The Red Sox Lover's Guide to Liverpool

TO BECOME A KNOWLEDGEABLE FAN of a team with as rich a history as the Red Sox requires years of study and obsession. Liverpool supporters can relate: You need to learn the history, the current roster, the slang, the culture…and then you need to live and breathe it all until it becomes part of your very soul. This primer on the Reds — as LFC is also called — can give you a head start, and we’ve made it even easier on you by couching it in terms of the Old Towne Team. After all, they both wear those crimson hose. So without further ado, the official Liverpool primer, from A to ‘Zed.’

 

A-G: Anfield to Gerrard

H-P: Hicks to the Phoenix Landing

R-Z: Reina to Zenden

 

Read the story, A Masshole Goes Among the Thugs, in which Jason Schwartz storms the streets of Liverpool to learn about our new sports brethren.

 

Anfield: Like Fenway Park, LFC’s historic stadium is synonymous with the team that plays in it. Aging and aged, these “cozy confines” seat only 8,000 more people than Fenway, and so Anfield has endured endless debates over whether it needs to be replaced. Sound familiar?

Barnes, John: Left midfielder, 1987-1997. One of Liverpool’s greats, indeed, but he’s still infamous for rapping and singing on “World in Motion,” the hit song New Order wrote for England’s 1990 World Cup team. It’s Liverpool’s most awkward musical moment, worse even than “Sweet Caroline” or anything by Bronson Arroyo.

Carragher, Jamie: Central defender since 1997. A Liverpool native, he’s a hardnosed local boy made good, really good. Kind of like the Framingham Kid, Lou Merloni…if he played like Kevin Youkilis.

Dalglish, Kenny: Striker, 1977-1991; manager, 1985-1991, and since January 2011. This guy actually has no Sox equivalent. He’s the Bill Russell of the Reds. What if, back in the ‘80s, the Sox had a player that dominated on the mound like Clemens and at the plate like Boggs, won copious cups and championships…and took over management of the team? After a 20-year absence, King Kenny is now back behind the bench and is credited with the Reds’ resurgence this winter after their lackluster fall.

Everton, aka “The Blues”: The city of Liverpool boasts two Premiere League clubs; this is the older, less legendary team. Imagine the heated cross-town rivalry if the Boston Braves never left Allston and could regularly beat the Sox in interleague play.

FA Cup: A strange and brilliant tournament open to all pro teams in England. The Reds have won the thing seven times now, but it took them 73 years to get their first, which came in 1965. Before that, generations of Liverpudlians said “this could be the year.” You remember how that felt. (Pictured below)

Ferguson, Sir Alex: The manager of archrival Manchester United (see below), he’s legendary, revered, record-breaking, blah blah…c’mon, the man’s a freakin’ knight. But don’t let such stature keep you from despising him. Like those other rival coaches dubbed the Greatest of All Time — we’re looking at you, Phil Jackson — a certain arrogant sangfroid comes with the title and sometimes teeters into self-entitled petulance. Case in point: After Liverpool beat Manchester 3-1 on March 6, mighty Sir Alex haughtily refused to talk to the media, including Manchester United’s own TV channel.

Gerrard, Steven: Midfielder since 1998. Another native of the Liverpool area, Gerrard’s mystique is much larger than any hometown pride. Consider your unconditional, obsessive love for ‘Tek, Pedro, or Big Papi when they were in their prime. Now, how much more would you have adored them if they were from Dorchester or Somerville?

Hicks, Tom: Co-owner, 2007-October 2010. Because of his crippling debt, this imperious American was essentially forced to sell to John Henry and pals; he’ll probably go down as the most despised caretaker of the team in club history. During this low era, LFC’s baseball equivalent was the Texas Rangers franchise, which was sold to new owners after having been driven into bankruptcy by…Tom Hicks. (Pictured right)

Kuyt, Dirk: Forward since 2006. Perennially underrated, this Dutchman is one of those guys who are known for being solid, dependable players…but actually score those clutch goals that keep games and seasons alive. Kevin Youkilis comes to mind again, but this time it’s the unsung Youk several seasons ago who had all the same talent but was still overshadowed by glitzier teammates. Amid the ownership turmoil and nagging injuries to Steven Gerrard, Kuyt has particularly shined this season.

League Championship
: In baseball, having the league’s best record at the end of the season merely ensures home-field advantage in the playoffs. In the English Premier League, it’s one of the two main goals of any team (along with the FA Cup). Though Liverpool is tied for the all-time lead with 18 league championships, Manchester United is the favorite to win its 19th this year, which would break the historic tie. After a deceptive silence about this for most of the season, in late March the trash talking got serious. "It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot," Man. U. star Wayne Rooney said, making headlines in the British Guardian. "I’m from Liverpool and grew up as an Everton fan, so to be part of the team that overtakes Liverpool would mean so much."

