Monday, July 6, 2009

The Return of 'THE KING'

Liverpool supporters were rejoicing last night after it was confirmed that Kenny Dalglish is to return to Anfield.After months of negotiations, the legendary former Liverpool player and manager has agreed to take on a senior role at the club’s academy, where he will be responsible for overseeing the development of their burgeoning young talents.Dalglish, 58, will also serve as a global ambassador for the club, fulfilling much the same duties as Sir Bobby Charlton does at Manchester United, although perhaps more pertinently in the eyes of Liverpool fans, he will act as a sounding board for Rafael Benítez, the manager.“I am very excited, but also a bit nervous,” Dalglish said. “For the boss to put his trust in me is a great compliment and I am coming back as a very lucky person. When you leave a club you don’t often have a chance to return, so I am fortunate. Rafa has made a very brave decision to revamp the academy.“There are lots of positive things happening here and there is a real feel-good factor around the place. Hopefully we can start producing players to challenge for a place in Rafa’s plans. It won’t happen overnight. There’s a lot of work to be done and I will do whatever is asked of me.”Benítez was instrumental in urging Dalglish to rejoin the club, more than 18 years after he resigned as manager, and his role as a buffer between the Spaniard and an incoming chief executive and Christian Purslow, the recently appointed managing director, could prove crucial to Liverpool’s success in the years ahead.The Liverpool manager often clashed with Rick Parry, whose 11-year tenure as chief executive formally ended on Wednesday. But fans will hope that Dalglish’s presence can help to avert some of the boardroom confrontations that have hampered the club in recent years and also have a positive impact on Benítez’s relationship with Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr, the American co-owners.“When you talk to Dalglish about players and football systems it’s clear he has a lot of experience,” Benítez said. “That’s good for the club and young players. We are bringing in new ideas and people \ but we’re keeping the spirit and the heart.”As far as mentors go, Liverpool’s aspiring players could probably not ask for anyone better to guide their futures than the man widely regarded as the best player in the club’s long and distinguished history.Bob Paisley, the former Liverpool manager, broke the British transfer record by paying Celtic £440,000 to bring Dalglish to Anfield in 1977 as a replacement for Kevin Keegan, and he did not disappoint. Dalglish scored 172 goals in 515 games for Liverpool, winning the European Cup three times and a host of other trophies in the process. As player-manager, he guided the club to their first league and cup double in his debut season in charge in 1985-86. He was also the last Liverpool manager to win the league title, in 1990, although Benítez will hope to change that next season.Although Dalglish’s resignation in February 1991 came as a bitter disappointment to the club, he brought a smile to the faces of Liverpool supporters again by managing Blackburn Rovers to the Premier League title at Manchester United’s expense in 1995 and he subsequently worked for Newcastle United and Celtic -TIMES ONLINE

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hillsborough Disaster.... 20 years on......

The Hillsborough disaster occurred on April 15, 1989, at Hillsborough, a football stadium in Sheffield, England, resulting in the loss of 96 lives.
Liverpool F.C. were involved in their 17th FA Cup Semi-Final, to be played against Nottingham Forest F.C. at Hillsborough, the home of Sheffield Wednesday F.C..

Football had been plagued by hooliganism for years in many countries but particularly in the United Kingdom. Football hooliganism in the UK often involves pitch invasions and the throwing of a variety of missiles - in response most stadiums placed high chainlink fences between the seats and terraces and the pitch (terraces were cheaper standing areas without seats). However, it was not hooliganism that day, but the fear of it, that led to the death of ninety-six people.

The stadium was divided into two parts in order to keep the opposing fans apart: the Liverpool supporters being assigned to the Leppings Lane End. Kick off was scheduled for 3.00pm and many of the Liverpool supporters were late arriving. By 2.45pm there was a considerable buildup of fans outside the turnstiles at the Leppings Lane End, all eager to enter the stadium before the match started. With a crowd of 5000 fans (est) trying to get through the turnstiles the police decided to open a second set of gates which did not have turnstiles. The resulting inpouring of hundreds (possibly thousands) of fans at the rear of the terraces caused a crush at the front where people were pressed against the fencing. For some time the problem was not noticed and it was not until 3:06pm that the referee stopped the game. By this time a small door in the fencing had been opened and by this route many escaped the crush - others climbed over the fencing.

The pitch quickly started to fill with people sweating and gasping for breath and with the bodies of the dead. The police and ambulance services were overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster and fans helped as best they could, many attempting CPR and some tearing down advertising hoardings to act as makeshift stretchers. The crush ultimately took the lives of 96 people.

Graphic footage of the disaster was available because the match was being broadcast and this along with the number of fatalities made an extreme impact on the general population.

A permanent tribute to those who lost their lives can be found alongside the Shankly Gates at Anfield. A further tribute was set up in 1999 at Hillsborough.

The Taylor Inquiry

Following the disaster, Lord Justice Taylor was appointed to conduct an inquiry into the tragedy. Taylor's inquiry sat for thirty one days and published two reports, one interim report that laid out the events of the day and immediate conclusions and one final report that made general recommendations on football ground safety. As a result of the inquiry, fences in front of fans were removed and stadia were converted to become all-seated.

