Posts Tagged ‘Liverpool’

SAS Have Goals Record In Their Sights! Can They Overhaul Legends St John & Hunt..?

by Rob Shepherd.

It was no surprise when Luis Suarez collected the PFA Player of the Year award on Sunday night.

If Patrice Evra has voted for him who can deny Suarez the accolade after his stunning season of redemption.

It’s not just been the goals but how the Uruguayan has re-invented himself.  No longer a snarling villain he has played with a smile on his face.

After some teething problems he has formed a wonderful striker partnership with Daniel Sturridge and they have led Liverpool’s title bid as one of the best pairings in Premier League history.

And in terms of combined goals it is the most prolific Liverpool have seen in 50 years since Ian St John and Roger Hunt.

Thirsty work: Ian St John and Roger Hunt (right) had their fair share of champagne moments at Liverpool

Thirsty work: Ian St John and Roger Hunt (right) had their fair share of champagne moments at Liverpool

The SAS are the first pair to both break the 20-goal barrier since The Saint and Hunt in the 1963-64 title-winning side – and they need three more to beat that combined tally.

Suarez and Sturridge have also out-scored some of Anfield’s most famous pairings.

John Barnes (22) and Ian Rush (18) shared 40 goals in the league during Liverpool’s last title-winning campaign of 1989-90.

John Aldridge (26) and Peter Beardsley (15) were one better with 41 goals in another championship-winning season two years before, while Ian Rush (24) and Kenny Dalglish (18) were one better again in the triumphant 1982-83 season.

With 50 goals between them, Sturridge and Suarez have the 52-goal record of Hunt (31) and St John (21) firmly in their sights.

Jamie Carragher
Carra: My Autobiography

Publisher: Corgi

ISBN-13: 978-0552157421

The final chapter of Jamie Carragher’s Autobiography begins:

“I stare at my medal collection and there is a gaping lingering hole. It’s a void I fear will never be filled before that dreaded moment when I wear the red shirt for the last time…”

Carra was published in 2008. The opening lines of that the Walk On chapter have proved profound and prophetic.

A year on from Carragher’s decision to hang up his boots Liverpool are on the brink of winning that elusive title for the first time in almost two generations.

carra_bookAs a pundit Carragher has no doubt been kicking every ball when he’s not on camera.

Liverpool’s exciting assault on the title, led by his bosom buddy Steven Gerrard, must make part of Carragher gleam with pride and another part secretly hurt – endure bitter regret even – that he didn’t battle on for just one more season and be part of this team that is now on the brink of ending 24 years of hurt… even a bit part.

After all Carragher continues: “I’m fixated by this goal, consumed by the determination to bring the title back to Anfield… Winning the title has become Liverpool’s obsession… it will sicken me not to achieve it.”

The honesty and colour of the language sums up the book which, ghosted by journalists Henry Winter and Chris Bascombe, is one of the best player/football books to come out in recent years.

Carragher’s raw honesty comes to the fore as he confronts so many issues about his club career; his thoughts on England, Hillsborough, the wider issues of how the game has evolved since the Nineties and one spine-tingling chapter about the miracle of Istanbul.

This is not just a compelling read for Liverpool fans but football fans in general.

BB Rating: 9/10

by Rob Shepherd.

 

Liverpool v Spurs Preview
PLUS: Spurs Smashed for Seven by Rampant Reds in match from 1978

 Liverpool  v  Tottenham Hotspur, Sunday March 30th 4pm, Live on Sky Sports

LIVERPOOL   4/9   DRAW   7/2   TOTTENHAM   6/1

For the 165th meeting between the two clubs, Liverpool come into the match in second place on 65 points, while Spurs lay in 5th place on 56 points.

The first meeting came on Boxing Day in 1894 when Liverpool, who had been established just two years earlier after a dispute with Everton, played a friendly at Tottenham Marshes in a game won 3-0 by Spurs. A second visit from Liverpool was even less successful in Easter 1895 with Spurs winning 6-0.

