Who are you? We’re Liverpool (2) – owners, beachballs, Anfield greats

WA1131880 Shankly Wembley 1974

Our Liverpool guests, Peter Hooton, rock singer and leading light in the Spirit of Shankly union, and Neil Jones, a Reds-supporting football writer, have dealt with some of the on-the-field issues affecting their club, who began the season hoping for the title but now have to settle for being just one of a cluster of clubs vying for fourth place. But let’s stop the pussyfooting: what do the fans really think of the owners? What, come to that, do they think about the lad who threw the beachball, whether cheating is OK provided it delivers the title and who will win Sunday’s match against Sunderland? And what do we think of Peter’s band, The Farm?* …

Salut! Sunderland:
Your club has an immense history, with triumph and tragedy, glory and disappointment, but what would Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley have made of the current owners and their impact on LFC?

Peter (SOS):
I think they would be horrified at what is happening. One of Bill Shankly’s most famous quotes is ‘At a football club there is a holy trinity- the players, the manager and the supporters. Directors don’t come into it. They are only there to sign the cheques.’ The problem with these cowboys is that they have run out of cheques; in fact they never had any in the first place!

Neil:It’s the million dollar question I suppose, I’m sure Shankly in particular would have plenty to say. He was a man who despised any interference from above, so he would not take kindly to some of the stunts pulled by the current owners. I’m sure he would be very much behind the supporters’ union which bears his name.

Read moreWho are you? We’re Liverpool (2) – owners, beachballs, Anfield greats

Who are you? We’re Liverpool (1)

Rafa and Peter

After another good result, 1-1 at Villa, Sunderland face a huge task: stopping Liverpool exact revenge for the beachball defeat at the Stadium of Light (even though it was their beach ball that deflected Darren Bent’s shot into the goal). Salut! Sunderland put questions to two prominent Reds:
* Peter Hooton*, leader singer of the (once) chart-topping Scouse band The Farm and a senior figure in the evocatively named Spirit of Shankly union, which campaigns againts the “dreadful custodianship of Hicks and Gillet” …
* Neil Jones**, who reports – we are sure – with exemplary impartiality on his club for goal.com

Both men had plenty to say about their club, our club, beachballs and Steven Gerrard’s tendency to fall a lot. There may even be more Liverpudlian wisdom on its way, so we’d better turn this into a part work …

Salut! Sunderland: Let’s start with a googly – you might call it a no ball – and ask whether referees and the authorities are soft when it comes to Steven Gerrard; it’s what you hear on the lips of fans of other clubs, especially top six rivals.

SOS: I personally can’t see it. Alex Ferguson thinks so and made a big issue of it last week but that was propaganda before our match with United to try and influence one his favourite referees Howard Webb. The Rio Ferdinand ban was due to the fact that he turned and deliberately lashed out at Hull’s Craig Fagan whereas Gerrard and Michael Brown clashed as Brown checked his run and the referee saw it. How Fergie has the audacity to call FA dysfunctional is mind-boggling. He bullies the FA and referees at every given opportunity.  

Neil: He’s certainly given the authorities plenty to think about. But remember that it was not always this way – Gerrard as a young player was often involved in disciplinary hearings. I think his status affords him an extra amount of leniency from the FA, compared to some players. That is the same for a lot of England stars – I’m thinking Alan Shearer and Wayne Rooney at this point.

My personal opinion of the two recent incidents is that the Wigan ‘v-sign’ was petulant, and he took a needless risk out of frustration. He could easily have been sent off, but then is what he did any worse than some of the foul-mouthed tirades we see from other players on a regular basis? Probably not. As for the Michael Brown episode, again he got rather lucky, but I do believe that it was an instinctive defensive reaction as Brown ran across his path, rather than a malicious assault. Still, it is not hard to imagine action being taken were the roles reversed.

Read moreWho are you? We’re Liverpool (1)

What Steve Bruce can say to Liverpool: LXLWLLXLLXXL

That, in case anyone needs a clue, is our Premier League record since Oct 24.

So if Steve Bruce needs more than a simple “get lost” to offer Rafa should reports of a Liverpool bid for loan deal for Kenwyne Jones contain even a hint of truth, that might be a good place to start. I am not sure how it’s pronounced but it tells a striking story when written down (I realise it should really be LDLWLLDLLDDL, but X for a draw would sound better).

