WELCOME to the second instalment of Talking Reds, where we talk to supporters about their love of Liverpool Football Club, current issues and whatever else takes our fancy. First we had Colin Murray who spoke about how his love affair with Liverpool started and now we have Alan Fletcher, perhaps better known as Dr Karl Kennedy from Aussie soap Neighbours.
Hi Alan, first off thanks for taking the time to do this. First question then, growing up in Perth, Australia, what got you into The Reds? Family, friends? A certain goal, a certain match?
Craig Johnston and then Harry Kewell had a lot to do with it but the primary reason was my love affair with Merseyside music when I was very young. I came to associate Liverpool FC with the music and the city. No mistake that You’ll Never Walk Alone is my favourite song.
How difficult was it/is it to follow Liverpool FC from the other side of the world?
Extremely! Most games are live between midnight and 5am. A great deal of planning has to go into balancing watching live and staying awake at work. The worst is when I record the game and try to avoid the score before watching. Someone always gives it away.
In general, how important, how popular, is Premier League football (and Liverpool) in Australia?
I think the Liverpool v Melbourne Victory match at the MCG in 2013 sums up the league’s and club’s popularity. A sellout 100,000-strong crowd all wearing red and singing in full voice. The Premier League is huge in Australia and the local league is gaining strength and capturing bigger crowds every day.
What was your first match at Anfield, and what are your memories of that day?
August 27, 2011 v Bolton. The weather was atrocious and I sat on the fence near the corner post at The Kop end. We won 4-1 from memory. Highlights were seeing The Kop in full voice up close and personal, and a smashing Stevie G penalty kick!
Have you influenced anyone else to start following the Reds?
That I know of, only my son Tom.
Any other big footie fans on Neighbours? Would love to think Lou Carpenter cheered on the Reds or Annalise Hartman was a wannabe Kopite…
In the past quite a few cast have declared Premier League club allegiances. Past cast member Chris Milligan (Kyle Canning) is a Red and I get to analyse games with one of the Assistant Directors, Seamus.
Aside from Dr Karl, who is your favourite Neighbours character?
Susan Kennedy, who else! I have had the most enjoyable, pleasurable 22 years of my professional life working with Jackie Woodburne.
Was it a surprise to everyone in Australia how popular the soap became in England (once getting viewing figures approaching 20m!)?
A complete shock and cause for much celebration in Oz, particularly within the TV industry. Neighbours helped to establish the UK and Ireland as a crucial market for Aussie drama and many shows have since graced your screens.
Back to footie, what’s the best Liverpool goal you’ve ever seen?
Amazingly difficult question to answer! For the emotion I would rank Gerrard’s header and Xabi Alonso’s failed penalty-turned-goal to level in Istanbul right up there. For sheer artistry stick a pin in any number of Luis Suarez goals. I remember a free-kick against Everton that impossibly curled around the wall into bottom corner of the net.
Favourite Liverpool player and why?
Currently, Sadio Manè. His pace is incredible breaking up the defence and creating so many opportunities for Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Divock Origi.
Which club annoys you more, Everton or Manchester United and why?
Definitely Manchester United. The Alex Ferguson dynasty interfered with Liverpool’s Premier aspirations too many times.
Thoughts on Jürgen Klopp?
Love him, his infectious enthusiasm and motivating presence for the team and supporters is obvious. I was worried in January when there didn’t seem to a Plan B to address the slump in form but there are many factors that affect these things.
And on the owners and the general direction of the club?
To be honest I don’t give much thought to the owners, I rely on TAW for that analysis.
Where do you think Liverpool will finish this season?
I think we are very likely to finish top four, if we can stop losing or drawing with lowly placed teams that is.
Summertime then, in what positions do Liverpool need to strengthen?
I think this season has seen great strengthening at the back but we are still letting in too many goals compared to Chelsea and Spurs. The big change has been the ability to score. I hope the club is able to have more options up front so that we can adapt to injuries and absences even better.
You did a live show with us in Melbourne in 2013 – nearly four years ago! Good memories?
The greatest memories possible. I think we had a thousand in the room. My band got to play in support of Silent Sleep and Tea Street Band. Craig Johnston was there and TAW were on fire too, with funny and incisive analysis.
Finally, when are you next going to Anfield?
I will be at Anfield for the match versus Crystal Palace.