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Read the 60 mins interview with Bruce Grobbelaar

LFChistory.net has been fortunate enough to gain exclusive access to LFC.tv's "60 minutes" interviews in text-format. These in-depth interviews are taped in LFC.tv's studios and are only on offer to LFC fans who have bought an e-season ticket.

LFChistory.net has transcribed LFC.tv's revealing interview with one of Liverpool's most colourful characters, Bruce Grobbelaar.

You were born in South-Africa, but people associate you with Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. How young were you when you moved over to Rhodesia?

I was two months old when I moved over to Rhodesia. I couldn't run away, because I couldn't walk. My father got a job on the railways and my mother followed soon after with my sister and myself.

Do you class yourself as South African, Rhodesian, Zimbabwean?

I class myself, was a Rhodesian and now a Zimbabwean because that's the country that I grew up in and learnt my football.

Was it a happy childhood for you?

Very, very good childhood. My father was in the railways and when I was 10 my mother and father got divorced and it was my mother who put us three children through school. She worked in a shoe store which she ended up buying. It was a great upbringing. We had the weather to do all the sports and the discipline at the school.

When was your first connection with football?

My first connection with football was when I was seven at a school called David Livingstone. I was in standard one and they saw my talent then. By the time I got to 10 I was in the second team, 11 I was in the first team, 12 I was in the first team and then I went to senior school where you didn‘t play football. Football in senior school was non-existent, it was rugby. So I had to join a football club. I played rugby and cricket at school and then baseball and football at various clubs.

Were you always a goalkeeper or did you fancy yourself as an outfield player in your earlier days?

No, I've always been a goalkeeper since the age of seven. I figured out that there were 20 mad people running around the field trying to chase the ball so I stayed in goal to do my job.

How much European football did you follow in Africa?

The very first club that I aspired to play for was Derby County because they played at the Baseball ground. I played baseball and I thought this was a great team to play for. They must play baseball in England. When I found out they didn't, it burst the bubble and Derby went out the window. That time in '74 Liverpool were on top and I fancy birds so this mythical bird is great. Liverpool was a team I wanted to play for. When I was in the army I said to my three colleagues: "One day I would like to play for Liverpool." They still laugh to this day because they laughed at me then. They said: "Ha ha, we're going out for an ambush tomorrow and you might get shot." I made my dream come true. That's for sure.

Can you talk a bit more about your time in the army? It was the Rhodesian bush war at the time where you were for two years.

It was a great time for me learning and growing up. It made me grow up very, very quickly. At seventeen years of age where you get thrust in an army situation. We were just doing border controls with Mozambique. We used to swap cigarettes and chocolates with them. The Mozambique people wanted the cigarettes and we wanted the chocolate so we used to swap on the border. '75 Christmas Day they started to mortar us. You learnt to look after yourself pretty much from that time onwards. You're thinking you're going to come out in a year, it didn't materialise and you end up doing 18 months and then another six months to do two years. After two years of bushwar it tends to grind you down because you were supposed to be out of there in a year.

A lot of my colleagues have been injured, maimed and a lot of them have been killed. It made you grow up a lot quicker and realise life is very, very precious. To stay alive is a gift. You have to. If you can stay alive and enjoy life that's the whole heart and soul of life. That's why I played with a smile on my face all these years because in football I was getting paid for a game I loved playing and yet I can reflect back to the army time and how many lives have been lost through a silly war. An absolute stupid war which could have been sorted out around a negotiating table.

Has that experience been the biggest shaper in your life?

You have to be positive in life. You are only on this earth once. You're put on this earth to see what kind of person you are. To make people smile once every day brings a smile to my face. That's how I've lived my life.

1979, Vancouver Whitecaps. Did you enjoy your time over in Canada?

Fantastic time. I said that when I went there to join Tony Waiters in Vancouver that I'd love to settle there because it was a magnificent place to stay. Tony Waiters said that they wanted me to come from Crewe and build the team around myself and Carl Valentine who came from Oldham. Phil Parkes was their goalkeeper at the time, but he was moving to a team in Portland, Oregon. I only played four games the first year and we ended up winning the Soccerbowl. I only played for half a season when I was told that a club wanted my services. They came to watch me play against San Diego Sockers at the Empire Stadium in Vancouver. After the game Tony Waiters told me: "You better talk to these two very important people that are here to see you." I said to him: "Let me guess. They come from Liverpool." He said: "Yes. How do you know?" I said: "These are the same two very important people that came to watch my very last game with Crewe. It's taken them a long time to get here, hasn't it?" It was Tom Saunders and Bob Paisley. Bob Paisley asked me the question: "Would I like to play for Liverpool?" I said yes. He turned to Tom Saunders and said "That's it" and walked out of the office. I didn't know if I was to get signed or not. Six weeks later I was asked to come over to sign and that's how it happened.

