Top 5 Scariest Moments
By Paul Bretherton
From Issue 56, Spring 2002
As much as I've enjoyed following the Reds over
the years, there have been those occasions when
it's been real heart in the mouth stuff
to be totally frank and honest with you, times
when I've just been plain crapping myself!
I make no excuses for admitting to pangs of nervousness
and slight bowel irritation, whether that be due
to being sat in United's Road End surrounded by
their lot baying for Scouse blood. Or being perched
in the East Stand at Spurs after Michael Thomas
has just slotted home. Or alternatively, just
totally forgetting where I was at Maine Road last
season when Heskey bulleted that header and I
was up like a shot.
In truth, this could easily have been a top 50
listing. If I could write that many words that
is, or live with myself for boring you good people
stupid. Nor do I feel the slightest bit of embarrassment
about splashing my right trouser leg in Wembley
Park tube toilets in 96. It's always best to check
who's stood around near you (and who they support)
before you decide to start singing a rather derogatory
ditty about their team! Oooooops! And before the
name 'Pee-Wee' gets mentioned, it was a dribble
and nothing more, okay? Just a dribble! So there
you have it. And with the current trend of Channel
4 showering us with their top 100's regularly
on a Saturday night (voted by you the viewers
of course) it might well set the scene further
if you read this to yourself in a slightly camp
Irish accent. I give you;
NUMBER 5: LIVERPOOL v CHELSEA 1984/85
Most people remember this end of season game
for the seven-goal thriller that it was, but I
remember it for totally different reasons, namely
one of the first times that I could remember seeing
trouble inside the ground. As a 13 year old stood
on the Kop that day with my bother Ged, I watched
in amazement as fighting broke out alongside the
dividing fence of The Anny Road, just as the game
kicked off. I was brave enough to join in with
fellow Kopites as the shouts went up of 'getting
'em outside later' (from a safe distance of course!)
And that was it, or so it seemed, until we got
back to Lime Street and got on the local outward-bound
service. Now remember that this was back in the
days when it seemed every away support seemed
to travel by train and get deposited at Edge Hill.
As our train slowly moved through the tunnels,
every Red in the front carriage moved to the windows
ready to abuse these invading southerners, and
cheerily send them on their way with the obligatory
cat calling and v-signs. And I just loved this,
this was all part of the match, the ritual, and
I for one couldn't get enough of it. I only now
see the irony later on in life, that my mother
would regularly frown, and sigh, if I asked for
pocket money for the Thursday night youth disco,
worried that it was a battle-ground and full of
bad influences. However, wanting money for the
match was never a problem. I think she had nostalgic
memories of fans side by side, mingling happily,
jumpers for goal posts
she'd known the truth.
Well, there I was, leaning against the carriage
door, head out of the window like a dog in the
passenger seat, flicking V signs and telling 'em
where to go, when abruptly, the train ground to
a halt. DEAR GOD! Red light! The noise that followed,
I can still remember to this day. Distant and
low, then getting nearer and louder, mummmeeeeeeee!
I know how Michael Caine must have felt in Zulu.
Everybody, and I mean everybody, in that carriage
slammed the windows up, made feeble attempts to
remove any article of give away clothing and sat
down waiting for the worst. I must admit to clutching
tightly to my '1974 FA Cup Winners' flag attached
to it's bamboo stick; they might take me I thought,
but not my precious flag
I might be able to shove it up somebody's nose,
And just as it seemed we were doomed, the train
magically pulled away. Nobody was brave enough
to move or take a peek out of the windows until
we were safely through Wavertree I can tell you.
The relief was indescribable. Lots of bravado
followed after that, mixed with nervous laughter
by yours truly. That was a close call I thought,
and I vowed there and then, to be a good boy and
never get involved in that kind of thing when
I was old enough.
Thank you Chelsea, you gave me an important lesson
in life that day.
No 4: ARSENAL v LIVERPOOL 1988/89 League Cup
(the Villa Park 'un)
Easily one of the best performances I've ever
had the pleasure of watching. We battered them
from the first minute to the last, and could have
easily scored six that night, such was the completeness
of the performance, and that was with key players
missing. Enduring memories? The atmosphere we
produced, King Kenny tossing a packet of sarnies
back into the Arsenal section, Beardsley showing
up Steve Bould for what he was
Oh, and the walk back to the Asda Car park. We'd
taken up residence in the left hand section of
the Holte End, right next to the dividing fence.
And let's face it, at certain times, there's nothing
better than to be situated next to the opposition
support when you're playing them off the park
(quite another when you're getting hammered though).
