Author Topic: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries  (Read 11369 times)

Offline ScouserAtHeart

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Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« on: September 3, 2011, 07:44:07 AM »
From the glory years to the Heysel tragedy, the Liverpool legend kept a record of his days on the Anfield staff. Tim Rich takes a look:

Professional football should lend itself to diaries.

The normal working day ends at lunchtime. Afternoons crawl by. Once you check into a hotel you never leave except for the bus to the stadium. The mood created by Fabio Capello in the England training camp in South Africa was one of stultifying boredom. When asked how his players might occupy themselves in Rustenburg, the England manger suggested they went for a walk or read a book.

Nobody seems to have sat down with a Mont Blanc fountain pen or, more realistically, tapped some thoughts into a laptop. There have been diaries of a season that formed the basis of Eamon Dunphy's bitterly brilliant Only a Game, which confirmed what many suspect – when a footballer is out of the team, it is in his interest if the team loses.

Mr. Ferguson has written two seasonal diaries. The first, A Year in the Life, is perhaps the finest account of what it is like to be a football manager, from the desperate dash around Manchester for your wife's Christmas present to trying to persuade a youth-team prospect not to become a tailor. But it was written as a commission, not out of habit.

That is why the blue hardback books found in a loft are so precious. The beautiful handwriting belongs to Joe Fagan, who managed Liverpool for two years but was one of the club's bedrocks for more than a quarter of a century.

With Kenny Dalglish back in the dugout at Anfield and Bill Shankly's old traditions of pass and move gloriously back in fashion, it is perhaps fitting that these diaries should form the backbone of Fagan's biography which forms a history of the Boot Room and beyond.

Its description of the place where Joe Fagan spent much of his life is beautiful and evocative. "In time it would become furnished with luxuries like a rickety old table and a couple of plastic chairs, a tatty piece of carpet on the floor and a calendar on a wall that would later be adorned with photographs, ripped from newspapers, of topless models... there was little evidence to suggest this room was even part of a football club."

"They always call it Shankly's Boot Room but it wasn't," said his grandson, Andrew Fagan, who has co-written Reluctant Champion which comes out next week. "Shankly did not go in it. It was the preserve of his coaches, although I am sure it was 'his' in the same way a singer has his backing band."

If Joe Fagan, Bob Paisley, Ronnie Moran, Roy Evans, Tom Saunders and Reuben Bennett were a backing band, they were The Supremes. Saunders was the only one to possess a coaching certificate but between them they provided the common thread that held Liverpool together for almost 40 years.

Each man filled a specific role. Paisley was a tactician who had an eye for spotting a transfer target. Moran was an enforcer, Bennett, who was closest to Shankly, the link to the manager. Fagan, in Evans' words, was "the glue that held everything together".

Fagan, however inadvertently, could claim to have founded the Boot Room in as much as he took delivery of crates of Guinness, given as a thank-you from the brewery's team, which he sometimes coached. There was nowhere to store it, so he put it where the boots were kept and the supply of drink made it Anfield's common room.

Like Shankly and Paisley, Fagan lived modestly. "The only way you would know he was a football man was if you looked at the mantelpiece and saw the odd medal," said Andrew. "You'd sometimes stumble across a massive bottle of champagne or Bell's whisky from his manager-of-the-month days." Paisley's house was awash with the stuff.

"The diaries began as training manuals. They would never, ever have used the term sports science but it almost is. They noted every training session. And, if a player pulled a hamstring, they could cross-reference to the conditions or the pitch and see if there was a connection.

"Both Bob Paisley and my granddad trained as physios and they took that part of it very seriously. Kevin Keegan told me that when he picked up an injury shortly after buying a new car, Bob and my granddad almost literally took the car apart looking for reasons why he had a strained hamstring. They became convinced it was to do with the clutch. That's how much detail they went into.

"As his career went on the diaries became more expressive and contained more of his thoughts. As a manager he was slightly pessimistic. I think they all were to a certain degree, which I put a bit down to them having been in the war.

"They expected things to go badly and were pleasantly surprised when they didn't. Paisley was very much

the same. Outwardly, to the Liverpool public, they were constant optimists but not in private."

It was while Paisley was manager that Fagan's influence grew. By Boxing Day 1981 the regime seemed gripped by crisis. Liverpool had lost the championship to Aston Villa in May and a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City at Anfield saw them fall to 12th.