Read moreWhat Steve Bruce can say to Liverpool: LXLWLLXLLXXL

Who are you? We’re Barrow. Who?! You heard, Barrow


Once he’d left football, Vic Halom, a hero of 1973 and therefore a justifiably revered figure at Sunderland, was involved in a company called, if I recall correctly, something like Disaster Solutions or Disaster Management. It was one of those record-breaking bad Premier seasons of ours when I met him before an obligatory pounding at Old Trafford, and I remember wondering whether SAFC’s predicament was beyond even Vic’s powers to resolve. That’s a long way of introducing Andrew Steel*, Barrow fan and football blogger (check out Halftime Oranges), who reminds us that Vic also made a big impact at his club. Andrew also has soft spots for Liverpool and Inter MIlan, but Barrow come first and he will be part of the army of fans making their way cross-country for Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie, a dream for him, hostage to fortune for us …

Salut! Sunderland:What does it mean to you, as a fan, to have drawn Sunderland away? Better than Boro away, I imagine.

I was made up when I saw the draw, although I was a little cautious about getting ahead of myself as, to be honest, I didn’t think we’d beat Oxford.

Last year was amazing. I’d never thought I’d watch Barrow playing Premier League opposition in a competitive match. It’s the stuff of dreams, so twice in two seasons is just magical.

For me, this year’s draw was definitely bigger than Boro. With no disrespect to Boro, Sunderland is a bigger club with a better following. I’m very much looking forward my first trip to the Stadium of Light

Read moreWho are you? We’re Barrow. Who?! You heard, Barrow

A search for football’s best, most passionate fans

Here is a reminder of the search launched by Sky Sports for the best football fans in the land. There will a league table, placing the fans of all 92 league clubs in order, and prizes are promised. Anyone got the answer? Naturally, we all think that answer is staring them in the face and comes from the Stadium of Light. Look at the video and decide whether you’d like to get involved and shout about your passion …

Imagine it. You support Chelsea, Arsenal, Man United or Liverpool. You’ve followed them for ever, or rather since you were old enough to work out they were quite good and won a lot. You may even have been to the city where they play.

Read moreA search for football’s best, most passionate fans

Liverpool’s great escape – eight years before the Ngog takeoff


Forget Ngog (pictured courtesy of Christoper_tng) who tells me he’s a Liverpool fan), forget the beach ball that saved us from having to score one of the four sitters that followed. When it comes to Liverpool and luck – good or bad, depending on your allegiance – we’ve seen crazier things …

Poor Peter Walton seems to have paid a swift, harsh price for his calamitous award of a penalty for Liverpool when David Ngog launched into the sort of takeoff that has one football site asking this morning which Olympic sport France might consider entering him for.

According to the Daily Mirror, he will be relegated to the Football League or at best fourth official duties (if, indeed, that is seen as a punishment) when real football resumes after the international break.

It’s the sort of rough justice that comes after the most serious of refereeing blunders these days. But Peter should take heart (and feel aggrieved): Salut! Sunderland can assure him that it’s happened before (and that the culprit on that occasion escaped any sort of sanction that we know of).

Read moreLiverpool’s great escape – eight years before the Ngog takeoff

Eduardo, Ngog and an everyday saga of Bent penalties


The issue of cheating in football won’t go away. Is it a price worth paying for the cut and thrust of post-match debate? Colin Randall gets stuck in traffic long enough to hear a range of views …

If we are honest, most of us love the controversy that football provokes.

Read moreEduardo, Ngog and an everyday saga of Bent penalties

TalkSport, talk rot


Colin Randall takes an old Fleet Street confrère to task for suggesting our win against Liverpool should be cancelled out …

Most of the time, I enjoy Mike Parry and TalkSport (can’t bring myself to start the name in lower case and then write the second syllable in upper).

This morning, Mike was talking nonsense. Yes, the beach ball goal ought to have been disallowed. But to proceed from there to the proposition that on this one and only occasion, a clear injustice should be remedied by having the game played again is absurd and unfair.

Read moreTalkSport, talk rot

Soapbox: the day the balloon went up


Give the lad a break. OK, he shouldn’t have done it. Yes, his rightful place was probably outside offering to “mind” people’s cars. But at a game when much else from Liverpool was nasty and snarling – read on for mention of Carragher but Rafa and Benayoun ought to be ashamed of their vile responses to serious injuries), he at least brought something we could all ( or most of us) laugh about. Pete Sixsmith describes the day footballing history was made ….

In 45 years of watching football, I’ve never seen anything like it. It was an absolutely amazing occurrence and I doubt I shall ever see anything like it again.

Read moreSoapbox: the day the balloon went up