Fuller Flavour: How King Kenny almost made me a Liverpool fan - until August 22, 1978
- Credit: PA
I was recently recalling to my nephew, a Liverpool fan, how I nearly became a supporter of the Merseyside club instead of Ipswich – and this mostly came down to one player, writes Karl Fuller
I was then sad to read on Friday evening that the man who nearly saw me a red instead of a blue, Sir Kenny Daglish, had been admitted to hospital due to illness, where he subsequently tested positive for coronavirus. My best wishes go out to him and his family.
The story begins all the way back in 1976 when I started infants’ school at Kirby primary school near the village of Kirby-le-Soken that I grew up in. My older brother Shaun was already attending there and was a star-player in the school football team.
Not only was I impressed with having an older sibling playing for the team, but I admired the kit that had a shirt of green and white hoops with white shorts and socks. How I dreamed to be wearing that kit in a few years and fortunately, I was able to do so during both of my last two years at that school.
Shaun used to receive the magazine ‘Shoot’ every week and as a 5-year-old, I would probably look at the colour of the kits as much as anything else and stumbled across the very same kit that my school donned when I noticed a Celtic player in a colour match-action shot.
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That player was Dalglish and for a reason that now escapes me, he became my favourite player.
It was his move to Liverpool in the summer of 1977 that had me taking far more notice of them than I ever had of Celtic and as back then, red was my favourite colour, so Liverpool seemed to be the ideal team to start supporting.
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Oh, another reason was because as my mum had bought both Shaun and I scrapbooks and, as my older brother cut out the Ipswich pictures – a sign in those days of just how big a club we were – I was left with whatever pictures were remaining for my scrapbook, which were invariably of Liverpool players.
And, for the rest of the 1977/78 season, it was all about Dalglish for me and with that I suppose, came an interest in Liverpool’s results.
Then, on August 22, 1978, my football life took a big turn – this was the night that my dad took me to my first-ever Ipswich game, and would you believe it, the opposition was Liverpool.
It was my first ‘live’ sighting of Dalglish, who scored in a 3-0 win. Incidentally, this was also Arnold Muhren’s first game for Ipswich too.
I have no idea how I felt back then at Liverpool winning and Ipswich losing, but when I was to return to Portman Road some six-months later for my second Town game, a 6-1 thrashing of Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup, my colours were firmly nailed to the Ipswich mast, and just like that, I forgot about Liverpool, and to an extent Dalglish too.
This was the night I saw Kevin Beattie play for the first time, and I had another hero to worship, this along with star names such as Mariner, Mills, Wark, Butcher, Osman, Cooper and so on.
I had noticed though that Dalglish had a habit of scoring against us, most notably in each of his first five games against us and on November 26, 1983, he was to score his 100th Liverpool goal in a 1-1 draw at Portman Road, netting two minutes after John Wark had given us the lead. In total, Dalglish was to score 10 goals against us in 20 appearances.
I now look back some 41 years and 800 games later and am so glad I became a fan of Ipswich instead of Liverpool.
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I know that sounds bizarre to say, but would I have been able to have the same love affair with a club over 250 miles away? I thank my dad for taking me to those games and indeed Shaun, who I still recall threatening to beat me up if I didn’t choose his beloved Ipswich over Liverpool back in 1978!