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April 2003

2nd April: Big Em dropped, Rooney does well, Owen injured, Gerrard bunged out on the left and smacked in a brawl. Not on a par with JB getting booed or Redknapp getting injured, but still another entry for the LFC “Christ, do I not like England” scrapbook (fairly bulging at the seams now). And let’s see if Dyer gets the same criticism as Owen would get for that, ahem, ‘penalty’.

3rd April: Well, would you credit it? A Man United employee consumed with self-interest? There’s a first time for everything. Peter Kenyon wants televised games at 3 o’clock on a Saturday, and to hell with the small clubs who will go to the wall as a result. After all, who’d really miss a nonentity club like, say, Newton Heath? There is also the danger to United and Liverpool fans, who will all drop dead with shock when one of our matches takes place at a civilised hour.

4th April: I knew we’d suffer after Rooney’s debut, and Sir Bill doesn’t disappoint. “Jenny and I were standing cheering, with tears in our eyes”, “I even thought he was best at God Save The Queen”, “I once got carried away when David Unsworth played against Japan” – and downright furious when the opposition harpooned him. The guy’s a loon, but if a smile a day keeps the doctor away then Kenwright is almost Christ-like. “I spent most of the day at the Gielgud Theatre working on Tell Me On A Sunday starring Denise Van Outen” – the words “tickets half price for matinees, bring the kids!” seem to have been cut out of my Echo.

5th April: “Liverpool at the very least will get a draw – I just can’t see United winning”. Honestly, can you think of a single reason why Mark Lawrenson carries on? MAN UNITED 4 L 0 was like a masochist’s dream. The feeblest of pre-match practical ‘jokes’, a goal and a man down in five minutes, Biscan and Traore centre halves, a substitution that virtually screamed “please don’t hurt us”, a referee whose bias even made the Mancs gawp in amazement and our worst defeat here for 50 years. Add that to some disgusting behaviour in the away end, and the day was complete. It can’t get any worse, surely?

6th April: Oh yes it can. Gerard was saying “Sir Alex’s problems are probably even worse” on Friday, but now it’s all about “a lot of our players have been travelling and lost some energy”. And yes the ref was a bastard, but they strolled to a four-goal win and saved energy for their match with Real thanks in no small part to Liverpool taking Baros off. We got whacked despite Gerard’s “damage limitation”. We lost Owen in 1998, and still drew 1-1. Spice Boys, eh? “I’m backing Emile 100%. We have 7 games to play and he will play in all seven”. So tell me: is this team picked for the good of the club, or for the express purpose of saving the manager’s face?

6th April: After yesterday, you’d think he’d keep his mouth shut and his head down, stay at home and count his innumerable blessings. But no, Demento rails against UEFA for fixing the draw in Real’s favour (despite countless group stage walkovers for United) and criticises Real for spending so much money. I kid you not. There doesn’t appear to be any remarks about Del Bosque’s slack bowels, but I wouldn’t put it past the addled oaf.

7th April: “My concern is that we get the strongest possible referee”. And who would you suggest, Alex? New French official Michel Rilé, perhaps? Meanwhile, Houllier makes Sami Hyypia play for the Reserves. According to the Echo report, it’s “to keep up his match fitness”. Baros didn’t play, despite only getting the same 5 minutes Sami did. “Biscan, Babbel, Diao and Cheyrou were also looking to impress the manager”. They lost 1-0 at home to a Middlesbrough team full of kids. Makes you wonder what would happen if they didn’t give a shit………

8th April: Gary Neville’s pre-match sound-bite was “we won’t be happy with 0-0 this time out”. Good, then. And Ferguson says “a lot of their players will try to get at the referee” – you mean they might race 50 yards to tell him to send an opponent off? Thank God we don’t do that sort of thing in this country, eh? All of which is academic, since United are totally outplayed. And UEFA are charging Blotchy with bringing the game into disrepute. These continentals, they just don’t seem to realise how football is supposed to work. You roll over – on and off the pitch. The referees sort of understand (penalties aren’t given against United, no matter how blatant), but no-one else does. Filthy foreign scum.

