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A Red Odyssey

All five of us for two and six
Watched Billy Liddell get his kicks
And Albert Stubbins on the ball
Awaiting Sergeant Pepper’s call

We never guessed where we were bound
We simply knew a ball was round
And snug inside our Anfield home
We’d never have the need to roam

We’d travel down from Dingle Vale
Where Ringo once had told a tale
We’d queue for hours at Melwood Drive
Just to watch Dick White arrive

Then jump the bus to Penny Lane
Where schoolboys played in wind and rain
No firemen yet with hour glass
But we marked Cally down as class

So scenes were set but not the side
As Kevin Lewis dragged shots wide
Though not as bad as Cyril Done
It left us room to have a moan

One day a man came in our midst
He made a pact and we a list
Of tunes that he would make us hum
And magic times that were to come

It never meant a lot back then
It never does when boys aren’t men
Without the blood, the sweat and tears
Young lads still wet behind the ears

But soon a buzz was felt by all
A magic making dwarfs stand tall
It bound us all as one like glue
Somehow we felt like we were new

So even lads like we all were
Could sense that special atmosphere
A sound distinct above the roar
A Kop in song not heard before

Ee Addio, the Saint John clap
So many chants they’d overlap
A wall of noise made Red hearts soar
Opposing sides just froze in awe

An oldie crooned to call our own
Meant we would never walk alone
Sung by a native son of ours
An anthem heard beyond the stars

And so we joined the Spion Kop
We’d climb the Pen past barbed wire top
Ten foot singing swaying dockers
Days when Wackers had no knockers

The thrill we felt was like no other
Strangers soon became your brother
And when Shanks crossed our palms with silver
The pride we felt made grown men shiver

And Europe couldn’t find an answer
With Smithy number ten a panzer
And Twinkle Thommo on the wing
Mesmerising every thing

He’d dribble till he made us dizzy
And keep a whole defence mad busy
Behind him Willie Stevo scheming
Keeping all the Kopites dreaming

Cally and The Saint up front
Backing up Sir Roger Hunt
Rowdy and The Crunch at back
To terrorise each side’s attack

It seemed those times would never end
Eternity was now our friend
But facts of life come thick and fast
And Shanks’ glory did not last

An empty spell that seemed like eons
No longer lit with dazzling neons
Time for some to leave the fold
Their dues were paid, their tale was told

And so we five were now but three
With only Andy, Joe and me
A loyalty Shanks soon repaid
With Kevin Keegan we were made

We welcomed in a brand new dawn
With football blending skill with brawn
A whole new era beckoned bright
A sparkling team, a shining light

They danced around the opposition
Oozing class in each position
Heighway skipping down the left
Cormack with his touch so deft

Tosh a hero to us all
Tiny flitting Brian Hall
It seemed our destiny was clear
No need to guess which route to steer

But then arrived that fateful day
Our Lord and Master went away
In shock Joe came round to our house
With tears welled up in eyes so Scouse

Can you believe that Shanks has left?
An entire city stunned, bereft
But wait a minute said my father
There’s nowt that lasts that you would rather

That man he gave his all to us
He’s earned the right to take that bus
This life goes on so let’s not sob
And sure enough we soon had Bob

A genial man with hidden steel
Took his place behind the wheel
Pipe and slippers but a decoy
Guile and wisdom were the real ploy

He took us places scarcely seen
Where mortal men had never been
Teams of giants he created
Big in heart and skill we feted

And in the year of ’79
Resplendent with our Scottish spine
Footballing pinnacles were reached
Few other teams have ever breached

Individuals laced the side
With genius back and front and side
Though teamwork was the sacred code
Their passing game halved any load

So majestic was their play
Scarcely a pass would go astray
Dominating every game
A pattern spreading joy and fame

Europe’s best were blown asunder
The Reds became the world’s Eighth Wonder
We painted Rome and Paris red
We followed where Bob Paisley led

We’d riches that defied belief
Beyond the schemes of any thief
We’d left those early days with Shanks
Now from the top we gave him thanks

And towering over everything
The ethos of these men made king
The modest word, the simple need
Humility the one true creed

Not for them the glitz and gloss
All singing dancing glitter boss
Instead they saw the things that mattered
With honours like confetti scattered

And looking back it’s clearly seen
Just how blessed we all had been
When we’d enrolled in Shanks’ band
And squeezed inside the Promised Land

But what of our small faithful crew
The lads and me from Dingle true
Had we all kept to Shanks’ pact
Or chanced upon a different tract?

Well Joe and me we’d both got wed
Soon hungry mouths cried to be fed
And Joe was forced to drift away
Commitments can leave little say

Then Andy had to leave this place
We five all cried at his embrace
So only I was left to stay
Alone with dreams of yesterday

You see I’d thought we’d last forever
A fool with head in Never Never
But life won’t let you map it out
No matter how you scream or shout

And so I had to start again
We boys were gone now men were men
And though it couldn’t be the same
I found new friends to go the game

A new boss came in sympathy
And lo he wrote a symphony
In his first year he’d clinched a treble
A first time three time winning rebel

Things came so easy round this time
A goal conceded deemed a crime
Complacency the only foe
For Bob’s successor Smokin’ Joe

But fate had things in store for us
The sort that you could never suss
Within a space of four short years
We’d witness untold pain and tears

Two “football” games, the term survives
A gross of people lost their lives
And suddenly the world sat up
As death flowed from its bitter cup

Authority devoid of shame
Sought every means to shift its blame
So fans denied their last goodbyes
Were tarred with guilt from evil lies

Recriminations, hurt and rage
Overshadowed every page
Wrongs that never could be righted
Truth that never could be sighted

Though life went on we’d paid the price
For every Red the sacrifice
The scars still brand the darkest night
Those memories of heinous plight

Yet even ‘midst those wretched years
There’d been some good to ease the tears
Our favourite son, the man Dalglish
Had slackened off our troubled leash

He’d carried on the winning spell
As teams we’d played had failed to quell
The tricks he’d gleaned along the way
Meant honours flowed once more in May

He built two sides to our great glee
His second one a joy to see
A forward line of Kopites’ yarns
Beardo, Aldo, Johnny Barnes

And though one day he hit that wall
As stored up stresses paid their call
We think of him with so much pride
A man who’d stood right by our side

So then there came the barren years
Compounding emptiness and fears
And I confess I missed my mates
Joe and Andy, Will and Bates

Though we had fallen out of touch
Fond memories became a crutch
As pale imposters wore our shirt
Thoughts drifted back to mask the hurt

To times when Red had meant the world
To every man whose shirt unfurled
That Liverbird with huge round crest
Emblazoned white on scarlet chest

Yet as we tottered in despair
With teams that scarcely seemed to care
An unknown man arrived from Gaul
And promised he would overhaul

And with that simple change of face
A seismic shift was put in place
The entire club was brought to heel
French Revolutionary zeal

And just as Shanks had done before
This genial Frenchman gave us more
Far more than we had ever dreamed
Or dared to hope as we had schemed

Restoring pride that we once felt
Back to the shrine where we once knelt
To honour heroes, gods and all
True masters of the great round ball

And as I sit with new friends now
I marvel at the man and how
He’s taken us back to the day
When Shanks and Bob to them we’d pray

And though I pine for days we had
Of souls departed, Mam and Dad
Of friends like Andy, Joe and Will
A swaying Kop, a sight to thrill

It’s to the present we must cling
The promise of what it can bring
How every fan will have a story
Of joy and tears, of pain and glory

By Alan Edge, author of Faith of our Fathers