Editorial – Issue 50, Winter 2001
By Steve Kelly
From Issue 50, Winter 2001
Fanzines and their fiftieth issues: discuss. Most have a little look back over the years they’ve been (ahem) publishing. Granted, not many have eleven years to look back on – I think Red All Over The Land had five! I’ve skipped all that nonsense anyway, as looking back over the last decade plus of Liverpool FC would fill me with horror. Truth be told, I see nothing that’s really worth celebrating. The club I grew up with and loved has almost ceased to exist. There’s a certain amount of pleasure to be gained from its current incarnation of course, but sometimes it’s like cheering the stock market. Cold, calculated, frequently inhumane, altered almost beyond recognition. So there is a complete absence of ‘nostalgia’, since everyone knows things ain’t what they used to be. Even nostalgia.
There are no messages of congratulations or support for TTW&R either, since frankly I didn’t receive any! Thanks ever so. Once you’ve read issue 50, you’ll probably know why. There were several non-believers amongst you who took the idea of a swift issue 49 with a huge pinch of salt. Letters about November’s ‘woes’ started pouring in as soon as I was trying to sell 49. I’ve still included some of them because they make interesting points, or I might just be too lazy to think of anything more topical to replace them with. You decide. I did want to write about the day we ended that abysmal run of results at Old Trafford, especially the snidey build-up that always seems to ‘coincide’ with our visit there, but other stuff came in and I was glad of the chance to back out. I’m not going to pretend it was “just another win”, but I am fed up to the back teeth with opposition supporters asking me to stand up if I hate Man U. I love the way the majority of Reds are now beginning to boo this little ditty down, with a rousing Liverpool chant to drown it out completely. Quite right too – we are the only team that matters round here. Or ought to be. Two days after the Barthez fiasco, I had received ten e-mails on the subject. Fabian as the Statue of Liberty, “Hands up if you’re out of the cup”, the mock letter from that Cardiff hotel they were supposed to have booked. I got them all. Thanks and all that, but TEN?!? That’s more than I ever get on the Reds, and it’s not as if we haven’t got enough on our minds is it? No one likes a good anti Man U joke more than me, but the urge to turn into Man City should be fiercely resisted.
So what about this team of ours? On the day we’ve just pulverised a fairly limp West Ham, we’re in third place (a game in hand from second) and still in all competitions. By any yardstick – even the Mancs, thanks to Mr Di Canio – that is a fantastic state of affairs. Should the ever-so-coveted Champions League spot be achieved, there will be intense scrutiny of the squad and whether it has the necessary talent and strength in depth to survive the rigours of season 2001/02. I suspect it hasn’t, and to avoid the fate suffered by Chelsea and Leeds it’ll probably cost another pretty penny to put right. It was never really made clear whether Gerard’s legendary Three Year Plan was to gain CL qualification or CL status i.e. annual qualification. By the time that three years is over, at least 90m will have been spent and very little brought in. I just hope everyone thinks it’s worth it if (almost said “when”, then) we get into it.
The results since #49 have been excellent. The performances haven’t quite been on the same level. There’s an interesting article in this issue that more or less accuses the modern Reds of being a fair weather team: give us home advantage and/or a goal start, and we’re more than a match for anyone, even the Mancs and Arsenal. Send us away and put us a goal behind, and you see a different performance completely. I’ve been bewildered to the point where I felt I was turning into Ian St John at one point – simply moaning for moaning’s sake, or actually wanting Houllier to fail. I would obviously dismiss the latter as ludicrous, but I wonder whether it’s a sub-conscious thing. If Gerard takes us back to the top, then this club is going to go the way of all things Manc: shiny new stadium, multitudes of bag-carrying no-marks gawking silently at those funny eleven men in shorts because it’s the thing to do, the place to be seen at. Extravagant ticket prices and a “fuck you, someone else will buy it” attitude. It’s already happening, I suppose. Will I be able to stomach such a scenario – and will the likes of me even be included?
Or maybe I just don’t like being browbeaten. Claims that Villa away was (and I’m quoting a TTW&R regular here) “the best Liverpool display for three years” are baffling, since it doesn’t take into account the fact that Villa stank the place out. West Ham were woeful, Palace were dreadful, Leeds are struggling badly at home – even Man U were below average on the day – but then a little voice pops up inside your head and says “they can’t all have been shite!” and there’s no arguing with that whatsoever. Clich© to clutch, number one: you can only beat what’s put in front of you. Then you get home from Leeds, drunk and ecstatic over the win if not the performance, only to discover that Fowler was “excellent” (he was never off his arse for 75 minutes) and that Houllier’s substitutions were “inspired” inspired by Babbel’s flu, Smicer’s awfulness and Danny’s injury, perhaps. It’s exactly the sort of “Print The Legend” rubbish that I’d expect from the Mancs and the Shite – not from Liverpudlians.
February promises to be a very exciting month. First of all, I hope everyone got back safely from Rome (rather you than me). Results against Man City, Roma and Birmingham (another bunch of loonies) could well determine the kind of finish we will put in during the remaining league games. I’ve been rather flippant on the back page – if you do decide to dress like that, at least you’ll fit in with the locals – and I’m wondering whether the League Cup can provide the kind of morale boost that the FA Cup gave Everton in ’84 and United in ’90. It will certainly reflect badly on Houllier if we miss out on the CL because of the fixture congestion caused by winning a competition that was regarded by many (including me) as ‘Worthless’ before we got to the final. But then that’s the beauty of football, isn’t it? It’s all ahead of us, and nobody knows anything really. We could be happy, we could be sad. The only certainty is that we’ll be laughing our heads off at Everton at some stage. Toodle pip, and see you in Cardiff.