9th April: After being given a lesson, at least the Daily Mail rallies round. “Ruud Lifeline” screams their back page. Imagine another English team being given a chasing like that, then imagine the headlines. Liverpool Humiliated, Geordies Take Beating, Chelsea Almost Out Already, Everton………well I did say ‘imagine’ didn’t I?

9th April: Smokescreen alert. Why is Phil Thompson making such a big deal about Ian St John now? The bloke’s never given Houllier a break, and is largely ignored by Reds. Could Thommo be trying to paint all objectors to Gerard as similarly motivated by petulance? Perish the thought. If Phil really expects people to believe that he and Houllier have no problem with “constructive criticism”, then it simply displays their complete and utter contempt for our intelligence. The sad thing about St John is that other, saner voices are making the same accusations. And they’re not going to be silenced by your hysterical bluster. Intriguingly, Chris Bascombe lists the 10 Worst Seasons out of the last 40. Not one of Roy’s full seasons is amongst them.

11th April: Someone’s paintballed Wayne’s house in Croxteth, causing a thousand pounds’ worth of improvements. Rooney’s dad blames jealousy, so read into that what you will. I admit I’m green with envy. Many is the time I wish we had a young striker who played well for England – do you think I’ll ever see it in my lifetime? Cue more gibberish about Rooney-mania, and some cack about sports shops in Liverpool selling out of Y’s. You couldn’t find a kebab for love nor money in Sunderland last week, but you kept quiet about that I notice. And the Echo runs a story about the King’s Dock dream dying, right next to “Dog Bites Man”. One beaut rages against the council: “I blame them for being so short-sighted”. Well, it did take them quite a while to see that Everton haven’t even got the piss, never mind a pot to put it in, but they got there in the end. “It wasn’t just about Everton, it was about raising the city’s profile” – they really do believe this shit, y’know!

11th April: Yeah, you’d never catch us talking rubbish. Just imagine how embarrassing it would be if, for example, the following occurred; (a) we got battered by United (b) United got outplayed by Real Madrid (c) our goalie said we were capable of playing at the same level as Real. I mean to say; think of the shame………

12th April: Thommo’s said we will win the last six games, and Houllier expands the war of words to ALL ex-Liverpool players working in the media. No wonder the players think they can now talk tripe with impunity. Gerard even says he envies Everton. Just what you want to hear from a Liverpool manager a week before the derby. “Now is the time to take risks” ………8 months after the season began. That wacky French humour. L 2 FULHAM 0 gets the job done against a side who could not make their disinterest in the rest of the season more blatant if they carried buckets and spades and wore “kiss me quick” hats. Baros was keen, and actually managed to stay on the pitch long enough to break sweat. Once again we stopped playing at 2-0, with Dudek and the woodwork saving our blushes. Even a team that doesn’t care can cause us problems. There was a time when the Kop would make mincemeat of an opposition sub called Elvis, but fun’s been outlawed. Liverpool fans are only happy nowadays when the final whistle blows. For the record, today’s result means that Fulham (still in relegation trouble) have only got one more home win than Liverpool now. So that’s okay then.

12th April: Chris Bascombe can often make you think again about something you’d taken for granted. Thommo’s bonehead boast about winning the last six matches, for example. It’s Chris’ theory that Phil and Gerard are going to get slagged off no matter what happens, so they may as well try and rally the troops by being upbeat. A fair point, though once again the Shankly comparison gets on your nerves and once again there’s no mention of the man who won twice the number of titles Shanks did, as well as 3 European Cups. You needn’t ask what Paisley would do to anyone at the club who’d said something like this. The only question would be over whether he’d use them as a paperweight or throw them to his dog for a snack.

