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  1. So number one is Big Igor. It had to be really, didn’t it? Everything about the Big Croatian screamed out ‘Cult Figure’. For a start, there’s his name. ‘Igor’. Or ‘Eeeeeeeegor’, as he quickly became known. Then there was the way he looked. He arrived here with a basin head haircut, and in all the time he was here he never really managed to get a decent hairstyle. Bless him. After a hugely promising start, Biscan’s Anfield career hit the skids. He had a small cult following, but generally he was just viewed as another big money signing who was not good enough to hold down a regular place at the club. TLW has been criticised in some quarters for turning him into some sort of unlikely folk hero, but like I said, he already had a little cult following way before we got involved. All TLW did was take the gospel of Biscanbauer and spread it to the masses. It all started with a post on the TLW forum from someone who claimed to have seen Igor in Tesco’s smooching with some tasty brunette in one of the food aisles. Who knows if that was even true, but no-one cared. Suddenly rumours of Igor’s virility spread like wildfire, and a monster was created. Because Igor was such a quiet, mysterious fella (Carragher revealed in a TLW interview that he can’t remember ever having any kind of conversation with Igor in all the time he was at the club), it was easy for this whole new persona to be created. He always looked like he’d just got out of bed, so therefore that must have meant he was up all night entertaining his many lady friends. When he was pictured with his ‘middle leg’ dangling down from out of his shorts with Lee Carsley in close attendance, the forum almost went into meltdown with Igor jokes. Igor went from being the big dozy, accident-prone £5m flop, to the last of the international playboys virtually overnight. He was transformed, at least amongst the TLW brethren. I’m sure word spread elsewhere too, but Igor’s standing was at it’s highest at liverpoolway.co.uk. I’ve written before in the fanzine how Gregory Vignal once tried to use Igor’s name to secure the back seat of the reserve team coach from the Academy lads. He marched up to them and warned “Igor Biscan is getting on now, and he wants to sit there”. Vignal was laughed off the coach by Steve McNulty & co, but there was nothing to suggest Igor had anything to do with it. Carra revealed in issue 48 of TLW that Igor didn’t really mix too much with the lads on the coach, he’d just sit there laughing hysterically on his mobile, although no-one knew who he was speaking too (some fine lady no doubt). There is another Igor story that I’ve never been able to use until now, but the person who told me is no longer at the club, and it’s highly unlikely that Igor himself will be reading it anyway, so I think it’s safe to share this with you now. The club were on pre-season training camp, and Igor’s room-mate, who we’ll call Mr X to maintain his anonymity, had left the room to go and have something to eat in the restaurant. Igor declined his offer to join him, saying he wanted to get some kip. Anyway, Mr X got down to the restaurant, and then decided he wasn’t hungry after all and headed back to the room. He entered the room, to find a red faced, profusely sweating Igor lying starkers on his bed. Igor quickly pulled the covers up, but not high enough to cover the… ahem… fluid that was all over his chest. Mr X pretended he hadn’t noticed, went into the bathroom and pissed himself laughing before composing himself and going to tell the rest of the lads. On the field, Igor redeemed his battered reputation in his final season at the club where he often filled in admirably for Steven Gerrard, most notably in big European away games at Betis and Juventus. Not that his immense displays earned him any respect from the skipper, who simply referred to him as ‘that tit’ in his autobiography. HOW VERY DARE YOU! As the song goes, Igor Biscan is a giant of a man, and who the hell is Steven Gerrard to be mocking him? Gerrard may have secured the number two spot in the official club website’s ‘100 Players Who shook the Kop’, but Igor is number one is this particular chart. And first is first, second is nowhere. Remember that Steven Gerrard. Altogether now: “Two nil down, four two up. Igor Biscan wrapped it up, and he didn’t know what to do when he scored the goal, Igor Biscan’s our hero” Eeeegor!!! Dave Usher
  2. He’s big, he’s red, he’s off his f*****g head. Never has a song summed up a player so well. The Big Dutchman who was snapped up on a Bosman from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 1999 proved to be a popular figure with the fans, but it was certainly not for his goalscoring prowess. Meijer was a proper loon, but in a good way. As committed a player as any that have ever played for the club, Erik only knew one way to play, flat out. Anyone who watched him stomping around St Helens like a madman in reserve games will testify to how committed this man was. Reserve games against Sheffield Wednesday were treated with the same gusto most players would save for cup finals. What he lacked in talent he attempted to make up for with sheer effort, and the one thing Liverpool fans always warm to is a trier. Erik made 27 appearances in total for the reds, but managed only two goals, both coming in the same game at Boothferry Park against Hull City in the League Cup. Many of his appearances came from the subs bench, where his physical presence and heading ability proved useful whether we were chasing a game or protecting a lead. It became a customary sight, the game would stop for a throw in or corner kick, Erik would enter the field and sprint to the near post and demand the ball. Another regular sight was his first pumping, arm gesturing to the crowd to get them whipped up. It didn’t matter whether it was 15,000 fans on the Kop, or 15 fans on the terraces at Knowsley Road, Erik loved to get the crowd involved. Reserve games have never been as much fun as they were when the big Dutchman led the attack. There was never a dull moment. There was one occasion where he was in an offside position out wide, and he sneaked along the touchline doing this tip toe, Inspector Cluesoe type walk hoping the linesman wouldn’t see him. Mad as a sack full of crazy monkeys. Another time he closed down a full back, who played the ball back to his keeper. So Erik chased down the keeper, who played it over to the full back on the far side. So Erik chased him too, and eventually got across there and blocked his attempted clearance and knocked the ball out for a throw. He then leapt to his feet, fist pumping and yelling ‘Come on!!!’ to the handful of die hards stood freezing on the touchline. Another incident that stands out was in a league game at Anfield (against Bradford I think), where Erik took a ball full in the face from point blank range as he charged down a defenders clearance. There was an eery silence around the ground for a second or two as people waited to see what followed. It was almost like it happened in slow motion, as the giant striker paused for a second, looking as though he may be knocked down, only to suddenly regain his composure and shake his head furiously to shake off the cobwebs. A huge cheer went up, and he immediately set off after the ball again. That kind of commitment is a rare thing indeed, and if certain other players who possess considerably more talent than Erik had that kind of attitude, they could be world beaters. I won’t mention any names, you can guess who they are *coughs* Heskey * coughs* Pennant * coughs*. Other amusing Erik Mejier tales include the one where was the victim of a terrible high challenge by an Academy youngster who was training with the first team. The story goes that Erik was livid, but knew it would be wrong to take out his anger on the kid, so took himself back to the dressing room and kicked a door in! The Echo’s Chris Bascombe told TLW the following story about his experiences with Erik: “He was an eccentric but very likable guy. I remember Liverpool had a striker crisis before they played Leeds (when Leeds were good). I was told on the Friday by Houllier that Meijer would play. I saw him in the Melwood car park and asked him about the game. “Tell the people of Liverpool I have something to say. There are many players up for this match, and the Big Dutchman is one of them!” I loved the way he referred to himself as the ‘Big Dutchman’. When I was still writing ‘the Kop’ magazine, I wrote an article about Liverpool’s strikeforce. I mentioned Heskey, Owen, Fowler and Camara. At the next training session he ran over to me and said “where was the Big Dutchman in your article?” We printed a comic apology in the next issue.” The season Erik spent at Anfield co-incided with the boom in players’ websites. Many of the Liverpool players had websites, but Erik’s was the most entertaining. He’d post some of his home made recipes, and one time even posted a special ‘Fish Dish’ that Sami Hyypia had introduced him to. Erik’s culinary tips went down a storm with the LFC internet community, and it’s a damn shame his website isn’t still going. On the field, the highpoints were the part he played in a win at Highbury and a draw at Old Trafford. Erik won the free-kick from which Paddy Berger stunned the Stretford End with a 30 yard rocket, but for the most part the big man was more cheerleader than striker. It is somewhat fitting then, that the thing he is most fondly remembered for by Liverpool fans is not anything he did on the field, but rather travelling across Germany to go on the lash with the fans in the Alter Markt, Dortmund, before the UEFA Cup Final. He was even wearing his old Liverpool shirt, complete with ‘18 Meijer’ on the back. You’d have to be a right miserable bastard not to have fond memories of the Big Dutchman. A really fun guy.
