Gerrard Rallies Whole Country Behind Kop Title Assault – by Rob Atkinson


Steven Gerrard inspires the troops

Steven Gerrard inspires the troops

Most football clubs have those quirky, curious “Did you realise…?” facts to relate, things that make you go “Really? Well, I never!”, or words to that effect. Leeds United, in all probability, have just as many as any other club, if not more. For instance: Did you realise… that Leeds United have been Champions more recently than mighty Liverpool, the greatest Champions of them all?  The way things are looking, this is one particular fact whose days might well be numbered.  And, although as a Leeds fan I’m rightly proud of such a pleasing statistic. it’s not before time for it to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

Liverpool were perennial champions for most of my teens and twenties, when my beloved Leeds were banished to the shadowy hinterland of the game, much as they are now.  It’s a sort of nostalgic feeling, then, to look at the top flight table and see them sat there again, on their accustomed perch, leading the way. A successful Liverpool is a reminder of happier days, when the game was not so estranged from the fans, when commercial interests still came second to battle and glory on the field.  Nowadays, the commercial tail wags the football dog quite mercilessly; everything is subordinate to the over-riding preoccupation with making more and more money – with the fans being fleeced left, right and centre.

If the real Reds of Anfield do go on to clinch a first title for twenty-four years, then a large chunk of the credit must go to their long-serving skipper and midfield driving force, Steven Gerrard.  He was to the fore again last weekend as Liverpool beat Manchester City in a pulsating game of quality and character from both sides.  Gerrard played a captain’s part throughout the match and – significantly – directly after the final whistle.  As he gathered the players into a post-match huddle, you could plainly see him ramming home the message: the job is not done, we need the same performance again in the remaining games.  His face, contorted with fatigue and determination, had resolve and desire writ large in every line, his commitment radiating from every fibre of his being and into the less experienced team-mates around him.  It was a battle-cry, a rallying call. Gerrard will not permit performances to wane, nor heads to drop.  He will lead those lads to ultimate success, if he possibly can.  It was an inspirational sight to see.

There are not that many Steven Gerrards left in the game today.  Not enough warriors faithful to a cause, thinking not of the footballers’ notorious “bottom line”, but of being written into history as The Best, on behalf of a club they count it a privilege to serve.  It’s far more common to see spoiled prima donnas like Wayne Rooney, sulking on 250 grand a week until he’s mollified by a wage rise of a mere £2.6 million.  Or indeed my comparatively humble lot at Leeds United, who had the immense “stress” of wages deferral just a few weeks back, when the takeover was in flux – and found they simply could not kick a ball straight or even try a leg, most of them, because of this financial issue.  In the modern game, money is King – to a far greater extent than it ever used to be.  So, the fans can go hang, professional pride can whistle.  All that matters is making sure that money – thousands a week, even at Championship level – keeps rolling into those fat bank accounts.  When that’s sorted out, why – the players are prepared to try again, Blackpool are beaten, and what would have been a shameful, disgraceful relegation struggle is warded off.

Gerrard, in common with most footballers in the top two divisions, has more money than he will ever know what to do with.  Money – you can tell – was the very last thing on his mind as he exhorted his team-mates to a replication of their fantastic performance against City – first when Liverpool face Norwich, and then after that, in all the rest of their remaining games.  If anyone can inspire those players to the heights they hit at Anfield, then Gerrard is that man. The successful team pattern at Liverpool FC has been laid down by manager Brendan Rodgers – and he’s done a brilliant job.  But without his trusty lieutenant on the field – without that 90 minute motivator demanding effort and commitment from all around him – things might not look as rosy as they now do for the league leaders.

The midweek games were kind to them, too.  City slipped up at home to Sunderland in an unlikely lapse.  They and Chelsea remain a threat, but both have trips to Merseyside to negotiate and neither will be taking it for granted that they will now find it easy to deny Liverpool a long-awaited first Premier League crown.

As a Leeds United fan, I have no particular Premier League axe to grind.  As long as Man U don’t win it, I’m happy – and from that point of view, it looks as though I’ll be happy for a good while to come.  Arsenal are my favourites, generally speaking, from the élite end of football.  Until my own United return to the big-time, my interest in who wins what in the shake-up at the end of each season is generally limited to seeing who’s best able to deny the Pride of Devon more tarnished silverware.  But I have to say I’d love to see Liverpool win the league, and for a few reasons.  For their fans, who have suffered over the past two decades while their glory faded behind them; for the family and friends of the 96 who died at Hillsborough a quarter of a century ago, and for the 96 themselves – and for Steven Gerrard and his free-flowing, attacking team.

Liverpool as champions would be a credit to the English game.  Up front and in terms of the supply to their attackers, they have all the attributes and talent of a top-class international side.  Further back, they are merely good or very good – but in the creative and finishing part of the game, they have the stuff of greatness.  And the thing is, they’ll only get better.  So I shall look forward to the climax of this Title race with plenty of interest and in the hope that – just as things used to be when I was but a lad – Liverpool wind up on top again.  And I don’t mind in the least that I’d no longer be able to boast about my beloved Leeds being Champions more recently than the Reds.  Because it’s time for a return to the game’s real values – values that Gerrard epitomises better than perhaps any other current player.