13th April: Not that Neil Warnock actually needs a reason, but his team’s called United, they’re in red and playing at Old Trafford = referee conspiracy. Poll gets in the way of a United player in Arsenal’s half. About a minute later, Arsenal score. It can only mean one thing – Graham Poll is an Arsenal fan who “should be banned if he can’t get out of the way”. Nice try Neil, but not Premiership standard. Demento is foaming at the mouth because Alan Shearer elbowed one of his players. “These are serious incidents”. Jason McAteer wasn’t asked for a quote, nor was the Fulham lad that Ruuuud pulverised (shurely “dribbled past effortlessly to score goal of the month”? – ITV)

14th April: Maybe I’m watching a different sport? It seems we’re now ready to bid for two Fulham players, as they were all so impressive on Saturday. The Echo can’t decide whether Malbranque is a midfielder or an attacker (he’s down as both on tonight’s back page). I have the same problem – I can’t decide if he was awful or anonymous. Chris B gets an Elvis gag into his match report (“a little less conversation, a little more action”) while bemoaning the number of Elvis puns in other match reports, and Tommy Smith praises Smicer. Seems the Schizos have taken over at Old Hall Street.

15th April: Rest In Peace.

15th April: We have no choice. Sami’s suspended and Steph’s injured – it’ll be Biscan and Traore at Goodison. Let joy be unconfined. “It will be a big test for Igor but I have the utmost faith in him. Anyone who has seen him perform at centre half will know his qualities”. How the hell does he keep a straight face? And Everton are “delighted” Paul Durkin will be the referee. What are the odds on them still thinking that on Saturday at 5 o’clock?

16th April: I’ve just been reading Trevor Hicks’ disgraceful comments from yesterday. There’s a reason it’s called a commemorative service. It’s so fans can remember our fellow fans who died – it isn’t your platform to make cheap cracks about fans who stand up. These “misguided lemmings” have come to pay their respects, not to listen to you scoring points when nobody can hit back.

16th April: I guess we won’t be hearing too much more about Ian St John from now on. Tonight’s letters page in the Echo printed more letters in favour of him than sided with Thommo or Houllier. A little bird told me “tweet tweet tweet tweet” – which was a waste of my time and yours. So I spoke to someone in the know instead who says the response was largely in favour of St John. Seems Liverpool fans are finally growing tired of the ‘mind games’ being employed to try and convince us we’re watching quality football when we quite clearly aren’t. I mean, who in their right mind expects people to believe this rubbish?

16th April: Quote in the Express today: “We watched the video and we saw how well we played in the Bernabeau”. I repeat: who in their right mind ………

18th April: Alan Stubbs wants the manager of the year award to go to the Moyessiah, and uses George Burley as an example of a non-trophy winning recipient. That would be George Burley, the ex-manager of lower league side Ipswich who lost 6-0 and 5-0 to Liverpool in the same season? Dear God, I know I don’t live right and I hardly ever pray to you – but you know that thing about lightning striking twice?………

19th April, am: “The momentum seems to be with Everton, I can see them shading it by the narrowest of margins”. Thank you, Lord. “David Moyes is convinced Liverpool’s days of Merseyside domination are numbered”. Thank you, Lord. “Merseybeat changing to blue”. Thank you, Lord. “We are ahead of Liverpool and we aim to stay there”. Thank you, Lord.

19th April, pm: Igor injured after 5 minutes, forcing Carra into central defence. Thank you, Lord. Everton reverting to their natural wellying (ball or man, either will do) selves. Thank you, Lord. Super goal from Owen. Thank you, Michael. Even better goal from Danny. Thank you, Danny. A referee prepared to stand up to their barbarity. Thank you, Lord. EVERTON 1 L 2, and our days of domination (erm, ‘days’? Try decades) go on. Thank you, Lord.