The first Football League meeting between the two clubs took place at White Hart Lane in November 1909 with Spurs winning 1-0 thanks to a Bert Middlemiss goal. He became the first Spurs player to score against both Merseyside clubs.

The reverse fixture that season was won by Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield, which had previously been the home of Everton before their move to Goodison Park.

All 139 League meetings played to date between Spurs & Liverpool have taken place in the Top Flight of English football.

Tottenham’s 2-1 win at Anfield in March 1912 would be their last at the ground for 73 years with the jinx finally being broken when a goal from Garth Crooks won it 1-0 in March 1985.

To date, the clubs have met 7 times in the FA Cup with Tottenham’s only win coming at Anfield in the 6th Round in March 1995 when goals from Teddy Sheringham and Jurgen Klinsmann earned a 2-1 victory.

They have also met 7 times in the League Cup. Conversely Liverpool’s only win came in the 1982 Final at Wembley, which was won 3-1 after extra time. Steve Archibald put Spurs ahead but Ronnie Whelan’s brace and a goal from Ian Rush meant that the Reds lifted the silverware.

The teams contested the Charity Shield in August that year with League Champions Liverpool beating FA Cup Winners Spurs 1-0.

Overall, Liverpool have the upper hand over Spurs with 75 wins to 49 with 41 of the 165 matches played so far drawn.

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: A surprise result as Liverpool’s great run stalls. Correct Score of Liverpool 2-2 Tottenham at 13/1 is our tip.

Odds courtesy of PaddyPower

 

Liverpool  7-0  Tottenham Hotspur – September 2nd 1978

Tottenham hadn’t won at Anfield since the Titanic sank back in 1912 but they arrived full of hope and confidence having just strengthened their ranks with a pair of World Cup winners in Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa. But they met a Liverpool side at their imperious best that day and instead returned to London smarting from their biggest-ever League defeat.

Kenny Dalglish, a scorer in all three games so far that season, took only eight minutes to get off the mark in this one, turning to slide a low shot under Barry Daines after Jimmy Case had miscued his attempt at goal. Dalglish was on hand again after 20 minutes to put the home team firmly in control of the match. Before half-time Ray Kennedy had headed the Reds 3-0 in front and it was already clear which way the points would be going in.

David Johnson of Liverpool celebrates scoring one of his two goals in the 7-0 drubbing of Tottenham Hotspur

David Johnson of Liverpool celebrates scoring one of his two goals in the 7-0 drubbing of Tottenham Hotspur

Not that Liverpool were content with that, as it was in the second-half that Liverpool really tore Spurs apart. David Johnson,on as a first-half substitute for the injured Emlyn Hughes, took his chance to make a claim for a spot in the starting XI by scoring the 4th and 5th goals.

Midway through the second half Tottenham’s John Duncan made a tremendous clearance off the line to save a certain goal but then moments later tripped Heighway inside the box to concede a penalty. Phil Neal’s spot kick was saved well by Daines in the Spurs goal, but this really wasn’t the North Londoner’s day and the referee ordered a retake deciding that the Spurs ‘keeper had moved before the penalty was taken. Neal’s second attempt  had more power and accuracy than the first and Daines was unable to repeat his heroics.

Six-nil it was, but Liverpool saved the best until last. With about a quarter of an hour left came the goal of the day, perhaps the season even. It began inside Liverpool’s penalty-area during a rare spell of Spurs pressure. Clemence to Ray Kennedy, then on to Dalglish who then found Johnson waiting in the centre-circle. Johnson controlled and turned before spraying a wonderful pass out towards Heighway who was galloping up the left touchline. Heighway never broke stride as he crossed the ball first-time towards Terry McDermott, who had run almost the whole length of the pitch while all this was going on, met the cross at the far post with a bullet header which flashed past Daines who was rooted to the spot.