On full time, we celebrated and made our way out,
into the middle of a fucking war zone. Hundred
of Gooners had made their way out first, and were
now looking for revenge, as they pushed their
way through the flimsy police lines. Lord, it
was do or die and this is where I got separated.
Now, (and this is an important point, so listen),
if you're gonna engage in friendly 'banter' with
the enemy, like I did that night, puhlease, wear
something inconspicuous, for your own safety.
Not like this idiot, and sport a bright luminous
fluorescent Ski jacket. Standing on a crush barrier,
waving, saluting, blowing kisses, and making the
score line out with your fingers - well, it ain't
that great an idea when you're gonna want to blend
in later. I might as well have been wearing a
target on my back. Trying to catch my mates up,
whilst attempting to look as cool and unruffled
as possible, the hairs on the back of my neck
suddenly sprang up as I heard growling voices
behind me: "There's that loud mouthed Scouse,
f**kin do im"
Oh sweet Jesus! Did they mean me? I quickened
my pace till I was most definitely speed walking
for team Great Britain. There I was for all the
world, looking like a competitor from that most
ridiculous of sports, except my cheeks were clenched
even tighter than theirs, for fear of my sphincter
literally falling off onto the Birmingham pavement.
I broke into a run hoping to lose them somewhere
in the car park, and then it happened, I had a
fit of the giggles. It was like I was a seven
year old again. You know, those hazy days when
you'd be getting legged by the local bully, and
for some inexplicable reason you'd start to crack
up. Why I ask you, does this happen? Something
I'll have to ask Desmond Morris, I suppose.
Maybe it was just the relief that I'd thought
I'd shaken them off, and so I stopped to catch
my breath and cease with the laughter. And from
nowhere, they re-appeared. When the first punch
rained in, boy I can tell you that woke me with
a jolt. And I re-discovered my running shoes.
Like a mirage in the distance, the getaway car
appeared, revving and ready to roll, and in my
final few steps I could have doubled for Jonathan
Edwards, hopping, skipping and jumping. Now I'd
never dove onto the back seat of a moving car
prior to this (I'd always wanted to) and it is
just like in the movies, but there the stuntmen
do it a whole lot better than I mustered that
night. Throwing yourself full length and attempting
to clutch the parcel shelf, whilst your legs are
flailing outside and bashing into stray shopping
trollies is no easy task I can tell ya. My right
trainer dropped off, leaving my tormentors to
scoop it up as a trophy and gloat whilst I looked
back at them through the rear window.
All in all, I was just relieved to have come
away relatively unscathed, and we had won as well,
but having to suffer the indignity of wandering
around Sandbach services with one trainer on,
drawing puzzled looks from all and sundry, ruined
a great night in my opinion. If memory serves
me correctly, I recall telling the bemused checkout
woman it was the 'In thing' right now, and soon
enough the Fashion houses and catwalks of Paris
and Milan would be touting this. This was in reply
to her asking me whether I knew I only had one
trainer on. "Oooooooo, no, I didn't, thanks
for pointing it out though, I thought my foot
was a bit cold". The daft old bat.
I never did get the trainer back (you don't say?
- ed) and would like to think it sits proudly
on a mantelpiece, somewhere in North London, where
a man sits a child on his lap, and proudly recounts
to him of the night he punched a Scouser in a
dayglo jacket for taking liberties.
No 3: SHEFFIELD UNITED v LIVERPOOL 1990/91
The first day of the season and a glorious sunny
hot day in Sheffield. Another good solid performance
from the defending champions, and after this display
we had no reasons to doubt that League Championship
Number 19 was well on it's way to us. Oops! There
was what the police would describe as 'minor skirmishes'
outside, prior to the game, but all in all it
was nothing unduly worrying, just the usual verbal
spouting and posturing from beer bellied tattooed
representatives of the 'Yorkshire nation'.
We took up our standing position, right at the
front of the terrace, and I quietly read through
the papers and checked the coupons. Now if you're
like me, visiting an away ground for the first
time, my mind does tend to wander and drift, as
I take in the new surroundings. Yes, even that
of the architectural masterpiece known as Bramall
Lane. As I gormlessly watched the home ends fill
up, quite quietly and from some twenty odd feet
away, I first heard the strains of 'You fat bastards,
you fat bastards' begin to echo. I didn't bother
to check out who had appeared on the scene, but
assumed it was some journeyman footballer currently
plying his trade with the Blades, who had decided
to warm up at the wrong end. Then suddenly
it happened. The fence in front started
to shake violently and I looked up, mouth agog.
Quite possibly the two largest women I've ever
had the misfortune to meet, were above me clambering
up the fence whilst everybody jumped back
except me of course.
