The Man Who Would Be King
By The Boy Wonder
From Issue 46, Spring 2000
The best three goals this season were scored
at Filbert Street. No, I haven't had a bump on
the head. I know we only scored two there and
one of them was a penalty - I'm talking about
three that Leicester scored. To be more accurate,
the three than Stanley Victor Collymore scored
on his home debut. The first was even better than
his debut goal at Anfield, such was its power
and sheer audacity. The reason I felt so overjoyed
was that I had begun to doubt, begun to believe
the liars and the demonisers. That I, Stanley
Victor Collymore's number one fan, had even begun
to believe that England's best footballer had
lost it completely. He hasn't, and I for one thank
God that he hasn't. I curse Liverpool FC and I
curse Roy Evans in particular that he still isn't
here doing that sort of thing for us.
You may wonder why I refer to Stan's full name
so much. That's because it helps remind me of
the opening credits of 'Porridge', when the prison
doors clang shut on Ronnie Barker aka Norman Stanley
Fletcher. It's because no footballer - not even
that overrated moron Gascoigne - has been as badmouthed,
demonised and falsely portrayed in my time of
watching the game.
I've had cause before in these pages to slag off
my fellow Reds for their errant ways and reversals
of Anfield custom and tradition. It's a dirty
job, but somebody's got to at least try and stop
the rot. This is being written before Villa, but
no doubt you've already bought your Fiorentina
tops and your Batigol t-shirts. Don't worry if
you haven't, I'm sure there will be plenty on
sale on the night. Should Leicester be rearranged
for a Champions League night, I'm sure if you
call the LFC merchandise line they'll let you
know who United are playing. Exaggeration? Perhaps,
but not by much. In fact, I'm surprised that a
sharpie like Rick Parry hasn't seen the financial
It isn't just United-mania that bugs me, but the
chill that descends whenever an ex-Reds player
is about to return. "Oh, we always give our
former favourites a good welcome when they return".
Really? It's an Anfield tradition that is fast
turning into myth, I'm afraid. In fact, it's possible
to perceive that as the team struggled in the
90's the 'welcome' started to go out of the window.
Staunton was abused during the quarter final with
Villa in 1992, despite not saying anything untoward.
Deano came back with a winner for the same team
in January '93, and was cold-shouldered despite
exemplary behaviour - especially as he must have
been mystified about why he was sold in the first
place. Fans may say the attitudes towards Burrows
and Ablett were understandable given their eventual
destinations, but where they go counts for nothing.
It's what they did for us. Titles and cup finals
- in Ablett's case, almost an entire season out
of position at centre half where he coped more
than admirably. All forgotten once he'd moved.
I only mention all this of course to build you
up to the most shameful of all these returns -
the night that Stanley Victor Collymore came back
to town. On the back of some odious press shit-stirring
and some contemptible propaganda from Tommy Smith
(when the old fart had the audacity to tell people
to make their own minds up at the end!), Stan
was booed for the entire match. This disgraceful
betrayal of every tenet of a Kopite's faith (and
yes, I know it wasn't everyone who joined in)
left Collymore in tears, and it wasn't hard to
understand. My respect for and loyalty to TTW&R
was strengthened by the Ed's stance on this imbecile
After that season was over, I bought Kevin Sampson's
book 'Extra Time' and expected some support for
my view. Not a bit of it. Apparently, Stan had
brought it all on himself with his "Spice
Boy" comments. Leaving aside the idea that
Liverpool fans should take any notice of what's
printed in a Manc-worshipping rag like the 'Mirror'
- the same paper that printed all the McManaman
rumours that season, all of them just before the
big matches - there's something else I don't get.
A year later, there were two words that were never
off Liverpool supporters' lips. That's right:
Spice Boys. So how come Stan had to be vilified
so much for saying the exact same thing?