The goal typified Liverpool’s style during a season in which they played some wonderful football with great consistency.  At home they were almost invincible. Only four clubs even scored at Anfield and only Leeds and Everton escaped with a point that season as Liverpool stormed to their eleventh title losing only 4 games all season.

Liverpool : Clemence, Neal, Alan Kennedy, Thompson, Ray Kennedy, Hughes (Johnson), Dalglish, Case, Heighway, Souness, McDermott.

Tottenham Hotspur : Daines, McAllister, Naylor, Hoddle, Lacy, Perryman, Villa, Ardiles, Taylor, Duncan, McNab.

 

 

England to Move to a Mersey Beat..? It Wouldn’t be the First Time…

by Rob Shepherd.

Roy Hodgson’s World Cup campaign in the land of the Samba beat could see the heartbeat of England dominated by a Mersey Beat.

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Liverpool are flying with an English core

It is entirely possible, preferable perhaps, that come the summer England’s first choice team could involve FIVE Liverpool players – skipper Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge.

How ironic that would be, given how quickly Hodgson was ushered out of the Anfield door.

But the form of all five in a Liverpool side who have moved on leaps and bounds since Brendan Rodgers took over from Kenny Dalglish, who ousted Hodgson from the hot seat 38 months ago, means they could all start in the friendly against Denmark this week. And who knows, the understanding they have forged over recent months could suddenly offer England a new dynamic and dimension.

Core

One of the problems of international football is welding together a disparate group of players in terms of tactics, team spirit and understanding in a short space of time. Logic suggests that if the core of a team comes from the same club then that can overcome the problem.

Moreover at the moment all five of the Liverpool players in this England squad are on form the best players in their positions too.
Certainly there is no more prolific a striker than Sturridge.

Sterling, after being called up by country too early, is now the best and most versatile winger in the England squad. His form of late has been stunning.

Gerrard and Henderson – England’s most improved player – are on fire and vitally know, almost instinctively, how to play in tandem at the heart of the midfield.

While Johnson is still by some distance England best and most reliable right back – and knows how to service Gerrard, Henderson and Sterling – who in turn know how to feed the right back when he’s on the rampage.

Evidence

But the logic of club connections doesn’t always work.

In 1977 Ron Greenwood started with five Liverpool players but England still stumbled to a draw with Switzerland.

But setting aside recent occasions when England ended the game with seven Manchester United players then five of Manchester City’s when substitutes came into the equation there is compelling evidence that it can.

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England’s Liverpool influence of 1977 hang out, but can you name them all? (answers at the foot of the page)

Way back in 1934 England fielded SEVEN Arsenal players and beat world champions Italy 3-2 in a game played in London N5 to boot and was thus dubbed the Battle of Highbury.

And when England beat Germany 5-1 in 2001, four Liverpool players started and all the goals were scored by Reds – Gerrard, Michael Owen and Emile Heskey. Nick Barmby also started and the fifth Beatle, Jamie Carragher, came off the bench, which was the last time five Liverpool players played for England at once, which is perhaps an omen.

Then of course in 1966 the core of England’s World Cup-winning team – Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters – came from West Ham.

The great Dutch side of the Seventies was dominated by Ajax. While the spine of the West Germany side during the same period came from Bayern Munich.

Most recently Spain has risen from also rans to become World beaters since its DNA became dominated by Barcelona players.

Club Classics? It’s surely worth Hodgson giving the Mersey Beat a whirl. It would be, erm, a Kop out not to.

 

Photo Answers: Ian Callaghan,Terry McDermott, Ray Clemence, Phil Neal, Ray Kennedy and Emlyn Hughes

FA Cup: BOBBY Sensing Scouse Success

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Martinez will face one of his former sides as Everton entertain Swansea

The FA Cup has received a huge shot in the arm given the draw the for the fifth round, which means at least two super powers will be knocked out.