  3. He was shit before he arrived, he was shit when he left, but for the short, glorious spell that he was a Liverpool player, Titi Camara fucking ruled. I love Titi Camara, and he probably shouldn’t be on this list as he’s much better than a lot of the others who made this top ten. He’s in there not because we laughed at him (like Phil Babb for instance), but because he made people smile. He was a real character. He’s a strange one is Titi. Before he arrived he had stank the place out in the UEFA Cup Final for Marseille, but in some ways that probably helped him at Liverpool. Expectations weren’t high, so that may have lessened the pressure on him. He made a great start to his Liverpool career, and my first real memory of him is seeing him juggling the ball and taking the piss out of Arsenal at Anfield. It was the game when Robbie scored that cracker from 30 yards. I also recall Titi shoulder barging Lee Dixon and almost sending him into the Paddock. He scored at Elland Road, and bagged a fair few goals in the opening months of his first season. He played with a smile on his face, and always managed to do some kind of trick during a game to keep us entertained. There’s only one thing people will think of when they think of Titi though, and that’s that night against West Ham at Anfield. Having found out his father had passed away that day, the Guinean striker insisted on playing against the Hammers that night, and fittingly he scored the only goal of the game. He broke down in tears immediately after scoring, but none of us knew the background behind it until after the game when the news broke. That night ensured Titi Camara’s place in Liverpool folklore, but it cut no ice with Gerard Houllier who just never really seemed to fancy him, especially after signing Emile Heskey. Houllier’s reluctance to play Camara in the closing part of the season arguably cost the club a Champions League spot, as the reds failed to score in any of the last five games and missed out on a place after a last day defeat at Bradford. Things got worse for Camara at the start of the next season, when he was sidelined with a back injury that Houllier claimed he was putting on. When he eventually returned to fitness, he didn’t get a look in, despite the side struggling in attack. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when Houllier made Camara warm up on the touchline for the entire second of a dire game against Slovan Liberec in the UEFA Cup. The game was crying out for him, and so was the Kop. Houllier ignored those cries, and the next day Camara handed in a transfer request. He moved to West Ham where he joined his pal Rigobert Song, but the move didn’t work out and not to put too fine a point on it, Titi was fucking shit for the Hammers. When he came back to Anfield as a West Ham player, he got a great reception and applauded the Kop whenever they sang his name, just as he used to do when he was a red. He’d even do that when the game was still going on, and it used to drive Houllier nuts. That was Titi though, he was a genuine fella who loved Liverpool. He later ended up playing for some rich middle eastern club. I remember reading about him scoring a hat-trick and being rewarded with three Rolls Royce’s or something daft like that. People often list Camara amongst Houllier’s poor signings, but that simply isn’t true. He was a good player for us and how he played for other clubs is irrelevant. It’s impossible for me to think about Titi Camara without smiling. Titi, Titi Ti, Titi, Titi Ti, Titi, Titi Ti, Titi Ti Camara. . . . Dave Usher
  4. What can I say about Djibs? Some loved him, some hated him, and some – like myself – loved him and hated him often at the same time. The colourful Frenchman was one huge contradiction. He’d speak about his great love for the club and the fans, and he’d back it up by wearing a red suit to get married in or be seen around town wearing a vintage grey Candy Liverpool away shirt. Then he’d refuse to close down defenders and fling his arms into the air when passes didn’t arrive exactly where he wanted them. He was completely infuriating on the field, and usually that kind of player isn’t tolerated. But there was more to Djibs than the tantrum throwing, arrogant looking, work shy striker who sometimes looked like he couldn’t hit Rick Waller’s arse with a cricket bat. The ‘laziness’ was more due to a lack of a football brain than any reluctance to run. He didn’t think ‘I can’t be arsed chasing that defender’. He just didn’t think. Cisse was a phenomenal athletic specimen, and if that had been allied to a better football brain and a better first touch then he really would have been able to live up the hopes that he could become as good as his pal Thierry Henry. As for the arrogance, by all accounts he is actually a nice, quiet lad, who was popular with his team-mates. Extravagent? Certainly. Arrogant? Non. If you judged him solely on a video highlights compilation of his goals, you’d think Cisse was something very special. Scary pace, and a ferocious shot, he’s scored some amazing goals in his career. Based on that, you could be forgiven for thinking he was almost as good as Henry. What those highlights packages don’t show however, are all the times he ran needlessly offside, or ballooned a shot into the back row of the stand, or failed to control a simple pass. Many Liverpool fans had seen the goal compilation videos on the internet (some of them on Djibs’ own website in fact), and as such expectations were high when he arrived for £14m after a three or four year chase by previous manager Gerard Houllier. He wasn’t a Rafa Benitez signing, but the deal had been agreed and seemingly there was no way out of it, so the new manager was stuck with him. It started well enough with a debut goal at Spurs, but the flaws in his game quickly became apparent. Serious doubts were beginning to emerge from many fans about the striker’s technique, work rate and overall effectiveness. One God awful display at Old Trafford in which he allowed returning druggie Rio Ferdinand the most comfortable game of his career, really raised concerns about the young French striker. Then, he suffered a horrific leg break at Ewood Park. It was expected he’d be out for a long, long time, yet amazingly he was back within five months, coming on as a sub against Juventus in Turin. That desire to get back playing makes a mockery of any suggestion that he is work shy, and it earned him a lot of respect and patience from the Anfield crowd. The flaws in his game were still there, but no-one was going to have a go at a lad who had fought so hard to get back playing at a time when we were short of numbers up front. His sudden popularity also made it difficult for Rafa Benitez to sell him. He’d scored a penalty in the Champions League final shoot out, and still had four years left on his contract. Getting shut of him wasn’t going to be easy, especially as he was desperate to stay, so at the start of the following season Djibril was still at the club. He bagged a load of goals in the CL qualifying rounds against the minnows, but on the whole he just wasn’t cutting the mustard up front. Benitez had watched hours and hours of video footage from Cisse’s Auxerre days, and noted that a high proportion of his goals came when attacking from the right, so he began to use him on the right wing. The results were mixed, as Cisse’s goals per game ratio was impressive, even when he was playing on the wing. The stats were perhaps deceiving however, as he was something of a flat track bully. Most of his goals came against poor opposition, and he never got a kick against the top sides. Old Trafford would again prove to be a low point, as he missed an absolute sitter when the game was scoreless, and we went out to concede a stoppage time goal and lost 1-0. He’d missed the chance because he had been sat on his arse complaining in the six yard box, and had to jump up quickly when the ball came to him and he spooned it over the bar. The incident encapsulated all that was wrong with Cisse, and that was the day when a lot of people finally ran out of patience with him. He continued to delight and infuriate (not in equal measures) for the rest of the season, culminating in the FA Cup Final. If ever a game summed up Djibril Cisse, that was it. As we found ourselves 2-0 down to West Ham, we were in big trouble. Djibs had already seen one goal harshly ruled out for offside, but when Gerrard picked him out with a perfect ball, he acrobatically found the net with a superb volley. That goal got us back into the game, and got him off the hook with the fashion police after he’d taken to the field in odd boots. He rectified that problem at half time, changing his footwear so they at least matched. Unfortunately, his new boots were lime green coloured monstrosities. He did himself no favours there, especially as his performance was terrible. He got cramp late on in the game, just like six or seven of his team-mates. We’d used all our subs, yet I distinctly saw Djibs trying to tell the bench he had to come off. He was told in no uncertain terms to get back on, which he reluctantly did. He couldn’t walk for most of extra time, yet when the celebrations started he forgot about the pain. When the celebrations had ended and the players left the field, suddenly Cisse appeared sprinting across the pitch to go and hand his shirt and boots to a fan in a wheelchair on the far side of the field. Those around me where not impressed that he could suddenly run when he’d walked through extra time. That’s what I mean though, he is a total contradiction. I don’t think any player has ever split opinion in the way Cisse did. There were those who pointed to his goals ratio and claimed he should have been a given a run up front, whilst other argued that he contributed nothing apart from the goals and he didn’t do it against the top teams. I’m definitely in the second camp, although I think given the right surroundings in a side that plays to his strengths he would look a terrific player. That team was never going to be us, as he just didn’t know what was expected of a Liverpool player. Morientes knew what was required of a Liverpool player, he just couldn’t deliver it as he didn’t have the legs. Cisse had the legs, just not the game intelligence. Rafa was all set to cash in on him that summer, and the money would probably have been used to get Daniel Alvez. But Cisse broke his leg in eerily similar circumstances to last time, and Rafa saw £8m removed from his kitty. Marseille took him on loan, and he’s back playing and scoring with them, so hopefully the deal will be made permanent in the summer. He is not a bad player, he’s just not a Liverpool player. It’s hard not to have a soft spot for the crazy bastard though. The one thing you can say about Djibril Cisse was that he was entertaining. Not in the way he would have liked perhaps, but how can you not smile when you see your centre forward take to the field with a BA Baracus haircut? I loved that haircut. I loved the red suit he wore to get married in, I loved his penalty in Istanbul and his jig around the trophy. I love the fact he somehow got his hands on an 80’s Liverpool away shirt and proudly wore it around town. I love the courage he’s shown to come back from two broken legs, and I love that he loves us. It didn’t work out, but it wasn’t all bad. Djibril Cisse made me angry, but he also made me smile and that’s why he made this list. Allez Cisse. Dave Usher
