The Shadow of the Past

Posted by Zappa on May 9, 2005, 10:55:03 PM

The Long Shadow of Success
It occurs to me that our glorious past is one of the main problems with football is the unrealistic expectations of the fans burdened by the history that many have seen so little of. Fifteen years and counting since we last won the Championship that we came to regard as our own.

These days of instant gratification - new gardens built in a day, setting up a first home with every convenience you could possibly need -  have given us the impression that cash is king.

If you throw enough cash at the problem it will solve it, won’t it?

Consider this; building a garden from scratch results in one that will outlive you; building a home together cements a relationship and makes you value what you have. Money does not bring lasting success or happiness.

So what has this got to do with football, and the burden of the past?

By my reckoning there have been 106 championships. Between myself and my father, we lived through and have seen most of the Liverpool success stories. I got to wondering how he would react to out 15yrs in the wilderness?

Liverpool went from 1906 to 1922 without winning the title - 16 years. He was born in 1922, so he would only have been told about this. Then we went from 1923 to 1947, 24 years, without a title – and he certainly knew all about that. As if that was not bad enough he then endured the titleless spell from 1947 to 1964, a full 17 years.

I never in all my days heard him lambast Liverpool the way some here and elsewhere do. He had patience. He had high expectations, yes. But football goes in cycles he knew it would come again.

When Shankly tore apart his first “big” team, he appealed for four or so years to build the next one. He won the Championship the next year and said that in a way he was sorry because that had set a standard that was impossible to sustain.

Just out of interest, I did a bit of research into how long other teams had to wait for success.

The yardstick through all my time watching Liverpool are Arsenal who went from 1953 to 1971 18yrs; and from 1971 to 1989 18yrs. And historically they waited 37 years for their first title in 1931. The others:

Manchester United 1892 to 1908 16yrs; 1911 to 1952 41yrs; 1967 to 1993  26yrs.
Everton 1891 to 1915 24yrs; 1939 to 1963 24yrs;1970 to 1985 15yrs; 1987 to 2005 18+yrs.
Newcastle Utd; 1909 to 192718yrs; 1927 to 2005 78+yrs.
Sunderland 6 times winners; but from 1913 to 1935 23 yrs; 1936 to 2005 71+yrs.
Manchester City 1891 to 1937 46yrs; 1937 to 1968 31yrs; 1968 to 2005 37+yrs.
Spurs 1908 to 1951 43yrs; 1961 to 2005 44+yrs.
Huddersfield (First team to be champions 3 years running) 1888 to 1924 36yrs; 1926 to 2005 79+yrs.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1888 to 1954 66yrs; 1959 to 2005 46+yrs.
Aston Villa 1910 to 1981 71 yrs; 1981 to 2005 24+yrs.
Portsmouth 1920 to 1949 29yrs; 1950 to 2005 55+yrs.
Ipswich 1938 to 1962 24yrs ; 1962 to 2005 43+yrs.
Sheffield Wednesday 1904 to 1929 25yrs; 1930 to 2005 75+yrs.
West Bromwich Albion1888 to 1920 32yrs; 1920 to 2005 85+yrs.
Burnley 1888 to 1921 33yrs; 1921 to 1960 39yrs; 1960 to 2005 45+yrs.
Derby County 1888 to 1972 84yrs; 1974 to 2005 31+yrs.
Nottingham Forest 1892 to 1978 86yrs; 1978 to 2005 27+yrs.
Sheffield United 1898 to 2005 107+yrs.
Preston North End The original untouchables. 1889 and 1890 then 115yrs in the waiting.

And then the ones that used money quick-fix to solve their problems:

Leeds Utd 1919 to 1969 50yrs; 1974 to 1992 18yrs – and it looks like being a long time until the next.
Blackburn Rovers 1889 to 1912  23yrs; 1914 to 1995 81 yrs – Sugar Daddies don’t last forever.
Chelsea 1905  to 1955 50yrs; 1955 to 2005 50yrs – third time lucky?

And all the other teams not mentioned above? All still waiting for their first, all supported by fans who dream of the sort of failure we’ve endured this year.

Beating the Blues
It hurts to be second best on Merseyside but let’s put this into perspective.

In the 44 years since 1961 I’ve had to endure it 8 times (61, 62, 63, 65, 70, 85, 87, 2005). Starting in 1970, I bet a mate each year that we would finish higher – always won and never tried to collect the bet – in 1985 the cheeky sod came for his money.

Shooting our own
I don’t believe that there is one player at the club who does not want to win the league with us.

In the warm pink glow of nostalgia, memories linger on the great performances of the glory days sides. They never had a bad day, did they? Well I was there most of the time, and the silky Hansen, Lawrenson, St John etc and all the other legends had periods of awful form.

We didn’t like those times, and although we complained we weren't nearly as viciously as many of the modern day fans be it on forums, phone ins etc.

It creases me to see people slag players off, especially when they have come back from bad injury. Cisse and Kewell in particular could have sat on their backsides and collected their pay for the rest of this year. Cisse in particular has a miraculous attitude. Desire however is one thing, match fitness is another

Disrespecting Managers
Whether people like hearing it or not, Houllier rescued this club from obscurity and set it back on the road to recovery. He couldn’t/wasn’t allowed (according to your viewpoint) to finish the job. But he still brought us forwards.

Like every manager, he bought some unsuitable players – yet some of them did a bit more than ok against Chelsea a few days ago! Better motivated these days perhaps, but still Houllier's men. Some buffoon even posted recently to the effect that Houliers trophies were "suspect" because we could and perhaps should have lost most of them.

From that perspective, every goal scored is a mistake and many of our triumphs in the older glory days were equally “suspect” – if you want to think that way.

We won what we won – simply by scoring more goals. Some displays might have been rougher than others might, but you can say that about any team’s history.

All the great teams we’ve had (and for that matter all the great teams Arsenal, Man Utd etc had) started off a lot poorer team than they finished off – they were allowed the time to develop.

This post was prompted by the absolute drivel posted in the aftermath of the Arsenal game. A game played five days after every player had sweated blood for the cause in the million mile an hour game of defending against Chelsea. How soon the heroes fall from grace!

Arsenal - a game in which we looked poor in the first half – and gave one of our better displays in the second. Why the difference?

Well why were Leverkusen, Juve, Chelsea so poor when we played them? Because we made them play that way – in the first half Arsenal did it to us and in the second half we escaped their system. Plenty of positives and progress.

We were always known as (and intensely proud to be known as a sporting set of supporters – hate to lose as much as the next man, but the measure of your sportsmanship is your reaction to defeat.

Our way with managers is to give them time – not as one poster suggested put the manager under the pressure of “this sort of result in a normal year would be ground for sacking”. Progress usually comes with small steps forward

Ripping into your own with instant and bitter “wisdom” is a very poor refelction on the current fanbase.

I have noticed a large influx of people in the last few months with a posting style that I hate so much. Short aggressive posts often ignoring what has gone on before in the thread – done in the rush to get “my view” committed to history. This is particularly prevalent in after-match posts; I'd consider a ban on posting until people have calmed down enough to  post thought out sensible comments.

Certainly, the standard on RAWK and elsewhere has suffered as a result of this style of knee-jerk "analysis".

Patience, Faith and class = Real Liverpool Fans. More recruits please

© VWA 2005

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