The two diamond draws see Manchester City play Chelsea while Arsenal are at home to Liverpool.

There is a twist of romance with Everton boss Roberto Martinez facing one of his former clubs, Swansea.

Martinez of course won the competition with Wigan last season. And Everton, who were a clever money shot at the start of the tournament at 10-1 and a BOBBY’S BETS tip to go all the way, are now 6-1 third favourites behind Man City (10/3) and Arsenal (9/2) according to Coral.

There is still value to get on Everton now.

But given the schedule Arsenal face, Liverpool could well win at the Emirates so 6-1 on them right now is worth a punt.

The Gunners are now scheduled to play Liverpool and Manchester United in the league, Liverpool again in the FA Cup and Bayern Munich in the Champions League in the space of 12 days.

Second-placed Manchester City’s game with Chelsea, who are third, will take place either within four days of hosting Barcelona in the Champions League.

Given Sunderland’s relegation worries and the fact they have made the Capital One Cup final, Southampton look a good bet to win at the Stadium of Light and are 10-1 to lift the Cup.

Draw for the Fifth Round :

Manchester City v Chelsea
Sheffield United v Nottingham Forest
Arsenal v Liverpool
Brighton & Hove Albion v Hull City
Cardiff City v Wigan Athletic
Sheffield Wednesday v Charlton Athletic
Sunderland v Southampton
Everton v Swansea City

The games will be played on the weekend of 15-16 February

 

Cup Half Full..? + 2014 Odds
Will the Country Ever Rekindle it’s Love for the FA Cup..?

by Karl Hofer.

It has had it’s issues of late, but the FA Cup is still the world’s oldest football knockout competition,  and its role in the history of the beautiful game is unprecedented.

The FA Cup Final has been an indelible part of English national consciousness for over a century. Since the dawn of the television era the entire nation (and many other countries around the world) have been transfixed by the great spectacle from North London.

The whole of FA Cup Final Saturday would build up to 3 pm. Both ITV and the BBC would begin their coverage earlier and earlier each year to milk the viewers, sometimes as early as 8am!

The final itself generated so much excitement; we can all recall the TV crew on the bus to the stadium from the hotel, the players walking round the pitch in their specially tailored suits for the day, the crowd singing ‘abide with me’ – and teams would always release a single during the build up.

Not anymore though. With the incredible amount of live football on TV nowadays such romance and sentiment is unlikely to ever return, which is a shame. Be careful what you wish for as they say…

Regardless, the FA Cup has also produced some amazing memories and some fantastic games over the years, too many to reminisce about here. But before we look at the odds to win the 2014 competition lets remember three finals whose anniversaries are this year;

25 Years Ago: Everton 2-3 Liverpool

What a final, a Merseyside derby no less. The final was played only five weeks after the Hillsborough disaster and before kick-off there was an impeccably observed minute’s silence while the teams wore black armbands as a sign of respect. Gerry Marsden, lead singer of Gerry & the Pacemakers, led the crowd in an emotional rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone before the sides served up a match fitting for the occasion.

Liverpool went ahead after four minutes through John Aldridge, and held onto that lead until the final minute, when Everton substitute Stuart McCall equalised, and a pitch invasion by Everton fans ensued.

McCall’s goal was the last kick of the 90 minutes and the match went into extra time. On 95 minutes, Liverpool substitute Ian Rush scored with a half-volley on the turn to give Liverpool a 2–1 lead. Everton again equalised five minutes later when McCall again scored, chesting and volleying past Bruce Grobbelaar into the corner of the net. However, Rush – who had scored twice in Liverpool’s 3–1 win in the first Merseyside derby Final three years earlier – scored his second goal in the 104th minute with a header from a John Barnes cross and Liverpool would triumph once more.

30 Years Ago: Watford 0-2 Everton

The final of 1984 is remembered for Everton’s controversial second goal. After Graeme Sharp had put the Toffees ahead with a clinical finish late in the first half, Andy Gray seemed to head the ball out of the grasp of Watford keeper Steve Sherwood when he put Everton two up, but referee John Hunting allowed it to stand.