  5. If he was judged on his first few months at the club, ‘Crazy Tony’ would be a candidate for worst LFC player ever. Nightmare performances away at Norwich and in the FA Cup at Burnley were as bad I’d seen from a Liverpool player in a long time. But then it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. He was included in the deal that took Michael Owen to Madrid, but he wasn’t Rafa’s first choice. Or his second, or third. In fact, the rumour is Rafa didn’t ask for him at all, but Madrid made us an offer of £8m, or £8m & Antonio Nunez. Rafa took the offer, as the player’s wages were low, and it represented a risk worth taking. Nunez had played for Madrid’s first team a few times, but was usually a member of their B team. I’d convinced myself (without anything whatsoever to base it on) that Nunez was going to be a revelation. No-one expected anything of him, so for some reason I decided he was going to surprise everybody and be some kind of Luis Figo. I reasoned that no matter how good he was he wouldn’t have got a chance at Madrid, because he wasn’t a ‘Galactico’ and he was competing with Figo and Beckham for a place in their side. That was a fair point, and may have been one of the reasons he didn’t get picked at the Bernebeu. The fact he was pretty poo was another reason. Antonio’s Anfield career got off to a nightmare start when he picked up a knee injury in training on the day he was due to make his debut for the reserves. It didn’t get much better even when he was fit, as Nunez and compatriot Josemi failed to match the high standards set by fellow new Spanish arrivals Xabi Alonso and Luis Garcia. But wheras Josemi got worse and worse, Nunez slowly seemed to come to terms with English football, and made a significant contribution in the closing months of the season. He was excellent in a memorable Anfield derby win, when the reds lost three players to injury in the first half, and also had Milan Baros sent off after the break. Nunez worked his bollocks off and really stood up to the blues’ physical approach. Other notable contributions were the header that led to Mellor’s goal against Olympiacos, and he also scored in the League Cup Final against Chelsea after coming on as a sub. The abiding memory I’ll have of ‘Arthur’ however, is from the Chelsea semi-final. We were under the cosh late on, and Rafa introduced Nunez on the right to give us some fresh legs on the counter attack. Every time he got the ball, he just got his head down and ran in a straight line towards the corner flag. He did it brilliantly, and used up valuable time whilst giving the defence a breather. That summed him up for me. Not the most gifted, but someone who did a job. "Stand back, there's a Hurricane coming through" Just when it seemed he was settling in at Liverpool, Rafa accepted a bid from Celta Vigo and Nunez returned to Spain after just one season at the club. He left with a CL medal in his pocket though, and some fond memories of his time in L4. The nickname ‘Arthur’ incidentally, came about because there’s a guy in the Main Stand who insisted on calling him ‘Arthur’. When it was pointed out to this fella that his name is in fact Antonio, he replied ‘Well he looks like an Arthur’. He does too you know. Dave Usher
  6. Ok, we didn’t love him, far from it. But try thinking of Phil Babb with a straight face. Not easy is it? When I think of Phil Babb, I don’t think of his solitary Liverpool goal at former club Coventry. I don’t think of his total lack of talent, or his stupid shirt hanging out, cycling shorts crappy fashion sense. Well ok, I do think of all of those things, but not before I’ve thought of something else first. The name Phil Babb instantly conjures up one mental image for me, and it involves Babb, a goalpost, some seriously squashed nuts, and 40 odd thousand Liverpool fans torn between sniggering and wincing uncomfortably. It says a lot for Babb’s general crapness that this is the defining moment of his Liverpool career. He cost the reds £3.6m, which was a record for a defender at that time. He’d had a very impressive World Cup for Ireland in 1994, including a superb display against Roberto Baggio’s Italy. Hopes were high when he and John Scales both arrived at Anfield within 24 hours of eachother early in the 1994/95 season. Roy Evans knew he needed to strengthen his defence, and by splashing out so much money on Scales and Babb he showed he really meant business. It was clear from the start that Scales was a footballer as well as a defender, but Babb just never looked a ‘Liverpool player’. The uncomplicated style of the Irish suited Babb’s game down to the ground, but at Anfield he was expected to do a lot more than just win the ball and then launch it downfield. Used mostly on the left of the three man defence, he often found himself confronted by the opposition’s right winger, and it’s fair to say he had some problems, notably when he allowed Andrei Kanchelskis to give him the runaround in a 2-1 derby defeat at Anfield. The ball was like a hot potato to him, he just never looked comfortable in possession. Playing on the left side of a back three meant that he had certain responsibilities to carry the ball forward, but he just couldn’t do it, largely due to possessing no footballing ability at all. He had some pace, and defensively he did have some qualities, but in terms of sheer footballing attributes such as control, passing, and general skill, Phil Babb is the only Liverpool player that I genuinely believe possessed less footballing ability than me. As much as we often say “oh he’s crap, even I’m better than him” deep down, we know it’s not true. Someone like Paul Stewart was terrible for Liverpool, but put him in a game with you and your mates and you wouldn’t get near him, he’d be different class. I slated Josemi, but I know he’s light years more talented with a football than I’ll ever be. Babb was different, he really was totally lacking in talent. His left foot was his strongest, yet to me his left foot was like Stig Bjornebye’s right foot. In other words, totally useless. Babb would play a pass or maybe try a shot with his left foot, and it would just look like a player using his weaker foot. I’m not sure what his right foot was actually like, as I never saw him use it. When Gerard Houllier took over, there was no way Babb was ever going to survive at Anfield. Houllier was not slow to let players know if they were no longer needed, and the likes of McAteer, Harkness, James and Ince all moved on. Babb however, chose to sit on his arse picking up wages for doing nothing. Say what you like about Paul Ince (and I usually do), but at least he had enough professional pride to find himself another club when he was told he was not needed at Anfield. Not Babb though, oh no. He was quite content to see out his contract, even though he was not even considered for the reserves such was his abysmal attitude. Tranmere took him on loan, but he was so bad that they couldn’t wait to send him back. I remember watching a Tranmere game on TV, and noticing that Babb had actually developed a little pot belly under his baggy shirt. No wonder he never tucked it into his shorts. He must have had a good agent though, as once his Anfield contract had run down and he’d milked the club for every penny he could, Babb somehow he ended up getting a move to Sporting Lisbon. His time there was fairly short lived (no doubt they couldn’t believe how they’d been duped into signing him), and he returned to England with Sunderland. He was crap for them too. Another thing I didn’t like about him, was that he was far too cocky for someone of his ability. He embraced the whole ‘Spice Boy’ thing perhaps more than any of the other players, and was always spotted out on the town. He was on astronomical wages for someone so crap, and it’s galling that one so completely lacking in talent made so much money out of our club. I have a funny story about him come to think of it. He was once sent off in an away game (at Forest I think), and that night my mate saw him out in town. For some reason, my mate decided to go and talk to him (the ten pints he’d had may have had something to do with it!), so he wandered over to Babb (who was stood with other players, Collymore and James possibly if memory serves me correctly), and asked “I heard you got sent off today Phil, what happened?” Babb replied “Well the referee pulled this red card out of his pocket and told me I had to leave the field, so I did”. Now to be fair, that amused me greatly as it made my mate look a bit stupid and it was a funny line, but at the same time I’m thinking ‘cheeky arrogant prick, who are you to be acting cocky when you’re the worst footballer I’ve ever seen in a red shirt?’ If Phil Babb were a tv show, he’d be ‘Last of the Summer Wine’. An absolutely terrible, lame excuse for a comedy, that somehow managed to become known to everybody and land a primetime slot on a Sunday evening. The major difference between Babb and ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ would be that I’ve never laughed at ‘Last of the Summer Wine’. Phil Babb played 170 times for Liverpool Football Club, and that saddens me greatly. A disgrace to his profession, it says a lot about him that he will best be remembered for crushing his bollocks against the post in a failed attempt to stop a goal that he had caused. The only good thing about Phil Babb was the ‘match of the day’ song we had for him, “Babb Babb Babb Babb Babb Babb Babb Babb Babb, Babb Babb Babb Babb Babb Babb” That was class, he was not. He should have been called Phil Bad, or better still, Phil Shit. Dave Usher
  7. The Hungarian was apparently pretty crap, although in fairness I’m not sure how people came to that conclusion as sightings of him at Anfield were only slightly more common than those of the ‘lesser spotted Frank McGarvey’. Istvan made only six league appearances for the reds, which I suppose in itself was testimony to his lack of quality. After all, if he couldn’t get a game in Graeme Souness’ God-awful side, he must have been pretty poor. Souness had been impressed with Kozma’s form in the Scottish league with Dunfermline, where apparently he’d given Rangers a lot of problems whenever he’d faced them. Souness remembered that, and brought the player to Anfield for £300k in February 1992. He made ten appearances in two seasons for the club, but I must admit the only thing I remember about Kozma’s Liverpool career was one glorious 45 minute cameo in the remarkable 4-4 draw with Chesterfield in the League Cup at Anfield. I was 18 years old, and was stood on the Kop with a couple of mates. We’d got in a few hours early, as we used to do back then to ensure we got the spec we wanted. The stadium was half empty that night, and those of us who were there could hardly believe what we witnessed in the first half. David James, Nick Tanner and Mark Wright were appalling, as Liverpool’s defence leaked like the proverbial sieve. Amazingly, the team from two divisions below the reds went into a 3-0 first half lead. It was shaping up to be one of the lowest points in the club’s history, until an unlikely hero arrived on the scene to save the day. Kozma was introduced at half time, and was a revelation as he inspired a second half comeback that eventually saw the reds salvage a 4-4 draw. His trickery and crossing ability made a massive difference to the previously toothless reds, as Liverpool laid siege to the goal at the Kop end. The atmosphere in that second half was great, and it was all inspired by the Hungarian. The Kop were in full voice that night, and it was probably the one and only time as a Liverpool player Kozma heard his name chanted. It was actually my mate who started it, giving it the “IIIISSSSSTTTVVVAAANNNN, IIIISSSSSTTTVVVAAANNNN” (just like “IIIIIIIIGGGGGOOOORRRRRR”) after he’d set up a goal (for Ronny Rosenthal I think). Having excelled in the Scottish League, Chesterfield was probably his level and it was the one and only time he made any impression as a Liverpool player. Not being able to get a game in one of the worst Liverpool sides in living memory says a lot. But never mind Istvan, we’ll always have that wonderous night against Chesterfield….. Altogether now, one for the road: “IIIISSSSSTTTVVVAAANNNN, IIIISSSSSTTTVVVAAANNNN!!!” Dave Usher
