SPORT: Kenny Dalglish – King of the Kop
All around the fields of Anfield Road we once watched the King Kenny play. Well some of us did.
Having been born in 1982, some five years after Bob Paisley broke the British transfer record to sign him from Celtic, it would be disingenuous of me to recount the playing days of one Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish. Indeed, by the time he retired from Liverpool in 1991, this writer was only nine and just starting out on my love affair with The Mighty Reds.
Nine-year old me knew, of course, that Kenny was a legend. My Dad, along with his brother and sister, followed the club home and away and would regale me with tales of the man’s genius. His vision, technique and goal-scoring prowess they just couldn’t get enough of. His league title-sealing winner at Stamford Bridge in 1986 is a moment they still talk about. They tell me he had a magnificent footballing arse. They can (and do) recall the King in his Puma clad pomp. I can’t, honestly, so I won’t attempt to do so here.
My own memories are somewhat different. I remember Dalglish as the only Liverpool player in a deck of ‘100 greatest players in football history’ collectors cards I used to paw through. I remember him beating Manchester United to the title as Blackburn manager in 1995, clinching the Premier League Title at Anfield, despite his team conceding a late Jamie Redknapp free kick which made my heart sink. I remember him as the man in the red and white bench coat who led Liverpool to the first victory that really meant anything to me – the glorious and poignant win over Everton in the 1989 Cup Final. That was the first time I ever felt the incredible sense of satisfaction and superiority that comes with getting one over on your local rivals. I didn’t, at the time, realise the intense pressure that Kenny must have been under in the May of that year, so soon after witnessing first hand tragic loss of life of 96 innocent souls during the semi-final at Hillsborough.
Despite the fact that my aforementioned Dad, Auntie and Uncle were at the home of Sheffield Wednesday on April 15th 1989 – I remember being glued to the radio with my Mum that afternoon, listening to the devastating news unfold – it wasn’t until later in life that the gravity of what happened that day really dawned on me. And it was with this realisation that my own respect and admiration for Kenny Dalglish really developed. To look back and learn about how he, along with his wife Marina, became a pillar of support for the victim’s families; attending many of the funerals and becoming a pillar of strength in the battle for justice, was to really get the measure of the man. And by 2011, when he once again came to the aid of his beloved Liverpool FC, following on from the Hicks and Gillett/Roy Hodgson debacle, I looked at Kenny Dalglish through different eyes. Not only was he arguably the greatest player to ever pull on the famous Red shirt, to me he was inarguably one of the greatest men the city has ever welcomed as a son.
Like anyone who has stood on The Kop over the last 20 years, I’ve often bellowed the words “Where once we watched the King Kenny play (and could he play!)”. The truth is, I was much too young during the latter days of his playing career to really remember the great man gracing the fields of Anfield Road. I’ve seen the videos and the Youtube clips but it’s not the same. No, my memories of Kenny Dalglish are of the man. And what a man he his.
THIS ARTICLE IS BROUGHT TO YOU IN ASSOCIATION WITH AAA SPORTS MEMORABILIA – CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THEIR EXCLUSIVE RANGE OF AUTHENTICALLY SIGNED KENNY DALGLISH MEMORABILIA. GET 20% OFF ALL KENNY MEMORABILIA IN APRIL – QUOTE ‘KENNY20’ AT THE CHECKOUT.