Monday, 7 November 2016

Time to believe...

It was 1.45pm on Sunday the 6th of November and Arsenal and Spurs had just played put a 1-1 draw, 2 points dropped for both sides whichever way they looked at it. Not only that but Man City had dropped points the day before. Of the leading pack only Chelsea had gained ground with a comprehensive 5 nil win over Everton.

Liverpool were playing Watford at Anfield in a 2.15pm kick off. Win and we went top.
"This is exactly the sort of game we'll lose" I said to myself. The old cliché. I even messaged my mates What's App group saying "Win and go top. Cue a 1 nil defeat."

Despite having seen Jurgen Klopp's rejuvenated Liverpool side tearing teams apart all season, scoring goals for fun, beating Arsenal and Chelsea in their own back yards, I still couldn't believe. For the older generation who actually saw us win leagues my attitude might seem incredibly defeatist but despite having witnesses Istanbul and a cup treble, a few FA Cups, pessimism is still ingrained in me. 

I have also witnessed us throw away a 3 nil lead at Palace, Gerrard slip right in front of me as I stood on the Kop. I've lived through years of Man Utd dominance. I've never witnessed us win the league. My brain just isn't trained to expect Liverpool to succeed, not in the league.

Well now it's time for me to believe, for us all to believe. We didn't just beat Watford to go top, we annihilated them. Strangely enough they actually had their moments, more so than Hull earlier in the season. But even so, it could have been 8 or 9.

We even had a so called "make shift" centre back in the form of Lucas Leiva coming in for the ill Lovren against a physical Watford side and Troy Deeney who supposedly loved bullying Martin Skrtel so much. Barely got a sniff did he?

Going forward we were sensational and I mean actually sensational. A word that is over used. Our new slightly nervy looking keeper looks to be growing into it and Henderson is becoming the top class midfielder and captain that a lot of us have always known her could be.

At 5 nil Klopp was still furious, demanding more. He is relentless, just like his team. There is still so much to improve on still and that is what makes it so exciting. You get the feeling that we haven't reached our best yet. 

Klopp eats, sleeps and breathes winning. And now so do his team. And that is why we have to believe. Get on board... there will undoubtedly be pain and heartbreak again but my God it's going to be fun. Rock & Roll football? It's going to be one hell of a tour. Buy your ticket now.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Why Liverpool fans must fight for justice for Orgreave

Liverpool fans know all about injustice. For years we have had to fight the smears, stereotypes and vicious lies around Hillsborough and the death of 96 fans. Listened to by very few, and completely ignored by the authorities and the establishment, it is only recently that finally the truth has been properly exposed.

Just this week those involved in another injustice and have had a blow dealt to their own quest for truth and one that is intrinsically linked to Hillsborough - Orgreave. For those who don't know "the battle of Orgreave" as it was known was when tensions reached their highest during the miners strike of the 1984. And Thatcher's methods of "dealing with" the campaigning miners reached its most brutal and underhand. Robert East, writing in the Journal of Law and Society in 1985, suggested that rather than maintaining order and upholding the law, "the police intended that Orgreave would be a 'battle' where, as a result of their preparation and organisation, they would 'defeat' the pickets."[16] Michael Mansfield QC said: "They wanted to teach the miners a lesson – a big lesson, such that they wouldn't come out in force again."

On the day Assistant Chief Constable Anthony Clement ordered a mounted charge against the picketing miners. It was seen as "a serious overreaction" and the miners responded by throwing stones and other missiles at the police lines.[6] Clement ordered 2 further mounted advances, and the third advance was supported by "short shield" snatch squads who followed the mounted police, "delivering baton beatings to the unarmed miners."[6][18]

There were no fatalities but the brutality and lack of restraint shown by the police that day is widely acknowledged. It would be wrong to compare Orgreave directly with the Hillsborough disaster and no campaigners on either side have ever tried to do so but what links them is that the police force responsible that day; South Yorkshire Police.  The force that 5 years later were responsible for the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans and that then went on the smear the 96 families and actively  cover up their inadequacies and incompetence. 