Fagan recorded in his diary: "Dismal, not up to the standards we require. I would say two blokes in our team are playing to their ability. The rest? No."

On the Monday at Anfield he tore into the team. The tirade was so powerful because Fagan was rarely angry. Gary Neville said the Manchester United dressing room could expect to receive the full Ferguson hairdryer treatment around three or four times a season. Any more and it would start to lose its impact.

Sometimes, Fagan could sense things going wrong. In 1977 Liverpool might have won the Treble had they not lost the FA Cup final to Manchester United. "Training was bloody awful," Fagan noted before they travelled to London. "The lads had two meetings about [personal] arrangements for Wembley and then came out expecting an easy-osey time. They didn't get it. I bollocked them and told them it was football that counts not bloody tickets."

"He didn't really want to be manager," says Andrew. "He didn't want to let anyone down and he knew, too, that if someone else had come in, they might have brought in their own backroom staff. The Boot Room might have gone and these were the people he had closest in his head."

His diary for his first day as manager in 1983 is disarming. "Nothing startling happened," he wrote before turning his attention to his first press conference. "Don't know whether I said the right things but I tried to! I have got to get used to it but I have said this before, what appears in cold print isn't necessarily what you actually say."

Andrew says: "When he did become manager some of the things he was concerned about and mentioned in his diaries – like dealing with the press – faded away. He was better at it than he expected. He played it quite well. He wasn't that comfortable with being in the manager's office after everyone else had gone home. It was then that he felt the sense of responsibility, the difference between being the assistant and the main man."

It was especially true of his wearing, sandpaper-like relationship with Craig Johnston, although there were some advantages to being promoted from assistant. "When it was announced my granddad was going to become manager, Graeme Souness got the players together and said: 'We are not going to let this man down. Nothing is going to go wrong this season'. And it didn't."

There are two photographs in the book that sum up Fagan's two seasons at the helm. The first is the one with him sitting by a swimming pool in Rome, with the 1984 European Cup at his feet, like an Oscar-winner in Beverly Hills.

Then there is the one of him arriving at Speke Airport, a year later, his face dissolving into tears after the other European Cup final in Brussels, unable to cope with the knowledge that 39 – mostly Juventus – fans had been killed in what was his final match as Liverpool manager.

He had been exhausted by the two years at Anfield – Mark Lawrenson said he suddenly looked very old as Liverpool, without Souness, made an insipid defence of their title. He had asked to step down before Heysel, a match that cast its long shadow over him.

"He found it incomprehensible. He lived with it all it his life," says his grandson. "He had served in the Royal Navy during the war, he understood what was a game and what was not. From what I am told he never really talked about it at home, he simply carried it with him."

The shame was all-consuming at a time when unemployment on Merseyside stood at 25 per cent. These were the years of Boys from the Blackstuff; of Julie Walters' plaintive cry in Educating Rita: "There must be other songs to sing"; of a city turning in despair to the sleek, suited gangsters of the Militant Tendency.

Due to the times, attendances at Anfield were significantly less for the Treble season of 1983-84 than they had been in 1958-59 when Fagan joined a Liverpool rusting in the Second Division. The quality of the football in Liverpool had risen above it. From 1978-1989, which roughly coincided with the years of Margaret Thatcher's Britain, the championship left the city only once. That pride was cracked by Heysel.

It is, however, the previous season – 1983-84– for which Fagan should be remembered. Dalglish says it is easier to win the European Cup now than it was before it became the Champions League. You had to win your own championship to enter, which would have debarred all subsequent English teams from European Cup finals bar Manchester United in 2008. And there was no safety net of a group stage.

English clubs had less money. In 1984 Souness could set himself up for life with a transfer to Sampdoria, who had finished seventh in Serie A. The semi-final was against Dinamo Bucharest, a club that would provide little resistance to the champions of England now but who offered bitterly effective opposition then. Liverpool was a more modest place. When they won the championship in 1984, a box of medals arrived at Melwood and Fagan walked round with them saying: "If you've qualified for one, help yourself."

When it came to the penaltyshoot-out against Roma to decide the European Cup in their opponents' own stadium, Fagan simply asked if anyone fancied taking one. He even asked Dalglish, who coolly informed him that he had been substituted.

It led to two men volunteering whom nobody wearing red in the Stadio Olimpico believed should have taken one – Steve Nicol, who thrashed his over the bar and Alan Kennedy.