  8. Lost in the glory that followed the defeats of Juventus and Chelsea, it’s easy to forget just how special this chilly December night really was. The Reds went into the critical game six of the Champions League group stages coming off two of their best performances of the season – the famous 2-1 victory over Arsenal and the destruction of Aston Villa (the game technically finished 1-1 but we pissed all over them). Needing to win either 1-0 or by a two-goal margin (assuming Monaco would beat group whipping-boys Deportivo) to qualify for the last 16, morale in the camp was helped no end by selfless captain Steven George Gerrard’s latest rousing ‘I wanna win things, me me me’ speech, which conveniently found its way onto the back pages on the morning of the game. But, not for the first time in 2004/05 and certainly not the last, Stevie G's awesome on-field talents ensured the next day’s papers would be full of the right sort of headlines. The outcome was all the more remarkable considering the reds started the second half needing three goals (sound familiar?) leaving Liverpool staring the dreaded UEFA Cup in the face. The reds had made a bright start but fell behind against the run of play when the cheating, snide, but brilliant Rivaldo swept a free kick past an all-too static Chris Kirkland and despite the immediate goalscoring impact of outstanding half-time substitute Florent Sinima-Pongolle, the sides were still level with just ten minutes to go. It seemed like it was going to be a case of so close yet so far after the reds had hit the post, seen two goals harshly ruled out and had a host of decent penalty shouts turned down. But just as Harry Harris was getting ready to file his latest ‘Gerrard to Chelsea’ copy, Neil Mellor, fresh from his match-winning strikes against Arsenal and Middlesbrough, was brought on to replace the clearly unfit Milan Baros. When Mellor stabbed in from close range a couple of minutes later, the stage was set for a frantic finish. As the game wore on the Greeks’ tactics had become increasingly cynical and infuriating and that, combined with the importance of the occasion, riled Anfield into a collective voice as noisy and raucous as it had been in years. Gerrard had been rather lacklustre for the majority of the game, perhaps weighed down with the pressure his earlier comments had placed on himself, and was somewhat fortunate to escape with a yellow card for kicking out in frustration at an opponent early in the second half. But some things seem just meant to be and when Mellor neatly cushioned Carra’s cross into the path of Gerrard the captain fired an unstoppable half-volley past Nikopolidis to send a standing Kop into delirium. A tense last five minutes ensued but Liverpool held on for a famous and absolutely vital victory in a match that, in many ways, signalled a rebirth for the famous old stadium. The voice of Anfield, George Sephton, described the atmosphere as ‘the best in 30 years’ in his post-game announcements - it ended up not even being the best of the season. Walking out of the ground, we were just relieved we had Champions League football to look forward to after Christmas and a bit more money to boot. The best we could hope for was to avoid the big guns in the draw for the last 16 before bowing out in the quarters, but there was no chance we could actually go all the way and win it, right? Season: 2004/05 Opposition: Olympiakos Result: 3-1 Scorer(s): Sinama-Pongolle, Mellor, Gerrard Venue: Anfield
  9. Well this is a magic moment that is truly up there with any other experienced by any Liverpool fan of any generation anywhere in the world. The way that all reds felt inside Anfield on that night could only (and was only) be eclipsed by the ultimate achievement in the game, going on to win the European Cup. As a Liverpool fan of 20 years I have to admit to missing out on the majority of our successes, when we last lifted the most beautiful of trophies I was three years old, and when we last won the title I was only 9, so for me the successes in 2001 were as good as it has ever been I suppose. However, this was to change. I had been present at the conquering of Juventus a month earlier and swore that I would never enjoy an atmosphere and a victory as much inside Anfield ever. I was certain. I was convinced. I was wrong. The way we had played in that game against Italy's old lady was simply phenomenal, and the goal from Luis Garcia made me feel physically sick with a mixture of delight and disbelief, but as a package this game was soon put into distant memory. Managing to scrape a ticket on the Kop for the semi final of the European Cup against a team I have learnt to hate so much was the perfect start, risking the sack from my shitty call centre job for pulling yet another 'midweek, champions league sicky' was just a no brainer. Inside Anfield the atmosphere warmed up and was as hostile and supportive as possibly imaginable. I knew this was going to be special but this was far, far beyond what I could have imagined, and the game had yet to begin. Optimism was swelling inside of me, blind confidence perhaps, but it was soon given good reason. Only 4 minutes had gone when a wonderful chipped ball by Steven Gerrard sent Baros running through towards the Kop goal and an onrushing Petr Cech. As the two moved closer it was obvious that Baros would get there first and as he did the keeper felled him unceremoniously. As the whole of Anfield screamed penalty, in rushed Little Luis Garcia to collect the ball and hook it goalward. Now, whether the ball crossed the line may still be debated in years to come, whether I cared will not. As Garcia wheeled away in delight, with as yet no signal from the referee as to whether the goal stood, I was certain as was everyone around me. GOAL. My growing hatred of everything Chelsea has not come from out of the blue, and one of the moments in the long list of wrongs came only a few months ago in Cardiff, where an early lead had forced us to defend for 90+ minutes and the resistance was eventually breached. I hoped that this would not be the same. The Anfield crowd grew louder although that seemed impossible. The Chelsea players seemed far less comfortable now than they had promised, yet again the 12th man was present and battered the confidence of the newly crowned Premiership Champions. We had chances, but nothing of real note and Chelsea again bombarded us with all of their expensive might, yet nothing that they threw at us could not be thwarted by the excellent defensive line. Finnan, Sami, Djimi and of course Carra were all phenomenal, and when the 'Special One' realised that belting high balls up to Drogba alone wasn't working, he threw on Robert Huth to help out. Still the efforts of the Chelsea players were futile. An incredible 6 minutes of injury time were almost up when a long high ball up to the new option of John Terry was nodded down and fell to Eidur Gudjohnsen on the angle of the six yard box, with players on the line, time stood still as he struck the ball goalward, only for the whole crowd to breath one enormous collective sigh of relief as it whistled past the far post. Liverpool and Chelsea players fell to the floor as the realisation that we had almost gone out and they had almost progressed passed through their minds. Only a matter of seconds later, a sharp whistle from the referee signalled the start of the celebrations and cemented this as one of those memorable games, a magic moment, to live long in the illustrious history of our great club alongside games such as St. Ettienne in 1977 and definitely in my lifetime, the greatest moment that Anfield has witnessed. Season: 2004/05 Opposition: Chelsea Result: 1-0 Scorer(s): Luis Garcia Venue: Arsenal
  10. Liverpool clinched their first title under Bill Shankly with a crushing victory over Arsenal, but there was no sign of the championship trophy at the end of the game. With just two points being needed from the last four games it was a case of when not if we'd be confirmed champions. But this was the last home game of the season and both players and fans were desperate to secure the championship. On a gloriously sunny afternoon, there was an early scare when Arsenal were awarded a penalty, but Tommy Lawrence was on hand to save George Eastham's kick. We were relentless after that, scoring five goals in an hour through St John, Thompson (2), Arrowsmith and Hunt. BBC cameras were on hand to record the action, as well as the Kop who were being filmed for a documentary. It was the year that the Merseysound took over the world and the Kop regularly sang pop songs, especially You'll Never Walk Alone. After the game the players did a lap of honour with a cardboard replica of the trophy. The reason the real trophy wasn't present is that it was still under lock and key at Goodison, home of the deposed champions. Their explanation was that the season hadn't ended yet. Season: 1963/64 Opposition: Arsenal Result: 5-0 Scorer(s): Thompson (2), Hunt, St John, Arrowsmith Venue: Anfield
  11. In a nailbiting winner takes all battle at Molineux, Liverpool won 2-1 to go top of the league in our final game. However we had an agonising fortnight's wait to find out if we would be crowned league champions. Going into the game Wolves needed just a point to take the title. But they wilted in searing 90 degree heat and goals from Jack Balmer and Albert Stubbins put us 2-0 up at half time. After the break Jimmy Dunn got one back for the home side but we held on for a famous victory, made all the more remarkable as key players Billy Liddell, Bob Paisley and Phil Taylor were all missing. The win meant we leapfrogged Wolves at the top of the table but despite the league championship trophy being in the ground we couldn't be presented with it. A severe winter had meant there was a huge fixture backlog and Stoke could overhaul us if they won their last game, which was scheduled for 14th June. On that day we met Everton in the Liverpool Senior Cup Final at Anfield and 40,000 turned out to see us stroll to a 2-1 victory. But the real final was taking place elsewhere and when it was announced that Stoke had lost 2-1 to Sheffield United the crowd invaded the pitch to salute the first Post-War champions. Season: 1949/50 Opposition: Wolverhampton Wanderers Result: 1-2 Scorer(s): Jack Balmer, Albert Stubbins Venue: Molyneux
  12. A point in our penultimate home fixture was good enough to secure our fourth title and second in succession in front of a capacity crowd. Liverpool had been top of the league all season and went into this fixture four points clear of Sunderland, with each side having three games left to play. Our goal average was such that a win over Huddersfield would virtually guarantee us the title, but nothing was being taken for granted. The Terriers had had knocked us out of the FA Cup and we hadn't won any of our last four games. 50,000 crammed into Anfield and witnessed a nervy first half, but there were cheers when the half time scoreboards announced that Sunderland were losing 2-0 at Burnley. Things still didn't go quite to plan when Brown gave the visitors the lead soon after the restart and we didn't equalise until the 77th minute when Harry Chambers scored with an emphatic header. There were no further goals and fans were left with a tense wait to see if Sunderland had got back into their game. When news came through that they had lost 2-0 there were joyous celebrations as there was no way we could be caught, even on goal average. Captain Don McKinlay said that even though we had been champions the season before, it had been even harder to win, as more teams raised their games against us. Celebrating fans had even more reason to be cheerful, as a recent budget cut had knocked a penny off the price of beer. Season: 1922-23 Opposition: Huddersfield Town Result: 1-1 Scorer(s): Harry Chambers Venue: Anfield
