IT’S 18 August 2001 and Liverpool are playing West Ham in the opening game of the Premier League season. Robbie Fowler isn’t even on the bench after a public fallout with Phil Thompson, that he has failed to apologise for. The Kop are very vocal on who they support. They sing Fowler’s name throughout the game as he sits in the stands.
After 77 minutes the score is 1-1. Michael Owen, who has already scored in the game, fires past Shaka Hislop at The Kop end. His celebration is uncharacteristic, full of frustration and aggression. He practically screams at the Liverpool fans to give him more adulation, as much as the man in the stands who won’t apologise for a training ground indiscretion. This is five games since Owen won the FA Cup Final, to quote the commentary, “all on his own”.
That year, Michael Owen also wins the Ballon D’or. Football supporters all over the world idolise him. However he never reaches the same level of adulation at Anfield as the lad from Toxteth did. Different reasons are given. But it mainly boils down to the fact he just never quite feels one of us.
Jack Balmer is 14th in the all-time list of Liverpool goalscorers. With 110 goals, he’s scored more than Barnes, Keegan, Toshack, Stubbins, Suarez and Torres. In terms of Scousers, Balmer was born in West Derby, the same as Trent Alexander-Arnold, is fourth on the list – behind Gerrard, Fowler and Jack Parkinson, a Bootle goalscorer who played at the turn of the century.
Balmer captained Liverpool to a league title in 1947, Liverpool’s first for 24 years, scoring 24 league goals in the process. The season before, he scored a hat-trick in three consecutive games. After retiring, he went on to coach at the club. He should be a much more celebrated player in the club’s history.
The Kop weren’t having him. I haven’t spoken to anyone who was around at the time, Rob Gutmann was busy, but it appears to basically boil down to the fact that he was a bit posh and he wouldn’t launch into 50/50s. Here is the man himself on the issue. “Maybe I didn’t go in for the crunch tackle but that kind of thing wasn’t my idea of football. I was never a coward at the game but I got a shudder when I saw the boot going in.”
Bob Paisley wrote in his autobiography “I don’t honestly think I’ve ever known a player so harshly treated by Liverpool supporters as he was – but he managed to smile his way through, although it hurt him deeply.”
Fast-forward to last week. Daniel Sturridge wins the game for Liverpool, getting both in a 2-1 win. The Kop sing his name, but the names of his strike partners Divock Origi and later Danny Ings are sung much louder. It’s not the first time Danny hasn’t quite felt the love of The Kop his talents seem to deserve.
It’s launched a million theories by a million behavioural experts since. Every possibility has been explored. Is it to do with attitude? Injury record? Work rate? Culture? Race? Just having a name that is quite hard to fit into a good song?
I don’t know the reasons why. I do, however, know it is nothing new. Some players have always connected with the crowd more than others. In the past everyone just got on with it. Only now does it seem that talent and song volume need to be perfectly linked.
Didn’t we used to love a cult hero? One of the most famous Liverpool banners of all time was about Joey Jones who was, I am reliably informed, a bit rubbish. But everyone loved the banner. He was a tough lad, no nonsense, one of us. Now there would be a 400-page discussion on Red And White Kop asking why there wasn’t a Kevin Keegan one the same size.
We don’t have to love players directly in relation to their talents. The players themselves don’t expect it. I also don’t think Sturridge is that bothered. At Burton away Sturridge had his name chanted more than I can ever remember. He didn’t look up once. I think he just likes scoring loads of goals.
He’s also different. He tries to be different. In 2014, Vice called him “The only hipster footballer”. Now I’ve heard The Kop called a lot of things, but hipster isn’t one of them. Do you think Danny Sturridge really cares about what a load of fellas in their 40s think of him? He’d rather go into schools and teach all the kids the wriggly arms dance.
To me, he seems far more bothered about making kids happy. After that game last week, when apparently hardly anyone sang his name, he stopped to give a couple of young lads his match warn tops. Everyone looks made up. Danny would have gone home thinking about how happy those kids were. Not how much The Kop sang about Divock Origi.