20th April: “Some of the decisions were harsh”. You knew they couldn’t keep it up for long! So what happened to the “excellent” Paul Durkin, eh? Oh well, just another bent derby referee. If you laid them all end to end, they would reach Europe………ah, you’ve heard it? Moyes may not have Fergie’s talent, but at least he’s got similar eyesight: “territorially, we dominated the game…… I thought we performed really well……it was cruel on us”. Maybe they all go to a special school to learn this drivel? Nice touch from Gerard about the 96, it stood out in last night’s ‘highlights’ (all 30 seconds of them) amongst a tidal wave of Evertonian delusion, including arch wag Degsy. Everyone knows the most dangerous place on Merseyside is between Derek Hatton and a television camera.

21st April: Or if you’re a Liverpool player driving around Goodison Park after a derby. Even if you’re an ex-player. Of course, people don’t know this because it never gets reported. Priorities are skewed; Wayne Rooney spits, page 1. The Hillsborough memorial defaced, page 7. Nice to have a sense of perspective, eh? I looked and looked, but could not find the words “I blame Heysel” in the various reports. They’re slipping.

21st April: Has somebody had a word? Is the message finally getting through? Gerard says “we know what we want to achieve and we will do our best, but every game is going to be difficult”. Calm, cool and sensible. He forget to say it becomes even harder when you set up chances for the opposition and don’t start playing until the last five minutes. L 2 CHARLTON 1 was about the spawniest victory I’ve ever seen at Anfield. The Kop wasn’t exactly bubbling at 0-0, which is unusual given what happened on Saturday. After Djimi’s little bit of trickery, a silence descended that would have done us proud on the 15th. How we won is a mystery, although I wouldn’t be mightily surprised to see the words “Dean Kiely” and “Malaysian businessman” in newspaper headlines in a few years’ time. Needless to say, when the sound of laughter rises above the sound of cheering after a winning goal it speaks volumes.

22nd April: Been reading about Murphy throwing a bottle at Thompson, as opposed to kicking a ball in his direction. He did it in front of 40,000 witnesses and the national press, as opposed to privately at Melwood. It’s okay says Gerard, Danny apologised. In private, as opposed to being forced to do it publicly. And anyway, Houllier is “glad he was upset because it shows he has character”, as opposed to showing a lack of respect for his colleagues. And Danny is a favourite, as opposed to someone you can’t wait to get shut of at the earliest opportunity.

23rd April: The secret of great comedy i-TIMING! After Monday’s torturous ‘performance’ this week’s LFC magazine prints an interview with St Michael, telling us that we are not far off the title. “When we started off great this season, I think everyone thought this was our year”. Hmm, I think I’m on the verge of spotting the flaw in that sentence.

23rd April: United go out of Europe after a farce at Old Trafford. No doubt we’ll be getting told it was a classic, but it was a defensive nightmare and actually Real aren’t that great. Maybe I’ve had a convenient loss of memory, but has a former United player ever been subbed at Anfield only to be subjected to at least two minutes of abuse by the whole ground? I know Stevie played well, but it was hardly an eye-catching performance was it? Never forget, folks – we are the obsessed, bitter ones………

25th April: Some of the rubbish written about Wednesday is laughable. Greatest game ever, because it involved ‘them’. Greatest team ever, because they beat ‘them’. And now this morning’s slop by John Dillon in the ‘Express’. “They added further lustre to their European standing” (translation: one European Cup final in 35 years) “when they rose in awed appreciation of Ronaldo’s hat trick”. Not a word about the incessant invective directed at McManaman, but it’s clear Dillon’s senses aren’t working properly. “I can only remember this happening once, at West Ham”. And he can’t count either. It’s happened on numerous occasions at Anfield, and our teams have been roundly applauded on other grounds (Charlton 4-0, Leeds 4-0 in 20 minutes etc). People say we shouldn’t get too annoyed, but future historians will rake through the papers to write about these times, and it’s blinkered biased twats like Dillon who will provide the story.