  13. Liverpool reached their first Wembley cup final with a convincing win over the Blues, but there would later be heartbreak for the hero of Maine Road. Over 70,000 Merseysiders invaded Manchester for this game and many of the city’s pubs were drunk dry. Reds fans were desperate for success after seeing a league title challenge fizzle out despite going the first 19 games of the season unbeaten. Liverpool dominated the opening stages, with Jimmy Payne and Billy Liddell tormenting the Everton defence down the wings. We led 1-0 at half time after a speculative lob into the box by Paisley had deceived everyone and dropped into the top corner of the net. In the second half we continued to take the game to the Blues and deservedly extended the lead when Liddell spotted a gap in the defence to score. Everton never looked like getting back in and their star man Harry Catterick was superbly marshalled by stand in centre half Bill Jones. However there would be a cup final disappointment for Paisley. With Laurie Hughes returning from injury, the board decided that the versatile Jones should keep his place and Paisley was forced to make way. We lost the game 2-0, but Paisley’s experience was vital to him later on when he had to make tough decisions in his highly successful management career with the Reds. Season: 1949-50 Opposition: Everton Result: 7-4 Scorer(s): Bob Paisley, Billy Liddell Venue: Maine Road
  14. Seven years after they signed, Bob Paisley and Billy Liddell finally made their Reds debuts in front of a packed house at Anfield. Fans that had been deprived of meaningful football for so long weren't disappointed either as the Reds came out on top in an eleven goal thriller. Liddell and Paisley joined Liverpool as youngsters in 1938 and 1939 respectively, but the outbreak of World War 2 meant their football careers had to take a back seat. National competition was suspended for the duration of the war, so there was huge interest when the Football League resumed for 1946-7. This wasn't our first home game of the season, but it was the first to be played on a Saturday afternoon. The gates were locked 40 minutes before kick off and those who were lucky to be inside saw us race to a 6-0 lead inside the first hour. Liddell was sensational, scoring two of those goals and setting up another, while Paisley put in a solid display too. Complacency led to Chelsea clawing the lead back to 6-4 but Willie Fagan eased nerves with our seventh three minutes from time. We went on to be crowned league champions at the end of the season, while the two debutants went on to play a major role in LFC's history. Season: 1946-47 Opposition: Chelsea Result: 7-4 Scorer(s): Liddell (2), Jones (2), Fagan (2), Balmer Venue: Anfield
  15. On a memorable Easter Monday Liverpool secured a third league title with a win over the previous seasons champions. With four games remaining the Reds were five points clear at the top of the league and knew that a win coupled with a Spurs defeat would guarantee the title. However Burnley weren’t going to relinquish their title easily, as they were still mathematically in the hunt themselves. Over 50,000 fans packed into Anfield and saw us win 2-1 thanks to goals from Dick Forshaw and Harry Chambers. There was then an anxious wait to hear the Spurs score. After what seemed like an eternity it was announced that they had lost 2-1 at Oldham and we were the new champions. It was the first time in our history we had clinched the title at Anfield and there were huge celebrations. There were further joyous scenes at the end of the season when the players and officials paraded the trophy in a horse drawn carriage. Season: 1921/22 Opposition: Burnley Result: 2-1 Scorer(s): Dick Forshaw, Harry Chambers Venue: Anfield
  16. Liverpool clinched their second league title in just fourteen years existence despite losing this game at Bolton. With two games remaining we were five points of Preston, who had a game in hand. A win at Burnden Park would guarantee the championship and 1,000 Reds fans made the trip by special train. In a thrilling game we went down 3-2, with Jack Parkinson scoring both our goals. However news came through that Preston had been beaten at Sunderland, meaning we could not be overhauled in the league table. The team arrived back at Exchange Station at 9pm and were met by several hundred excited fans, who escorted them back to their wagonette. As it was Easter Monday, several other daytrippers were returning from excursions and wondered what was going on. When told of our success, they joined in the celebrations too. It was our second title in just fourteen years existence and had been made even more remarkable by the fact we had been promoted just a year earlier. The Reds had become the first team to achieve this feat and only Everton, Ipswich and Forest have equalled it since. Season: 1905/06 Opposition: Bolton Wanderers Result: 2-3 Scorer(s): Jack Parkinson Venue: Burnden Park
  17. Come the end of the season many fans will be looking for specific traits that a new acquisition can bring to their club’s football team. Some will be prioritising a nose for a goal or a creative spark, others may look for good reading of the game and solidity in the challenge. That’s all well and good but with climate change on the horizon, natural disasters increasing in regularity and that unforeseen zombie apocalypse just around the corner shouldn’t we be looking for a different set of skills from our players? Specifically; the ability to survive in a post-apocalyptic dystopian future. At this point I’m presuming you’re all nodding your heads as the realisation of your misplaced priorities dawn upon you. As you’d expect I thought I’d get ahead of the curve on this and have already selected the people from the footballing world that I would be looking to assemble as part of my last-ditch backs-to-the–wall stand for humanity. To begin with you’re looking for intelligence, a strong moral code and the ability to lead others. You’re going to need a couple of these to help guide your group through the perilous situations that will face you. The first two names being selected are timeless Argentinean legend Javier Zanetti and Basque pass-master Xabi Alonso. I’d back both of them to be calm under pressure and they grab me as the types to try and hold the group together. On top of that after both studying under Mourinho they almost certainly realise that sometimes the route to survival involves getting your hands dirty and crossing some moral boundaries. Factor in Zanetti’s publicised support for the Zapatistas and you’ve got yourself the brains and the heart of the team right there. Next up I want someone that has military experience and so I’m looking towards Scandinavia as I have it in my head that over there they all have to do it (I did consider Israel but then Yossi Benayoun...fighting zombies...nah, we’ll leave that one). Straight away I’m thinking of Zlatan but then in the next thought I’m seeing the picture as he has to weigh up the survival of a few others against his own safety. The boy’s a lone wolf isn’t he? Black belt or not he’s a liability. I also considered John Arne Riise for his superhuman stamina and powers of recovery, but then found out he swerved national service. Apparently Teemu Tainio, of Finland and Spurs, got told by his old man he wasn’t allowed to duck out of it so, almost by default, Teemu’s on-board. If anyone or anything needs shooting I fully expect him to step to the plate. The fourth member of the crew isn’t a player. You’d be negligent to step out into the harsh, unforgiving badlands without having some medical experience for the many times it is going to be required. As much as I’d like to have brought back Socrates for this I can’t really go back in time so I’m going to make do with Nigel Adkins. The recently booted Saints gaffer was a physio and so I’m presuming the man has some decent skills with a first aid kit. I can’t make my mind up if his relentless positivity would be a good thing or if it would see him shot in the back within the first week. It’s a risk I’m willing to take. Although this is a totally serious process to help save humanity I am aware that there’s an outside chance the apocalypse may not crash down upon our heads quite as soon as I expect. For that reason I have to ensure this isn’t completely wasted time and keep one eye on the film rights. So with that in mind I know that an all-male crew just isn’t going to fly with the bigwigs who do the commissioning. This isn’t a problem as fifth member, Kelly Smith, fits perfectly into our growing band of travellers as a proven winner with a history of backing her own judgement, although the sentiment of “it’s shit here, I'm off over there” might not be that useful come to think of it. The wise head on young shoulders, brought about by a tale of redemption from problems with drink and depression, could also be essential, and provide a guiding hand in the dark times. The final member of the team had to come with some mechanical or electronics experience. This posed rather a large problem as the only person I could think of that fits the bill is Stuart Pearce. That’s a real tough call. Would someone with the nickname Psycho be an asset or a ticking time-bomb? Would he take to the new world like a fish to water or would he spin off into a Falling Down style descent and slaughter everyone in our makeshift beds? Given my limited options, and the added bonus that he did a bit of plumbing (always essential for a new civilisation), I decided to take a punt on him. Don’t let me down Stu, you fucking lunatic you. So, with half a dozen being about the perfect size for a group of survivors, there we have it. Come the reckoning you’ll have all been judging footballers by entirely the wrong criteria and I’ll be moseying from busted up town to town with this band of bad-asses. You may laugh now but when you’re being eaten by zombies because Lionel Messi hasn’t got a clue what to do and Ronaldo is having a little meltdown in the corner don’t come crying to me. Stu Montagu @SimianJustice
  18. tlw content

    David Thompson: "Carra should play on"

    Former Reds midfielder David Thompson feels his long time friend and former team-mate Jamie Carragher is calling a premature end to his Anfield career and has urged the defender to reconsider his decision. Thompson knows Carragher better than most having first played alongside him when the pair were just 9 years old, and he says Carragher could and should extend his time at the club into an 18th season. Speaking exclusively to TLW he said: "Jamie's performance levels this season have been fantastic. His reading of the game is second to none. I know he's probably got opportunities to do media work and maybe an opportunity to stay on at Liverpool in some staff capacity but if he can still run and he can still play and affect the team and his team-mates around him then I would encourage him to play on for as long as he can." Thompson drew comparisons with Manchester United veteran Ryan Giggs who recently agreed another deal to stay at United beyond his 40th birthday, and believes there is no reason why Carragher couldn't also have stayed on another year at least. "Knowing Jamie, he's a very proud man and he will have looked at how he's been used this season and thought "I want to play every game". After games he probably can't get up the stairs, he probably feels very stiff, very sore. But I'm sure Ryan Giggs at 40 years of age also feels stiff and sore after games. You just manage it". The midfielder, who also played for Blackburn Rovers, Coventry City and Portsmouth amongst other clubs, knows better than most the regrets of a premature retirement, having chosen to hang up his boots in 2007 at the age of 30 due to persistent knee trouble, a decision he know regrets; "I probably could have played another two years and I do regret that I didn't. I'd always encourage people to keep playing. If you can run and have no physical disability, just keep going as long as you can. Even though Jamie probably feels he's had a long career, you're a long time retired and you do miss it. Nothing will ever compare to that." * These quotes were taken from a not to be missed interview with Thompson on our latest podcast in which he discusses his time at Anfield, including the breakdown of his relationship with Gerard Houllier and infamously scrapping with David Hopkin in a reserve game.
