Over 38,000 people turned up at a rain-soaked Anfield today to see an excellent piece of entertainment all taking place for the Tsunami Soccer Aid benefit match.
Jason McAteer, who’s brainchild this event was, led out the Liverpool team that included heroes of his own from his days as a boyhood red. If the players who appeared over the next 90 minutes had been on sale today at today’s transfer fees, no rich Russian could have afforded them.
Two number nines started for Liverpool – Rush and Fowler, a combination that did have a run together towards the end of Rush’s Liverpool playing days, and as the game progressed the striking talents of Paul Walsh, David Johnson, John Aldridge and Kenny Dalglish combined to thrill the crowd.
Kenny Dalglish played for the last 20 minutes or so and he got the biggest cheer of the afternoon by far. A standing ovation was just what you’d expect from Liverpool’s biggest hero. Ronnie Moran joined Kenny as managers of Liverpool for the day, with Jamie Redknapp’s dad Harry managing the celebrities.
Bruce Grobbelaar starred in goal for Liverpool for the first half, and although he didn’t have much to do his distribution of the ball from hand was still there. Bruce only played the first half, replaced for the second half by Sander Westerveld, another player to receive a big cheer when his name was announced.
Tranmere goalkeeping coach Eric Nixon was between the sticks for the first half for the celebrities, but in the second half Liverpool’s current reserve keeper Paul Harrison stepped in, and made a number of great saves.
It was organiser McAteer who got the opening two goals for the Liverpool team, but he had to leave the pitch early as he has a first team game for play-off chasing League One Tranmere tomorrow.
Other highlights from the game included seeing Alan Hansen back on the pitch again. Hansen was of course forced to end his career earlier than he would have liked due to severe knee problems, and we’re told this is the first time he’s played a game since then. Lining up alongside him was Phil Thompson. He was later replaced by Gary Gillespie. Phil Neal and Alan Kennedy played as full backs for large parts of the game, with Gary Ablett and Neil Ruddock helping out to.
Liverpool’s pass and move was there for all to see – the Liverpool players may not have the pace and fitness of old days, but they knew when and where to pass, and more importantly when and where to run.
Just like days of old, Jan Molby made the centre circle his own, still able to find those passes, and it was great to see Ronnie Whelan start alongside him.
All in all a great occasion, for a worthy cause, and congratulations go to Jason McAteer for organising it all.
Full lists of the two squads – unless stated all of these played at least part of the game.
1. Bruce Grobbelaar (First Half)
1. Sander Westerveld (Second Half)
2. Phil Neal
3. Alan Kennedy
4. Jason McAteer
5. Phil Thompson
6. Alan Hansen
7. Kenny Dalglish
7. Steve McManaman (did not play, but was present)
8. John Aldridge
9. Ian Rush
9. Robbie Fowler
10. John Barnes
11. Ronnie Whelan
14. Gary Ablett
15. David Johnson
16. Neil Ruddock
17. Jan Molby
18. Alan Farley (won a competition and played the second half)
19. Gary Gillespie
20. Paul Walsh
Also. Paul Dalglish (Kenny’s son, didn’t wear a number).
Managed by Kenny Dalglish and Ronnie Moran – Roy Evans was originally pencilled in but now of course involved in the Welsh national set-up.
1. Eric Nixon (Tranmere goalkeeping coach – first half)
1. Paul Harrison (Liverpool reserve ‘keeper – second half)
2. Patrick McGuiness (Paddy from Max and Paddy)
3. Ralf Little
4. Paul Salt
5. Michael Vaughan
6. James Redmond
7. Nicky Byrne (played outfield, but used to be a ‘keeper for Leeds)
8. Brian McFadden
9. Niall Quinn
10. John Regis
11. Shane Ritchie
12. Marcus Patrick
14. Amir Khan (Bolton’s Silver-Medal winning boxer)
15. Perry Fenwick
16. Harvey (Liverpool supporting rapper, scored first celeb goal from an excellent run)
17. DJ Spoony (Liverpool supporting DJ – nutmegged Rushie)
18. Serge Pizzorno
19. Stephen Fletcher
20. Tim Lovejoy (Soccer AM)
21. Ian Brodie (Liverpool fan, Lightening Seeds singer/writer – wrote the "Coming Home" song)
22. Danny Jones