Liddell, Billy: Striker, 1939-1961. Once dubbed “one of the greatest, if not the greatest, all-around forwards in football,” he shared much in common with The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived. Both he and Ted Williams were their teams’ biggest stars in the same era, both served in WWII, and both retired without ever winning an FA Cup or World Series.

Manchester United: David Beckham’s old squad, it’s the flashy Premier League team Americans have most often heard of, and at $1.83 billion, Forbes lists Man. U. as the most valuable sports franchise in the world. They’re now your Yankees or Lakers. Hate them accordingly.

Merseyside: The Liverpool region. Think Beantown and the Hub, but not Red Sox Nation. Everton fans and Wayne Rooney would be pissed.

Paisley, Bob: Central midfielder, 1939-1954; manager, 1974-1983. Between European and UK contests, he hoisted an astonishing 20 trophies in just nine seasons as the team’s skipper. His unassuming, folksy image got him dubbed “Uncle Bob,” but behind the scenes he could be a hard bastard. He wouldn’t have left Pedro on the mound in 2003.

Phoenix Landing: Want to watch the matches with your newfound fellow fans? The Liverpool FC Supporters Club Boston meets at this Central Square pub for all the broadcasts. 512 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-576-6260, phoenixlandingbar.com.

Reina, Pepe: Goalkeeper since 2005. Perhaps the best in the Premier League between the posts. Nothing gets by him, much like… Oh right, the Sox have only question marks at catcher this year.

Relegation: At the end of each season, the three worst teams in the Premier League get dropped to the second division, to be replaced by the best three in that lower tier. The closest analogy would be if a whole baseball team got sent down to Triple-A, then had to play there for an entire season in order to earn its way (maybe) back to the majors. Liverpool hadn’t been relegated since the 1950s, but in this season’s early weeks before John Henry entered the picture, the team was so bad that fans were already preparing for the worst. Several months of (mostly) wins later, soccer’s sword of Damocles has lifted.

Rush, Ian: Striker, 1980-1996. Dalglish’s partner in glory throughout the ‘80s. As if separated at birth, he shared a moustache with Dwight Evans.

Scouse, Scouser: Proud slang for Liverpudlian — the citizenry, the accent, you name it. We just don’t have an analogue for this. “Bostonian” has the flavor of dictionary paper, while the verdict is still out on whether the truer “Masshole” is a gleeful moniker, an indignant insult, or an ironic term enmeshed in air-quotes.

Shankly, Bill: Manager, 1959-1974. The Red Auerbach of Liverpool, he managed the Reds for 15 years, won the team’s first FA Cup, and is honored with a statue outside Anfield stadium. Though Terry Francona’s getting close, there’s no Sox chief who’s ever been as beloved or revered, who is the sports soul of the city in which he worked and won.

Spion Kop, aka “The Kop”: Just as the Green Monster is the most famous fence in baseball, the Kop is perhaps the most famous single stadium section in the Premier League, boasting generations of loyal Reds fans. Now if only “Nuf Ced” McGreevy and his Royal Rooters had passed down season tickets through the ages, and their descendants were still leading the cheers in the Fenway bleachers…

Suárez, Luis; and Carroll, Andrew: Forwards since January 2011. Liverpool’s two big signings during this year’s transfer window (soccer’s version of the trade deadline), essentially replacing departed star Fernando Torres. Though their arrival proves John Henry will spend on the Reds, how they play will say much about the future of the team. Reds are monitoring them now as we’ll be monitoring Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. (Pictured above)

Torres, Fernando: Forward, 2007-January 2011. When he was on, this Spanish striker was the most exciting and productive player on the field. But when he was not — which was often this season — fans and the press fretted over his psyche and whether he wanted to leave the club. And then come midseason: He was gone when Chelsea FC broke the British transfer-fee record by paying Liverpool £50 million to acquire him. Fans felt spurned and fretted over his sudden absence, even as they bid him good riddance. After Boggs, Clemens, Nomar, and Manny, you know exactly what this feels like.

“You’ll Never Walk Alone”
: Famously recorded by Liverpool group Gerry and the Pacemakers, this soaring, sentimental club anthem is sung at every game — and the title is even cast in bronze over the Anfield gates. Still, for all its verve, it’s a pretty slow song. Imagine if Sox fans sang “Dream On” all the time, instead of “Dirty Water.”

Zenden, Boudweijn; and Ziege, Christian: The only players in LFC history whose surnames began with the letter “zed.” The Red Sox boast seven, but like these two guys, all of them pretty much sucked. Sorry, Bob Zupcic, but it’s the truth; and unlike soccer, there’s no crying in baseball. (Pictured above right)

 

 

Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/2011/03/the-red-sox-guide-to-liverpool/