Andy Regan examines the bitter attitude displayed by supporters from the red half of Merseyside since their team’s fall from grace.
Many years ago, or so it seems, another seemingly unbeatable team in red emerged from the North West. For almost two decades Liverpool were clearly the (big gulp) Manchester United of their times.
The Scousers were, I suspect, reasonably well thought of by many Chelsea fans. Let’s face it, we weren’t challenging for the same trophies. Their sights were often set on Gullit’s “cup with the big ears”. Ours were set on the Full Members. They were also popular for playing amazing football except, strangely, when they visited the Bridge – Rhodes-Brown and co were clearly too much for them. Also, they were not London rivals.
Their fans were also known, sometimes inaccurately, for their appreciation of other teams playing well. Perhaps the Kop just used to be patronising? Whatever the reasons, there was nothing like the intense arrogance associated with the Mancs in recent years.
However, the point of this article is to question this assumption. I actually get the impression that many Man U supporters are getting bored with their dominance – this and last season have been something of a procession in the Premier League.
And Liverpool fans? Probably the most arrogant and spiteful towards the Chelsea resurgence in the land. They really do seem to claim a divine right to being the best team around. Now don’t get me wrong. All fans are jealous of other teams’ success. That’s expected.
But to start with, a recent article assessed the least liked clubs in the land, as voted for by a fanzine editor from each Premiership club. I quote the Liverpool ‘expert’, pontificating on Chelsea’s recent managerial change: “They have serious delusions of grandeur. Vialli wins five trophies in three years yet gets sacked because apparently that’s not good enough for Chelsea. Since when?”
What a terrible crime! For a Club to want their team to do better, to be more successful. And to cap it all, when the replica trophies at Anfield must be starting to amass a tonne of cobwebs.
After the Cup win of 1997, when all other footy fans I knew at least managed a grudging “well done”, a red Scouser in a huff at work on the Monday growled as he went past: “You won’t win anything else”. End of conversation.
Another Liverpool fan I know unleashed a torrent of abuse at the club. After the Reds got stuffed at the Bridge once again? No, after getting a ticket among the Barcelona fans at the Bridge last season. And that after perhaps our finest ever night of football.
A few weeks ago Liverpool fans were asked on national radio whether Fowler should leave. “Let him go and play Nationwide football next season,” one replied with glee, “‘cos Chelsea will be.”
I know too many other Chelsea fans who have had run-ins with graceless Scousers over recent years for it to be a coincidence. But why the bias? As if winning more trophies than them in the past four years is not enough, my mind goes back to one Sunday early in 1997. An FA Cup classic, for us anyway. That victory, more than any other, pointed the way to the next few years. They were top of the league at the time – it’s us who have won the silverware since.
We will take the trophies any day and the jealousy that goes with it. Are their fortunes changing? They may win the Worthless this year but then they will probably get even more annoying.