"Fugggggg ooffffff thee Scouse bast-uds,
fugggggin get 'ere and say it" (RATTLE RATTLE!)
and with that, one of them gobbed on me. Not a
little spec of spit though, a real phlegm ball,
which I took right to the face. Bemused and a
little shocked, I moved forward to confront my
aggressor. I had no intention of punching her,
I couldn't hit a woman after all, even if the
lump of lard in front of me blocking the sun out
barely resembled one. I merely wanted to restrain
her (and wipe my glistening cheeks on her sleeve).
Without warning, the other one grabbed me through
the bars and held me by the scruff of the neck.
Indecipherable Yorkshire language followed, bawled
out by these two moon faces pressed up against
mine. More spit rained down which this time horrifyingly
contained chunks of meat and potato pie for that
gruesome splatter effect. Eugh! The sheer embarrassment
of being turned over by two big Yorkshire women
was enough for me to come to my senses, discover
the strength of ten men, and yank myself away.
Where were my mates, you may ask? Pissing themselves
stupid with laughter and shouting such witticisms
as "We think they like you Brev, get in there!"
A brave (or alternatively stupid) police officer
intervened, yanked them down from the fence and
sent them packing, all of this done with a grin
on his face as wide as a Cheshire cat. I must
admit to a fleeting thought of getting his number
and asking his superior officer why the two gluttons
hadn't been arrested and deposited in the back
of a van. But the thought of being in the papers,
looking all sad and glum in black and white with
the headline bearing down "Sheffield sisters
assault young man with spittle and pie" would
have been too much to bear.
Plus if it had gone to court, I'd have to see
them again, Christ, they might even bring their
mother with 'em this time, so I thought better
of it and put it down to one of life's rich experiences.
'Never coming here again
EVER' I mentally
scribed. One gobbed-on face, speckles of pie crust
nestling on my head, and a torn t-shirt, all this
prior to the game even kicking off. What a day.
Ah well, stuff them, we won 3-1.
As they would say in Yorkshire I was 'reet chuffed'
when the shower finally got relegated.
No 2: DERBY COUNTY v LIVERPOOL 1990/91
With our title defence getting all jittery, Dalglish
having abdicated, Ronnie Moran was attempting
to keep us going, and on paper, this looked like
a very tricky March time fixture. They were fighting
for their 1st division lives and at best I thought
we might sneak it, or at least get a point. Now
for me and the lads, this had been our first year
as season ticket holders. Getting fed up with
having to get in the Kop early for the big matches,
we had decided to part with some hard earned cash
and pay the princely sum of £95 for a Kop
ticket. Those were the days indeed!
As well as the bonus of being able to stay in
the pub for longer pre match periods, it also
gave you priority for those vital away games.
We'd decided on going to the Baseball Ground only
a couple of weeks previously, and as things turn
out when you leave them to the last minute, our
end had already sold out. Now my dad at that time
worked on the railways and had numerous colleagues
employed the length and breadth of the country,
who were only ever a phone call away. One it turned
out was a Derby County season ticket holder. A
few days after telling him of our plight, through
the post duly arrived four tickets. Nice one...oh,
in the Derby end?
.hmm right. The guy told
him he thought they were for the family section,
but couldn't be sure
do for us.
We got to the ground and duly took up our seats
in the 'C' stand Paddock (Ground spotters alert,
it was the one facing the camera's where the dugouts
were) and all was well, until about 2:30. Family
oh no it wasn't. Every mean looking
get from the provincial town was in there and
they seemed more interested in baiting the travelling
reds than watching the game itself. It was only
a couple of years later when I met a Derby fan
on holiday, who re-confirmed that 'C' stand was
indeed notorious, and he was more than a little
impressed that we'd lasted the course. Ha-ha!
First it was pretty mild and tame, but closer
to kick off time, the first predictable strains
of 'You scouse bastards' started to ring out,
followed by an unfortunate Red being 'outed' in
the back of the stand. He was set upon in droves,
but was fortunately rescued by the stewards. This
was gonna be a grin and bear it day all right
Not that we were overly worried, after all there
was four of us, but we did want to see the full
game and not risk the wrath of the East Midlands
bizzies (just as bad as the West Midlands ones
in my opinion). So what happens? We go and score
seven goals, fucking SEVEN goals, and away from
home, puhlease!, And there's four of us Reds having
to keep shtum, stifling broad grins, and trying
to look as disappointed as possible. Speedie cracked
one in, and decide to run past us and the Neanderthal
goons, sticking his tongue out and grabbing his
crotch. Much to our shame, we had to leap up and
shout abuse back to him, admittedly in extremely
poor imitation accents. Fortunately the locals
were more interested in conducting threatening
gestures to the fiery Scot to notice our tragic
efforts at sheepspeak. And that happened seven
times, who could have predicted that eh? We purchased
the video of the game from the club, just so we
could all savour it time and time again. I last
viewed it just a couple of weeks ago, and apart
from being embarrassed by my hair style and appalling
dress sense, it was amusing to see four familiar
pale faces grimacing through those 90 minutes
of sheer 'hell'.