What were your first impressions of Paisley?

When I first met him I really couldn't work him out because you couldn't understand him. When I got here I had to fly from London, Heathrow to Manchester. I actually phoned the club because I thought there was someone coming to greet me in London. There was nobody. When I phoned the club and asked to be put through to Bob Paisley, I said: "This is Mr. Grobbelaar, Mr. Paisley." He said: "Do you know where Manchester is?" and then he put the phone down. Of course I had get myself to Manchester thinking someone was going to be there. When I get to Manchester there is nobody to meet me in Manchester. I don't know where I am going. I phoned the club and I get the secretary and she says: "Do you know where Liverpool is?" Then she put the phone down. It took me a long, long time to get here.

When I finally get to Anfield the gates are shut. Going to town to try to find a hotel. All of the hotels were full. I even went to the Beehive, the little pub and they said: "Why don't you try the Adelphi hotel?" So I went there and asked the girl behind the desk: "Is there any rooms?" and she said no. As I turned around Bob Paisley and Tom Saunders were exchanging a pound. And Tom Saunders said: "I thought you'd never get here." They were sitting there having a bet I wouldn't get there. This was on the 17th March.

Were you a nervous young man coming into such a big club?

You must understand that when I came into the club there was Ray Clemence and Steve Ogrizovic playing in the reserves. Ray and myself had an interview with one of the reporters, Matt D'Arcy. Matt D'Arcy asked the question to myself: "You are here as an understudy to Ray Clemence?" I said: "It's going to be great to follow a great man, but I am not here just to stick it out in the reserves." Ray Clemence said: "I'm going to be here for quite some time and I will be able to teach Bruce the Liverpool way." I went on holiday and I found out in Hawaii that Ray Clemence had gone to Tottenham. When I found out he was gone, there were two of us going for the job, myself and Steve Ogrizovic. When I got back and started playing the pre-season games I think Steve knew then that I was going to get the nod for the first team. He asked for a transfer. He went to Shrewsbury Town and Bob Wardle came as my understudy. Then I was thrown in at the deep end.

Is it fair to say that your first 4-5 months as Liverpool goalkeeper were not the happiest?

Yes, you could say that. We ended up at Boxing Day 13th in the League, 13 points behind the leaders. That Boxing Day we lost 3-1 to Manchester City and Bob Paisley pulled me into the bath area in the dressing room and he just said to me: "How do you think your first six months have gone?" I said: "It could have been better." And he said: "Yes, you're right. If you don't stop all these antics you'll find yourself playing for Crewe again." And he walked out. It dawned on me I couldn't do all these things I used to do; sit on the crossbar and walking around the pitch on my hands and mess about. He made me realise my mistakes and made sure I put them right.

Your first final at Wembley was ironically against Ray Clemence at Tottenham in the League Cup final. It must have been special?

It was very, very special. Unfortunately Steve Archibald scored the first goal. I saved the first shot, then he rounded me and put the ball back in the net. Then in the second half we came back and stormed into a 3-1 win. It was a great final because it happened to be against my predecessor, Ray Clemence. He just said to me: "Well played and all the very best in the future." He's a great man.

Couple of other games I want to ask you from that season because I know there are a couple of stories involved. Your first derby match at Goodison Park.

I was called the Clown Prince. The "Clown" comes from the Everton fans. The first half I was opposite the Goodison end. Everton were leading at half-time 1-0. When I run on to the field after the break three jesters jumped over the Glawdys street end and give my a big face which said: "Bruce is a clown." They took photographs and they jumped back into the Glawdys street end. I turned the face around against the fence behind the goal. We went on to win the game 3-1. After the Sharp save I turned around and just waved at them. Those three jesters got beaten up afterwards. It was a bit ironic feeling they spurred me on to play one of my best games in a derby game.

You no doubt endeared yourself to every Liverpool supporter by saving a penalty at Old Trafford. Unconventional way to work out how Frank Stapleton was going to put that penalty.

That was a very bizarre way to find out where he put it because we went into the dressing room and my routine takes me into an area nobody else goes. I was sitting there reading the programme. In the programme there was a sequence of photographs of where Frank Stapleton put his last home penalty. I took this on board and I thought nothing of it. Sure enough they got a penalty. There goes Mr. Frank Stapleton to take the penalty. I shimmied the opposite way and then I went the way they showed me in the book and I managed to save the penalty.

The season finished with your first League championship...

We ended up winning the League with a game to spare with three points. We won the League on the Saturday and we had to play this game on Monday or Tuesday against Middlesbrough. We went to Middlesbrough and we didn't actually go to relax. We had a few beers at lunchtime, we played the game in the evening and we drew 1-1 [editor correction: 0-0]. They were quite horrified at the touchline that when we took the throw-ins we took drinks from a little cup. It was whisky. The boss and Joe Fagan were celebrating on the bench with a little scotch on the side. It was a very nice comfortable feeling.

