Monday, 12 January 2015

DEATH OF THE ZINE SCENE - Statement from Red All Over The Land

As you know here at The Anfield Shrine we are regular contributors to the Liverpool fanzine Red All Over The Land and in general a supporter and advocate for independent fanzines and their importance in the support of our club and keeping football ours as opposed to the prompted of the corporate money men. However, fanzines and RAOTL specifically have been finding it harder and harder to survive... the recent death of a Utd fanzine no less, promoted this statement from Red All Over The Land...

The Manchester United Fanzine ‘RED ISSUE’ has decided to call it a day after 26-years and 295 Issues.  They’re not citing declining sales but simply, because it ‘can’t stand the stench’ of football any longer.  In their final issue that went on sale outside Old Trafford at the game against Southampton they said: “The game we’ve been clinging onto is gone.  Football now is happy-clappy families, half-and-half scarves, tourists and selfie sticks; there’s no point trying to fight that.”

‘RED ISSUE’ didn’t give Liverpool, Liverpool players or Liverpool supporters an easy time; just the opposite but even so, ‘RED ISSUE’ stood against the tidal wave of modernism in football especially amongst their own.  They didn’t care who they upset and a lot of the time they said what many of us were thinking when it came to modern football.  I never really took offence at what they said or did because they said what they wanted to say.  They were a Fanzine.

If we’ve had anything in common it’s the contempt we feel for the modern game but whereas they apparently still sold enough copies to make the effort of producing a Fanzine a viable venture I’m afraid that’s not really the case for Liverpool Fanzines.  I can’t speak for Dave from ‘The Liverpool Way' nor Neil from ‘We Are Liverpool’ but I’m sure they’d agree that this season has been more toil than pleasure and not just because of the lousy weather we’ve often encountered.  A couple of seasons ago this Fanzine encountered a lot of problems that were beyond anybody’s such as flooding and damage to a PC causing data to be lost and problems aplenty.  However, we still got the Fanzine out and because sales were pretty good we stayed afloat.  This season we’re sinking fast.

I’ve received well meaning comments about the clubs poor form this time around affecting sales; well that’s not necessarily the case.  During Rafa’s final season and the few months of Hodgson’s reign sales weren’t too bad at all and after Kenny came home they picked up further.  In fact during times of trouble [if you like] supporters would take a Fanzine to read the real thoughts rather than the ones that were in the official publications and although the local press would voice critical opinions they had to draw the line at some of what they printed.  Fanzines didn’t have that problem.

Over the last season or two we’ve seen growing numbers of overseas visitors to Anfield and I’ve nothing against them but they’re not going to buy something that’s obviously unofficial and printed in English.  Add to this the huge number of others that now arrive and who definitely fit into the ‘happy-clappy families, half-and-half scarves, tourists and selfie sticks’ group.  They are happy to pay an extortionate amount of money for their ticket and all the trashy tack that gets sold in the club shop, pay well over the odds for food and drink inside the ground but don’t give Fanzines a second glance.  To them football is the circus.  They are what the clubs want and win, lose or draw they go home happy with their bag of goodies and selfie pics.  They feel that being part of the famous Anfield atmosphere is to stand up and shout, “Who R Ya” at the noisier away support.

We've tried hard to work with the club but the club rarely, if ever, now respond to an email, that in itself is disappointing.

I’d ask you all to rally round and help spread the word about Fanzines but is there any real point; you are the converted or whatever.  Since August this Fanzine has lost between 25 and 30 subscribers.  Match day sales on the first day of sale have dropped by around a third.  The time spent putting it together is hardly worth the effort if I’m honest but I actually love doing a Fanzine.  We’ve never had a huge audience if that’s the right way of putting it and even in what I’d call our better era we’d sell only to around 3% of the Anfield crowd.  However, that was good enough.  Now it’s less than .5% so it’s hard to justify carrying on.  I can join the exodus of the old time supporters and maybe go to a non-league game or stay at home and watch telly.  Or I can trundle on hoping that there’s a light somewhere in the tunnel.

We've tried special offers, special deals competitions and everything.   At a loss now as to what to do next.  

Its toss a coin time.  My first thought on hearing Red Issue had thrown in the towel was to think, well if they can’t beat the apathy how the hell can we?  The next few weeks will determine that.
JJP (RAOTL Editor)

Visit to subscribe or pick up Issue 209 at the Bolton game. 

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Sunderland 0 Liverpool 1 - Reaction

Whether it was a general malaise or a football specific one, but I woke up on the morning of Saturday 10th of January feeling pretty pessimistic. The transfer window has been open a few days now and the usual plethora of rumours have emerged, but nothing concrete and glaringly nothing at either end of the pitch in either a keeper or a striker. Contradicting what is in the press, Rodgers has insinuated that there will be very little activity from the club this window.

In contrast, Utd have snapped up Valdes on a free... a hugely experienced keeper, who on a free seemed happy to join us a few weeks ago. Now no one knows what goes on behind the scenes, and I'm not doubting that Valdes isn't the player he used to be, but it couldn't help feel like we had been usurped by our biggest rivals again.

So it was with this pessimism that I looked forward to the Sunderland game, expressing on Twitter that it was going to take a look to cheer me up... specifically 3 points, a clean sheet and a performance.

Well I certainly do feel a bit more optimistic now - I'd say I got 2.5 out of 3. The performance was impressive without being outstanding but we kept a clean sheet and got a vital 3 points and all with Sterling sunning himself in Jamaica.