Sturridge makes time for young fans because he says he can remember being the kid who waited for the footballers to get an autograph. Kids love him because he’s fun and different and really, really good at kicking it in the goal.
Just like Michael Owen, Daniel Sturridge does connect with the fans. Just different ones. They might not be the ones who shout the loudest, but they are the ones who are smiling the most.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
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I like this
The littler lad’s face tho’, getting Studge’s shirt after Spuds . Beatific?
You’re right its nothing new. He’s a class player and person, will be looked back on fondly in years to come but i doubt he’ll ever be “loved”.
Does Sturridge deserve to have his name sung more? Probably.
Will this ever happen, probably not. Why? God only knows.
As you say fans take to some players and not to others and he is a prime case in point. I don’t think there is a specific reason why its just happened to be so.
Well, I am one who was around in Balmer’s day. I was borne 1926. He was well respected but nobody exceeded Billy Lidell in our admiration,not only as a footballer, but as a man.
Bloody hell Mr Owen! you’re 90 this year and are on a comments section of a fan site? My mum is in her 50’s and can’t even use her email!
Well played sir.
A timely piece because people’s weird resentment towards Sturridge has been doing my head in more and more recently.
There’s tons of fellas called Dave and Barry on phone ins after matches saying how they wouldn’t have had Sturridge in their Sunday team. Yeah thanks for that call Dave, you silly old git.
I must have missed all the Kuyt chants drowning out Torres’ song because of his superior work rate and ‘attitude’.
Very refreshing post.
Studge plainly says that clubs aren’t committed to players so he feels he’d be foolish to assume he won’t ever move on… the papers say “Sturridge wants to leave”
Studge is asked how he feels about paying out of position and responds saying he doesn’t like it but he will do it for the team… papers say Sturridge is having a moan about playing out wide..
I’m a LFC & Studge supporter since his Bolton loan days and can honestly say that we have never deserved him.
Don’t know the figures exactly but I’m pretty sure we’d have finished 5th without him in 13/14…
John , really good view of one of our best players …. we will Only I feel know how good when he is at the emirates
I think it’s stupid when it’s put down to race and then on another Tweet these same people say ‘but why does Origi get a song when he hasn’t reached anywhere near the heights of Sturridge’. Absolutely not having it. I don’t think for one minute the Liverpool crowd is racist. Mario got a song straight away as did Sakho. There are some people who have their own battle with racism peddling that line and they throw in the work rate or ‘lazy’ tag to justify it. The reality is though a white man is allowed to say they’ve got that wrong, primarily because it’s those same white men who are the accused.
Injury record is wide of the mark too. We only have to think back to his partnership with Suarez when the crowd sung any song they possibly knew such was the good time they were having. The ‘Sturridge’ chant did get a slight airing then pretty similar to now whereas Suarez was boomed out.
Of the other things you mention there is some truth in it whether culture, arrogance and the difficulty of singing his name. The clues are in the past. You mention Balmer being perceived as middle class. Owen, though not a Chester lad was perceived as being from there and had a close knit family who he always turned to. Much like Sturridge. Sturridge also has his faith. So, much as I don’t think it’s an arrogance thing I definitely think it’s because he appears secure in his life or to put it another not needy. Same as Owen.
Sakho appears a bit needy in his child like manner. Gerrard certainly does. Suarez came across as someone who’d struggled all his life and was fighting demons to succeed in life with everything he had. Torres wasn’t much different. There was a side to him where though confident he appeared needy in a child like way. Mario clearly had issues and we welcomed him with open arms. We even saw a vulnerable side in Kenny and Rafa and certainly the likes of Aldo who LFC fans really like but we didn’t see that in Rodgers. Much as his name was sung he was never held in the same esteem and wouldn’t have been had he matched their success. Henderson has a two songs or had. I think one has fallen by the wayside and the other doesn’t seem to be well known. He might be a total pro but he’s vulnerable. What do the fans think of me? Ings and Origi are slightly different. There’s a feeling they’re both desperate to prove themselves at Liverpool. They haven’t come as superstars but young lads desperate to show us they’re good enough. I could go on but I feel I’ve made my point.
