LIVERPOOL have had their share of “cult” heroes.
What is the definition of a cult hero? According to the dictionary: “a writer, musician, artist, or other public figure greatly admired by a relatively small audience or is influential despite limited (commercial) success.”
The Reds, over the years have had the Blonde Beatle, Alun Evans – a short-lived success under Bill Shankly, and another ‘70s Scot, Peter Cormack. In the 1980s Jan Molby was cult and, though he later stayed a full 10 years, never fully realised his full potential. Paul Walsh was also much loved for a short period before injury deprived him of status elevating him from cult to great.
In the 1990s, loanee Ronnie Rosenthal burst onto the Mersey scene to secure the last of The Reds’ league titles, but is perhaps best remembered for slamming against the crossbar of an unguarded Villa Park goal at the Holte End.
More recently, the mercurial Vladimir Smicer failed to live up to a billing worthy of the iconic seven shirt of Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish, Peter Beardsley and Steve McManaman. Vladi became a latter day cult figure with two strikes into opposite corners of a net on the Bosporus either side of midnight on a May night in 2005.
Amid the Anfield civil war, at the arse end of Rafa Benitez’s struggle to put George Hicks, Tom Hicks and his critics to bed, he called on Sotiris Kyrgiakos with the last of your dough, my dough, the dough still belonging to Liverpool Football Club after the grand American larceny. A paltry £2million gave us a couple of years to admire the willing, unstinting, if sometimes clumsy efforts of “Soto” – a Greek who might as well have hailed from Tuebrook instead of Trikala.
Andy Robertson fits the cult bill on one count but not the other.
The numbers who admire him can hardly be described as a relatively small audience. Certainly inside Anfield, as the raucous throng belt out “Oh Andy, Andy…” and his song rolls down off The Kop, his fan club is extensive to say the least. Across the globe, the same vocal tributes fill the air of pubs and Liverpool supporters’ clubs.
Where Andy does fill the cult criteria is in having limited success. But only because we’ve known him for such a short period of time. Somehow, I suspect he shall always remain cult – as though from a sect. A sect for those who hail from the great City of Glasgow; a faction of the UK that spawned Dalglish, a man who still remains as iconic to Reds as George Best does to Manchester United’s Red Army.
Robbo will remain an idol in the same way as our favourite mentalist did; he of the clenched fist, Joey Jones. The European Cup parallels that trip off my keyboard as I pen this chill the warm spring air but warm the heart.
Andy might not have a penchant for frogs’ legs and prefer a Mars bar in batter (soz, for the stereotype, Glasgee bros) but he’s cut from the same cloth. The fabric is the same red shirt that is soaked in sweat but smells only of controlled aggression; a belligerence that engages, motivates and whips up the scouse throng into a frenzy allowed off the field of play, but on the hallowed turf risks a red card.
Andy is the solution to a long-term problem. It seems forever and a day since The Reds, in unison, could claim to have a great left back. Brought up on the late greats Gerry Byrne and Ronnie Moran; Alec Lindsay and his massive sideburns, the erratic but blessed Alan Kennedy, the fated Jim Beglin, the underrated Steve Staunton and finally “Big Foot” himself, Stevie Nicol, it’s been hard to take.
Over the years, plenty of others have had a good go. For a while we sang songs for David Burrows and Stig Inge Bjornebye. Both John Arne Riise and Djimi Traore had their detractors but would be within their rights to wrap their Champions League medals in Turkish delight and ram them down the throats of critical mortals who have never kicked a ball with their left foot. A silky left peg is a gift from God, so never decry those who play, think and shoot from the left side of a football pitch.
Andy Robbo had pedigree from the start. Born in Scotland’s dockside Paradise and as a wee teen at Paradise itself, Celtic Park, he began his career debut at neighbouring Queen’s Park. There he stacked up more than a few youthful appearances at a nigh-on empty Hampden Park, the grand old stadium maybe echoing to the ghostly tune of “Oh Hampden in the sun, Celtic 7 Rangers 1”.
Then Robbo went north, to Dundee of the United persuasion and back south for 99 games at Hull City. He clearly loves the river – The Clyde, The Tay, The Humber, and now The Mersey. Eight million bloody quid for this articulate, committed, talented gem. What a buy! Well in Jürgen Klopp for spotting the lad. I’m sure they get on well even if Kloppo’s comfortable Black Forest upbringing collides with Andy’s formative years on the rough-and-ready playgrounds of Gifnock on Glasgow’s outskirts.
Now, he’s a Red – one of ours. Our cult hero and so he shall remain. I’m not going to West Brom tomorrow. Saving my cash for Roma and what follows.
You and me, we’ll next see Andy’s shadow through the blacked out windows of our team bus about 5.30pm next Tuesday night. But he’ll be able to hear us, and smell us all; thousands doused in gunpowder and the red smoke that billows outside, the pungent burn that will later float down from The Kop accompanied by the words…
“Oh, Andy, Andy… Andy, Andy, Andy, Robertson.”
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— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) 20 April 2018