How did you settle into life at Merseyside off the pitch?

Settling into Merseyside was pretty hard. A friend of mine said to me if I stayed in Liverpool I would become like George Best, like in the nightlife going off the rails a bit. He said to me: "You must have a goal, in getting home after games and not staying in Liverpool." So I bought a house in Wales and had to travel which took me 55 minutes every day in the morning to get to Liverpool and then back home. But then at Christmas time we were going to Tokyo and we had to catch a plane. It snowed. And for me to get from just outside Wrexham to Liverpool took me quite a long time. I nearly missed the bus to go to Manchester as we couldn't take off from Liverpool. Bob Paisley said to me: "Listen, where are you living?" "North Wales," I said. "Buy a house in Liverpool." So I swapped the house and bought a house in West Derby. Derby village was just around the corner from training. I thought I could run around the corner to go training, but no we had to get on the bus at Anfield. That was the norm. I left there and moved to the Wirral.

I love the Scousers and their sense of humour and down to earthness. There are only two places in Britain where people are down to earth and that's the North west here in Merseyside and the north east. Those are two true football fans that die for their team. That's ironic to say because it's actually happened twice with Liverpool which has been one of worst times of my career here.

Did you have any pre-match supersitions?

At Anfield I had a little ritual, get changed, put my boots on and then just half volley the ball against the lights and if I switched them off I'd stop. There was one time when I was trying to get the lights out and all the team was already going out. I was still trying when some fella came in and smashed the lights off and said: "Get out there." I was the last one out.

The penalty shoot-out in the European Cup final in Rome in 1984

Joe Fagan had his arm around me when I was going to the goal and said: "Listen, myself and the coaches, the chairman and the directors, your fellow colleagues and the fans are not going to blame you if you can't stop a ball from 12 yards." That gave me the great lift, there was great weight off my shoulders. As I walked away he said: "Try to put them off." So that's what I did. There were two players that I tried to put off and they were both Italian internationals, Bruno Conti and Graziani.

Hillsborough

For you to be actually on the pitch seeing the faces of the people in the pen behind you. Them shouting that you please help. You asking the person at the gate to open up the gate. Them telling you they can't, they have to co-ordinate with the stewards. It was frustrating and every time the ball went back behind my goal you could see the agonising faces of people squashed against the fence. You tend to think: "Well, what's going on here?" You look back at that day. Could you have done something different to help them a lot quicker? It's six minutes past three when the ball went out on the left hand side. I made a beeline for the referee and screamed at the referee and the referee actually realised and called the game off then. For you to sit in the dressing room and find out that there have been fatalities. We never knew the extent of the fatalities until we were on the bus going back to Liverpool. That was hard.

Souness the player vs Souness the manager

Souness was the finest player I ever played with and I would say that hand on heart he was an absolute brilliant man on the field. He had all the credentials to be one of the best managers out there. As it happened we didn't see eye to eye over various things. We had a little checkered two year period and I ended up leaving. We were three goalkeepers and it was the first rotating system I had ever seen in goalkeeping. Souness wanted to rule his way and that's what he did. Anybody who got in his way he made sure they were told about it and I was certainly one of those persons.

The match fixing

It was very very difficult. You come out in November '94 accused of match fixing by two people that you've never laid eyes on. And then you realise that your business partner in a venture that you were going to do in Africa started the whole rumour in the first place. Ok, you go through the first trial. We had to go to trial in Winchester crown court where there was 80% conviction rate. Then it was a hung jury. You go through the next trial and you are found guilty on the charges and acquitted on the others. Then you go through a trial of the libel because it really started off as libel trial, not a criminal trial. You win, they appeal. You go through that. It is another learning curve where you think of what your mother said to you as a youngster: "Life is full of disappointments. It's how you come out of those disappointments makes you a better person." And I think I have.

In hindsight yes, I would have bought a wine farm in Cape Town instead of going into a game farm in Zimbabwe. Had I gone with my cousin and bought a wine farm those things would never have happened. I was gung-ho in those days and I went with who I thought was an ex-army colleague. Found out he was never in the army until I was gone. You learn.

Were Liverpool people supportive of you in this time?

Yes, Liverpool people. The Scousers on the red side were all supportive. Many of the Evertonians were and some of them weren't. That's what you get with a football team. In those days even the comedians came out with the funny things: "What has Bruce Grobbelaar and an arsenist got in common? They both throw matches." "Bruce, I saw you outside the Toys R‘ Us the other day. You were giving games away." The comics came out with all of these jokes and you just have got to live with it. I won. I beat the newspapers in the House of Lords, but I got a pound. So what? I still haven't got the cheque for that.

Copyright - LFC.tv - transcription by LFChistory.net

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