Well, you may ask, did we get away scot free?
Well, in a word, yes
and no. We trundled
out with the rest, ambled back to the car, and
discovered someone had slashed one of our tyres.
It transpired that Batesy had inadvertently forgotten
to remove his hanging Liverpool pennant from the
dash. Get the jack out, la! And hide that friggin'
pennant next time.
No 1: LIVERPOOL v COVENTRY 1999/2000
A strange choice you may think? Scratching your
brow trying to recall serious pre-match bouts
of trouble in the Flattie or Sam Dodd's hmm? Still
searching the memory banks for memories of a huge
Police presence around the ground that day?
Well, if you were sat in the Paddock like me,
near the bench, things should start to become
a little clearer to you. Still hazy? Yes? Now,
think back to about 2:55, and that strangely familiar
looking middle-aged bloke stood on the touchline
watching his son lead the teams out. That's right
step forward, Chris De Burgh.
Nothing particularly frightening in that is there?
And no, in truth there isn't (apart from some
of the old dear's in the front rows getting rather
over excited over the bushy eye browed one's surprise
appearance). That was until he decided to give
us all an impromptu solo, and no it wasn't Lady
in Red I might add. He turned to his admirers
and assembled Paddockites and shouted out: "Come
on guys, get behind the boys
on....we lurrvee you Liv-er-pool, we dooo, we
." Need I go on?
I'd forgotten all about this until I recently
read about him attempting to heal Markus Babbel
through the power of touch. Like some suppressed
memory of abuse, it all came flooding back as
I remembered and winced with the agony. The look
on the majority of faces that day spoke volumes.
It was a real peeking through the fingers moment
and one that I don't care to witness again. Now,
you may say there's nothing wrong with his 'performance',
the total opposite in fact. He should be given
some credit for getting behind the team, trying
to whip up a red-hot atmosphere, and at least
showing us that he cared. The fact that us silent
Paddockites chose not to take up his offer is
more of a statement about us. And I'd concede
BUT it wasn't the fact that he was singing, or
of that cheesy smile of his that had me gritting
my teeth. No, it was his total over the top, attention
seeking manner that left me thinking he should
save this kind of thing for Wembley Arena, not
The more we ignored him, the more he attempted
to cheerlead us, waving his arms and punching
the air. 'For God's sake man, this is the Paddock'
I wanted to scream, 'Go to the Kop and get them
going, we don't sing in here doncha know'. Everybody
shuffled their feet and mumbled, praying for George
to read the teams out and SOON. It lasted only
a few minutes, but seemed like an eternity. When
he'd completed his 'set', he saluted us all to
a ripple (and I mean a ripple) of applause, resulting
in much shaking of heads and raising of eyebrows
all around. This was beyond scary.
In truth, if he had drunkenly sung like me or
you I wouldn't have had a problem with it, but
this was real staccato Three Tenors stuff. All
that was missing was his piano, and a sparkling
white suit. Hmmmmmm, that's actually got me thinking
a little, maybe it wouldn't be too bad after all,
if the club ask him to perform for future games.
Given regular exposure to desensitise us to it,
we could be onto a real winner here. He could
even duet with Dr Fun and his hand puppet?
Let's be honest here, you would get in early
to hear him croon and tinkle on the ivories wouldn't
you, just for the sheer hell of it? I know I would.
To hear him belting out such classics as 'We're
the Barmy Anny Road Army' in D minor would be
something else. We could all hold up gas lighters
in unison (evening matches only) as he regales
us with 'A Liverbird upon my chest', or alternatively
we could stamp our feet and clap our hands as
he pumps up the volume with: 'We hate Nottingham
.we hate Everton too (THEY'RE SHIT!)',
and all of this done with the self styled mad
Kopite from Huyton, resting his elbows on the
grand next to the candelabra.
Oh my God, I feel a letter to Rick Parry coming
FINAL THOUGHT (sorry Jerry)
By the way, I do hope De Burgh's boy entered
the Carlsberg Challenge or whatever was required,
and won the prize draw, enabling him to be our
mascot for the day, just like us peasants are
required to do. I would be appalled if he'd just
picked up the phone and pulled some strings. In
fact I demand to see his son's 1000 word dissertation
on 'What makes the Reds great?'. Oh, and his drawing
of Michael Owen in action in felt tip. Rules are
rules after all. Oh yeah, doesn't his wife look
different these days?