The final entry for the momentous 1983-84 season is recorded with typical modesty in the hard-bound blue notebook. "Rome: European Cup final. Won on penalties 4-3. What can I say? Won the big one as they say and rightly so. We were the better team; we just couldn't score.

"Alan Kennedy made us champions with the best penalty he has ever taken. In conclusion, let me congratulate Ronnie Moran, Roy Evans and the rest for their magnificent efforts. Well done the lads. J.F.F"

'Joe Fagan: Reluctant Champion' by Andrew Fagan and Mark Platt is published by Aurum Press on 12 September


http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/found-in-a-loft-fagans-secret-boot-room-diaries-2348284.html
« Last Edit: September 3, 2011, 08:08:44 AM by ScouserAtHeart »
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Offline Banquo's Ghost

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #1 on: September 3, 2011, 08:03:26 AM »
Wonderful stuff and a wonderful man.

Broke my heart to see him after Heysel.
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Offline Ecuared

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #2 on: September 3, 2011, 08:04:20 AM »
Brilliant.
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Offline Manila Vanilla

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #3 on: September 3, 2011, 08:11:47 AM »
The most telling thing is that nobody knew they existed.

Somebody with that pedigree in today's game would immediately be looking for a hefty advance from a publisher and selling serialisation rights to one of the Sundays.

A mark of the man's modesty.

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #4 on: September 3, 2011, 08:18:32 AM »
Beat me to it - just saw Olly Kay's comment on it. The lad who wrote it sounded like a nice fella on TAW.

Offline No666

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #5 on: September 3, 2011, 08:20:04 AM »
Fascinating yet oddly not a surprise. Thanks for posting.
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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #6 on: September 3, 2011, 08:26:57 AM »
Really interesting read, I didn't know much about him before reading that apart from him being part of the boot room and having been in charge for a short spell. Sounds like a very modest and humble man, same as shankly and others associated with that era. I think that's something that is missing in many clubs but is definitely something we've got back with Kenny.

Offline Murpheus

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #7 on: September 3, 2011, 08:29:48 AM »
Really enjoyed that. Thanks.
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Offline Wingman

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #8 on: September 3, 2011, 08:33:19 AM »
He may have only been the gaffer for two years (and sandwiched in history between Paisley and Dalglish) but he'll never be forgotten at LFC. The 83-84 side were superb and it was very hard for a 10 year old to understand how they could lose to Brighton in the FA Cup

Offline conman

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #9 on: September 3, 2011, 08:41:58 AM »
would be a wonderful read. I didnt know anything like this existed.
Have always greatly admired Joe Fagan.

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #10 on: September 3, 2011, 08:45:31 AM »
Really looking forward to getting this book
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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #11 on: September 3, 2011, 08:46:12 AM »
Beat me to it - just saw Olly Kay's comment on it. The lad who wrote it sounded like a nice fella on TAW.

Mark is a great fella, Roy. Helped me settle in at .tv as a 20-year-old despite me being absolute garbage.

As Roy allluded to, there's an interview with the author on this week's Anfield Wrap podcast. Give it a download and listen.

Offline Dingus

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #12 on: September 3, 2011, 08:49:01 AM »
Fascinating stuff - great read!

Offline subroc

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #13 on: September 3, 2011, 08:51:02 AM »
+1

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #14 on: September 3, 2011, 08:51:07 AM »
really interesting read that, thanks for putting it up!
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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #15 on: September 3, 2011, 09:30:19 AM »
Great read. The man sounds so humble and fascinating as a person.
Thanks that was great read to start the day.
Let's drink to him once more. He was a good Stalker.
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Offline gazzam1963

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #16 on: September 3, 2011, 09:55:25 AM »
Lots of people wont know this but Joe lived all through his Liverpool life living no more than 600 yards from anfield , very modestly even when he was Liverpool manager , the only English manager to win a treble of major trophies and the first British manager to do it , very overlooked in history

Offline Uhoh AureliOs

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #17 on: September 3, 2011, 10:20:50 AM »
A great piece to read on a Saturday morning.

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #18 on: September 3, 2011, 10:29:42 AM »
I once approached him in Tesco Allerton to ask if my lad could shake his hand. He gave me a big smile and said "with pleasure" - I stood back and watched in awe as my lad shook the hand of this unassuming yet prodigious figure of football, never mind LFC.

