Author Topic: #SHANKLY100 Come on Without, Come on Within ...  (Read 6352 times)

Offline Rushian

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#SHANKLY100 Come on Without, Come on Within ...
« on: November 18, 2004, 02:13:44 pm »
Few things can persuade Faith of our Fathers author Alan Edge to break off from writing his new book these days, but the passing of a true hero, Emlyn Hughes, saw him pen this tribute:


It was spring 1967. Morning assembly was just about to start and Bernie Doyle, his head drooping forward like a hanging basket, was holding court. Bernie was a fifth former so tall it was akin to conversing with a street lamp. On this occasion he was comparing the image of a footballer on the back page of the Daily Mirror with that of some obscure figure on the back row of the1965 upper sixth photograph hung on the rear wall of the assembly hall.
"I told you it was him," proclaimed Bernie, nonchalantly tossing back his head thereby gaining around two and a half feet in height and missing by a matter of inches the glass globe light pendant dangling above him.
 "You sure?" We asked, craning our collective necks in a frantic effort to retain eye contact yet offering only token cynicism to his assertion since we all wished his claim to be true.
"Course I am," Bernie asserted. "Look, you can see for yourself. Anyroad, Tom Diggle told me."

That was it. The clincher. Tom Diggle had been head boy two years earlier and lived in the same street as Bernie. It was Bernie's last minute winner just before the assembly bell sounded. It was also enough to launch a thousand similar snatched conversations around the classrooms that morning. By break time, what had started ninety minutes earlier merely as some lofty outlandish claim had now become accepted reality. The Reds' new £65,000 full back signing, Emlyn Hughes, was a former pupil of St Murphy's College in North Liverpool and a tidal wave of  belated 'come to think of it I do seem to recall a lad like him…' recognition had swept pupils and staff alike into a trance of fervent parochialism.

Indeed, no matter how much plain common sense they might have been expounding not even the most resistant of the few remaining sceptics stood a chance against the onslaught of the new mantra.
"But it says he's from Barrow-in-Furness. How the hell would he have got himself down from there every morning?"
"Jeezus! Have you never heard of a train, soft lad? You know, them things that run along a track going whooo-hooo!"

By dinner time that day the fact that Emlyn Hughes had likely never even been past the school on a bus let alone sat at one of its untold hand engraved school desks had become as much of an irrelevance as a Friday afternoon double maths lesson.  The point was this was far too juicy to let a few sobering facts get in the way. Too much basking in vicarious glory was at stake to squash this little tale. He was ours. One of us. The entire school had acquired the outlandish self-delusion of Brother Monk, our French teacher, who had once been persuaded into believing that he'd taught a youthful Sacha Distel on a school exchange.

That coming Saturday it was Emlyn's home debut against Stoke City. It was the signal for the red half of the school to turn up to cheer on their former pupil and embellish the rumour still further.
"Yer wha?!? He went to your school? But he's from fuckin' Barrow-in-Furness yer pillock!"
"I know. Amazing isn't it? Used to come every morning on his bike. Biggest cow horns in the school he had. Gave me a crossie once up Everiss Road. Sound he was."

Oh happy school daze.

And yet no matter how outrageous our schoolboy rumour mongering might have been it was, as it happens, perfectly congruous with its subject matter. Fact was Emlyn Hughes was equally outrageous.

Every aspect of him was larger than life. In an adorable way as far as we Reds fans were concerned, not to mention those legions of admirers nationwide who subsequently followed his European Cup winning smiles and A Question Of Sport antics. The thing is fans crave characters that leap off the pages of the turf they tread and nobody epitomised such bounding notion or motion more than Emlyn. It was to a degree that nobody else connected with the club would achieve other than Shanks himself. In short Emlyn was to become synonymous with Liverpool Football Cub and Anfield.

Indeed it came to pass that Emlyn became Shanks's standard bearer. The passion, drive and belief that Shanks strove manfully to instil into everyone and everything connected with Liverpool Football Club found its perfect natural manifestation in Emlyn Hughes.

In hindsight it now seems little wonder we began attracting legions of fans from all corners of the country and globe. With such a distinctive beacon sending out welcoming signals of bonhomie against a backdrop of red-scarved fanaticism and red-shirted domination the mystery was why every last surviving floating neutral didn't flock to the banner wielded by football's beaming pied piper.

Of course as footy fans know only too well, there are those who can never be beguiled no matter how infectious the smile. Indeed, most rival factions and Evertonians and Mancs in particular were actually repelled if not by the smile then by its whining flip side. And truth was Emlyn could also be a real moanalot.

There is a price to pay for everything and that oft whingeing gob of his was perhaps the price of Emlyn's winning smile. Others understandably cite his political bent. Yet predictably and wonderfully even for socialist minded Liverpudlians like myself none of this was actually any price at all for the immensity of the giant we boasted in our midst. Rather it simply consolidated his outrageousness as he grinned and moaned for us all in equal measures, exquisitely aggravating the opposition as he did so.

From those first tentative baby steps in his debut, when Shanks confounded convention and played his young colt in the left centre of midfield right through to his second raising of the ultimate trophy in club football in 1978, Liverpudlians had a winner leading them, driving them on. Whatever his role, whatever his position it was always the same trusty old Emlyn.

