It’s not every day that you get a chance to enjoy an evening with a two-time European Cup winner. Not just a two time winner, but the man who scored the decisive penalty in Rome during 1984. And the same man who netted the winner in Paris all the way back in 1981 for Liverpool’s third European Cup win. Talk about scoring vital goals. Yep, we are talking about Alan Kennedy here. A tireless left back who owned the left back position and chipped in with no less than 20 goals during his 359 game, 8 season spell on Merseyside.
Born and raised in Sunderland, “Barney Rubble” as he is sometimes affectionately referred to, lobbed into Brisbane just over a week ago to share his many stories of life as a professional footballer. Kennedy played during an era when having a personality was par for the course. A time when managers were given time to build something special and an era when the European Cup was contested by Champions or their respective countries and not just a cash cow for fourth place finishers scrambling for TV money.
I’d heard that Alan was a bit of a card when giving public talks. Hell, I shared a car ride with him to Hull in December 2013 when the red men went down 3-1 to the home side and even then his dry humor was ever present on the way home. I guess he’s just naturally gifted at telling a good yarn or few? Anyway, I’d bought a ticket for me old pall Joe (another life long red) to join me for the night with which included incredibly humid surrounds (the venue’s air con had bombed out earlier in the day), some cold beer (a staple of any night like this) and almost three hours of laughs.
From the moment Alan made his way onto the stage, he was into it. A no holds bar and often frank account of his career from day dot all the way through to the end of his playing days and then some great thoughts on modern football as a whole. This is what I find fascinating about these nights. Hearing how life was back then compared to now. It does make one wonder how many of today’s players would have coped during a period when you weren’t continually wrapped firmly in cotton wool or coached on how to answer questions posed by journalists.
So how was the talk I hear you ask? He pretty much had us at “hello”! The stories started with his upbringing in Sunderland before moving onto life as a Newcastle player then onto his incredible phone box story when Liverpool wanted to sign him from Newcastle in 1978 (he’d been a Newcastle player for no less than six seasons by now), his cheeky account of why Liverpool conceded 4 goals at Anfield during the 1978-79 season, Alan Hanson’s incredible warm up routine (or lack of) and Joe Fagon’s hilarious ways to chose penalty takers during a shoot out in a European Cup final. Mind, there was so much more in between all that but I can’t spoil it all for you now can I? Either way, we were in stitches for the entire evening.
I’ve had the pleasure now of being entertained by talks from Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler, David Fairclough, David Johson, Craig Johnston, John Aldridge, Louis Garcia, Didi Hamann, Vlady Smicer and Ray Clemance. They all bring something special to the table though Alan Kennedy for me, has joined John Aldridge and Robbie Fowler at the top of the tree when it comes to entertaining a crowd. An evening with Alan Kennedy is an evening not to be missed. I must pass on a special thank to the Liverpool FC official supporters club in Queensland for making this night happen. A lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes to bring these truly wonderful players out to Australia and other countries so we should be eternally grateful The next time an event as good as this pops up, don’t let it pass you by!