This victory ended a 14 year wait for silverware at Goodison Park and was the first trophy of the very successful Howard Kendall era. This was Watford’s only cup final appearance and Gray ensured that Elton John’s team left with the blues. 

 35 Years Ago: Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United

Terry Neill’s Arsenal held on to edge past Manchester United in what is widely regarded as one of the greatest-ever finishes to an FA Cup final. For over 85 minutes the game had been largely unremarkable, Arsenal having taken control with a 2–0 half time lead through goals from Brian Talbot and Frank Stapleton. In the 86th minute, however, Gordon McQueen scored following a set-piece, and two minutes later Sammy McIlroy dribbled past two Arsenal players to score a dramatic equaliser.

United’s celebrations proved short-lived however, as with the game poised for extra time Alan Sunderland scored a last-minute winner, making the final result Arsenal 3–2 Manchester United. This match is often referred to as the “Five-minute Final”.

THE ODDS – (Updated Jan 6th)

Man City  4/1,  Chelsea  9/2, Arsenal  9/2, Liverpool  11/2, Everton  8/1, Southampton  12/1, Swansea 25/1,  Sunderland  40/1, Stoke  40/1, Hull  40/1, Fulham  50/1, Palace  50/1, Forest 66/1, Norwich 66/1, Brighton  80/1, Bolton 80/1, Wigan  100/1, Ipswich  100/1

Odds courtesy of PaddyPower.

 

One 2 Eleven with Nigel Spackman

spackman

Spackers

Nigel James Spackman was born in Romsey in Hampshire in December 1960 and is 52.

He played for Bournemouth, Chelsea, Liverpool, QPR, Rangers, Chelsea again and Sheffield Utd.

He also had managerial stints at Sheffield United, Barnsley and Millwall.

Nigel is now a regular pundit on a number of foreign TV shows covering the Premier League and La Liga.

First Car: A Mini: Mini 1000 I don’t know how I got in or out of it! That’s when I was with Bournemouth, It cost about 400 quid! Next up was a 1275 GT Mini and I bought it off Dave Webb. [Webb was manager at the time and known in the game a bit of an Arthur Daley type! – Ed]

Best Ground: Anfield.

Worst Ground: That’s a tough one… Crystal Palace, Selhurst Park. It always seemed cold there for some reason and a bumpy pitch.

Best Goal Scored: The one I scored on my debut for Chelsea against Derby in 1983. I scored the first of the season. Kerry Dixon scored two and we got promoted that year. The most important goal I scored – the one that people remember me for – was Rangers against Celtic and my first Auld Firm game, New Year 1990 at Celtic Park.

Chelsea_FC_Archive_1983-84_12.jpg

Eddie Niedzwiecki, Joe McLaughlin, Nigel, Kerry Dixon, Pat Nevin and player/coach John Hollins all signed for John Neal’s Chelsea in 1983 and swiftly won promotion

Boyhood hero: I loved George Best and was lucky enough to play with him at Bournemouth for nine games and then went on to work with Bestie on Soccer Saturday.

Best Manager: Man-manager would be Kenny Dalglish. Best coach-manager I’d say Glenn Hoddle.

rihanna10

Nigel likes Rihanna, but he doesn’t know why…

Best Friend in the Game: I’ve had several really good mates in the game from Liverpool and Chelsea, Ian Rush is one.

Best Memorabilia: My medal from 1998 when I won the League title with Liverpool. The Simod Cup with Chelsea in 1986 would be second on the list!

First record bought: T- Rex [Spackers breaks into song] “Oh Girl I’m Just a Jeepster For Your Love”….It certainly wasn’t Gilbert O’Sullivan!

Most recent: I like a bit of Snow Patrol. I like a bit of Rihanna too…but I don’t know why!

