It occurred to me the other day that I’ve been a football fan for 30 years now. That’s a long time. I know some of you can top it easily, but still. I can place this because I remember a very specific game.
1985, England v Republic of Ireland, at Wembley. Back then there wasn’t much football on TV, and so you had to do the whole radio thing. And of course in many ways that’s better anyway.
Gary Lineker scored. Trevor Steven got another. I was so excited!
People will tell you that football wasn’t what it is today, that it wasn’t a mass participation thing, that it wasn’t trendy or wasn’t for everyone, but that’s not what I remember. All the kids I knew played, listened, discussed. I remember at infant school, the dinner lady, Mrs Wakefield, telling me at lunchtime how Kenny Dalglish had been sent off the night before. “Retaliation”, she said. I didn’t know what that was, but when she explained I couldn’t quite believe it. The violence! The conflict of emotions… so it wasn’t Dalglish who started it, but he fought back. That’s good is it? No, clearly not. Man.
I can date this to 7th November 1984 I believe. A game against Benfica. I think we remember lots of things when we’re 8 or 9. Me, like all the kids in the village back then, I had a Liverpool shirt and I stuck a big 7 on the back in tribute to Kenny Dalglish, “the creator supreme” as he was christened on one particular piece of commentary on my “history of Liverpool FC” video tape, which had a montage of Dalglish to Rush clips, many of which I would then hold in my mind and replay on long journeys in the car. They’d also find their way into my exercise books at school, in the form of stick man diagrams.
In fact, who am I kidding? I still do this. The below is from my work notebook and were drawn, ahem, last Wednesday. So yeah, Dunk, eh? Good stuff.