Indeed, the confusion that appears to have arisen since concerning the position Emyln played is no surprise when you reflect on his all action style. For the record he was signed as a full back, played his first seven years in central midfield and his last five as central defence. The picture is further clouded by the fact he played left back for England a position he filled only a few times in a red shirt.

Yet, what drama those stark statistics conceal.

In reality he played all over the pitch from the very start and in games we were trailing would invariably end up as some manic centre forward cum winger cum goal line hero forlornly chasing every last cause there ever was in the faint hope that some minute sniff of a chance might fall his way. And it often did. As fans it was exactly the sort of superhuman effort you craved to see from your heroes. It was just one of the reasons why Emlyn was such a hero and why the response to his passing has been so deeply felt.

As it happens, my own overriding memory is not of his upfield sorties nor of an exuberant Emlyn lifting a trophy. Rather it is of a bemused and sweat-drenched bedraggled defender desperately marshalling his beleaguered defence against a rampaging Ferencvaros at Anfield on a late autumn night in 1974. The score stood at 1-1 and at any moment it seemed our flimsy defence would be breached by these white-shirted maestros seeking their winning just desserts. Yet there always at the very heart of the action was an exasperated and completely shattered Emlyn single-handedly plugging every leak across his back four until he had run himself almost to a standstill and the flood had subsided. That was the man in red we worshipped.

More than any footballer that I've ever seen don the red shirt since I began my LFC stint in the late fifties, Emlyn embodied everything I and every other Red wanted that shirt to stand for. Every surge he made, every lunge he attempted, every ball he belted, every wince he emitted, every smile he beamed, they all carried our personal stamp of approval because he would execute them in the way we'd have all hoped we'd have done had we been blessed with his skill, his ability, his desire, his honesty and the opportunity to do so.

Emlyn Hughes may never have been the ideal footballer as far as the purist was concerned. However, to those who thronged the banks of the Anfield Spion Kop, he was as near to their concept of ideal as it was possible to imagine. Bernie Doyle may have got his facts slightly askew about Emlyn's school attendance record. Yet in a broader sense he got it absolutely spot on. In heart and spirit Emlyn might just as well have attended any school in these parts. His emotional commitment meant he was as Liverpudlian as any. For that wondrous period when he pulled on the red shirt no bigger Scouse heart than Emlyn's ever beat on the banks of the Mersey.

So long our mate; our hero.

© Alan Edge 2004
« Last Edit: August 26, 2013, 01:44:46 pm by The 92A »
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Offline Hinesy

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Re: Come on Without, Come on Within ...
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2004, 02:45:13 pm »
tear in my eye now.
Thanks Rushian and Thanks Alan - good to read your work again.

Top stuff.

Offline Redsnappa

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Re: Come on Without, Come on Within ...
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2004, 04:23:46 pm »
Superb. A fitting and fair tribute to the great Yozzer. Loved him.

Offline nige

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Re: Come on Without, Come on Within ...
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2004, 05:16:57 pm »
Thanks Alan. A great tribute to my  boyhood hero & favourite football player EVER.

Offline The Red artist.

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Re: Come on Without, Come on Within ...
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2004, 12:57:24 am »
Thanks alan,a fantastic piece,got a bit choked  at the end.What a player he was!
R.I.P. Crazy Horse.

  Cheers Rushian                                    Y.N.W.A...........J.F.T.96
« Last Edit: November 19, 2004, 12:59:18 am by willcannhugh4 »

Offline X11LFC

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Re: Come on Without, Come on Within ...
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2004, 09:32:40 am »
Some young lad on .tv asked what Emlyn was like - his dad had told him that he wasn't that good a footballer( :no).  If you don't mind Rushian, I would like to post this (accrediting the writer and original poster of course ;) ) in his thread, as it sums up Emlyn perfectly.

Emlyn drew me into Liverpool Football Club many years ago, he was indeed a shining beacon.

Rest in peace Emlyn, you'll never be forgotten.


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Re: Come on Without, Come on Within ...
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2004, 10:01:36 am »
Great piece, a worthy tribute.

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Offline Timbo's Goals

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Re: Come on Without, Come on Within ...
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2004, 01:37:02 am »
magnificent article
thanks Al - lads in work will love that
the reports and tributes in the Echo were great, but that piece really expressed the feelings of a normal LFC fan who knew what Yosser was about.
A fella I work with was really, really upset upon hearing the news. I'll give this to him - a superb tribute.

Offline cyn

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Re: Come on Without, Come on Within ...
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2004, 02:23:13 pm »
Superb post.

I've taken the liberty of reposting this in another thread on (and not being as polite as X11LFC :) didn't ask first).  Needless to say, it's credited to Alan Edge.

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Re: Come on Without, Come on Within ...
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2004, 11:58:06 pm »
Loved the guy.
Remember his debut as if it was yesterday. Made even more poignant because my dear departed Dad took me there as a kid. Still have the front page of the pink Echo of that day in my scrapbook. Tried to explain to my three lads (all under 16 yrs old) what he was like as a player in simple terms that they'd understand. Told them he was similar to a hyper active Stevie Gerrard.


Offline The 92A

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Re: #SHANKLY100 Come on Without, Come on Within ...
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2013, 01:53:52 pm »
Bump for this great piece by Alan Edge
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