tom was a visionary who secured two first division titles and a second division championship. He won the clubs first top flight title in 1901. We’ll feature Tom on these pages soon.
Watson sadly passed away in 1915, and it would be Patterson who the club turned to, to fill his shoes. Unfortunately, the outbreak of World War I delayed his managerial career by three years, and he was officially unveiled at the cessation of hostilities in 1918. In the intervening years, he would guide the club through the various inter-war competitions.
Patterson would use this period to bring through many players, such as Harry Chambers, who would go on to serve Liverpool with distinction in the 1920s. Chambers became something of a goal machine, and a key figure in the famous ‘Untouchables’ side, who dominated English football between 1921-23.
Following his formal appointment in 1918, the news was met positively in the local media. A reporter, named Bee, writing in the Liverpool Echo, had this to say:
‘I (Bee) am glad that Mr. George Patterson has been appointed secretary of Liverpool F.C. He is a practical man, unobtrusive, and shows wisdom with pen and in football matters. He is following one of the best in the late Tom Watson, but has been well schooled, and will make good. In his football days he played a deal of football with Orrell and other clubs, but from an Army point of view his big frame is useless – he has an extraordinary number of wriggling bones that have been broken. Here’s to him!’
George would leave his role after just 18 games in charge, immediately returning to the boardroom. He was replaced by David Ashworth in December 1919. Patterson had won seven games and Liverpool were 18th in the first division.
Still, he must have been considered a valuable servant, as the club continued to use his administrative skills for years to come. They would also call upon him once more in 1928, after Matt McQueen moved on.
Sadly ill health meant that he would resign in 1936. By this point Liverpool had faded as a force and George would once again take up his role as club secretary, before finally retiring in 1938. The Sunderland Daily Echo carried a tribute to his career at Anfield on the 5th October 1938.
Thirty years an official of one football club! That is the proud record of Mr George Patterson, secretary of Liverpool F.C.
Mr Patterson has served the club in several positions, assistant secretary, then secretary-manager, but latterly, owing to the increasing duties and a rather severe illness he had to give up the managerial duties which were taken over by Mr George Kay, and confine himself to acting as secretary.
During Mr Patterson’s long stay at Anfield Liverpool have won practically every honour except that of cup winners.
Many players who by their performances on the football field have become famous owe their position to Mr Patterson, whose foresight and ability to see the potentialities of young players was responsible for their becoming footballers.
Following his death in 1955, Patterson was interned close to home, at the nearby Anfield cemetery. His funeral cortege left from 326 Anfield Road and would have weaved its way slowly past the stadium where he had worked tirelessly for three decades. Then, past the streets where he had spent most of his life to his final resting place.
There he remained, in an unmarked plot at Anfield cemetery until 2019, when a group of supporters from the Liverpool Historical Group, headed by Kieran Smith, collected the funds necessary to have his grave marked with a headstone. It now stands as a fitting tribute to a great servant of the club.
Kieran and the group began a ‘crowdfunder’ in April 2018, and after an article appeared in the Liverpool Echo in the following October, funds started rolling in. They reached their target in March 2019. Thanks to these dedicated supporters, the final resting place of one of the club’s most devoted servants has finally been appropriately marked. Smith said,
George is something of a misunderstood figure in the club’s history, yet he played a key role in its development all those years ago. He was also involved in player recruitment, helping to secure the signings of players such as Jack Balmer, Tom Bush, Berry Nieuwenhuys, Tom Cooper, Ernie Blenkinsop, Phil Taylor and Matt Busby. George served the club for over 30 years and deserves to be remembered.
Brian Spurgin, great nephew of Tom Bromilow, who captained Liverpool in the 1920s, believes George Patterson’s contribution should be celebrated today and recognised by modern supporters. He said,
I read the sad story regarding George Patterson on the Liverpool FC Historical Group Facebook Forum. The idea that a former Liverpool Manager is laid to rest in a grave with no headstone just a few hundred yards from the Club he had served with distinction for over 20 years saddened me. It affected me more so because of a family connection, George was at the Club at the same time as my Great Uncle (Tom Bromilow) George became our Manager in 1928 and one of the first things he did was to make Tom Club Captain. Maybe George wasn’t as successful as other Liverpool Managers but it is important that we pay our respects to a loyal Liverpool servant.
Kieran, Brian and the Liverpool Historical Group aren’t finished there though, and intend to ensure that another Reds great is similarly honoured. Bobby Robinson, a Liverpool player who was part of the 1905 title winning team, is also buried in an unmarked grave at Anfield cemetery, and there are plans to raise funds for another headstone.
