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Grobbelaar

Being a recovering twitter degenerate who has vanquished his demons and who now takes his social media predilections one day at a time. Day by day is a coping mechanism and an attempt to release the addiction who calls me to sub tweet incessantly.


In the vain hope that my 12 step sponsor isn’t reading this, I’ve got to come clean. I took an unsolicited dive into LFC twitter recently. Weirdly, I was comforted by the reality that handles have changed but the madness is still strong, maybe getting stronger. This should be a worry but in actual fact it’s reassuring. As reassuringly comforting as hearing, ‘Place your hands’ again for the first time in 20 years and realising, its ok to ‘dig it’. It’s a chuuuune, always was…….


I digress, back to twitter, LFC twitter. When I ventured into the cess pit of iniquity what shone brightest was LFCs aggressive twitter presence. I repeatedly found myself looking at vids of Alisson Becker’s headed goal. No bad thing you may utter! It was fucking everywhere. The Clubs shameless media whoring tweet came with the title of, ‘Trendsetter’. TRENDSETTER? Are we going to allow this redaction of the past? Is it ok to commit a tweet to the indelible record while flagrantly disregarding anything that prefaces Sky TV? All of a sudden the past isn’t relevant? When the hard truth is we held on to the past like a drowning goat for 30 years until we won the league. It’s all in very bad taste.


Allow me to introduce the twitter-verse to Bruce Grobbelaar, trendsetter, the original of the species, the Bowie of keepers. The guy who made goalkeepers interesting and relevant. I think it’s fair to say pre-Brucie goalkeepers were steadfast reliable team members who operated within a defined workspace. They were the last line and rarely if ever got involved in the beautiful art of playing football.


To add some colour, this is a time when any player could pass the ball back to the keeper and he’d pick it up. Game would effectively reset and lose all flow. Not with our Brucie though. He played as an auxiliary centre half at times. He was truly an integral part of the brand of football that was synonymous with that generation that repeatedly won.


Even Manuel Neuer who is lauded as the inaugural sweeper keeper. He is merely basking in the reflected glory of the Zimbabwean stopper. Grobb did it all 20 years previous and for the best team in the world who won everything.


Grobb was not a stand out individual, he wasn’t the quintessential Fifa stereo typical No.1 (A Gordon Banks type of tool). He didn’t fit the mould, in fact he not only broke the mould but formed an improved version of a goalkeeper. He single handily refined what was possible for any team lucky enough to have a keeper who was blessed with ubiquitous talent. Grobb was the corner stone with Hansen and both were a part of the Liverpool defence that is lauded as the greatest ever. Hansen, Lawrenson, Nicol et al all loved him equally. He may have seemed erratic to the casual observer but to his team mates they trusted him implicitly. He was beautifully imperfect and predictably unpredictable. Commentators and more widely the football media castigated him regularly and focused on is antics rather than his defensive prowess. So why he was almost a caricature to the media? When he was trusted repeatedly by successive managers. The reasons are wide and varied but what I will say is they are still doing it today with Liverpool players, African footballers particularly.

For Liverpool’s press department to laud Allison as a trendsetter is to diminish Brucie. Maybe one tweet but a media onslaught is just uncomfortable. It’s a horrible slight on his achievements, to malign a six times league winner is wrong and it smacks of a whitewashing of his legacy. How often is he mentioned by anyone at the club? Almost never.

Unbelievably from our modern and informed perspective, Grobb was accused of match fixing in 1994 but the allegations pertained to his time as a Liverpool player. The Sun Newspaper made these allegations. As crazy as it sounds now, that rags report propagated a legal case where he was eventually found not guilty. So naturally he sought damages through a defamation case which he won. However following an appeal the Sun still lost but the presiding judge awarded Grobb £1 in damages and ordered him to pay The Suns legal costs? Without dissecting the case and just gathering an opinion form the legal outcome. Grobb was stitched up by the sun and the legal establishment. Sounds familiar, right?


Undoubtedly this has tarnished his legacy and has left a sour taste. The club however should rise above this and give the guy the plaudits and legendary status that he deserves. The truth is, world football owes him a debt of gratitude.


All half decent keepers get it, they understand his impact on their niche profession. A South African born, Zimbabwean citizen who Liverpool signed from Vancouver White Caps changed goalkeeping and football on his own. He did it his way, without accolades from the institutions who govern the game.


Grobb was as blessed with equal amounts of natural ability as any of the greats of world football. Having said that he was fucking crazy to boot.


His spaghetti legs antics in the ‘84 European cup finals which Dudek repeated in 2005 is his biggest lasting impact for most, sadly this maligns his true impact on the game.

There will never be another like him. He set the trend from which all modern goalkeepers are reaping the rewards. As newton told us, we progress and advance because we are standing on the shoulders of giants.

As you were NG x

Neil Gray

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