So, I think the Kop like needy people. If someone is comfortable in their skin like Owen and Sturridge the collective taking them under the wing doesn’t seem to happen. Words like arrogant get used (I’ve heard it said about Owen too) but all that’s meant is content in themselves. Naturally, it’s not 100% correlation. People like Agger are revered and seemed content in himself but the tattoo did it for us. What I would say is there’s a lot of subconscious truth to what I’m saying. Nothing malicious though.
This is a bit of a meandering post but I don’t mean that in the negative. In fact, is quite good. We really can’t put a finger on why Sturridge isn’t getting the love. What’s clear is that it isn’t one thing, it’s a number of things. What you said at the end, that the Kop love needy people – people who are desperate to be hugged and idolised, may be true. But I cringe when I hear the Origi songs when the lad, as good as he could be, isn’t yet fit to hold Sturridge’s jock strap. Daniel needs a proper song and one sang with gusto and pride. He is a genuine world class talent and we can’t be seen to just treat this kind of talent like he’s some pub player. World is watching. Particularly when we aim to attract the best in the world. We’ve gotta come round to making this lad feel loved. He’s given us everything. It’s about time we repay him in kind.
Haha, and there was me trying to be ‘succinct’. I don’t think I’m capable of it.
I’m only actually making one point – that it’s down to how needy we ‘perceive’ players. I was trying to point out there can be many forms of what we interpret as needy.
Whether you mean it or not, you’re insinuating Sturridge needs or craves our love. I don’t think he does. I think he gets his strength from his faith and his family and wants to do well for himself and those around him. I genuinely don’t think he’s that arsed about us and others whether knowingly or subconsciously have interpreted the same thing.
Origi is a young lad who took a lot of stick at Lille. He suffered similar things to what Sturridge does. He’s not trying, his heads at Liverpool etc. Some of us were concerned by those whisperings. So, now it appears he’s trying really hard, saying the right things and showing a humble side i.e the team are playing well so there’s nothing I can do but try harder. From the Lille perspective on him to what we’re seeing it’s feels like his ambition is to make it for us. So, he’s straight under our wing.
Anyway, my main reason for the post was my anger at the insinuation that’s always about on Twitter that it’s a racist thing. The narrative insinuates it’s not because of his skin colour but because he’s a young confident lad with bling (who’s black). How dare a black lad be cocky. I’m saying it’s half right but very very wrong and actually very offensive to the majority of Liverpool fans. Certainly is to me. But, take the racist bit out and I believe there is some truth to these things that get said because we like needy people not strong ones. I was saying I feel it’s always there as an undercurrent to our affection. Alonso was loved by the Liverpool fans (eventually) and became a cult figure. But, he was from the Basque and Basque men are strong and determined people who don’t want your pity. So, to fit our narrative of what we like we reversed the neediness. His son supports Liverpool, he loves us, his dogs called Anfield. Surely he wants to come back, please come back., you’re one of us now.
I’d like to hear Sturridge shown more appreciation but I think we’re all getting a bit carried away by this now. It is what it is. We need new songs full stop. It doesn’t matter who they’re about.
Needy = robin crimes. In this post at least. “Please come back”
The ‘race issue’, to which you instantly refer, was merely thrown out there by the author as one of many things that could be a barrier to a decent song. I am sure he doesn’t think the Anfield crowd is racist either.
Listen you little weasel, I don’t like you and I don’t think you bring anything to this comments section at all except trying to antagonise people. In future just don’t interact with me because I fuckin hate people like you.