  19. I think it’s acknowledged by most that Michael Owen is admired by many but loved by few. Of course you’d have to admire his career when you see his goal scoring record for Liverpool and England. Those days were Owen’s pomp, from the moment he burst onto the scene during the death throes of a Roy Evans title chase at Wimbledon, up to his last year with the club during the season that did for Gerard Houllier as Liverpool manager. At his most potent Owen was a sight to behold, his pace was his greatest asset followed by his ability in front of goal. He was never the player that Fowler was, Owen’s best work was inside the box or being put clear of a high back line, whereas Robbie was dynamite in the box but had a left foot that was dangerous from distance. They had different attributes but both were important players for Liverpool. Yet one is regarded as a Liverpool legend whilst the other is considered a legend nowhere. Maybe for the national team, where his record of 40 goals in 89 appearances seemed to give him his greatest sense of satisfaction. That was always the problem with Owen, he never seemed a Liverpool player in the same way Fowler, Carragher and Gerrard seemed to be. That was possibly because his defining moment to most (and probably himself) came in an England shirt very early in his career. Back then I didn’t have any beef with the England national team and I was buzzing when Owen planted that goal past Roa in the World Cup. Possibly because I never thought of Owen as Liverpool’s property it might be why I wasn’t cut up about him eventually leaving for Real Madrid. I was annoyed that he hadn’t given the new manager a chance (see also Torres, Fernando) to mould the side but I don’t think you can ever chastise a player for wanting to try something different (especially when that player had done so much for us) and if Real Madrid come calling then it’s the player’s prerogative if they want to give it a go. What wounded me about Owen was his move to Man Utd. I’d advocated bringing Owen back to help us out as an option from the bench and seeing him go to them stuck in the throat. In reality he owed us nothing, he gave us his best years, won stuff with us and tried to come back after Madrid realised that signing Owen and Woodgate would not lead to a La Liga title (who knew?). All moving to Man Utd did was assure that Owen would be a rare thing in football. A prolific goal scorer who had played for three top clubs and was loved by none of their fans (see how I’m not counting Newcastle there). I was never mad at Owen for going to the Mancs, just disappointed, and I never had any sort of self-righteous anger that football fans love to trade in, with him. He was a great player for us who gave us loads of good moments and a few great moments. To Liverpool fans his cup-winning double against Arsenal will always be his defining moment, not the goal against Argentina. So I suppose I don’t hold any sort of grudge against Owen despite who he went on to play for. He might not be loved by the majority of Liverpool fans but I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t love a fit, in his prime Michael Owen at the club now. Julian Richards I loved Michael Owen, but I also loathed him in equal and – now I realise - excessive measures. Today I don’t feel much at all. Probably not enough. It’s ironic that on the day he announced his official retirement from football – many would say it happened unofficially about 5 years ago - that both of those extreme emotions seem as distant as the terrifying speed and the wide-eyed smile that abandoned him too soon after his stunning rise and characterised his slide into absolute obscurity. It seems sad that a man of his rare talent, who provoked so many smiles and frowns and provided so many unforgettable moments, goes out with barely a whisper and only a Twitter account, on which he’s constantly mocked, to let people know he still exists. Michael can and already has pointed to honours and accolades as he hangs them up. On a personal level – always his priority - 40 goals and 89 caps for his beloved England and the European Footballer of the Year title. As part of a team, he’s also got a League Championship, an FA Cup, a UEFA Cup and three League Cups. People will point to his injuries and talk of what might have been, but the truth is any footballer could retire incredibly proud of that haul. The great tragedy of Michael Owen’s career was not his dodgy hamstrings and groins, it’s the fact that a man of his talent, potential and stature goes out with no one really mourning his loss. He’s not loved or loathed anymore. He’ll be remembered by everyone, but remembered fondly by hardly anyone. A once-in-a-generation player like Michael Owen should be missed. He won’t be. There was a time, when a friend and I jokingly had “Robbie or Michael?” arguments. I always picked Michael. What a ridiculous thought that is now. On reflection, I don’t think it’s his all his fault and that’s why I have a tinge of sadness today. I don’t blame him for joining United, but I hated him for it, just like I resented him for not holding out for a return home in 2005 in order to safeguard his England spot. But that’s just who Michael was. He was self-centred and driven to a fault. However venal he often seemed in the years following his departure it must be remembered that through his endeavours to become the superstar he did, he helped facilitate some of the best memories of many of our lives. I don’t need to list them and for those I’m so thankful. But I can’t help thinking, as the chapter closes on his career, that there was a chance for “Michael Owen scores the goals Hallelujah!” for so long my favourite player song, to join those tunes that echo around our stadium for generations after their bearer’s finest hour. I’m not sad for Michael, but I’m sad for that. Chris Smith Summing up my feelings towards Michael Owen really isn't a simple process. Frankly, he came back to haunt us about as much as one of Derek Acorah's fictional phantoms. There's not much argument that we got the best years of his once bright career. But unfortunately, when it comes to Owen there are so many mitigating factors to make you think you really dislike him. And then, you look at him now, a husk of a footballer retiring aged 33, and I can't help but actually feel the tiniest bit sorry for him. He evokes bipolar emotions, it's very odd. As a Liverpool player his record was excellent, he scored so many goals and in 2003/2004 was, in tandem with Gerrard, the reason we qualified for the Champions League the following season which we of course went on to win. When he first burst onto the scene he was electric. His reputation preceded him of course, he was touted up and down the country as being a goalscoring machine. That's the way things turned out. But he will easily fall short of club legend status. The "England's Michael Owen" thing never bothered me to be honest. He's certainly no more guilty on that front than Gerrard, who has reported to and come back from England duty with injuries many more times than Owen ever did. He was clearly very proud of playing for England (despite being Welsh, oh yes I went there) and the "Not English, Scouse" thing does nothing for me. I like to see players representing and being proud of playing for their country just so long as they don't get injured. But as always club is more important than country and after allowing his contract to run down to just 12 months, Owen's conduct towards the club that made him a superstar was reprehensible. I have no doubt that the delay in contract negotiations was manufactured. I don't have a problem with him going to Real, at that time in history they were the place to be, and despite finding himself on the bench for most of the season he chipped in with 16 goals. If I remember rightly he had the most goals per minutes on the pitch in all of Europe that season. What I do have a problem with is only getting £8m for a player worth at least treble that in his pomp. Even after that he could have remedied the situation but panicked and signed for Newcastle. He clearly didn't want to go there but it was a World Cup year. He wanted to come back to Liverpool and Moores and Parry were trying to make it happen. He should have waited until deadline day. If not, January. As it turns out, Ronaldo got injured that season and so he would have played a lot more than he feared. He lost his cool. A lot of Reds saw that as a betrayal. I won't lie, "Where were you in Istanbul?" from the Kop made me deeply uncomfortable. I found it a needless dig. Again, at Newcastle he did little apart from suffer injuries, a particularly nasty one in the 2006 World Cup was pretty much the end of him. He slunk out on a Bosman when the Geordies got relegated, much to the ire of their fans. Not that it's hard to attract their ire. At this point Owen lost any positive connection with Liverpool when he signed for United. Again, with him being gone for so long and his best days many years behind him, I could cope. Given the choice I'd sign for United over Stoke (those were his options) as well. But I would have kept my trap shut and acted with class and dignity. Owen however joined right in with his new target audience. Within minutes of signing for them "United were a fantastic club" and he had "always wanted to play for Sir Alex." It's comments like this that made people completely turn on him. And before the league game at Anfield in October, he came off the bench to a chorus of boos, shortly following his churlish (wonder where he learnt that...) comments about "looking out for Real Madrid and Newcastle's results." Again, trying to kiss up to the fans at the expense of those who made him. He was probably entitled to wash his hands of us after the "Where were you in Istanbul?" moment but by going on the attack he converted a lot of those who were indifferent to a lot of those who disliked. I loved him, I missed him, I was disappointed by him and then I hated him. Now I just feel sorry for him. He won't be short of money and his international record is very good, he'll be in England's upper echelons for a long time. But Michael Owen should have been a Liverpool legend. But he is ultimately going to be a man who just isn't remembered that fondly of at any of his former clubs. And for a player of that ability, that seems a shame. However, one Fernando Torres might want to think exactly the same - the grass isn't always greener on the other side, is it? Dan Thomas More than any other ex-Liverpool player it’s hard to pin down and put to words exactly what my feelings towards Michael Owen really are. I’m tempted to say I’m quite apathetic about him but then I’ll see a replay of a brilliant goal he scored or I’ll recall some of the events surrounding his relocations to Madrid and Manchester and it will drag me away from that neutral centre ground, in differing directions. For me, leaving Anfield for new pastures is rarely a crime in itself; it’s usually the way in which that departure takes place that informs my attitude towards a player. I can still watch Mascherano and Alonso with fondness despite both wanting to move on to better things, whilst feeling little but antipathy and pity for Torres due to him deciding not to bother playing football for Liverpool six months prior to the point that he was no longer playing football for Liverpool. The way in which Owen exploited the weakness of the manager’s position, and in many ways the club, by continuing to pretend he would sign a new deal, and not doing so, sticks in the throat. Deliberately giving himself the upper hand and forcing the fee we would receive down was a calculated but understandable move from Owen; just don’t expect a parade when you return to town. The derision and hostility that flowed down upon him on his return to Anfield was predictable but was also, in the grand scheme of cauldrons of hate, quite mild. The problem with appearing that you are a cold, calculating, footballing machine that keeps the emotion of the game at arms-length is that it’s hard for people to become attached to you. At the same time, they’ll hate you less too. For us to care about the demise of Arnie in Terminator 2 it has to be established that this ruthless construction of human flesh over robotic innards understands the human condition; he knows why we cry. The one we had in a red shirt always gave the impression that he never did. If Fowler had done what Owen did, Anfield would have struggled to contain the energy of hate on his return; Owen got ribbed a bit. In essence I find it very hard to conjure up much in the way of passionate feelings about Michael Owen, he of England, McDonalds, Green Flag and of glossy corporate brochures filled with motivational buzzwords and PR vocabulary. I feel the hairs stand up on the back of my neck when I see his goals winning us silverware. I feel peeved when I see him now, understandably, talk of LFC like it’s dead to him. More than anything I feel that I should feel more strongly about him; but I don’t. That’s the legacy of his choices: he’s a Ballon D’Or winner loved by nobody in particular. Stu Montagu