There was considerable debate over some aspects of the disaster; in particular, attention was focused on the decision to open the secondary gates. It was suggested that it would have been better to delay the start of the game as had often been done at other venues and matches. The police claimed that they were concerned that the crush outside the stadium was getting out of control and accusations were made that some Liverpool fans did not have tickets and were trying to force the turnstiles. Other accusations of misbehaviour were made in relation to the crowd, however, no substantial evidence was presented to this effect.

Boycott The Sun

On the Tuesday following the disaster, Kelvin MacKenzie, then editor of The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch, used the front page headline 'THE TRUTH', with three sub-headlines: 'Some fans picked pockets of victims'; 'Some fans urinated on the brave cops'; 'Some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life'.

The story accompanying these headlines claimed that 'drunken Liverpool fans viciously attacked rescue workers as they tried to revive victims' and 'police officers, firemen and ambulance crew were punched, kicked and urinated upon'. A quote, attributed to an unnamed policeman, claimed that a dead girl had been abused and that Liverpool fans 'were openly urinating on us and the bodies of the dead'.

In their history of The Sun, Peter Chippendale and Chris Horrie wrote:
'As MacKenzie's layout was seen by more and more people, a collective shudder ran through the office [but] MacKenzie's dominance was so total there was nobody left in the organisation who could rein him in except Murdoch. [Everyone] seemed paralysed, "looking like rabbits in the headlights", as one hack described them. The error staring them in the face was too glaring. It obviously wasn't a silly mistake; nor was it a simple oversight. Nobody really had any comment on it—they just took one look and went away shaking their heads in wonder at the enormity of it. It was a "classic smear".'

Lord Justice Taylor's official inquiry into the disaster disparaged The Sun's story and was unequivocal as to the disaster's cause:
'The real cause of the Hillsborough disaster [was] overcrowding, the main reason for the disaster was the failure of police control.'

Following The Sun's report, the newspaper was boycotted by most newsagents in Liverpool, with many refusing to stock the tabloid and large numbers of readers cancelling orders and even refusing to buy from shops which did stock the newspaper.

MacKenzie explained his reporting in 1993. Talking to a House of Commons National Heritage Select Committee he said "I regret Hillsborough. It was a fundamental mistake. The mistake was I believed what an MP said. It was a Tory MP. If he had not said it and the chief superintendent had not agreed with it, we would not have gone with it." This explanation was not accepted by families of Hillsborough victims. Even fifteen years after the Hillsborough disaster, the circulation of The Sun in Liverpool is still reckoned to be only 12,000 copies a day where previously it was around 200,000.

The Sun itself issued an apology "without reservation" in a full page opinion piece on 7 July 2004, saying it had that "committed the most terrible mistake in its history." The Sun was responding to the intense criticism of Wayne Rooney, a Liverpool-born football star who then still played in the city (for Everton), who had sold his life story to the newspaper. Rooney's actions had incensed Liverpool dwellers still angry at The Sun. The Sun's apology was somewhat bullish, saying that the "campaign of hate" against Rooney was organised in part by the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo, owned by Trinity Mirror, who also own the Daily Mirror, arch-rivals of The Sun. Thus the apology actually served to anger some Liverpudlians further. The Liverpool Echo itself did not accept the apology, calling it "shabby" and "an attempt, once again, to exploit the Hillsborough dead."

Monday, January 5, 2009

Spaceman Spiff...Speaks

Ok, if you're expecting a raving lunatic going ga-ga over Liverpool, then you'll be disappointed as you read further. So, here's the Statutory Warning: Post by a Non-Liverpool/Football Fan. Wearing a Blue tee to a LP match, I think, is proof enough.
So, as I moved my butt through occupied bar-stools, a few tore they eyes off the big screen to give me a dirty look..which said…"Oi! It's Liverpool mate…. Red..not Blue!". Finally into a uncomfy chair, I ordered for a tall .. cool glass of….Ice Tea :P. And without doubt, it was one of the best I've had.
Anyways, by the time I was settled in, Arsenal had scored 1 LP's 0. I won't go through the commentary, or the match highlights, this post isn't about that. This post is about the hooligans that were seated at Irish Pub, Khar, hurling abuses at the opposite team with more fervor than the players themselves.. and a few directed towards the Referee too.
While I am a complete noob when it comes to players and teams, game rules, I am acquainted with. So, it was fairly easy to side with Liverpool once I figured out which jersey was LP's… thirst quenched, I showed off the best of the array of bad words I had for the referee .. He just wasn't strict enough ..bloody bald bugger.
While the match wasn't the best performance by LP afaik, it did show that LP fans in Mumbai do know how to don their sombreros, mouth off the choicest slang, and at the end of the day… have a great time, which also includes singing mundane songs, which made no sense to me…. Remember that movie where first contact is made with the aliens, and communication is done using some mundane tune? Well, yeah.. I felt like the alien from space, only thing was, I simply didn't get what these almost extinct dodo's were trying to say in their whole cacophony of cheering.
All in all… looking forward to the next LFMC meet… till then I'm learning new languages…by which I mean the abuses from those languages of course!