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Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Sixty Years Ago Today My LFC Story (Part one)

Sixty years ago today or thereabouts, was my first introduction to the wonderful world of football and Liverpool FC.
I had been in Myrtle St Childrens hospital to have my adenoids out, which was more traumatic for the loss of my new little red trolley bus with real rubber tyres and a conductor, who was standing on the platform, than the operation. The trolley bus was loaned to a kid in the next cot while I was having my op and when I awoke I was reunited with my trolley bus without the tyres and conductor. My immediate reaction was to hurl it at the little brat in the next cot at which it disintegrated into tiny pieces. I'm sure to this day that kid grew up to be an Evertonian.

My parents eventually came to rescue me from the hell I was in and took me home via Anfield in our little Morris 8 car we had.
It was a squeeze, with me sitting on my Grandads knee in the back seat next to my Nan who was holding my elder brother. I was three years old according to my mother, but I remember the whole experience vividly. My dad stopped the car opposite the turnstyles that fronted the steps that rose up to the Kop entrance high above us and the sun shone on the red brickwork of the walls.
That's where Liverpool play son and we drove off. I always wondered how you could play football on steps that seemed to rise to the skies. A little while later we were driving along Walton Lane and he said that's Goodison Park where Everton play. I looked around and over my Grandfathers shoulder saw Stanley Park. That was more fitting to my idea of football when playing with my Dad on a Sunday. For ten years I held the belief that Everton played inside that vast expanse of greenery at the side of Walto Lane.
That notion was still with me even after my first visit to Anfield for a full league game. I had been a couple of times to reserve games with my eldest brother who was fifteen years older than me and was a regular match goer, sitting in the Main Stand and drinking a cuppa in the tea rooms at the back of the satnd, the same tea room that I got Ron Yeats and St Johns autograph when they signed for us.
But this was a first team game and I was twelve/thirteen and had gone to a night match with a couple of mates unknown to my parents. I can't even remember who the opposition was but it was raining heavily and I was in awe of the rain swirling in the floodlights more than the football played, but I can remember making our way to the Anfield Road end at half time, trying to avoid walking in the lake at the bottom of the Kemlyn road terrace, in front of that old wooden stand.
It seems strange not to remember the event, especially when I read younger supporters accounts of their first visit, but that's how it was I guess in those days. It was the season before we won promotion and there wasn't a big crowd. We were always reading about football, but without television it was hard to actually capture what it was really all about at professional level.
I had seen loads of amateur football, often standing on a soaking wet day at Orrell Leisure or Moss Lane Litherland, kicking a pudding of a leather ball around at the back of the goal, while my dad stood on the touchline watching and smoking. If Liverpool were playing away we would go off later to watch Liverpool A or B teams. I never realised his obsession then. It all seemed quite normal.
I said we had no television and until I was twelve we didn't. Our contact was the radio, which was on as soon as we were back in the car after an amateur match to catch Sports Report and get the results, while my dad checked his coupon. It was radio that brought the news of Manchester Utd and the tragedy at Munich. I remember crying in the street when my friend came running over to tell me.There wasn't that anti feeling those days between the clubs and the supporters, well as far as I know there wasn't as I had never seen them play, nor had any of my mates and there was no chance there would be a united supporter anywhere in our locality. It was all so different back then.
When we got our television from Redifusion it was a secret and it only arrived the morning of the cup final between Bolton and Man Utd. It was only three months after the Munich aircrash and Bolton won with a goal by Nat Lofthouse that was an assault on Harry Gregg. I remember my Grandad trying to see where the ball went after it went out of view. He was trying to look aroiund the corner of the screen as though he was looking through a window, The screen was only about twelve inches, set in a lovely cabinet with two doors that closed across the screen when there was no broadcast, usually daytime.
Anyhow it was a fantastic experience seeing a game live for the first time at ten years old. It was the following year that I made my debut for the primary school team.St Philips of Litherland and I was chosen at full back. My dad nailed my leather studs to my ankle high boots and gave them a good coating of dubbin and off I went to get slaughtered by Litherland Moss 10-0. We had a lad in our class called Billy Dunfy(?) He had played the year before with the older lads and was a wing wizard. We nicknamed him Stanley Mathews as no one could get near him, but being a small school we were short of talent to back him up and we never had many positive results.
It started to really get into my blood at this time. The pulling on of the school jersey for a game and the fantasies of being a real footballer, which makes me wonder why I can't remember much about my first game. Ican't remember going much that first season either, but the following season it took off good style. The year we won promotion. I can't rememeber many individual games but the demi-final against Leicester still hurts. Compensation came on a mud bath of a pitch when we clinched promotion and the whole of the Kop including yours truly was over the wall singing and singing. What posessed the players to come back out after showering and dressing is a mystery to me. But they did and some in white/cream macks where they were hoisted in the air by the fans and each time their coats got muddier and muddier.

That experience was the first major triumph I witnessed and was the start of an amazing fifty years of watching Liverppool FC and even one glorious night in 1971, playing against them. A team that included Phil Thompson Ron Yeats and a little character called Kevin Keegan.

Second Part on New Year Day


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