Youth Cup Final: Support makes a difference

Liverpool’s youth side take on Manchester City’s equivalent team in tonight’s Youth Cup final first leg at Anfield. The game kicks off at 7.30pm and is available to UK viewers on Sky Sports.

The reds won their semi-final against Southampton in a penalty shoot-out at St Mary’s. The few Liverpool supporters that made it down to the south coast helped the Reds players to get the victory, singing the anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” proudly. Tonight there should be a much larger contingent of Reds supporters – Anfield officials believe that there could be 30,000 at the game, the majority of course being Reds.

The youth side is made up of players from the Academy and the eligible players from the reserve side. According to Academy coach John Owens, the final should see a decent level of support for the youngsters: “In a way the response from the fans in the previous youth games has been disappointing with only a handful plus family and friends of the players, but we would hope that the fact that we are in the final would spur some of those who have not been along to see the youth team would come along and support us, because it does make a difference. You only have to ask the first team players about that.”

Owens recalls that game at St Mary’s: “Down at Southampton we had a
small group of Liverpool fans who really helped particularly in the
extra-time when it got difficult and through to the penalties. It is
amazing how just a small number can create the kind of noise that
helps. When they were singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ it has got to
be a help. And the more the merrier the better it will be.”

Owens said of tonight’s opponents: “Manchester City have got two big
strikers who are very dangerous. They are fast and good on the ball,
but generally it is always a good and tight game against Manchester
City youth teams. We know them well and we won’t take them lightly. Any
team that gets this far in the Youth Cup or any competition needs your

One player involved tonight is a player signed by Rafa from Hull in the
January transfer window. The move saw the former reserve midfielder
John Welsh move the other was and Anderson has been impressive since he
became a Red. He says his dad has been instrumental in his development.
He was once rejected by West Brom, who may now wish they’d had a better
look at him. Anderson recalls: “I thought I’d done enough to get a deal
at West Brom but they just said they didn’t think I’d ever be a
Premiership player.”

West Brom did weren’t the only club to reject him, and he’d felt like
calling it a day. Then he joined Hull, a club his did had once been an
apprentice at, but he was still struggling to find the motivation.
Anderson says: “After the knock backs I didn’t think I wanted to do
this any more. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a footballer, but my dad
made sure I knuckled down and gave it everything.” This encouragement
was rewarded when he became a Red. He continues: “I wouldn’t be at
Liverpool now without him. He was an apprentice at Hull but maybe
didn’t have the right attitude to make it all the way. When he saw that
starting to creep into me he was there with the advice.”

Reds chief executive Rick Parry is pleased too to see the Reds in the
final: “The achievement of our Under-18s in reaching this stage
confirms that the club is developing in all areas. Yes, our priority is
to drive on at the highest level of the game and finish as high as we
can in the Premier League. However, it is also crucial to see emerging
talent coming through and while trophies are not the be all and end all
at this age, it is still a barometer of where we are and how we are

Speaking in the official LFC weekly magazine, Parry said: “It’s
fantastic to see the lads in the final, given that we overcame both of
last year’s finalists to reach this stage. It proved to be an epic
semi-final success over a very good Southampton side and so we are full
of optimism that we can now go all the way.”
Parry recalls the last time Liverpool made it to this final: “It’s ten
years since we last progressed to this stage of the competition with
the likes of Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen and David Thompson in the
side. If that’s an omen of things to come then we have a lot to look
forward to. I know the likes of Carra and Steven Gerrard have been
taking a real interest in the Youth team’s success and that will mean a
lot to the players who look up to the stars of today and seek to
emulate them. Rafa is also hoping to take some positives out of the
situation. I know I speak for everyone when I wish the lads every
success. We will be there giving them our full support on the night.”

If you still want to go tonight the turnstiles will be taking cash, entrance is £7 for adults and £3 for concessions.