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A Boxing Day sell-out
Shoot in the 70s

A Boxing Day sell-out

Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2015   |   2854 views   |   Sport   |   Comments (0) FOR most people Christmas and the New Year are times for no work and all play. But for footballers it's a question of all work and the only play is on the pitch.

And for Liverpool players, faced with three away games out of the four scheduled during the holiday period, the work is sure to be of the hard variety. Not one of us will be eating that extra piece of plum pudding, drinking one drink too many, or indulging in a late night. Our professionalism would not allow it. By now we're all conditioned to the fact that we cannot allow our-selves to join wholeheartedly in the festivities because this is a crucial part of the football season — results can decide the final placings at the end of the season.

Stacked
There are eight points at stake, and although the odds are stacked against us winning them all, we start with that aim in mind.

All three of our away fames are against Midlands opposition. On Saturday, December 22nd, we travel to Derby to play at the Baseball Ground. The coach trip usually takes around two and a half hours.

Derby, once amongst our fiercest rivals for honours, have gone through a bad patch in which they've struggled to maintain a First Division place. This was partly due to boardroom problems, which seem to have been settled, and the team, under manager Colin Addi-son, are now playing very well.

It's hard for a team to concentrate when there's an unsettling atmosphere within a club.

Their most impressive result so far was an amazing 4-1 home win over Nottingham Forest. Not many teams can boast of having put four goals past my England colleague Peter Shilton.

At one time the pitch at the Baseball Ground was amongst the worst in the First Division, with a playing surface that often resembled a bog. However, since it was relaid at the cost of several thousands of pounds, it has improved tremendously, although it's still not up to the standard of those at Manchester United and Ipswich Town.
Our next game is a certain sell-out, as it's on Boxing Day against Manchester United, the only club to rival Liverpool for glamour and fanatical support.

Reader Ciaran Connolly has writ-ten complaining that I'm biased against Manchester United, that I do not give the team or its players the credit they deserve. I'm sorry, Ciaran, if I've given that impression at times in my columns, but I do assure you I have enormous respect for the Old Trafford club, and everyone connected with it.

You say you suspect I'm still smarting over United's victory over us in last season's F.A. Cup Semi-Final. You're right — but it's not because I feel we were robbed!

It was our own fault we didn't win the first tie and deserved to lose to a brilliantly-taken Jimmy Greenhoff goal in the replay.

I was not surprised at United's fine start to the season that took them to the top of the table. What has amazed me is that a team whose game is based on non-stop "90 mph football" from first whistle to last has maintained good results now that grounds are becoming heavy.

Disciplined
Under manager Dave Sexton, United have become more disciplined at the back, which may have something to do with their fine run, but there's no way they'll come to Anfield simply to defend, as some teams do, including Spurs.

In preparation for the game, we'll even train on the morning of Christmas Day. I'll then go back to my family for the traditional turkey din-ner and spend the rest of the day playing with my daughters. Sarah and Julie and son Stephen.
By the way, I'd like to thank all those readers who sent us Christmas cards. We really appreciate them.

On the following Saturday, December 29th, it's away to The Hawthorns to play West Bromwich Albion, a side who always press us to the limit. Even after a good result against them, you'll find us slumped in heaps around the dressing-room.

As I predicted at the start of the season, Albion found it difficult to motivate themselves after the mighty efforts of last season failed to produce a single trophy as a reward.

On New Year's Day we have a date with Stoke City at the Victoria Ground. Judging by their perform-ances so far they will achieve what must be the first priority of any promoted side: consolidation of a place in the First.

As I've already stated, Liverpool will be setting out to collect maximum points from our four-match programme. Another impossible dream? Time will tell.

Join me again in the next SHOOT when I'll be talking about my hopes and fears for 1980.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

For more great articles like this get the No. 538: 29 Dec 1979 issue of Shoot in the 70s below or subscribe and save.

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About Shoot in the 70s

.Read the most popular football magazine from the 1970s again, published exactly as it was then, but on an electronic platform. With articles written by the star players of the time, stunning colour team and player photos, the famous ‘Focus On’ features, ‘You Are the Ref’ and much more, it will reawaken memories that may have been long forgotten.

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