The sad passing tonight of a truly Great Red, Bobby Wilcox.
Bobby passed away earlier tonight after a short illness,all regular match going Reds will fondly remember Bobby who followed Liverpool the length of the Country and across Europe.
Bobby in Cardiff for the 2006 FA Cup Final
The greatest Liverpool fan I ever knew died this week. I’ll correct that: probably the greatest Liverpool fan anyone ever knew died this week.
As one of his friends put it on hearing the sad news, ‘If Bill Shankly was Liverpool’s greatest manager, and Kenny Dalglish Liverpool’s greatest player, then Bobby Wilcox was surely the club’s greatest supporter.’
It was always a great source of amusement to Bobby and his ilk - the likes of Lenny Woods, Sully, et al - when this accolade was suggested. It wasn’t important to them and they’d dismiss it with a, ‘We’re all Reds together’. Well some Reds are more equal than others; some are writ through large with the name Liverpool Football Club’; some are quite, simply, legendary. Step up to the plate, Bobby Wilcox.
This isn’t an obituary for Bobby Wilcox, the man. I’m not qualified to write that. I only knew Bobby as a Liverpool supporter. It is clear, however, from the tributes being paid from all quarters that he was loved and respected throughout the city of Liverpool. He was truly one of the city’s greatest characters.
Bobby was a giant on the local Liverpool amateur football scene, with over 25 years service as secretary of the hugely successful Britannia FC in the Liverpool and District Sunday League. However, amongst the family of Liverpool supporters, his star shone even brighter. He was larger than life, recognised by Reds the world over, and held in great respect by every fan he ever came into contact with.
Wherever Liverpool played - Wilcox was there. And he wasn’t there alone. Bobby organised travel, tickets and accommodation for countless fans over the years, hauling them to all four corners of Europe and beyond. Without Bobby’s tireless energy, humour and plain silliness many Reds would never have made it.
Without Bobby’s famous ‘Wilcox Tours’ (Never Knowingly Underdrunk) many younger Reds may never have caught the Liverpool bug. Bobby and his famous plastic carrier bag were a common sight, a permanent fixture, almost, at airports, train stations and the football grounds of Europe.
In fact, I believe his carrier bag had been to so many European away games it has more appearances than Ian Callaghan and Phil Neal combined.
Those youngsters that caught the bug whilst under Wilcox’s wing benefited from the experience of his 40 years of following his beloved Reds the length and breadth of the land. A good pal of his wrote this week, ‘What Liverpool Football Club has lost with his passing is a true anchor to the days where lads from our city, local supporters, were given the opportunity to follow their team all over the world, and without that Liverpool loses its soul.’
Bobby Wilcox was as good an example of the soul of this football club - of this city - as I have ever seen.
And that’s what’s so important. Bobby’s legacy is not the fact that he supported Liverpool everywhere they played; but rather the manner in which he supported Liverpool, and the example he was. This is his legacy, not the stamps on his passport. Above it all there was his utter devotion to the team he loved - the team he supported with all the glee of a little kid and all the experience of one of Shankly’s original Kopites.
He was a magnificent ambassador abroad for our club and our city. On a personal level he was similarly charismatic. Bobby would argue with you ‘til the cows came home, then buy you a pint; he would burst suddenly into song without warning, sometimes whilst in mid-conversation with you and sometimes singing total gibberish. He would mercilessly take the mickey out of you then give you a little wink; it was never serious with Bobby.
I’ve heard a rumour that he was quiet once, but I don’t believe it. If Bobby wasn’t gabbling fifteen to the dozen, he was singing; if he was doing neither he was more than likely downing a pint. His singing - alongside his buddy Lenny Woods (The Mulligan and O’Hare of The Albert) - is legendary and he entertained the lads and lasses on many a long train journey, or during many a post-Derby game victory singsong in the pub. Yes, his singing...
Bobby will be fondly remembered as one of Liverpool’s great football crooners, and I will never hear the line ‘His name was Johnny Barnes ...’ again without seeing his face all crinkled up and his eyes glinting behind his glasses, knowing that this was Bobby Wilcox in his element: his mates, a pint and a song about the team he loved.
Bobby Wilcox passed away this week in the Royal Hospital in Liverpool. He had only very recently been diagnosed with cancer and his family were with him at the bedside. He was 60 years old.Bobby Wilcox, 1948 - 2009: Scouser, Legend, Liverpudlian. Rest In Peace. The author, John Mackin, runs the independent Liverpool website www.raotl.co.uk, otherwise known as The Rattle.