Seriously – if there’s anybody out there who would begrudge Steve Gerrard a league title winner’s medal – I doubt that they have any real appreciation of what this game is all about.  If ever a team deserve a Title, it’s Liverpool this season.  And if ever a skipper deserved his medal – it’s Steven George Gerrard.

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27 responses to “Gerrard Rallies Whole Country Behind Kop Title Assault – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Quality that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really hope Liverpool win it , if only for a certain Mr Gerrard , who has been outstanding through out his career and when you look at some of the players who have premiership winner on thier CV it would be a crying shame for him not to have a least one ,,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lump in the throat reading that. Cheers fella.

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  4. Agree, but how much ‘ unfair’ debt are they carrying which gives them an advantage?

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  5. Shiftywillow

    Yes I wholeheartedly agree. No doubt there will be a number of Leeds fans who don’t share your views, but in my opinion, Liverpool FC and their fans deserve to win the title for what they’ve been through since Hillsborough and what has proved to be police corruption in covering up the facts. I hope justice will be done, whilst I’d much rather see Liverpool win the Premiership than the likes of Chelsea and ManUre with their plastic fans and financial muscles in their boardrooms.

    Whenever I’ve seen Gerrard play, he’s always given 100% for the cause. He epitomises the British bulldog ‘Never say die’ mentality and I hope that he can repeat that attitude for England in Brazil. You’ve also mentioned his salary – let’s not forget that he’s donated a lot of his wages to charity following the Hillsborough tragedy.

    As for their fans, although I’m not old enough to have experienced this, they chanted ‘Champions’ when we won the title at their place in the late 60’s. Where else would you get that? And when we went to Anfield a few seasons ago and turned then over (Gerrard was sent off for a foul on Batty that day), a number of their fans came over to us in the pub after the game and told us we were the better side. I for one will not begrudge them in winning the title and I hope that we can grace their ground again very soon. MOT!

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  6. “as long as man u don’t win it”

    Sorry rob, but I don’t want bloody chelsea winning It either, with their dodgy owner, racist captain, arrogant manager and weird combination of mindless thugs and ariviste glory hunting posh boy fanbase.

    People make a big deal about man city and their rich owners, but without cash they’d be like us. Chelsea without abramovitch bailing them out would be another millwall, they’re just londons 4th club that happen to have an owner with deep pockets.

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  7. I’m happy for either Liverpool or man city to win it. Got respect for both sets of fans. With added bonus that it would wind man u up too.

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  8. Counte Of Monte Fisto

    Rob good read I too generally want Arsenal first because they build rather than buy. But with them out of the picture it falls to who will wazz off the scum most. Citeh don’t really count in that score as scum hate Liverpool more than anyone else followed by us.

    So in the 25th year after that horrible disaster and with their biggest rivals in free fall I think it’s fitting for Liverpool to win it this year.

    In terms of Gerrard he has been a great player for club and country and as you say the polar opposite of wooney. Few deserve it more than him and he is a model to every English player of what they should aspire to become

    Looking good as well for Snodgrass and Howson to return back to their level looking at their fixture list.

    Come on lads stuff barnsalay

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  9. Here here Rob . I have always had a soft spot for the real REDS. Ever since the kop sung ‘champions’ to Dons boys after we snatched the league from them. CLASS ! I seriously hope they can do it for the 96 and their families especially on the 25th anniversary . It would be fitting…. M.O.T

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  10. Gerrard this season has reminded me of our own beloved Billy – same spirit, same determination.

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  11. as a kopite since 1963 i`ve seen some great leeds sides in the past,,and was there that night at anfield in 69. I also rejoiced when leeds won at sheff utd {we beat man ure at anfield later that day, The prem needs proper big teams like leeds ,not plastic stolen money laundered clubs like chavski.

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  12. Rob I wholeheartedly agree with your blog.There are alot of leeds fans of the older generation fifty plus who have a high regard for Liverpool.I haven’t seen such emotion from a captain of a football team for a long time STEVEN GERRARD IS A LOCAL LAD THAT WOULD RUN HIS HEART OUT FOR LIVERPOOL . I HOPE THAT THEY DO IT.

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  13. Peter McGonzie

    As a Leeds fan myself, I always remember the Leeds v Liverpool encounters as a child in the 70s. Both sides had great players. Don Revie and Bill Shankley were very good friends during those heady days. But for me personally, I want Liverpool win the PL this season. It would be a fitting tribute to the 96 people who died in the Hillsbrough disaster 25 years ago.

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  14. very well written piece as usual. have to admit now.. i call liverpool my prem team.. the club iv wanted to win things until leeds are back in the fold. As for Gerrard, well that guy is 1 of the greatest players ever to haved graced a field.. fergie only slagged him off because he wudnt drop his principles to move to scum. a living legend and a player whom Bremner would have classed as his ilk im sure..

