By Cosmo Viancra
From Issue 44, Autumn 1999
Is there anybody out there still buying the Daily
Mirror? Clearly, you did not see the edition that
contained the Liverpool 0 Watford 1 match 'report'
by a Fat Sweaty Coppers reject called Alan Nixon.
The tone would have made Bernard Manning blush.
Each of our new signings was slagged off in the
crudest possible way, and the humour was dire.
For example, Smicer played as if he used to play
for Lost Contact Lens
get it? Hyypia was an Oldham reject, Smicer was
Czech for "Sick Note" (please, my sides
have split), Westerveld had James' allergy to
crosses and Camara worryingly faded. "Clubs
like Liverpool want to get all trendy and bring
in a Frenchman with an impressive CV - or should
that be 2CV?" Where's that shotgun?
This deplorable material was made even worse
by the insinuation that LFC should have opted
for Graham Taylor's services instead. Ha ha ha
ha ha! Now that is funny. "Taylor is the
man who found players like John Barnes and Mo
.Mo Johnston?!? Now
he really was taking the piss. This appeared in
the Manc's football pullout and also featured
numerous other little digs. On the match referees'
round up, "Houllier should be the one to
panic". On the betting page, "Watford
were the longest odds winners in the Premiership
since Barnsley two seasons ago at
By the time you got to the letters page with two
Mancs saying Paisley wasn't a patch on Ferguson,
the whole sorry charade was complete. Buy this
scum-sucking filth at your peril.
The report for Middlesbrough a week later was
even worse, and the general message was "it
would be good for football if these foreign no-marks
fail (er except Chelsea)". Standard Mirror
crap, you might think, but this used to be a left
wing paper and here they were piling on the xenophobia
for all it was worth. The purchasing policy of
Houllier has been the subject of a lot of comment,
most of it stultifyingly ill-informed.
As has said in the fanzine last time, it became
local hack policy to attack Reds fans' distrust
of them there Foreign Johnnies. I felt it was
curious that I wasn't hearing (or reading) letters
about) anything like this. Perhaps we were too
clued up on our own history not to be taken in?
It's worth trying to compile two all-time great
Liverpool sides in order to compare and contrast.
England 11, managed by Bob Paisley: Clemence
Lawler Byrne Smith Thompson McManaman McMahon
Callaghan Barnes Hunt Fowler. 'Foreign' 11, managed
by Bill Shankly: Scott Nicol Hansen Yeats Lawrenson
Johnston Souness Whelan Liddell Dalglish Rush.
Well, it's certainly a game I'd like to see!
Hard to call the winner, though. Remember that
Welsh, Irish and Scots now count as foreign. This
sort of subterfuge reached its nadir when the
Mancs (who else?) attempted to pass Keane and
Irwin off as 'British'. It was equally laughable
to read the appalling Mirror's attempts to further
push it's racism down our throats in the Man U
v Leeds match report. "Interestingly, for
a Premiership match, there were eleven Englishmen
on the field". What they slyly didn't tell
you was that Leeds provided eight of them - the
Mancs had just three. This was subtly camouflaged
to push their "English is best" policy
without having to resort to the sort of cheap
gags on their favourites that they did with us.
But back to our two 'select' sides. We are, of
course, massively fortunate to be able to pick
two such teams (no Heighway, no Grobbelaar, no
St John, no Stubbins etc etc etc etc), but I could
not really say that one was intrinsically better
than the other. Two of our most successful seasons,
84 and 86, were achieved with few English players
while another (77) was predominantly English.
Which was best?
Their hand forced by the rules of UEFA, Liverpool
built an English side in the mid-90's. The one
that entertained us so much in 95/96, if you exclude
Babb (wishful thinking perhaps - and he's a cockney
anyway) and McAteer (about as Irish as Tara Palmer
Tompkinson) was completely English. It is a sobering
thought when you go through that excellent side
and see what happened to them all in such a short
time. When you also consider the resurgence of
United (foreigners), Arsenal (foreigners) and
Chelsea (foreigners) and the 98/99 flag bearers
for the "Buy English" brigade are, Aston
Villa and there is really one conclusion you can
come to. And that is Houllier's.
Based on logic and reason, of course, but since
when have bigots ever had logic for their hatred?