The injustices of both Hillsborough and Orgreave also share the fact that they are underlined by an attack and disdain towards the working class by Thatcher's right wing government and the elite.
The miners and campaigners for Orgreave have always stood side by side with Liverpool fans and the Hillsborough families, especially when so few others would.

I know my own friend and United Union activist and campaigner for Orgreave marched with miners, Hillsborough families and fellow supporters in Liverpool as the campaign for justice reached it's height in 2015 and many others have done the same.

Yet this week the current Tory government has ruled that there will be no fresh enquiry into the actions of South Yorkshire Police that day. They have cited the reason that "it was too long ago for any lessons to be learned." Yet Lessons can be learnt from Hillsborough which occurred just 5 years later? It is an utter disgrace and a blatant shirking of the truth. I suspect that they know further enquiries into the motives and actions of that Thatcher government and the South Yorkshire police will be so unsavoury they can't possibly risk them being exposed.

Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis has said: "Given the substantial concerns that exist, it is astonishing that the Home Secretary will not commit to an inquiry or review." And the current South Yorkshire Police Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings said he was "shocked and dismayed" by the decision.

He added: "The government have marched the Campaign for Truth and Justice to the top of the hill only to march them down again.

"No one has ever suggested that the events of Orgreave were comparable in every respect to the disaster at Hillsborough. But the former miners and the former mining communities in South Yorkshire deserve an explanation as to what happened on that day and where Orgreave fits in the wider story of the miners' strike."

Considering the parallels of injustice and the level to which the same authorities and government were involved in both Hillsborough and Orgreave it is vital that Liverpool fans now show their solidarity and support for the Orgreave campaigners. They were there for us and we should be there for them. This is an issue with transcends football and regions and becomes an issue for those who believe in justice, equality and accountability.

To support the fight for justice visit follow The Orgreave Justice campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Basel Diary - A Week On

The story of me as a Liverpool fan is a strange one. We'll, not that strange, in fact it's probably fairly common. Born in Bath and brought up in a nondescript town in rural Wiltshire I had absolutely no connection with Liverpool whatsoever. My early exposure to football was through my Dad, watching World Cup 94 on telly, the playground at school and the likes of Match magazine. My Dad couldn't have been further from a pushy Dad if he tried, he always had a laissez faire attitude to what I should be interested in or good at, but I was aware that his affinity to Bristol Rovers and to some extent Southampton having worked there. But through magazines and TV I had begun to feel affinity to a team in red… I don't know what it was but I remember being fascinated by John Barnes and also a skinny curly haired player, a bit like me, Steve McManaman. My Dad must have noticed that I had become attracted to Liverpool because I distinctly remember asking him who I should support, almost begging him to say Bristol Rovers, knowing that was “the done thing.” But he just said “support who you like.” So I did. I became obsessed. I collected cuttings and Liverpool magazines, I collected those weird big headed player models, I read up on Liverpool as much as I could. I’ll never forget how gutted I was when we lost to Utd in the 96 cup final.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Exeter Away - 2016

This account first appeared in Red All Over The Land fanzine issue 220.

I don’t care what anyone says about the FA Cup having lost its magic, when the 3rd round draw comes around I still get a bit of a buzz. Who are Liverpool going to get? A tough Premier League or Championship meeting or a minnow? Home or Away? When we were drawn away at Exeter the fixture pricked my interest for a few reasons. Firstly I have family in that part of the world so it felt somehow familiar and it also got me wondering about actually being able to get to the game. Living back down in Wiltshire now unlike for the majority of Liverpool fans it didn’t feel like a particularly lengthy trip. I immediately text my mate Joff, a fellow south west resident and old regular match going mate, both home and away. Our last away had been around two years ago, a glorious trip to Southampton to see Suarez in his peak and when we started to believe that the title really was a possibility. Joff was keen, obviously.