By Patrick John
THIS is likely to get me battered in Bowdon, clattered in Collyhurst and walloped in Whalley Range.
But here goes anyway – I’m a Manchester United fan and (stick with it) I really haven’t got a problem with Liverpool.
There, I’ve said it. Huge club, some fine players, and a fantastic history. Not a problem at all. The thing is, you see, I’m a grown-up now. And, apart from being able to eat childish breakfast cereals to my heart’s content, the best thing about being a grown-up is being able to enjoy football without getting all twisted up with hate.
So, yes, of course I want United to win when we play Liverpool. But I want them to win when we play anybody. It doesn’t mean I have to hate them. I can want my team to win and still respect the opposition – Christ, I have to put up with Barcelona, don’t I?
(I should add a caveat here that I don’t always feel the same about Arsenal, but that is more to do with their manager than any in-built animosity for the idea of Arsenal per se. Their double-winning team of 1970-71 was only the second really good club team to enter my consciousness. I just have a problem with their sanctimonious, disingenuous arse of a manager. Nothing to do with Arsenal. Same thing goes for Crawley Town and Rotherham United as it happens.)
So I love Manchester United, but I love football too. It seems a reasonable approach to me, and if you don’t like it, well, you can stick it where Roy Keane told Mick McCarthy to stick it. (Another digression if I may: how do you do that anyway? Great player, Keano, but quite, quite mad, you know.)
But I’m here not to talk about Arsenal or Barcelona, or even Crawley Town or Rotherham United, I’m here to talk about Liverpool. You lot will know all of this already – depending on your date of birth anyway – but I thought you should know that I know it too. And, as I’ve said, I’m a United fan.
It actually started with the 1966 World Cup, some 18 months before my United-mad uncle first took me to Old Trafford (January 20, 1968, United 4 Sheffield Wednesday 2; Best (2), Charlton, Kidd – that’ll do me, I thought, after a couple of years watching CPD Porthmadog in the Welsh league).
For some reason, known only to my six-year-old self, I was taken with the fact that Roger Hunt wore 21 on his back. Further investigation – not sure how, as Shoot! magazine didn’t start until 1969 – led me to discover that, as well as being England’s No.21, he was also a fantastic striker for Liverpool. And that led to Ian St John, Ian Callaghan and his bonkers international career, and the mountainous Ron Yeats. Tommy Lawrence also sticks lumpenly in the recesses of my memory.
As a teenager in the 1970s – which, whatever you might hear, was completely brilliant by the way – we moved on first to Emlyn Hughes and Kevin Keegan. Who could not love Emlyn? Son of a Welsh rugby league international, but as fist-pumpingly, sinew-stretchingly committed whether in the red of Liverpool, the white of England or even the old gold of Wolves. Judgment of Keegan should not be coloured by his gaffe-strewn managerial career but, anyway, he went off to SV Hamburg and then came Kenny.
It shouldn’t matter who you support – even United – it is impossible not to include Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish somewhere fairly high up on the list of the best British players of all time. I’ve no idea how you are supposed to rate one player as better than another at that level but suffice to say that in my lifetime he would be on a very short shortlist with Best, Law, Baxter, Gascoigne and Neville (yes, yes, I’m joking about that last one).
Dalglish, of course, was the heart of the finest vintage. You’ll know it far better than me, but a couple of morsels stand out. Ian Rush goes without saying, and was there a more complete midfield player than Graeme Souness? With sublime passing allied to ferocious tackling, you could hardly ask for more and, again, his managerial record should not tarnish the memory. I’m not sure he could act, though, and there’s a parallel here – I may be a shameless Shameless fan, but there has never been a better television drama than Boys From The Blackstuff.
Nor should I overlook the defence. Alan Hansen, when not wearing a Scotland shirt, is arguably the best British defender I have seen, and his partnership with Mark Lawrenson was at least as good as my favourite pair, Roy McFarland (born Liverpool) and Colin Todd in Derby County’s heyday.
(A final tangent: how much better would England have been in the 1980s had the Lancastrian Lawrenson and Stoke Newington-born David O’Leary played for the land of their birth? Mind you, I wouldn’t have wanted O’Leary to go on and manage them…)
Of course, it’s all gone a bit pear-shaped since – made worse, I’m sure, by my lot’s success – and the whole Spice Boys debacle was hardly befitting of the club. Stan Collymore was a terrific player, though, for all his difficulties, and I should hastily add, before his dad starts spinning in his grave, that I would never call Nigel Clough a Spice Boy.
I can hardly mock the American ownership debacle either, can I? It was possible to have some sympathy as you languished under Hicks and Gillett, but you’ve probably got a case now for arguing that your American owners are better than ours.
So there we have it. I’m still a United fan to the core, but I have some respect.
Funny thing is, I’ll probably still get leathered in Litherland, hammered in Huyton and twatted in Toxteth. As someone (sorry, Sir someone) once said: Football eh? Bloody hell!
It won’t work, Patrick. If Yasser Arafat and Yizhak Rabin couldn’t make peace, what chance you & us?
Thanks for that Patrick. I really enjoyed your take on things. It’s sad that hate comes into it, and although I say “I hate United, or I hate John Terry, or Jose Mourinho is the biggest twatbag on the planet”, I don’t REALLY mean it. I get stuck in the heat of the moment sometimes, and I don’t like it. But it can be very difficult when you love your team so much, and all you want is your team to be the most successful it can be, to hear others constantly bash it. And I’ll be totally honest here, unlike United, we don’t have the years upon years of consistent success to roll our eyes and point at when people come towards us ready to slag away.