Best Country visited: I’ve been lucky to visit some beautiful places….but the best? I’d have to say The Maldives.

Subs:

Red or White Wine: A nice Italian Amarone

Drogba or Dixon..?: [Chuckles ] Has to be a bit of Drogba… just a little bit better. Kerry will kill me for that!

 

The Bitter Reds: Liverpool v United

You will have to be well into your thirties to remember clearly the last time Liverpool won the title.

For those of us a little older and who witnessed Liverpool dominate English football at the end of the Seventies and throughout the entire Eighties, a period when they also won the European Cup five times, it would have seemed surreal to predict that the title success of the 1989-90 season would be their last for over two decades.

FOOTBALL

Barnes scored twice at Old Trafford in Liverpool’s last title winning season

And when Liverpool disposed of United 2-1 at Old Trafford in March 1990 -John Barnes (2) Ronnie Whelan (og) – setting them on the run-in to an 18th title, it seemed incomprehensible the tables would be turned so dramatically. At the time that made the title count 18 -7 to Liverpool.

While Liverpool were still then a well-oiled machine, United remained a team of talented individuals lacking consistency or identity.

Liverpool eventually held off the challenge of Aston Villa led by their former boss Ron Atkinson (now of Celebrity Big Brother fame), whilst United finished 13th, a place behind Coventry City.

It was highly likely Sir Alex Ferguson would have followed Big Ron out of the Old Trafford door at the end of the season (Howard Kendall had been rumoured as a successor) had United not gone on to win the FA Cup that season beating Crystal Palace in the final after a replay.

That success gave Ferguson the breathing space he needed to see big money gambles like Gary Pallister and Paul Ince produce and home-grown players led by Ryan Giggs come through, before huge impact signings like Peter Schmeichel, Roy Keane and Eric Cantona made their mark.

The title score is now United 20 Liverpool 18.

Yet for all United’s dominance the overall trophy count for both clubs remains pretty close. As this table shows:

LivUtdTitles

The rivalry is not just about the shift in power over recent years.

It is deep rooted, it’s geographic context given the traditional rivalries and jealousies of both sets of fans not just in football but in terms of their working class roots, industry, politics and even music.

Always played in a fraught and hostile atmosphere (sometimes hateful) there will be a spice this Sunday when once bitter rivals as players Gary Nevile and Jamie Carragher go head to head as Sky TV pundits.

The start of this campaign represents a potential new watershed of course following Ferguson’s abdication:

Can United maintain the momentum under David Moyes ?

Is Brendan Rodgers really re-building Liverpool ??

Liverpool ‘Stick’ on 18

For those who have never seen Liverpool lift the title, here it is;

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It’s so long ago that it’s the old Football League Championship trophy.

The teams from that day at Old Trafford:

Lineups

 

 

 

The Odds

But what of this season…? Liverpool have started well and will be confident. For United the attention is all on David Moyes still, but at least the Wayne Rooney situation seems to have been resolved which is one less headache.

It’s a fixture that traditionally delivers goals, and after the dour stalemate against Chelsea the other night we fully expect United to come out with guns blazing for this one, which will probably suit Liverpool’s style.

So Bobby’s Bets fancies a scoring draw, for which William Hill are offering 14/1 for a 2-2 draw or if you’re feeling frisky there’s 50/1 on offer for a 3-3.

Bobby’s Bet of the Day: Wayne Rooney to open the scoring at 13/2

 

 

Paisley shocks Merseyside with retirement announcement

You can’t judge a book by its cover.

On the face of it Bob Paisley was not your stereotypical top-flight football manager. He wasn’t media friendly, wore a flat cap to work and bore none of the charisma exhibited by other managers of the time such as Brian Clough and Malcolm Allison.

He was also burdened with the scepticism many had about his ability to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Bill Shankly. Indeed Paisley himself was reluctant to step into Shankly’s shoes.

