Kop Legends

Liverpool’s Unsung Heroes Of The Past

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THE unheralded cog in the Red machine, the team player who put the collective first, someone who does his job without much fuss and does it efficiently and effectively. Their names don’t reverberate around the Kop and they don’t court the media with the aim of increasing their profile. From playing staff, to coaches and scouts, a club’s stars are nothing without solid foundations which make the team work. While a few players get built up to be demi-gods in the modern game it is time to shine a light on a few people who helped them attain those lofty heights by showing great diligence in their roles at Liverpool.

Geoff Twentyman (player and scout):

Twentyman was a robust centre-back signed from Carlisle during the dark old pre-Shankly days in 1953. Unfortunately his signature couldn’t prevent relegation from the top tier and falling just short of promotion in the remainder of his duration at the club. Fortunately in this dark period of Liverpool’s playing history the dawn was about to arrive in the shape of charismatic Scotsman Bill Shankly, who took the reins 9 months after his departure. The same man recruited Twentyman three years after his retirement from playing, to find new talent for his ambitious boss. This was a second chance to succeed at the club, the discovery of Ian Rush, Phil Neal and Alan Hansen, and the medals they won testified that he did.

Ronnie Moran (player and coach):

Anyone who has been around Anfield or Melwood during this legendary lifetime Liverpool servant’s fourty-six years at the club until his well deserved retirement in 1998 will have heard him rollocking players who may not be pulling their weight or demonstrating the same commitment to the cause which Moran epitomised in his time there. A sergeant major type bad cop to Roy Evans good cop, a product of “the Boot Room” under the tutulage of Shankly and Paisley, a wise, no nonsense voice of experience and reason to Dalglish and Souness, he was a man who lived for the club, committing his entire working life to the cause. As a player he turned out an impressive 343 times as a tough uncompromising full-back over a 16-year period and was rewarded for his sterling service by gaining the club captaincy in the late 50’s. “Bugsy” had a shrewd knowledge of the game and a knack of getting the most of players. He served under nine managers in his substantial time at the club taking the reins twice in a caretaker basis. He was a man who never put himself above the club and always believed in the cause.

Steve Finnan (player):

A brief mention in a sarcastic ode to Djimi Traore’s ineptitude was the closest this Republic of Ireland international got to having his own song! An uber-consistant performer who rarely seemed ruffled down the right-hand side combining especially well with a high scoring Gerrard who shone there in the 2005/06 season. In that year we finished with a club record 82 Premiership points and may have been champions if it wasn’t for Abramovich’s billions bankrolling them to the title. Finnan was an ever present that year calmly and effectively going about his business for the team. The emergence of Alvaro Arbeloa and the signing of the legendary flop Mark Degan spelt the end for the Irishman who left as he arrived, with quiet dignity and professionalism. He may have been under appreciated by the masses but his team-mates understood his influence with Jamie Carragher inviting him to play in his testimonial in 2010.

Stig Inge Bjornebye (player):

Yes, I know another full-back – there seems to be a bit of a trend here! This Norweigan international’s Liverpool career had more ups and downs as he would have had if he followed his father into ski-jumping! Having been signed in 1992 as a replacement for the long-term injured David Burrows he struggled in an uncertain time in a dressing room full of discontent under the iron fisted Graeme Souness. Stig’s patchy form made him a scapegoat for the side’s woes and he eventually got flogged back to Norway to be replaced by the more forceful Julian Dicks. It was after impressing at the 1994 World Cup that this phoenix rose from the flames – Roy Evans brought him back as a converted wing back. This worked a treat as he proved himsef to be one of the best crossers I have seen at the club with his countless assists. A cross from his left foot was a thing of aesthetic beauty, arching the ball unerringly onto the head of the grateful recipient. Most notably was his perfect delivery for Neil Ruddock to bullet home in an amazing 3-3 draw with Manchester United. He had tremendous battling qualities, coming back from a broken leg to battle it out with Steve Staunton and Dominic Matteo for his old place. Unfortunately for him the new manager Gerard Houllier preferred the other two and during his wholesale clear-out Bjornebye’s days were numbered. From a place on the Liverpool scrapheap to a member of the PFA team of the year 1996/97 he showed the heart and belief which are always appreciated at this great club.

Honourable mentions go to Stephane Henchoz, Rueban Bennett, Gary Abblett, Lucas Leiva and Danny Murphy. There are of course many more and this is of course are very much subjective – but who was your unsung hero? Who did/do you root for who barely gets a mention above the usual headline grabbers? Have your say now. Just don’t sing too loud…the superstars may get jealous!

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I've been following the Reds ever since I set eyes on the majestic sight that is the Kop in full voice with flags aloft, albeit from the television with my dad as a 5 year old in my hometown of Dublin! He would tell me about the Irish contingent, the likes of Heighway, Whelan, Beglin and Houghton, he is a Leeds fan due to his hero Johnny Giles but I had to go against the grain on this one, his 3 year old grandson will not be afforded the same opportunity!
I completed a Higher National Diploma in Print Journalism back in Dublin where I briefly worked for the Irish Independent on a placement, covering Rugby, obituaries (including the great John Charles) and some sub editing. I then made the short journey to Liverpool, where I currently reside to undertake International Journalism at John Moores University. Some will say that over the years I have picked up a Jan Molbyesque native twang but I'm not so sure!
I was also lucky enough to have worked for the socialist publication "Morning Star" covering the Reds at Anfield which allowed me gain access to the press box and press conferences, I covered about 10 games and loved every minute of it!
I am excited to be joining the team at live4liverpool.com. From what I have seen so far the standard of articles have been first class, I hope to contribute to this by publishing pieces which create opinion and debate.