Sometimes as a Liverpool fan, it seems I’m always defending myself. Whether it’s people bashing Dalglish, or Suarez, or Benitez, or the way we won, or the way we lost, it just gets extremely exhausting always having to prove otherwise to people who only want to hurt you.
But as you say, it’s best to take the high road and enjoy football. I do my best, and have my slips every now and then, but it does get better as you get older. Thanks for your viewpoint!
erm.. 1972–73, 1975–76, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1979–80, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1983–84, 1985–86, 1987–88, 1989–90 we were champions..
1973–74, 1974–75, 1977–78, 1984–85, 1986–87, 1988–89, 1990–91 we were runners up.. thrown in a few FA cups, milk cups and 4 euro cups between 77 and 84.. id say that was years upon years of consistent success, wouldnt you?
Ha, yes. But I meant more recently. In the PL era I suppose I was referring to.
I can say that because I’ve grown up too :) I’m a forty year old life-long Liverpool fan that’s bathed in Liverpool’s success for most of my life and respectfully put up with Utd’s more recent success story.
Anyway, just wanted to say that I work in a ‘bad boys” school near Manchester and because I’ve grown up I like to teach the boys how to talk honestly and respectfully about their own team’s performances and rival’s team’s performances.
I get really wound up when a young Liverpool fan says, “Utd are shit!” At which point I have to then point out how ridiculous that statement is by saying where Utd are in the league & mentioning (with respect but hidden annoyance and frustration) Utd’s considerable recent success.
This approach has meant that I can have civilised playful banter with pupils who support Arsenal, Chelsea and Utd. This is no mean feat considering the type of lads that I teach :)
My daughter’s family on her Mum’s side also support Utd so I’ve needed to be able to talk honestly and respectfully about the rivalry. Luckily for me, my daughter supports the mighty reds of Liverpool and comes with me to matches. She decided herself which team to support by the way.
I hate the success that Utd have had with a passion but I respect their achievements and can recognise and appreciate when they play well, even though it hurts me – REALLY hurts me when they do.
I love Liverpool Football Club and I believe there is nothing that comes close to supporting them. Supporting the mighty reds is different to supporting any other team for reasons that would take forever to explain, even though I spend a lot of time explaining why to my daughter.
Thanks again Patrick but I hope with all my heart that your team loses every game it ever plays :)
Nah you won’t get leathered in Litherland…drop in and see us
Respect Patrick, Respect.
Is Patrick John a nom de guerre for one of TAW lads
No, it’s a genuine lifelong Manchester United fan that I used to work with. Sound fella.
It brought tears to my eyes!
Till I remembered your Chairman Louis Edwards from the 50’s who sold condemned meat to schools to make a few quid.Him being drummed out for making illegal payments on transfers and his son Martyn being spirited away for peeping under women’s toilets and engaging prostitutes on every away trip.
Then your Manager,Sir Alex, dragging Evra into the Referees room saying that Suarez had called Evra a N****r 10 times (Look at the F.A. Report).
What about that journo who was banned by “Sir Alex” for asking an awkward question at a press conference?
Docherty and Crerand drinking whisky by the gallon and being abusive to company rep’s who had come to see them with appointments (I happen to know a couple of them).And,incidentally,they were ManU supporters!
Think about the”Respect Campaign”and your Manager’s total support of that inititative!
No Patrick,I accept your olive branch and offer mine in return.But your club will never be as wholesome as you imagine.So no wishy washy apologist pseudo praise going to work with me!
Sadly,your club paid a price for its success and sadly for you that price will never be repaid!
I’m sorry to say that my experience and knowledge of ManU goes far beyond David Beckham.So forgive me if it seems a little harsh.
I thank you for your comments.And I don’t mean that I’ll kick your head in if I ever meet you!
There is still some respect from me for some of the fine players and football you have produced over the years!
But as someone (Sir?) once said “Knock Liverpool Off Their F*****g Perch?
I don’t think so. We can still hold our heads high!
All the Best.
I think I love you Brian
Blimey Brian, you could be a little bit more generous there. The lad’s offering an honest appraisal of his relationship, as a Manc, to our team, so what’s with the snidey comments?
Off the pitch few clubs are perfect – before you go slagging off Louis Edwards, have a very close look at David Moores. And Ferguson is no saint, but I doubt that he’s connected to one of the UK most dangerous criminals, as Kenny Dalglish is to Sean ‘Tommy’ Adams.
I was disappointed in your reply. It was exactly what I would expect from an uneducated Manc, not an intelligent red.
Oh do grow up. Head held high? Not after that stream of b*****ks.
Just as many LFC fans in Cheshire/South Manchester, (aka: Bowdon, Hale, Wilmlsow & Knutsford), as there are Mancs..
trust me i see the jerseys everyday :-)
I’m a LFC supporter from Australia and a large group of my mates are MUFC fans
A bit of banter happens often enough, however it hurts when the banter turns into vulgarity. Football is football, we are all there to appreciate the great game, just supporting different teams. Just because I support LFC and another supports MU, doesn’t mean we cannot get along. Cheers for the article mate
I really enjoyed reading that Patrick, it really puts it into perspective and then you start to think where does it come from. One of the avenues is immaturity as you’ve pointed out.
I would like to ask you your thoughts on your own manager in all this.
What do you make of the comments about knocking off perches. What do you make of your manager stating certain players shouldn’t play for our team ever again? What about accusing our manager of being beyond the pale? After all another avenue is respect or lack of it.
funny when i went to school you discussed football in the playground not the classroom with a teacher, ah the good old days.
Fuck off back to Wales!