When Benito Carbone was in dispute with Wednesday,
there was bound to be some crass, self-opinionated
oaf ready to chip in with his odious views. It
is round about such times when Gordon Taylor pops
his head out of Alex Ferguson's sloppy sphincter
just long enough to drench us all in bile. "Without
being xenophobic" (and don't you just know
what's coming next!) it is a particular problem
with foreign players brought over by agents. If
things aren't right they want to move again and
the majority don't have any loyalty to England
or understand the traditions of our game".
They certainly don't. Why, you will never see
these greasy types kick another player in the
face (Shearer) or taunt a player's sexuality (Fowler)
or go on gambling binges (Merson) or beat their
wives (Gascoigne) or punch an opponent in sly
off-the-ball incidents (Le Saux) or do time for
drunken driving (Adams) or pretend to bite opponents
or pull pubic hairs (Wise) or sell tickets to
touts causing crowd disturbances (Leicester) or
stamp on opponents with alarming regularity (Beckham)
or make inflammatory gestures to opposing fans
(Neville) or mock disabled linesmen or wreck referees'
dressing rooms or make fun of referees being assaulted
(Wright) or plough their plush automobiles through
whatever speed limit they please (James, Matteo
but certainly not Neil Ruddock oh no) or get into
violent altercations with stewards (Campbell)
or dig themselves quite a trench in a night-club
when they're supposed to be on international duty
(Sheringham). Yes, I think Gordon Taylor is perfectly
correct - these foreigners just do not respect
the traditions of our game.
And if you want to add a few 'Brits' to that
list, then try Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane, John Hartson
or Duncan Ferguson for size. Off the field? How
well the image of the game has been served by
Graham Rix, Peter Johnson, Ken Bates, Graham Kelly,
Alex Ferguson, Keith Wiseman and the board of
Sheffield Wednesday. The last two top-flight footballers
who tested positive for drugs were also English.
Taylor's breathtaking nerve is now seen in it's
Much as it pains me to point it out, English
clubs struggled repeatedly in the Champions League
when the Three Foreigners Rule was in force. Now
that Bosman and the Treaty of Rome has played
their part, the European Cup now resides on these
shores. Our previous winners of the Cup (oh, erm,
let me think for a minute) also relied heavily
on non-English players. Gordon Taylor, and every
other piss-pot Little Englander, always seems
to ignore that little fact. Nor do they ever mention
the sheer lunacy of the transfer market valuations
of English players. Ten million for Sutton seemed
like a Chelsea response to criticism of their
previous policy - something tells me they won't
be making that mistake again! Heskey is not worth
ten million, and while Fowler had a blinder against
Arsenal, their rumoured twelve million bid for
him in the summer is now starting to look more
and more tempting.
Taylor and his ilk also never point out the failures
of a club like Villa that paid it's £6m
for Merson, it's £7m for Dublin and similarly
excessive fees for warthogs like Steve Stone and
Alan Thompson in order to trail in dismally behind
their more cosmopolitan rivals. Needless to say,
the legalised larceny that is currently being
practised on the Villa fans by Doug Ellis in order
to pay for these ludicrous excesses is never mentioned
What is it about Europe that offends people so
much? EC interference? Yes of course - minimum
wage and maximum working hours. Coming here with
their filthy foreign ways! The Daily Mail has
been full of such shit for years, employing as
it does a right-wing nutter like Wooldridge. Even
in the newly sanitised Planet Football (God help
us) he can still refer to supporters as the "lager-fuelled
lumpen proletariat". Even they could see
the lunacy of baiting the foreign contingent in
the Premiership, even pouring scorn on the "Expensive
& Embarrassing" deals for Hartson, Collymore
(x 2), Kevin Davies, Les Ferdinand, Chris Sutton
and (ex-Legend of this parish) Duncan "well
that's my 20 minutes for the season then"
Ferguson. Anyone watching the fabulous Chelsea
humiliation of the Mancs could only sit back and
admire the skill, work-rate and professionalism
of that particular outfit. In fact, get rid of
the English brats Le Saux and Wise and it would
be almost possible to like them. Almost.
So what of Liverpool and Houllier? As you may
have gathered, I honestly don't think he or the
club had any choice. There were too many gaps,
too many weaknesses in the team for one or two
big English transfers to make a real difference.
Perhaps the 'Mirror' wants Gerard to fail so much
because he has banned one of their slimiest hacks?
Roy Evans' intervention was equally unpleasant,
blinkered as he was to the possibility that he
just might have had a part to play in the mess
Houllier has to clear up. Whatever the merits
or failures of the new lads, there seems to have
been an improvement in the professional behaviour
of the players. If that is to be Gerard's only
legacy, his stay here will have been worthwhile.