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  15. Excellent, well written article as always Rob. I also would love Liverpool to win the PL title for their fans, Hillsboro and Gerrard. Gerrard is a reminder of the old Revie team who were loyal to their club. As you say today most players are only interested in money, not club loyalty unlike our own Gary Kelly who was a one club man and Gerrard has stuck with Liverpool through thick and thin. We can’t win it yet so C’mon you reds!

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  16. Mart le Blanc

    Strange – I thought this was a Leeds United blog not a Liverpool love-in!

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    • Is thinking really your strong point though? Perhaps you should just stick to trying unsuccessfully to be sarcastic?

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      • Martyn Sissons

        Can you actually see the irony in your comment? After reading and enjoying your articles about Leeds, being in the main well written, I am surprised and disappointed with your reply. Gushing over Liverpool also baffles me on a Leeds blog – “One life, one love, one team”.

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      • I think the thing here is that you only want to read articles you personally agree with. Your initial comment differed in tone from this one, you decided to go with sarcasm – which is well known as the lowest form of wit. I’m deeply flattered that you find my stuff to be well written “in the main” – presumably you feel the stuff you disagree with is poorly written – for that reason.

        I do not accept that I have been “gushing” over Liverpool. I specified Arsenal as my favourite Premier League club – but I do feel that Liverpool always stood for on-field excellence, and that their team this season has been a revelation. That’s my opinion, and blogging is all about opinions. If you choose to read the replies to this article, you’ll see that many agree with me.

        The etiquette here is that you can agree or disagree, read my stuff or not read it, as per your privilege to choose. But what I don’t accept is people telling me what to write, how to write it and what views I should and shouldn’t hold. Add to that your tendency to pitch in trying to be sarcastic, and you are liable to get a reply that surprises and disappoints you – but you’ll have asked for it.

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      • Mart le Blanc

        “only want to read articles you personally agree with”. Wrong but I do have the right to disagree with what I read.
        “I do feel that Liverpool always stood for on-field excellence” – I’ve never understood why neutrals and the media have fawned over them as behind the facade there’s much unpleasantness. Take the stoning of the Man City coach recently. That’s MY opinion, and blogging is all about opinions.
        “what I don’t accept is people telling me what to write, how to write it and what views I should and shouldn’t hold” Where have I done that? You write what you want but if you publish your thoughts expect the people reading your work to express their opinions both for and against.
        “Add to that your tendency to pitch in trying to be sarcastic” – one little comment hardly worth being called sarcasm and you hit the roof. I humbly suggest that you develop a thicker skin.
        I am Leeds through and through. I read articles about my team. I’m not interested in adulation of other teams and quite honestly I couldn’t care less about the Premiership and won’t until we are back there. I only read you piece because of previous articles and was surprised at its content, hence my two line comment. I’ll be more careful in future.

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      • With the hurt and distress coming through that little lot, it’s a bit ironic that you feel I need a thicker skin. You should see some of the comments I get! So vile they’re not fit for publication. I’m comfortable with anyone reading my stuff or not reading it, agreeing or disagreeing. But your original comment had enough of the smartarse element about it for me to snap back. Sarcy one-liners are easy; trying to maintain a high standard of writing over a long period of daily blogging isn’t.

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      • Mart le Blanc

        “Hurt and distress”?! Give me a break! If you were needled by my first throwaway comment try putting your stuff on boards such as WACCOE and see how they go down there.

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      • I have indeed placed my articles on WACCOE, and I’m happy to say they hate me as much as I despise them.

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  17. Yes when Leeds united won their first championship they won it at Liverpool and the Liverpool supporters clapped in appreciation of the new champions. Liverpool have one hand on the title and it theirs to lose. Good luck to them they are passionate supporters like united and it is good that the graceless reds from stretford united will be banished outside Europe.

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  18. Stonemonkey

    A great piece and very well written. I have been a Leeds fan for over 40 yrs and I can honestly say that I have nothing but respect for Liverpool football club. They have always run the club on good principles, they have always played football as it should be played and their fans would never allow anything less. Liverpool fans know football and share our own passion for the game, they can also appreciate a great team when they see one which is why they were so gracious in defeat when losing the league title to us at Anfield.
    As for Stevie G, what more could you want from a captain and if my sons wish to follow his example when playing the game, then I will be more than happy! Just so long as they do it in a Leeds kit!
    Come on Liverpool and win it and then keep it warm until the mighty whites come knocking again.

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  19. Great article Rob on a player whose like we will see less and less. Yes I realise I’m penning this after it went so horribly wrong for the scouse maestro- if anyone didn’t deserve the last few weeks its Stevie G- But he won’t hide or shirk from his responsibilities next season. Great players use defeat and the fear of failure to drive them on to success. Steven Gerard has been a great player. Whether he’ll be able to inspire Liverpool to league success next season remains to be seen but he will perform to a very high level again because that’s what great players do. Only wish we had him!! NUFC.

    Like

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