  20. For me this depends on how you look at Gerrard’s role in the team over the years. He played in the same team as Fowler during the treble season but I don’t consider that Fowler’s best years; the years from 94-99 were Fowler’s greatest in my opinion. That team did include Owen’s best years though; he was fantastic during the early ‘00s. Then there’s Torres who, despite how he left, was the player who Gerrard is most closely identified with as they played together as the partnership that brought us closest to the title in the last decade or so. No one else during Gerrard’s career has come close to those three players. So when Gerrard says that Suarez is the best he’s played with, that is high praise. First you have to take out the contemporary factor. Gerrard and Suarez play together now, in all likelihood he isn’t going to come out and say that Torres, for example, is better. One of the reasons is why would you want to take a dump on a current teammate and the other is who would give Torres that much praise after his performances in his last months here and his horrible exit and Owen going to the Mancs to vulture a title? But if you’re asking me who he enjoyed playing alongside the most, then it’s probably Torres. Those two were phenomenal together and were a real threat to any team. Certainly Gerrard was never more prolific than when he was playing up top with Torres. They were in every sense of the word a partnership. Now for Suarez, Gerrard’s role has often not been that of a number 10, especially this season where Gerrard is playing a role more akin to that of the pre-Torres era. They’re not a partnership so you can’t compare the impact they have on one another, so in isolation you take a look at what each player brings to the team. When you do that Suarez is much more of an all round player than anyone mentioned so far. All had their strengths but Suarez brings much more to the table. Again you have to be mindful of the contemporary factor, my admiration for Suarez is definitely going to be higher than Torres and Owen since he is here, now, scoring goals and the other two can go fuck themselves. Suarez can act like a one man wrecking crew, he’s got more tricks than anyone we’ve had recently, he’s incredibly difficult to shrug off the ball and he’s got an incredible competitive spirit (something that has been his undoing at times). As a teammate it’s difficult to ask for anything more from him. Gerrard didn’t get to play with Fowler in his prime but Suarez, for all round contribution allied to goals, is ahead of Owen and Torres. Torres had more presence outside the box than Owen and he had more skill along with pace than Owen who just had out and out speed (plus he was a very good poacher). The Fowler of the mid to late ‘90s though? That’s a pick ‘em for me, I adored that Fowler, who could score from virtually anywhere and was just sublime to watch. From Gerrard’s standpoint though, yes you could say Suarez is the best he’s ever played with since the Fowler he played with was dogged by injury and was being left out in favour of *sigh* Heskey. Is he just saying it because they’re in the same team now? Possibly, but that’s a hell of a list of players there and maybe Gerrard just enjoys seeing Suarez nutmeg players, or maybe it’s because Suarez is an incredibly talented player who goes all out to win every game no matter who or where we’re playing. That sort of thing goes a long way. Julian Richards I was surprised to hear Gerrard describe Suarez as "the best striker he has ever played with" because we all know that the skipper is very, very fond of our former, fallen idol Fernando Torres. Even over the summer and in numerous interviews I've read with him, Gerrard has always praised Torres. As well he might because for most of his time at Liverpool the Spaniard was a formidable team mate to have. He and Gerrard clicked instantly and they were a partnership made in heaven. Torres just hasn't had that sort of thing going on with anyone at Chelsea and it's one of numerous reasons he's failed there. Owen and Fowler are others you could mention. For me, Suarez is a better player than them as an all round player. They were all natural born goalscorers, finishers, poachers. Suarez has more to his game and he is for me the best player in the league right now. The best example I can give you is that goal he scored against Stoke City in the Carling Cup at Mos Eisley Cantina last season when he brought it down, got inside the defender and curled an unstoppable shot home. Can you imagine anyone doing that for us other than Suarez? Fowler, maybe, his goal against Bran Bergen and the one when he turned Stevie Staunton against Villa were amongst the best goals I've ever seen. Owen and Torres, no. They are just different types of player. That sort of goal isn't in their skill set. Which is what makes Gerrard's views on Suarez all the more impressive. Gerrard has fed Owen and Torres in behind to use their pace. That isn't Luis' game and to be honest with you I don't think he is all that dependent on Gerrard's service. Certainly a lot less than other strikers in our recent history have been. But what Suarez does is give Stevie more options. As he drops deep, movement in behind him opens space up for Gerrard to exploit and there are few better passers in the league. They do have a partnership don't get me wrong but it's not telepathic. It doesn't need to be. It's a different relationship that he's had from most of our strikers. Overall, I think Gerrard is right. Only Fowler comes close to him in terms of all round ability. Torres and Owen were once all about pace and goalscoring. Suarez isn't blessed with that type of pace and so earns his keep with exceptional movement and trickery. He's not a total goalscorer but he has improved this season and notches regularly. As an all round player though, what a footballer, the best player in the league I think. Dan Thomas For me, the answer to this particular question is simple - Luis Suarez is comfortably ahead of any potential candidate. The last thing I would want to do is denigrate the achievements of the likes of Fowler, Owen (spits) or Torres (spits again) but I believe there's one fundamental factor that puts Suarez at the top of the list - he's comfortably the better footballer. That may sound ridiculously obvious, but hear me out. For me, the best strikers in the game aren't always great footballers. If you were picking a 5 aside team, you would only want one player in the mould of Torres but you'd want 3 of Suarez. If Steven Gerrard is the complete midfield player, then Suarez is the complete forward. Suarez affects a game far more than any traditional goalscorer can because he's not an out-and-out striker. He could be if he wanted to, but he has so much more to offer. He may have an excellent goal-scoring record, particularly from his Ajax days (this season isn't too shabby either) but I don't think he possesses a god-given knack to stick the ball in the back of the net - he misses too many chances for that. The strikers who have that gift do so because they spend most of their time in and around the box sniffing for chances and they convert a respectable amount of opportunities they get. Suarez drops deep, runs into channels, creates chances for himself and others and scores so goals simply based on percentages. Others may go through a game hardly touching the ball but will score 1 goal from 2 chances. Suarez will be constantly on the ball and will score 2 goals from 7 chances whilst his team-mates will also be on the end of his creativity - as I say, affecting the game. Goalscorers are only really interested in touching the ball when they sense the chance of a goal. With regards to Fowler, Owen and Torres, their build up play would commonly consist of a layoff, followed by a spin and a dart into space. Suarez isn't only interested in space, he will drop off and take the ball but then wants to keep it and commit defenders or if he does pass it, he wants it straight back. His enjoyment comes from having the ball, whether it leads to an assist or a goal isn't necessarily important whereas a natural striker would elbow his own mother in the jaw just to score a goal (Suarez would do it just to be diabolical). This is basically a phenomenal player we're talking about - the heir to King Kenny himself. Would any of the other candidates be able to play left wing away at Arsenal and produce the kind of performance we saw in the week (goals, graft, creativity, versatility...)? No. And none of them come close to Suarez for me. Ian Brown It's a categorical YES from me, Suarez is the best we've had since Gerrard broke into the team. He's not the best finisher, in fact he would come in a distant fourth in that category behind Fowler, Owen and Torres. He's not the most suited to playing with Gerrard either, both Owen and Torres enjoyed great success using their pace to feed off the wonderful service provided by the captain, whereas that's not Luis' style. Suarez is the best all round footballer though, by a long distance. The other three all relied on service to a certain degree. Suarez can do it on his own if he has to, and quite often he HAS had to because the level of the team has not matched that of those the other three played in. Fowler and Owen played in some relatively bad teams, but they were also part of some very good ones too. Suarez has not had that luxury yet, but he's still been fantastic. There's an element of bias in my judgement, I can't deny that. I've got no time for Torres these days and that certainly clouds my judgement on him. For a time there he was arguably the best striker in the world, but he didn't sustain it and more importantly, at times he looked like he wasn't arsed. You can never, ever say that about Suarez. Give me a Suarez over a Torres any day of the week. You can go to war with a Luis Suarez, can you say the same about Torres? I loved Michael Owen, and despite how he's blotted his copybook in recent years I still bear him no ill will and I think his talents are extremely under valued by many Reds. He was voted European Footballer of the Year whilst a Liverpool player, that shows just how special he was. His best form probably came between the ages of 17-22 when he possessed the kind of blistering speed that terrifies defenders. I saw him as a 16 year old playing in our youth team and I'd never seen anything like him, he was incredible. He remains by far the best youth player I've ever seen, and the likes of Raheem Sterling for all his promise does not even come remotely close to how good the teenage Owen was. Teams shit themselves when they faced Owen. He was a cold blooded assassin in front of goal, and although various injuries slowed him down over the years, he worked on his weak areas such as heading and his left foot and remained a top goalscorer. As an out and out goalscorer, Owen was one of the greats. As an all round footballer? Below average, but that didn't matter as it wasn't his job. Fowler was a genius, he could score any type of goal you care to mention and was just a complete natural. Whereas Torres and Owen relied heavily on pace, Fowler relied on guile and instinct. Outside the box however, he was another one who would sometimes look totally out of his comfort zone. Suarez scores goals, he makes goals and he is a phenomenally gifted footballer. Allied to that, he works as hard as anyone, his will to win is as strong as anyone's and he's a nightmare to play against. Durability is another big plus with Suarez. Touch wood, I don't remember him missing a single game through injury in the two years he's been here. The other three were all plagued by various injuries that not only caused them to miss games, but also to have long spells where they were understandably below par. So Suarez edges it from Fowler for me, with Owen just holding off Torres for third spot. Dave Usher
  21. Michael Owen was the best young player I have ever seen, and it’s not even close. He was absolutely incredible in his teenage years, in fact I’d go so far as to say that despite everything else he went on to achieve in his career, that was when he was at his electrifying best. I first saw him as a barely turned 16 year old playing for us in the FA Youth Cup. He’d been given time off from the National School at Lilleshall to come back and play for us in the showpiece tournament for youngsters, despite being three years younger than some of his team-mates. He was incredible, he scored twice in that first game I saw (against Sheffield United at Anfield), and followed it up with a hat-trick in the next round against the Mancs at Anfield. It wasn’t just the goals though, it was the way he put the fear of God into the opposition. He’d just pick the ball up and run right through them. Teams completely shit themselves, he was devastatingly quick and he had ice in his veins in front of goal. I’d never seen anything like him before and have not done since. He wasn’t just incredibly talented, he was absolutely fearless and also had a maturity about him that you don’t normally see in kids of that age. He bagged another hat-trick in the 1st leg of the semi-final against Crystal Palace at Anfield, and when we ran into trouble in the 2nd leg and ended up in extra time after blowing a big lead, Owen came to the rescue again with two more goals. 