Ste Hoare writes his – and TBT’s – first ever book review. He looks at the brand new book by Simon Hughes, ‘Red Machine’.
Look out for our competitions coming up as well, where we’ll be giving away a copy or two.
The younger generation of Liverpool fans – a group I’m somewhat optimistically still bracketing myself in – have been brought up on stories about how dominant the club they support was in both the Seventies and the Eighties. We’ve been raised on bits of old footage of famous league title clenching goals, famous European Cup winning moments and sound bites of some influential club figures speaking of their success. These are only small glimpses into a glorious period for our club, one that many members of the younger generation wish they could have witnessed for themselves.
Anyone who remembers this period often speaks of it in such high regard that I for one tend to think “surely it couldn’t have been that good?” I’m told that fans would turn up at Anfield knowing that Liverpool were going to win, 100% guaranteed, no doubts about it.
It’s hard for someone like me, who has visited Anfield regularly from the mid to late Nineties to the current day to have such confidence in the team. I’ve sat and watched too many defeats to poor opposition such as Barnsley, Blackpool and even lowly Everton to ever walk through Stanley Park being sure that I’ll make the return journey home in couple of hours later having witnessed a home win.
Our generation have enjoyed some great moments as a Liverpool supporters, we’ve watched our side win big games and major competitions but for people of a similar or younger age than me, it’s that elusive league title win that we are all so eager to witness.
It’s mainly for that very reason that we are so eager to learn as much as we can about that era. It’s an era that is surrounded by somewhat of a mystique, so any chance we can get to learn more about it is a chance that many fans from my generation will jump at.
Red Machine offers a great insight into the minds of some key figures from that era, men whose names resonate with the younger fans such as Bruce Grobbelaar and John Barnes, both of whom offer a candid look into what life as a ‘star player’ at the club was like, both on and off the field.
It also explores the stories of some other figures from the era, men whose names perhaps aren’t the ones you first think of when you look back upon Liverpool’s recent history. For me personally, these were my favourite chapters in the book.
Don’t get me wrong, stories like Bruce Grobbelaar describing how he broke a teammate’s nose twice in the same night, or John Barnes describing that the Liverpool dressing room had a pecking order where “newcomers had to earn their stripes” are fascinating. However, I felt that by reading the stories of men like David Hodgson, Nigel Spackman and Michael Robinson, I gained a deeper understanding of why playing alongside some of the best footballers that have played on these shores proved more difficult than one would imagine.
In a world of media trained players delivering ‘on message’ interviews, the open, honest and detailed stories of the former professionals that Simon had the privilege to interview are a like a breath of fresh air, and give such vivid descriptions as to why Liverpool where so utterly dominant in the eighties.
As Steven Gerrard says in the book’s foreword, the healthy (and sometimes unhealthy!) social scene that founded such strong dressing rooms are now almost things of the past, and as such, books like this one won’t be written in ten years time, so I recommend that you make the most of the candid nature in which these former Reds spoke to Simon by getting hold of a copy of Red Machine, you won’t regret doing so.