Don't get me wrong, I thought Extra Time was a
great book about us, not just Kevin, and got almost
everything spot-on. The take on Collymore
let's just say I disagreed! He had insider info
from Pete Hooton about the time Fowler and Macca
took the piss out of Stan while the latter was
at a press conference. Stan's humourless response
"marked his card", according to Kevin.
Knowing what we know now about the Liverpool 'culture'
under Evans, don't these 'innocent' actions carry
a hint of reminding the new boy who were the real
stars of the show? It's a bit like a sanitised
take on 'Scum'; "Don't get too big for your
boots, mate, we're the Daddies here". Kevin
claims that his team mates could hardly bear to
celebrate with him, raising the spectre of his
time at Forest. Check the videos, there is little
or no evidence to support this view. In fact,
the only reason the players couldn't celebrate
with Stan after the fourth goal versus Newcastle
was because they couldn't catch the bugger!
Kevin even blames Stan for fucking up the 96/97
title race! "With Rush and Fowler up front,
there's no way we'd have been capitulating to
the likes of Coventry at home" - and, er,
why did we lose to Coventry, then? Because David
James couldn't catch a cold, never mind a cross.
How come that was Stan's fault?!? Kevin later
had sympathy for Collymore's misery after the
3-0, but says he brought it on himself and never
gave us his all at Anfield. Kevin, that's shite.
This has been dealt with in TTW&R a number
of times, but I'd like a word or two on the subject.
I count his two seasons at Anfield as some of
the best football I've ever seen. He didn't even
play every game with Stan, I know, but Fowler
got a total of 67 goals in those two years - Stan
made a quarter of those goals. To go with Stan's
35 (one every two games), that makes 102 if my
Maths is all it should be. One hundred and two
goals. Liverpool will be lucky if they manage
that in the last two league seasons combined.
If Stan never gave his all, then his potential
must have been absolutely frightening - and a
player with the potential to be even better than
what he showed us should have been persevered
with. It's interesting that many Reds are willing
to persist with Fowler after three years of rumour,
injury, idiot behaviour and very few goals (even
less when you take out the penalties) - these
are the 3 years since we sold Stan, if you want
coincidence - but the general take on Collymore
is "we're well rid".
What's happened to the lad since then has been
both sad and disturbing. The Harkness episode
was a shame, with a lack of tangible evidence
on both sides, but it was alarming to read so
many Reds siding with Harkness automatically.
After the "horror tackle", almost everyone
came to the conclusion that Stan's allegations
of racism were therefore phoney. Not a deduction
that Sherlock Holmes would have been proud of!
That day is still a mystery, and an admittedly
bad challenge is not proof. I notice Solskjaer
didn't even concede a free kick for the same sort
of challenge, and intriguingly avoided all the
shock headlines Stan received.
The "calm down" gestures he made after
his red card were a laugh, because that's what
Stan thought would hurt us. He was being humiliated,
and that's what he thought was nasty. Childish
- but tame. Liverpool fans' reaction to that (in
the papers and fanzines) was over the top to say
the least. I've not a lot to say about his various
indiscretions with girlfriends, because I would
never hit a woman and can't begin to understand
how any man could. Then again, my girlfriend has
never walked into the flat at two in the morning
with another bloke on her arm, so maybe I'm just
lucky and Stan isn't? I've heard another side
of the Ulrika business, that she wasn't exactly
Miss Prim and Proper on the night, but it gets
into a PC nightmare when you try to discuss this
subject at all. In the end, Stan is portrayed
as a maniac who can't keep his fists to himself.
For me, that's just a bit too convenient for too
many people, and it automatically makes me suspicious.
Of course he has mental problems, and at a time
when he was receiving treatment you would have
thought an ounce of sympathy could have come his
way for once. Fat chance. Most people took their
cue from that renowned psychological expert, Doctor
John Gregory. This odious little creep poured
scorn on the idea that someone with money, good
looks and talent in a job they love could possibly
be suffering from real stress or depression. How
unlucky for the world that Dr Gregory's revolutionary
theory wasn't around in Hollywood in 1962, to
save the rich beautiful and talented actress Ms
Marilyn Monroe from a suicide that denied us many
more delightful films. I'm sure Mr Kurt Cobain
would've put down his shotgun and would still
be thrilling us with his tunes today if he had
that he wasn't really depressed at all.