10 goals in four games, playing three years below his age group. Some going that. He missed the first leg of the final through international commitments, but was back for the second leg and scored in front of over 20,000 people at Anfield as the Reds lifted the trophy. There were other good players in the team, including Carragher, Thompson and Jon Newby who all went on to play for the first team, but Owen was just something else. The next season he was in the reserves and the goals continued to flow until eventually Roy Evans could ignore him no longer (I thought he should have made his debut months before he eventually did). He scored minutes into his debut and the rest as they say is history. His all round game improved over the years, to the point where he was even named European Footballer of the Year in 2001, but injuries took the slightest of edges off his searing pace and although he was still exceptionally quick, he couldn’t do what he was doing as a teenager and adapted his game to compensate. He worked on his left foot and his heading to the point where he became pretty good with both and began to score all manner of different goals. Michael was a great player for us, greatly respected, admired, liked... but he was never really 'loved' in the way all of our other great strikers have been. His biggest crime was that he wasn’t Fowler. Robbie was the scal from Tocky who we all related to, he wasn’t clean cut and middle class, he was one of us. He would get himself into little bits of trouble but we loved him for it, he was a slightly flawed genius if you like. Michael on the other hand was seen as “Mr Goody Two Shoes”. Robbie would go out bevvying in town, often getting himself in bother whilst Owen would be in bed at 6pm with a mug of Horlicks, living the life of the model pro. Yet it was Fowler who we rooted for the most. Michael Owen was Bobby Ewing, Fowler was JR. Everyone preferred JR to Bobby, even though logic dictates we probably shouldn't have. I didn’t blame Michael when he left for Madrid, he owed us nothing and he was true to his word when he said he wouldn’t leave on a Bosman in the way McManaman had. Of course £8m for a player of his talents was only a small step up from a Bosman. In fact it was £8m plus Antonio Nunez, so nearer to £6m! But no matter. That money went towards bringing in Xabi Alonso so it didn't work out too badly when you look at how the next few years unfolded. A year later Michael was desperate to come back but he dropped a bollock by bottling it over possibly losing his England place by being stuck on Madrid’s bench. He should have just refused the move to Newcastle, even if it meant sitting tight in Spain for another six months until Madrid accepted our offer. There was no way we were going to match what Newcastle offered for a player who had left us for £8m 12 months before. I felt sorry for him when he was taunted with “where were you in Istanbul?” by the Kop on his return. If he wasn’t there as a fan then no doubt he was at home, cheering us on. And let’s not forget, without his goals the previous season we wouldn’t have even been in the Champions League that year. He deserved better than that I felt. Hell, I didn’t even mind too much when he signed for United. Once again he’d been desperate to come back here and waited for an offer that didn’t come. He could have turned down United and said “I can’t do it out of respect for Liverpool fans” but that’s just not how he’s made up, ‘Brand Owen’ was never going to look a gift horse like that in the mouth, he went to a lot of trouble designing that brochure to make teams want him, so when Ferguson came calling he probably couldn’t believe his luck. When the alternatives are Stoke and Everton, those aren’t alternatives at all really. So I was generally ok with him joining United, but I wasn’t ok with the way he reacted to it and the things he said. He could have said “I hope Liverpool fans understand that this was just too good a chance to turn down at this stage of my career” and at least tried to smooth the water. Instead he came out with some bollocks about how it was always his dream to play for United or something. It wasn’t true, he was just trying to ingratiate himself with the United fans and he didn’t give a toss if it upset us. It wasn't the last time he'd do it either, you could have been forgiven for wondering if he'd ever played for us at all, let alone spent something 15 years man and boy here. That’s my only real beef with him, the lack of respect he showed us after joining United. I didn't like it, but it’s not enough to wipe away the good memories I have of his time here. On a scale of Love and Hate, I’d be sat near the middle on Indifference, leaning ever so slightly towards Love. And I hope to one day again see a kid in the youth team that terrified the opposition like the 16 year old Owen did back in that Youth Cup run. Dave Usher
  22. Some may be surprised at the inclusion of the player signed by Kenny Dalglish from Sunderland for £200,000 in July 1986. He wasn’t a bad player by any means, but that’s not what this top ten is about. It isn’t the ten worst players, it’s players who weren’t the best but had something about them that was pretty funny or endearing. In Barry’s case, it was his haircut and his wardrobe! He was a steady full back, a decent back up but never really good enough to be a regular starter. He wasn’t quick, wasn’t particularly skilful or good going forward, but he was a good competitor and steady defender. ‘Solid but not spectacular’ would be the best way to sum Venison up on the field. Off the field was a different story. Sporting a mullet that Michael Bolton would have been proud of, Barry had a penchant for outrageous clobber, and was a constant target for ribbing from his team-mates. With a wardrobe so colourful it made John Barnes look positively dull, Barry was the butt of many a dressing room put down. A friend of a friend of mine grew up with Barry in the North East, and used to go out on the town with him occasionally. Every time they’d go out, Venison would wear something hideous which would keep his pals amused. Then one night they saw him walking towards them, dressed in this conservative looking dark suit. Disappointed, they were just about to ask him what was wrong, when he turned round to reveal this huge white stallion on the back of his jacket! He had a decent career at Liverpool, playing 158 games and even finding the net three times. He originally got his move to Anfield after writing to every club in the top division asking for a chance to play for them following Sunderland’s relegation. Dalglish gave him that chance and the player gave six years good service. He left to join Newcastle, where he re-invented himself as a holding midfielder under Kevin Keegan’s management, and even managed to get himself a couple of England caps playing in that role. At the time Terry Venables was handing out international recognition to everybody, including the likes of Neil Ruddock and David Unsworth, but Barry’s club form did warrant the call up to be fair. After hanging up his boots he got a job as a pundit with ITV, where he got the chance to show off his whacky suits to a national TV audience. Sadly, the mullet had long since gone, but we live in hope that it may return one glorious day. Dave Usher
  23. Ok, so we didn’t love him, but we laughed at him and seeing as though I was struggling to find ten players who fulfilled both of those requirements, the South African made the list by default. In the summer of 1998 Roy Evans paid £2m for the striker who had forged a good reputation for himself in the Bundesliga. He had a good goalscoring record, and was described as a pacy, powerful forward who was as much a threat in the air as he was on the ground. That was partly true, in that his aerial threat was the same as his threat on the ground. He posed no threat either way. On his arrival, he was asked about his strengths as a player. He immediately mentioned pace, saying“I’ve always been the quickest player at every club I’ve been at, but I hear Michael Owen is pretty quick so we’ll see…” Understandably, hopes were high amongst the fans after the build up he’d given himself, but he was a total flop, making only three substitute appearances before returning to Germany at the end of the season. The most notable of those appearances was in a home defeat to Leicester City. As the ball was cleared out wide of the Leicester penalty area, Dundee set off after it, with a clear five yard start over Frank Sinclair. Yet Sinclair overhauled him with such ease it appeared Dundee was standing still. Faster than Michael Owen? Maybe now that Michael’s on crutches perhaps, but even that’s debatable. He was a character though was Sean, and there were loads of wild stories doing the rounds about him, the strangest being that he had more than one wife back home in Germany. I never did find out if that was true, but nothing would surprise me as he was a bit of a party animal. Rumour has it he’d turn up on a Saturday morning, still dressed in the clothes he’d left Melwood in the day before, stinking of booze, wanting to know why he wasn’t playing! There were also reported sightings of him cruising for talent around Liverpool City Centre in his convertible sports car. I never saw this myself, and it could be one of those urban myths you get about footy players, but it would explain why he couldn’t run! I was told a story by a club employee a few years ago that Dundee actually scuppered his own transfer to a top German side, by asking them what the nightclubs were like in their city. Everything had been agreed, transfer fee, personal terms the lot, then he popped the question and they couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Luckily Stuttgart came in for him, he was warned not to ask any questions and we got a million quid for him. When it comes to the worst player ever to play for the reds, Dundee is a strong contender. Had he been given more opportunites to play he’d probably be most people’s number one. Luckily for him hardly anyone can remember seeing him play. I saw him play in the reserves, but I’ve tried to erase that from my memory. We’d have been better off signing Mick Dundee from ‘Walkabout Creek’. Dave Usher
  24. 10 Torben Piechnik – The likeable Dane arrived at Anfield during a difficult period for the club. Manager Graeme Souness was struggling to get things right, and the club was in a transitional period. Even with a bonus code few would have backed the Reds to win anything, Souness needed a centre half, but money was tight. He’d spent plenty already, and most of his signings had not worked out. Now the club were rebuilding the Kemlyn Road stand, and the cost of that had an impact on Souness’ budget. If he wanted to buy, he’d have to sell first. So Dean Saunders was offloaded to Villa, and Piechnik arrived from FC Copenhagen for somewhere in the region of half a million quid. He’d been an integral part of the Danish side that had shocked the football world by winning the 1992 European Championships, a tournament they hadn’t originally even qualified for. Hopes were high that Piechnik could have a similar impact at Anfield to that of his compatriot, Jan Molby. Those hopes were short lived. His debut came, ironically, against Aston Villa and Saunders. The Welsh striker gained his revenge on Souness by scoring twice in a 4-2 Villa win. It was a game which will forever be remembered for a glaring miss by Ronny Rosenthal, but it was a sign of things to come for poor old Torben. He struggled to cope with the English game, and had real trouble dealing with any strikers with pace. He was slow on the turn, you could say that milk turns quicker than Torben, and he was often exposed as the reds held a high defensive line. His most humiliating moment came in the 1993/94 season at St James’ Park when he was hauled off at half time as Andy Cole had a field day, hitting a hat-trick in the opening half hour of the game. The Dane didn’t play for the club again, and was released by Roy Evans at the end of that season. In total he played 27 games for the club, not all of them bad it should be said. He was far from a success at Anfield, yet there was something very likeable about him. He was never booed or jeered by the crowd, probably because everyone recognised how hard he tried and what a good guy he was. I remember travelling to Chesterfield for the return game after the 4-4 at Anfield, and the terraces were bouncing to the ‘Torben Piechnik – Teddy Bears picnic’ song. “La la la la la la la la, la la la la la la la la, la la la la la la la la Torben Piiiiiiiiiechnic” Good times… Torben always made a point of staying on the field after the game and applauding the fans (a bit like they way Dirk Kuyt does now), and that meant he was cut a lot of slack. How can you boo someone like that? I liked Torben, even though I could see he was pretty crap. ‘Crap’ is harsh, as clearly he was a decent player, he just wasn’t Liverpool standard, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying and I respect him for always giving his all. I actually bumped into him in ‘Top Man’ in town a few months after he’d left. I said ‘hello’ and asked how come he was back in Liverpool. He said he was back to watch a game at Anfield because he had a free weekend, and he was also going to the club’s Christmas party. He may have been crap, but he still ruled. God bless you Torben! Dave Usher
  25. The first example of blues being scared of Liverpool came in the 1893 Liverpool Senior Cup final. It was also the time that their paranoia about referees favouring us started and all this happened before we had even been elected to the Football League. Within a year of the rent dispute between Everton and John Houlding that led to the Blues moving out of Anfield, the two clubs were set on a collision course in the final of the Liverpool Senior Cup. It was a chance for Everton to gain some revenge on Houlding, who they felt had been trying to rip them off for personal gain. You would think that they'd be up for the game and feeling confident, especially as they had just finished 3rd in Division 1 and reached the FA Cup final, while Liverpool were two divisions below them in terms of status. However, Liverpool had romped to the Lancashire League title and now looked set to gain election to Division 2, so the Blues realised there was perhaps a chance they might get beat. So, despite having nothing to fear on paper they decided on a course of action that would in effect nullify any possible Liverpool victory. Everton arranged a home friendly against Scottish side Renton on the day of the cup final, which was to be played at Bootle. By fielding their strongest side in the meaningless game at Goodison, it meant a reserve side contested the cup and gave them the perfect excuse should they fail to win. As a consequence, Everton did in fact lose 1-0, but even with a weakened team they still couldn’t face the prospect of Liverpool collecting the cup. Everton’s players protested so strongly against some refereeing decisions that officials decided not to present the trophy in order to keep the peace. The club then put in a complaint to the local FA about the referees competence, but this was not upheld and they were criticised for their unsporting attitude in defeat. Liverpool were eventually presented with the cup at the beginning of the next season, where it was proudly put on display in the Sandon alongside the Lancashire League championship trophy. However, both cups soon disappeared and Liverpool had to pay £150 to replace them. Although I’m not suggesting for a moment that the bitter blueshites pinched them! Steve Horton