To answer your point, at no time have I said Sturridge thinks the Anfield crowd is racist. Nor have I said my view is in relation to the small reference John made to it. In fact, I’ve made it quite clear I’m talking about an ongoing debate that’s been happening on Twitter that I’ve been involved in where a Liverpool fan with a fairly large platform continuously insinuates the lack of appreciation of Sturridge is down to racism. It’s an every week occurrence and it winds me up because it’s insinuated you can’t possibly understand it if you’re white. What’s worse is when the sycophants back up his points.
Look mate, it’s in my nature to react when challenged but like I say, I don’t wanna be wasting my time with someone like you who I’ve absolutely no respect for. Can you do me a favour and skip my comments from now on. A minute ago I was sitting here relaxing after a tough day and now I’m sitting here fantasising about gouging your eyes out. Seriously, do us both a favour and ignore my comments.
P.s the please come back was mocking the pathetic narrative we hear from Liverpool fans every transfer window. I’ve advocated for years on here that Liverpool need to stop looking to the past for solutions.
Rereading robin; totally agree with the need for ‘new’ and better, more original songs.
Part of it is that the crowd are a bit too cool for school at times.
If you go on RAWK, and manage to avoid the bloody awful and cringeworthy poetry, every chant has to be a five verse TS Eliot style lyrical epic referencing one corner taken in 1958. Can’t we just sing “Liverpool” loads and loads? Gets the point across I reckon.
As for Studge I think he’s great. He should get more recognition but, like John, I don’t think he’s too bothered either way. Would be nice if he had a good song though.
This is a really good angle on the subject, a subject I think does need to be talked about.
I’ve been tweeting at the Wrap account for a while now about how it would be brilliant if you did a show about Daniel Sturridge, race and culture or something like that. I think there is still merit to that. Do fans think what they think about Sturridge because he’s black, for example? I know we’ve had John Barnes, Divock Origi’s name was chanted etc, but Daniel Sturridge lives a different type of “blackness” it could be argued. There are people that can no doubt articulate this sentiment better than I ever could, but the fact he’s black, his aloofness, the way he dresses, the music he likes all fits into this characterisation that the media have built around him.
You’ve (the show) talked before about how the media can have a big influence on people’s think with Rafa; with Daniel we’ve been told he’s lazy since he was 17; money chasing (like Raheem, though don’t think anyone said it about Rooney) when he moved to Chelsea at a young age too.
Last week after the Spurs game we had BBC radio on and they did a piece on the game (Robbo contributed!) and there were 2 things that really stood out as the BBC were trying to be really educational about it all:
1. “Jurgen Klopp’s style of play is all about something called gegenpressing.” – Kloppo would be pleased with that summary I’m sure….
2. “Daniel Sturridge still has to adapt a lot to fit in with the hard work required” (not exact words to be fair, but that was the gist) – this is how he’s spoken about in the mainstream press! Outlets that those of us who interact with TAW content probably rarely come across, but huge numbers of fans do.
This discourse around Sturridge must have some effect on our fanbase.
I do strongly feel that there’s merit to John’s piece – maybe he doesn’t care anyway, and there’s always been and always will be relationships with star players that aren’t completely obsessive. But the way people talk about Sturridge in the stands, in the pubs, the fans of other clubs – there is something deeper to all this, at least in my humble opinion.
Owen was pitched against Fowler as Sturridge was against Suarez, people chose their tribe and sometimes that’s all there is to it. Robbie and Luis could do no wrong in many people’s eyes, their apparent faults appeared to heighten their hold on their followers affections as if to make them even more real a deal. Owen & Studge were the sterile alternatives.
he made a real effort to find a disabled kid in the crowd after Bournemouth away in the cup a few years ago. I spoke to his mum and dad on the way out, and they told me they had visited Melwood and Danny had made a real fuss of their lad.
i think that was the game he missed an easy chance and we sang ‘what the fucking hell was that’, which as a nice moment. But that could have been Suarez I don’t remember.
anyway, I do remember Danny Sturridge finding this lad and giving him his shirt. so he’s pretty classy for a grumpy hipster
It was Suarez but that’s beside the point. Sturridge was on Gogglebox recently (for anyone not familiar, people are filmed watching selected programmes of the weeks tv and we watch their reaction) and he showed a real humane side. Watching a child die of cancer reduced him to tears. There are countless examples of Sturridges generosity around. He’s clearly a very down to earth lad.