25th April: Vegard Heggem is thinking of retiring from football. All obvious jokes aside, it’s a sad story because he looked the business when he first came here. I do think it a mite ‘coincidental’ that Liverpool are thinking about whether or not to give him a new contract. Mystic Steve puts fingers on forehead, goes “mmmmmmmm”, goes into trance and predicts “LFC do not renew contract and Heggem retires”. It’s just one of my many gifts.

26th April: “You’ve been told not to fucking ask that. Cut that off. Cut that off. Fucking idiots, you all are. You do that again and you won’t be coming back here. You fucking sell your papers and radio stations on the back of this club”. And the last marble rolls out of Stretford. The poor hack in question was probably only asking for a sound-level check. I wish I was a journalist, I’d have the bastard in a straight-jacket after five minutes. Meanwhile, things turn weird in the Midlands. WEST BROM 0 L 6 provides only the bare outline of this strange game – it should easily have been double figures. Albion were absolutely pitiful, so bad that even Liverpool realised they were there for the taking and cut loose. Baros and Owen showed they can work together, mainly because Milan was totally unselfish. And he scored twice, so expect another quote from the boss about his staff’s incredibly poor judgement. We’d have been given a harder game by traffic cones, but we’ve played against rubbish before and let them off the hook. A great day out.

27th April: A quick glimpse at the table shows what a weird season it’s been. We have two more away wins and two more away goals than United, and less home wins than Villa or Fulham (a team that isn’t even playing on its own ground). And the thing we’ve dreaded all season is fast approaching - Chelsea away matters.

27th April: Do journalists live in some parallel universe? Try this: “until the locks of United’s bank vaults are blown off, the Spanish matadors will continue to reign supreme in continental combat”. So………let me see if I’ve got this straight……… United have failed in Europe because they haven’t spent enough money. Now it was bad enough when Ferguson complained about referees after April 5th, but this surely takes the prize. PS another paper says that United will buy Patrick Vieira for £40m. Which means that four of their players will have cost a combined £117m. Cheapskates.

28th April: There’s an injury scare for Riise, which is hardly surprising. Because Dudek isn’t fully fit, John Arne is taking the goal kicks. Which entails a forty yard sprint to get back level with Sami, Djimi and Jamie. And Dietmar, boom boom. No wonder he’s knackered. At least he’s not in midfield any more, otherwise he’d be as goosed as Henchoz looks.

28th April: Graham Poll was at Goodison Park on Saturday, but left relatively unscathed. As one of the 3,456 officials on their blacklist he’s obviously learned his lesson. There’s no way he would tell a linesman to “keep an eye on Ferguson” – something Aston Villa’s Joey Gudjohnson will no doubt be thanking him for at a later date. The Icelandic midfielder now has Duncan’s elbow scabs embedded in his cranium, but these things happen when you face someone who ‘plays six foot five’. Poor old picked-upon Duncan will have the video evidence studied by the FA. They’ll no doubt pass it on to Christie’s – footage of The Legend actually playing will be a priceless rarity in years to come.

29th April: If Shrewsbury do get relegated, can we claim Everton were beaten by a non-league side? Maybe that’s a bit far-fetched, but we’re not alone. Ratters is garnering the help of his devoted Echo readers in some kind of voodoo pact. “All we can do is beat Carlisle, beat Scunthorpe in the last game and pray results go for us elsewhere – keep your fingers crossed!”. Will do.

30th April: It was Shrewsbury 2 Carlisle 3. They were relegated and Ratcliffe has resigned. Hey, this finger crossing lark really works.

30th April: Robbie returns to Anfield on Saturday, so naturally the wind-up (build-up shurely? – ed) starts today. Fowler was quite calm and considered, though he admitted he didn’t like the “We’ve got St Michael” banner at Elland Road. Robbie lad, if you’d read some of the stuff on the Internet ………Houllier, in return, comes up with “when I think of Robbie I think only of positive things” – a claim of such jaw-dropping fakery that I’m amazed his tongue didn’t disintegrate when the words came into contact with it. “I really can’t say anything bad about Robbie”, he said, as his wooden nose crashed through the pressroom window.