Fast-forward nine season to 26th August 1982 when he announced that the 82/83 season would be his last as manager of Liverpool FC and you could hear the tide turn in the Mersey such was the shock.

For Liverpool fans everywhere realised the truth of Kenny Dalglish’s words when the Liverpool star said: “There was only one Bob Paisley and he was the greatest of them all…There will never be another like him.”

His record over those nine seasons stands head and shoulders over most other managers not just in England but wherever the game is played.

European Cup winners: 1977, 1978, 1981

UEFA Cup winners: 1976

League championship winners: 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983

League Cup winners: 1981, 1982, 1983

Charity Shield winners: 1974, 1976, 1979, 1980, 1982

Manager of the Year: 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983

Paisley

But when Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement as manager of Manchester United in May 2013 started a debate as to who was the greatest British manager of all time, I wonder how many put ‘Uncle’ Bob Paisley at the top of their list?

Perhaps today we look too much at image rather than substance. For many Paisley was like your favourite uncle. He didn’t rant and rave, he didn’t class himself as the special one – long before Jose Mourinho claimed the title. He simply turned up for work and got down to the business of turning eleven fit, skilful young men into world beaters. And he did it again and again.

Even there he had his detractors. There were those who said his success came from inheriting Shankly’s team, forgetting that as Shankly’s assistant Paisley had a great say in how that team was constructed.

And Shankly wasn’t the only one in the Liverpool camp with witty one liners.

For instance, when one Saturday after Shankly had retired Paisley was asked by a reporter what the former Liverpool manager was doing that afternoon he replied: “He’s trying to get right away from football. I believe he went to Everton.”

What would he have made of the debate after Ferguson’s retirement earlier this year about who was the greatest England manager? Personally I don’t think he would’ve got involved. He didn’t need to. He’d simply opened his trophy cabinet and point. Enough said.

That was Bob Paisley; a book with success written on every page, if you bothered to look beneath the cover.

By Richard Bowdery

One 2 Eleven with Mark Bright

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Bright smiles

Former striker and all-round top bloke Mark Bright was born on June 6 1962. He is 51.

He played for Port Vale, Leicester, Crystal Palace, Sheffield Wednesday, Millwall and Charlton Athletic.

He now does various TV radio and print media work. He is also an ambassador for ProstateCanceruk.org/

More importantly; he also pays the bar tab.

First Car: It was an AUSTIN 1100. I was an apprentice Hydraulics engineer working in a local factory near Burslem in the Potteries. My nickname was ‘Huggy’ the character from Starsky and Hutch (Yes I wore a cap like the main man). One of the guys was selling it for £200 so I bought it. Soon after I was out driving with a few mates but I couldn’t get it out of second gear – when I tried again a bit harder the gear stick came out in my hands! We all crapped ourselves but survived.

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Zim Zimmer! Who got the keys to me….erm…Austin 1100

Best ground: Has to be Wembley, both old and new. And just to remind people I scored the first goal at the new stadium in the first official match there when I played for a Geoff Thomas XI in a charity match. Graeme Le Saux gets the needle as no one ever mentions he set it up…

Worst Ground: I’d have to say Wimbledon’s Plough Lane. It was just awful more like a chicken shack or pig sty. Apart from the rubbish facilities they still tried to make it worse with all the
intimidation – they even hosed down the dressing rooms just before you arrived.

First Record bought/Last downloaded: It was called Footsie, not sure who it was by (for the record it was tba Willow, a 1974 Wigan Casino floor filler). It was a big Northern Soul hit in the Seventies. The Torch was a massive Northern Soul club in Stoke but I never got there cos I was always playing football. Most recently I downloaded Wretch 22.

GladAllOver

It’s quite rare to see a record sleeve that’s as bad as the song itself…

Best goal: Has to be Maradona’s dribble against England when the ball stuck to his feet like chewing gum. In England – so many memorable ones but the volley’s of Paolo di Canio and Tony Yeboah stick in the mind.

