Bellamy tells his side of Portugal incident

Craig Bellamy has spoken publicly in a little more detail about his side of the infamous incident in Portugal which hit the headlines just before Liverpool’s Champions League victory in Barcelona. The stories revolved around an argument between Bellamy and team-mate John Arne Riise, with allegations that Bellamy had attacked Riise with a golf club.

Most of the allegations seemed to start off in the Norwegian media, with a strong feeling that Riise himself had been the indirect source of the claims that had been published. Liverpool’s only announcement was that it was an internal matter and would be dealt with internally. By the time Bellamy was interviewed after the Barcelona game, where he celebrated his goal with a mock golf swing, he said the whole incident had been made bigger by “you guys”, referring to the media.

Now Bellamy has told The Mirror’s Oliver Holt about what really happened – or at least his side of the story anyway. As in the reports, Bellamy said the row did start off when Riise refused to be dragged up to do a bit of singing: “It started when we were all doing a bit of karaoke. I only sang one song and that was Red, Red Wine by UB40, that was because Jerzy Dudek was drinking it. That’s how silly it all was. A lot of the other lads wanted Riise to get up there next because he hadn’t turned up at the dinner earlier and I tried to get him up, too.”

According to Craig, the left-back wasn’t willing to sign and wasn’t too happy about being asked: “I wasn’t that bothered whether he wanted to sing or not so I sat back down but he wasn’t too happy about me trying to get him to sing so he let me know about it. The situation was calmed down then but when I was walking back to the hotel with Steve Finnan, who I was rooming with, I lost control for a few seconds, and that was really about it.”

Bellamy went on: “I went and confronted Ginger and I said to him ‘don’t be doing that in front of the players again’.” From the way Bellamy has hinted at what John Arne had been like in the bar earlier, it does seem that it was the Norwegian who lost control first, and a public scene was the result. Bellamy seems to have felt embarrassed about it all, and brooded about it for a while before deciding he had to put Riise straight.

“I didn’t want to cause a scene in front of everybody else. I just wanted to talk to him about it alone.”
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Parry: Atmosphere is important

Liverpool Chief Executive has reacted to worries from fans that the “Kop” end of the new stadium will be nothing special and says the club are looking at ways they can get the atmospere at the new ground to be as special as it can be. Existing illustrations of the ground have both the home and away ends looking very similar, but Parry says that won’t be the case: “The plan is to have a single tier Kop,” he says, “there’s no question of that. That’s one of the priorities we don’t want to change.”

New majority shareholders Tom Hicks and George Gillett are looking at what they can do to tweak the designs that were settled on so long ago, the designs that were given planning permission, and making sure the new Kop is special is all part of what they are looking at. Parry says the home and away ends won’t be different in size though: “In terms of whether one stand will be bigger than others, that’s difficult. When you’re designing a new stadium that’s not particularly logical, but all of us at the club know that making The Kop distinctive is very important. George and Tom absolutely understand that. There are a variety of different ways we can do that, but we don’t have any specifics to discuss at the moment.”

It’s obvious to long-time visitors to Anfield that the ground doesn’t fill up at the same rate as it did in the days of the standing Kop. At that time the side stands would be practically deserted until close to kick-off, much the same as now, but that wasn’t the case with the Kop. Most of the Kop would be paying on the day to get in, and to get the spec they wanted most would arrive much earlier than today. If a group of friends were getting in through a mixture of being season ticket holders and paying on the day, they could still meet up inside and stand together, which again would encourage people to get in that bit earlier to make sure they had time to meet up. Another reason to get there early was because there was no guarantee you would get in. First come first served meant on most occasions people would be locked out – and the frustration of listening to the game from outside the stadium because you weren’t near enough to the front of the queue stays with you a long time.
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