We were very good in the first half, although it is fair to say Sunderland were atrocious. But we should have had a penalty within the first 5 minutes and then we got our reward from some nice play from Gerrard and Borini before Markovic finished neatly through the keeper's legs after a positive run into the box. Any sensible football person knew that any early criticism of Markovic was hugely unfair, the lad is still only 20 and I would defy anyone to settle quickly in a foreign country at one of the world's biggest clubs. Now I think we are starting to see his talent shine through and he certainly looks a lot more confident. He very nearly scored a wonder goal a while later, volleying a ball that popped out of the Sunderland defence with incredible technique only to see it crash against the ball.

We were in complete control of the first half and Borini missed a great chance just before the break, which you couldn't help worry might come back to haunt us. Gerrard was replaced by Lovren at half time, supposedly as a precaution as he was feeling a tight hamstring and as a result Can moved higher up the pitch and into the right wing back position with Markovic moving inside. Instantly our fluidity from the first half felt a little compromised, but as it often does Sunderland going down to 10 men seemed to galvanise them as opposed to help us.

I couldn't help feeling sorry for Birdcutt, the two yellow cards he received were pretty soft, albeit you could argue professional fouls. But regardless, the numerical advantage didn't seem to assist us as much as you'd have liked and in the end we saw out the 2nd half and the collection of 3 points as opposed to killing the game off.

There were many positives to be taken, I felt every player on the pitch had a decent game with no one having a shocker. Some shone more than others, Coutinho again was magically and really kept our game running. Markovic obviously was very impressive and although he tailed off in the 2nd half looked much more confident and could have had more than one. The back three looked fairly solid and a bit of game time for Lovren won't do him any harm... even if he did continue to look a little rash at times. Lucas was again outstanding. He has started 11 out of the last 12 games and we didn't lose any of those 11 games. The game he didn't play, against Utd, we lost 3-0. That has to tell you something and it is imperative that we keep him. Mignolet also had a good game, he looked more confident and caught and punched a couple of crosses well, especially considering the wind. The usual idiots on Twitter have decided to focus on him losing sight of the shot from Johnson as opposed to all the good things he did and considering how good Johnson's strike was and how much it moved in the air I don't think any keeper would have dealt with it very well. I think we're all still unconvinced as to whether is he good enough long term and he needs his confidence and form to seriously improve but that is why not bringing in an experienced keeper seems even more puzzling. Surely someone like Valdes would not only have challenged him for his place but also perhaps helped him developer. I suppose we'll see what the rest of January brings.

So suddenly the pessimism has definitely lifted, we're still in all 3 cup competitions, we're only 4 points off fourth and Sturridge is still to return. Even so, I'd like to see us strengthen this January with a keeper and perhaps another striker if we can.

Tweet @anfieldshrine with your thoughts.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Gerrard Tribute

So Gerrard has ended all speculation and announced that he will be leaving his lifelong club at the end of this season.

Where do you start in a tribute to Steven Gerrard?

The tributes are already pouring in from fans, players and pundits and over the next few days thousands upon thousands of words will be written about him by far more accomplished journalists and writers than myself. But I couldn't let this moment pass without penning a few words.

Terms like legend get bandied about far too much these days, but there is absolutely no doubt that Steven Gerrard is a legend, not just of Liverpool Football Club but the modern world game. You only need to look at some of the plaudits he has received from players like Kaka, Totti and Zidane to know that.

For me he is the greatest Liverpool player to have ever played for the club. Now I know that many will point towards Dalglish, Rush and Liddell and that is understandable but for me and my generation, no one comes close to Gerrard as being the best player I have ever seen at Anfield. He may not have won what Dalglish, Rush and others of that generation have won but at times he has single handedly dragged Liverpool Football Club through some of the worst periods in our recent history and won countless games for us on his own. The fact that he will never win a league medal for Liverpool is one of the most upsetting things to have to deal with as a Liverpool fan, but no one can ever take away what he has won... especially the European Cup, of which the story we all know so well. Add to that the FA Cup winners medal in 2006 with which he won with perhaps his greatest ever goal.

Trying to pick out his best moments is almost impossible... there are genuinely so many to mention, Olympiakos... Istanbul... the 4-1 at Utd... the West Ham Cup Final... scoring countless brilliant Derby goals.

Some of the talk around Gerrard being past it of late has been moronic, we have all known that he is nearing the end of the career but the modern game and support breeds such inane knee jerk opinion which makes you utterly depressed about not just football in the modern era but society itself. Gerrard has shown again this season that he is still a class above the majority of players in Europe. You only need to remind yourself of the Basle free kick or his inability to miss from the penalty spot to see that. He is still playing passes that most players could only dream of playing at 24, let alone 34, Gerard Houllier summed him up in one word - class. It is almost the perfect word for him. He is a class act on and off the pitch. Considering some of the horrific abuse and threats he has had to endure in the past and more recently, he has always remained 100% professional, calm and dignified. He is a true inspiration not only to young footballers today, but to all of us.

I am honest terrified at the prospect of Liverpool without him, forget what he does on the pitch I think his influence off it and in and around the dressing room will be missed just as keenly. We are now entering an era where loyalty means nothing in football, where no player is likely to ever play their whole career at one club again, where local, home grown talent is dying out.

It is virtually impossible to articulate what Steven Gerrard means to Liverpool and what he means to me. Quite simply there will never be a player or a man like him again in football.