Jurgen Klopp, speaking recently at a charity match arranged for Stephen Darby who has been diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease, remarked that it didn’t matter whether a player had played one game or 400 for Liverpool, they’re all part of the family. It’s great that in 2019, there are Reds supporters who are the living embodiment of that spirit.
George Patterson will always be part of the family. YNWA.
I was born in 1967, so I am kinda old now. I’ve seen the Reds win everything. Nevertheless, I missed Shankly’s first great side and that incredible first FA Cup win. By the time I became consciously aware of football, Shanks was in the process of rebuilding his second great team. The Reds were not winning things – Liverpool went six years without a trophy, between 1967 and 1973.
As a kid growing up in Liverpool in the 1970s, I faced a very simple choice; was I Red or Blue? Obviously, I chose Liverpool. My mum and dad were massive Reds, as were my grandparents, aunts and uncles, but I had lots of Blue mates. If I’m honest, I can’t really say it was parental influence, I’d have chosen Liverpool anyway. And it was because of one man.
If I was going to pick the best side on Merseyside at the time, I might have decided to support Everton. But Everton didn’t have Bill Shankly.
Shankly was like a God to my family. His influence was pervasive, like the unofficial Prime Minister of Liverpool to us. The people who mattered to me, my family and mates, just believed in him. And, I believed in him. If he said we would be winning things again soon, then that was it. Enough said.
The first big game I remember was the 74 FA Cup final against Newcastle. I watched that at home on the telly and I’ve written about this before, but the reactions of the people I loved, to that game and that win, will live with me forever. I would say my all-consuming love of the club can be traced back to that day.
By the time I was starting to go to games on my own, Liverpool were the undisputed Kings of Europe. In 1978 they retained the European Cup and I thought they were magicians. They were something akin to the the Harlem Globetrotters of football. Or maybe the Harlem Globetrotters were the Liverpool of basketball.
Of course, they could be beaten and did lose from time to time, but in my childish mind they could do no wrong. I was so convinced of their infallibility, that a defeat would be met with bemusement more than anger.
Anfield was a magical place, where miracles happened far more regularly than in the the other two cathedrals at either end of Hope Street, Liverpool. There was nothing special about the bricks, mortar, steel and concrete of course. The Kop was austere and the atmosphere was raw, gritty and working class. The Anfield Road end was just as raucous and the people who frequented that part of the ground were as proud and loud as Kopites, who they often referred to as ‘gobshites,’ long before Evertonians did.
For all its primitive trappings. I loved the place. I still do. Especially during a night game, when the grass looks so green and the lights so bright. The feeling of being in a crowd that feels more like a community and being swept up in song and draped in banners is second to none.
Anfield has changed, of course it has. The ground has been evolving for more than a century, along with the team and the people they represent. Yet, somehow the ghosts of those heady days of my childhood and adolescence still linger, whenever I take my seat.
There are countless stories and memories burnt into the fabric of that football ground, and in the streets around it. Some are deliriously happy tales, others are sad, even tragic. Anfield Road has been trodden by countless Reds down the years. Everyone of them carried hope in their hearts and had dreams and songs to sing.
We are Anfield, and Anfield is us. It’s more than a football stadium. Liverpool is more than a football club and this city is more than a place to stay, to me anyway. My city, its people and the team I follow have helped shape my politics, my writing and ultimately they have come to define who I am.
That’s why I care so much. For me, there’s no other way to explain my obsession with the fortunes of 11 men I don’t know, kicking a ball around a field, unless I accept that being a Liverpudlian is about being part of something bigger than myself. I am not religious at all, but perhaps my affinity with Liverpool, the club and the city, is as close to a religious experience as I will ever get.
It is irrational, joyous, despairing and often life affirming. But, it makes no sense when you sit down and try to analyse it. Is that religion? Maybe. All I know is it’s my life and I will be a Liverpudlian until I die.
My politics is the socialism of Shankly. I believe in collective effort and communal reward. I am unapologetically left wing. I don’t subscribe to the notion that politics and football should be kept separate. Heysel and Hillsborough, Thatcher and the doctrine of managed decline have taught me that politics is life and life is political.
So, I write about all of that. My team, my loves and my passions. I hope you stick around on these pages, read, enjoy and join in the conversation. And, if you fancy it, pick up one of my books or all of them, if you like.