In the Seventies and Eighties, Liverpool FC was a truly great football club whose presence at an away game would guarantee thousands extra on the gate. I actually went to an Arsenal v Liverpool game at a time when a mundane Highbury league fixture drew crowds of 25,000.
If Liverpool was the visiting side, the crowd was 55,000,. With the foundations for success built by Bill Shankly, the famous ‘boot room’ consisted of future managers Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan. The club inspired loyalty and prided itself on producing high-quality, homegrown players – Phil Thompson, Ray Kennedy, Ian Callaghan. They also made shrewd purchases – Kevin Keegan, Ray Clemence, Phil Neal, Emlyn Hughes, Alan Hansen, and Ian Rush.
Then there was the occasional expensive purchase – Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness. In a game where only eleven players can start, some will be left kicking their heels in the reserves, believing they should be in the first XI – and David Fairclough was one. As someone with a habit coming on as substitute and scoring important goals (many captured by Match Of The Day cameras), he became something of a cult figure.
He made several starting appearances, but never established himself as a regular starter. But he still has a place in the fans’ hearts. So why does he sound so ungrateful? Why now, after all these years, is he criticising his late manager Bob Paisley, the most successful club manager in English football before Sir Alex Ferguson came along?
Like all successful managers, Bob found it impossible to keep everyone happy all of the time. And it’s not as though Fairclough went on to post-Liverpool success. He should be grateful for the good times he had at Anfield and think of those whose careers didn’t progress due to injury.
And my, there were plenty of good times at Anfield. The seventies and eighties were truly glorious years in the history of Liverpool Football Club.
Written by Darryl Ashton
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