The truth is a little different. Mental illness
knows no boundaries; race, wealth, talent, beauty
or the lack of them - it's all the same to Mr
Insanity, everyone is equal in his eyes. When
you think about Stan and the loss of his dream
job (he still speaks in glowing terms of Liverpool
and the fans, even after the treatment he's had)
and when you think there are liars still denouncing
his time here as an utter failure or the press
smears that still come his way, wouldn't you be
Now that he's at Leicester, it was time for a
new start and a hope that he would be given a
chance. It didn't even last a day; he was photographed
at the press conference with the Foxes' emblem
behind his head. You may think it a stroke of
luck for the photographer, but isn't it more likely
that the infamous picture (published in every
paper) of Stan with little devil's horns coming
out of his head was deliberately taken that way?
From day one, Collymore was portrayed as a demon.
Far from being praised for bringing a major talent
to Filbert Street for peanuts, O'Neill was slandered
as an egomaniac that believed he was the only
one who could tame this wild beast.
Some pathetic holiday jape with a fire extinguisher
(maybe the Spice Boys would have liked him a bit
more if he'd pulled such a stunt here?) led to
columns of gibberish equating the childish prank
with something like Armageddon. Writers have to
fill their pages with something, but why does
it usually have to be shit? Step forward, Phil
McNulty: "The names of Frank Clark, Roy Evans
and Brian Little were chanted at O'Neill like
a mantra of managers who have been hurried towards
the P45 by this giant waster, but he simply wouldn't
When it comes to being a giant waster, McNulty
should know because he has masqueraded as a man
who knows something about football for years.
Just to set the record straight, Collymore gave
Frank Clark two seasons - one in which his goals
dragged Forest out of the Nation-wide, and another
in which his goals dragged Forest into Europe
and secured a British record transfer fee out
of Liverpool to offset vast debts at the City
Ground. When Stan left Nottingham, Clark's team
had finished in third place -ahead of Liverpool!
Where does the concept of being hurried to a P45
actually come in here, Phil? Ask Man City fans
what they think about Clark's 'talents'.
I've already said what I think of Stan's time
at Anfield, and sit here remaining to see if anyone
is actually going to employ Roy Evans - a man
McNulty indirectly attacks every time that he
praises the professionalism and passion of Houllier's
Regime. As for Brian Little, his Aston Villa departure
was hastened by a relegation threat. In the three
months that remained with Gregory, they secured
a UEFA Cup place. Little has been dumped from
one lower league club after another ever since.
Whose fault is that? Stanley's, of course.
Even a proper writer like James Lawton gets caught
up in this nonsense, also blaming Stan for "shattering
the careers of Roy Evans and Brian Little".
Nothing to say about the 'first to the booze'
culture of late-90's Liverpool, something Stan
had hinted at in his Spice Boys remark. Lawton
gloated about the fracas in La Manga, something
nearly all of the Leicester players (and a few
coaches) were implicated in. Needless to say,
his reaction to the superb hat trick against Sunderland
was begrudging, churlish and downright nasty.
I know this is all one-eyed and utterly biased,
but I know the man's bad points because they have
been repeated ad nauseam in the papers and amongst
Liverpool fans themselves. You don't balance the
scales by putting equal measures on each, you
balance them by putting everything you have onto
the weaker side - and that's what I've tried to
do. Stanley Victor Collymore, you have been found
guilty of being the most entertaining and skilful
footballer I've seen in a red shirt and it is
now my duty to pass sentence upon you. You will
come back with Leicester to our once-hallowed
turf and be booed for the 90 minutes by people
who should know better. I won't be one of them,
if it means anything.
Wishing you were still here,
All the best,
THE BOY WONDER