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Liverpool v Spurs – now that game evokes memories.

Saturday 2nd September 1978, I was on leave and recovering from a bought of flu (proper 1970s flu, not like the weak millennium sniffles you get these days). My Granddad, who was a lifelong Kopite called around to my mams and asked if I was well enough to accompany him to Anfield for the Spurs game. Everton were playing Manchester United at Old Trafford and back in those dark days this was not a game a half-fit juvenile who couldn’t run away or dodge the slings and arrows chucked by outrageous nobheads should attend. So, I went with him to Anfield.

We popped into the Bluebell in Huyton and then into the FlatIron where he introduced me to a lifelong friend ‘to keep the chill out’ warm rum and blackcurrant. We entered the Kop, me slightly unsteady and made our way to the Kemlyn Road side where he’d stood each home game for the best part of 60 years, only interrupted by his service on the Arctic Convoys and being too skint to afford it during the Great Depression when he was laid off from the docks and blacklisted for union activities.

What followed was the best team performance I’ve seen live, at any place, any time, anywhere. It was a complete evisceration and Spurs containing great players like Hoddle, Villa, Ardiles and Perryman were made to look like a pre-school toddler glee club who’d accidentally turned up at the Battle of the Little Big Horn with ‘We hate Crazy Horse’ stickers on their satchels.

Many details of this game have faded into obscurity, time, hot rum and blacks and being hit on the head with chucked slings and arrows does that to you. However, one incident, a goal by Terry McDermott was as a result of a sublime piece of football. I remember turning to my granddad open mouthed with admiration and him saying to me with his hand cupped over my ear ‘See what you’re missing!’. I’d broken his heart 12 years previous when I’d opted to follow the Blue side of Merseyside after watching Alex Young diddle his way through half of the opposition each week and Alan Ball dominate nearly every game he played in.

We left the game, went into The Farmers and more rum and blacks (you cant be too careful with flu) and I reflected on the exhibition of football played simple but at its finest. I didn’t know it but after dodging strike breakers, the Luftwaffe and Kreigsmarine that Players Navy Cut was to catch up with my granddad before the year was out and it was to be the last game we’d ever attend together.

I fear Spurs might be on the end of another shellacking tomorrow. Whatever the result I’ll be lifting a glass of rum and black to the finest man I’ve ever known – he just had to be a bloody kopite


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