I don’t want to make my point again as I’m already entering overkill but it’s well known the British people love an underdog. Google that sentence and you’ll find over 2 million results. The other thing is, how we determine the underdog is not always based on facts. In fact, it’s usually based on either initial and immediate perception or a story that the press have run telling us to think that way. We rarely delve any deeper. Funnily enough, I’ve had it all my life. My mates will introduce me to someone and they’ll say Robin’s a very good mate of mine which in general immediately opens doors for most people. They take the word of a friends recommendation highly. In my case, it rarely works like that because people consider me aloof, stand offish or too opinionated. I lack the etiquette of kissing arse / don’t say anything too controversial to early in an acquaintance. After 6 months I often become very good friends with the person because they start to understand my personality and that I’m just a bit odd. My point is perception is huge for British people whereas outside of our small minded Island it’s not. My view is the perception of Sturridge isn’t that of someone who needs extra loving. I think the other possible reasons are red herrings that have been applied with a blanket view by people who lean towards a subjective view in life rather than objective because it fits a narrative of theirs. So, my last word is a) British people are quite stupid and b) the problem is with the British public not Sturridge. He’s only a pawn in their game.
You’re just so ramblingly self obsessed. I will try my best to ignore you. Don’t want my eyes scratched out after all.
Sturridge is a good guy, as evidenced by numerous examples above of him making a real effort with the younger fans. Sure, some could say it costs him nothing to do so, but think of the way some other players are and it puts it into perspective.
I think his personality is the reason The Kop has never really taken to him. He comes across a little cocky, though I truly believe he is just extremely self-assured – and he has had to be, considering his obscene injury troubles.
I like him. I don’t want all our players to be the same, so long as they all buy in to Klopp’s philosophy. Having a player like him is never going to be a bad thing. We were able to draft him in to what was essentially most our under-23 team against Spurs and he came up with the goods to dump them out.
He came to us and danced when he scored, remember Robbie Keanes stupid child like rollover goal celebration he used to do that we didn’t like, he stopped doing it.
I love the dance now because i associate it with us scoring but for some people the die is cast. I’m still not a fan of moonwalking onto the pitch but thats another matter.
On the other hand remember Heskey getting the Bruno chants at Leicester and when he came to Liverpool he told fans he didnt like it and we stopped.
Anyway to the Garcia song
Oh Daniel Sturridge
Too good for the bridge
Too good for city
Cos hes a red
He takes his chances
And then he dances
Oh please dont take our Sturridge away
That’s boss! I’d love Sturridge to have a chant.
Sturridge lacks charm and gives the impression of lacking humility by fancying himself too much. Sometimes, on the pitch, he overdoes his fancy footwork and looses the plot. Also, don’t, don’t drive into a predominantly working class neighborhood with a white Rolls Royce with plates..Studge 15 and park it at Anfield. It all smacks of very poor judgement.
I’ve read all the posts and at last mate you’ve hit the nail in the head “he gives the impression of lacking humility”. Not many doubt that he is a great player and there are enough examples to suggest he is good person. His talent is definitely worthy of a decent song but he needs to try a bit harder to endear himself to the fans and only then will they reciprocate the love. There are numerous examples down the years and not always the same reasoning mediocre players getting adulation (Eric Meyer, Titi Camorra) whilst Dirk Kuyt failed to be held in the same regard. So it can’t be down to one thing but in the case of Studge I think he does it for himself more than the team. I don’t actually care about that as long as he’s doing it but I won’t be lying awake at night thinking about a new song for Dan. As for poor judgment -Studge thanks the lord in his post match interview whilst most players thank the fans who pay hard earned cash to support the team generate an atmosphere. Amen