The Red Journey: Oral history

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The Red Journey: Oral history is the latest offering from Mark Platt who from variety of sources and his own interviews offers insight into the minds of those who have graced Liverpool Football Club's history from the very beginning. Mark has done great work promoting the club's history in his celebrated documentaries on the official TV channel of Liverpool and in various publications associated with LFC.

Here is an excerpt from the book that deals with the summer of 1977 that saw the departure of Kevin Keegan and arrival of Kenny Dalglish.

Terry McDermott: Kevin and Kenny were the two best players I ever played with.

Bob Paisley: I told Kenny when he arrived that I wished we still had Kevin too. Then it would simply have been a case of choosing the other nine players and a substitute and I’d expect to win the Grand National as well as cups and championships! There is no doubt in my mind that Kevin and Kenny together would have formed a lethal blend. Great players can always play together.

Bill Shankly: They would have to form a society for the prevention of cruelty to opponents if the two of them were in the same team.

Kevin Keegan: Six years is an awfully long time in football. It may only seem a short period of time to people outside the game but bearing in mind the average career only lasts between twelve and fifteen years, spending six of them at one club is a large percentage of a players’ time in the game. The fact that I won so much during my time at Liverpool is something which will always give me a lot of pleasure but it wasn’t that difficult a decision to leave in the end because I felt I was stagnating at Liverpool. Shankly had gone and I just felt that there was another mountain for me to climb somewhere.

Terry McDermott: We thought no-one could take the place of Kevin Keegan, he was the superstar of English football. Of course, he’d given the club a year’s notice of his intention to leave but, still, when he left in the summer of 1977 we were all gutted because he was such a fantastic player and a terrific role model for us all.

Kevin Keegan: A deal had been done twelve months before. I’d signed on for one last year at Liverpool and a fee for me to leave was fixed at £500,000. It was a good deal for both of us and I think it would have been a mistake not to announce it. It was the right thing to do. I was just being honest with the punters and I think a lot of them accepted my reasons. It was out there and everyone knew what was happening. For Liverpool it gave them a year to find my replacement, to go out and head-hunt the right person. As it happens they didn’t do too badly out of it because they went out and bought Kenny Dalglish. Having sold me for £500,000 and paying £440,000 for Kenny they banked £60,000, which, as it turned out, was a great piece of business.

Bob Paisley: I just hoped that after the trials and tribulations of my early years in management, someone up high would smile on me and guide my hand. My plea was answered when we got Kenny Dalglish. What a player, what a great professional. Just as Kevin had wanted a new challenge, so Kenny let it be known to Celtic that he was unsettled and wanted to embark on a new chapter of his career.

Kenny Dalglish: There was something very appealing about Liverpool. I was there briefly as a 15-year- old when Bill Shankly was manager, and I knew it was similar to Celtic. When the time came for me to leave Parkhead there was only one place I wanted to go and that was Liverpool. I also knew they’d give me the chance of success in Europe which I was yearning for.

Terry McDermott: We were all wondering who they’d bring in and there’d been rumours that it would be Kenny Dalglish. Obviously we knew about what he’d done up in Scotland. Everyone was aware of the goals he’d scored there but that was no guarantee that he’d fit in at Liverpool. It was only natural that we were a bit wary when he joined. Within half an hour of his first training session with us though we realised just what a talent he was. That’s all it took. He was beyond belief really. What a replacement. Bob Paisley was a great spotter of talent but credit also to Geoff Twentyman who must have been to watch him.

Bob Paisley: It wasn’t just Kevin’s departure that made me go for Kenny. It was the fact that Kenny looked so much a Liverpool-type player because of his attitude to the game. He did the simple things and he was so consistent.

Phil Thompson: We’d always thought that Dalglish was a good player, we’d heard so much of him, but we didn’t realise what a great player he was until he came to Liverpool. From the first games you knew of his ability, what he could do, not only for himself, he could create space, he could create goals, but what he could do for everybody else. He could hold the ball up, turn the ball into everybody and create things. He had assists galore and we knew that if we could get the ball into his feet, in and around the box, he’d cause havoc and he did that for the rest of his career at Liverpool.

Ronnie Moran: It was a lot of money to pay in those days and there was always a saying that players needed time to ‘feel their way’ when they came to a new club. Not Kenny. He went straight in. I think the Charity Shield was his first game, then we went to Middlesbrough on the opening day of the season and he scored. He was that good a player, he just muscled in to everything, you didn’t have to ask him to work. He was a great player who worked all the time.

Tommy Smith: He came down and was as good as anybody I’d ever seen, one of the greatest players ever. There was no big fuss. He just got on with it and you could tell straight away that he was one of us.

Kenny Dalglish: I felt comfortable the very first time I walked into the place. That was the thing that struck me in training. They’d just come straight off two trophies the year before and they just said, ‘You get nothing for last year’. The attitude was magnificent.

Phil Thompson: He settled very, very, quickly. He was quite shy, was Kenny, but I think Glaswegians and Scousers had always got along very well. They’ve got quite a similar mentality. He was a great laugh. He liked to laugh and joke. I couldn’t understand him too much in those early days, but he went on to make himself a legend at the club.

Kenny Dalglish: The great thing about when I arrived is that there were a lot of people at Liverpool who were well set in their ways. When I got there it wasn’t difficult to get into the Liverpool way of doing things because if I hadn’t I would have been out of tune. Everything was set up for me to just slot in. But it wasn’t like a machine because a machine doesn’t have any feeling.

Phil Thompson: Because we were a good team with good players, we understood his ability and played to his strengths and he gave so much back, he was such a tremendous team player.

Ray Clemence: Kenny Dalglish was the best I ever played with. He could score, create, hold the ball up. I’ve played against Pele and Johan Cruyff, but Kenny was magical. He was a dream to have in your side, but a nightmare to face because you were always wondering what trick he’d come up with next.

David Johnson: What people don’t realise is that he wasn’t just a great player, he was also unselfish and his bravery, something no one ever mentions, was something else. In our playing days, players could tackle from behind and as Kenny’s game was holding the ball up and linking the play, the amount of stick he used to get from defenders sliding in and tackling him from behind was unbelievable. I’ve seen him in the dressing room afterwards and his legs were cut to ribbons. It just shows you how tough he was because he hardly ever missed a game. So he was a great, great player, but brave as well.

Bob Paisley: The best buy we ever made.

BUY the book at DeCoubertin.


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