Best bit of memorabilia: I still have the original white label pressing of the FA Cup final song we made in 1990, ‘Glad All Over’. It is signed by all the players. A real treasure and of course its now the Palace anthem.

Best goal scored: Gary Linker had left Leicester for Everton in the summer and when the fixtures came out it was a swift return for him to Filbert Street. All the focus was on Links but I scored a beauty in the first half when I chipped Neville Southall which no one ever did. My old pal Inchy (Adrian Heath), who was on the bench, told me later that Everton manager Howard Kendall asked “Who the hell was that who’d just scored?”. When he said “Mark Bright” Kendall replied: “Mark Who?!? He’ll never do that again in his life”. In the second half I did it again with another beauty. Just saying Links!

Best team: I guess it has to be the Liverpool team that beat us early on in the 1989-90 season 9-0 – and it could have been more. We had just been promoted, it was the fifth game. They were the Manchester United of the time – Barnes, Beardsley, Hansen, Rush, Aldridge. They passed us to death. Who would have thought then that would be the last time they would lift the title…?

Team Supported as a boy: Port Vale. I was brought up in the Burslem (one of the six towns that form Stoke-on-Trent) and I could see the Port Vale ground, Vale Park, from our estate. Back then we were always out mainly playing football around the streets and recs (recreation ground). All I ever dreamed of was playing there just once. After playing non league for Leek Town, Vale manage John McGrath gave me that dream. I had one year to prove myself as a pro. I did well with Port Vale and moved on to Leicester.

Best Manager: Steve Coppell. He comes across as quiet and genial but had a very tough streak. He made me a much better player. He made me go away and read things about the game and so think about the game much more.

Wright or Zaha..?: As it stands Wrighty cos he’s been there and done it. But I’ve been on record as saying Zaha can be like Ronaldo. I do some coaching at Palace and I saw him come through the ranks and now he’s at Man Utd he has the chance to become a great player.

WrightBright

Wright and Bright went through a lot of clubs…

Subs:

Best Friend in the Game: Robbie Earle, the former Wimbledon midfielder. We grew up in the same area and played together at Port Vale. I introduced him to his wife and I’ve made sure they have stayed together. Robbie is now in the US working as a TV pundit.

Best world player: Maradona

Best British player: George Fryer. George Who? Let me tell you when I was a kid in the Seventies George was the local hero. He was grown up, a giant of a guy with big square shoulders. On Saturday he’d play in goal for Kidsgrove Athletic FC then centre forward for the Minors Estate Galley FC. I would carry his gloves for him. Sometimes when playing in goal he would puff on a fag, He was a legend in our area. To us he was King George!

What moment would I like to save to DVD ?
Geoff Thomas heading the winner in the FA Cup semi final when we beat Liverpool 4-3 at Villa Park. We had been given no chance especially as they had beaten us 9-0 earlier in the season. But we did them. We had a game plan and we stuck to it. I scored the first. It was so tense so dramatic goals going in at both ends, then Geoff scored towards the end of extra time. I can’t describe the utter elation.

Then the nerves as we hung on to the final whistle. I exploded with excitement and ran to the fans. The fantasy had been fulfilled! Back in the day playing in the FA Cup final was the dream beyond dreams. For us it was bigger than anything. Even playing for England. When we played street football one of the kids was revered cos he had actually gone to see a final at Wembley. Now I was there.

football-fa-cup-semi-final

Palace savour the moment at Villa Park

Andy Gray ran up to me and shouted: “Brighty, were going to Wembley!”. We just hugged each other. How I’d love to freeze frame that moment.

We lost to Man Utd after a replay but I’m still very proud I played in an FA Cup final after all those years of day dreaming about it on the streets of Stoke.

Follow Mark on Twitter @Mark_Bright

Brighty is also an ambassador for prostatecanceruk.org/