Stuff like that just doesn't happen to so many people, I could weep just thinking about it now. Amazing.
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Offline Breitner

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #19 on: September 3, 2011, 10:38:34 AM »
Loved that. Always liked and respected Joe, a smart and humble man and one of those characters who are the real backbone of any success
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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #20 on: September 3, 2011, 10:44:19 AM »
thanks for posting that.
its one of the best written articles i have read in a long time.
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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #21 on: September 3, 2011, 10:52:20 AM »
Great read, thanks for posting. Amazing to read these kind of things about the club, the people there and football in general - a world away from today yet so far ahead of it's own time. Plus it's great that it's about Fagan - often forgotten about during that era.
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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #22 on: September 3, 2011, 11:01:57 AM »
Beat me to it - just saw Olly Kay's comment on it. The lad who wrote it sounded like a nice fella on TAW.

Mark is a great fella, really unassuming, bright but quiet lad.

And yeah, he spoke at length about his book on the pod this week.
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Offline Gnurglan

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #23 on: September 3, 2011, 11:02:34 AM »
Good one! Enjoyed reading it.

The part about sports science is so telling. I sometimes get the impression people think Shanks, Paisley, Fagan & Co just threw the ball out to a bunch of good players and that was it. But the more you read, the more professional they appear. There is no doubt they'd be equally successful if they managed a team today.

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #24 on: September 3, 2011, 11:06:22 AM »
Great read that. Joe Fagan, a true Liverpool legend!
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Offline montysmum

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #25 on: September 3, 2011, 11:25:31 AM »
What a wonderful article about one of the true greats of British football.

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Offline JamesG L4

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #26 on: September 3, 2011, 11:27:13 AM »
Due to the times, attendances at Anfield were significantly less for the Treble season of 1983-84 than they had been in 1958-59 when Fagan joined a Liverpool rusting in the Second Division. The quality of the football in Liverpool had risen above it. From 1978-1989, which roughly coincided with the years of Margaret Thatcher's Britain, the championship left the city only once. That pride was cracked by Heysel.

The contrast between the success of our team and the decline of our city during the Thatcher years is fascinating.

It one of the most wonderful things about Liverpool Football Club that so much of our success is down to such down to earth, humble men such as Fagan and Paisley. Men who dedicated their lives to LFC and had no time for the media games or celebrity.

That's why it still feels so right when I look at our dugout right now.
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Offline Daintstar

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #27 on: September 3, 2011, 11:48:45 AM »
Really really can't wait for this. At 19 I obviously never lived through the Fagan years but after being told on numerous occasions what a guy he was by my father I'm looking forward to reading about it first hand.

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #28 on: September 3, 2011, 12:08:11 PM »
Smoking Joe.

This sounds like a fantastic book. Can't wait after that little taster.
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Offline redbyrdz

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #29 on: September 3, 2011, 12:19:52 PM »
I once approached him in Tesco Allerton to ask if my lad could shake his hand. He gave me a big smile and said "with pleasure" - I stood back and watched in awe as my lad shook the hand of this unassuming yet prodigious figure of football, never mind LFC.

Stuff like that just doesn't happen to so many people, I could weep just thinking about it now. Amazing.
There is an older thread here with some brilliant stories of people meeting him. :)
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Offline jack witham

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #30 on: September 3, 2011, 12:25:19 PM »
I was working at Guinness Exports at this time and knew about the supply of Guinness to LFC bootroom.
Joe used to look after us and made sure we never went short of tickets which we paid for.
We made sure they were never short of beer a win win situation all round.
Spoke to Joe on several occasions and he always come across as a really nice man.
Will be very interested to what he has to say, he was a top man.
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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #31 on: September 3, 2011, 12:33:05 PM »
Enjoyed those snippets. One of the old guard who done the job without an agent. Great fella.
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Offline caronia

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #32 on: September 3, 2011, 12:45:38 PM »
I Hope John Henry receives a copy of this book, if only to underline the wonderful legacy that he has bought into.
It shows you, that whilst money is very important in the modern game so too are people like Joe Fagan.

http://www.joefagan.com/biog.htm

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #33 on: September 3, 2011, 12:56:03 PM »
Fagan was a an immensely underrated manager and figure outside of Anfield.

Those books would make a wonderful read in their entirety.
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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #34 on: September 3, 2011, 01:19:05 PM »
Love the article, can't wait for the book.
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Offline redbyrdz

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #35 on: September 3, 2011, 01:40:48 PM »
Fagan was a an immensely underrated manager and figure outside of Anfield.

Those books would make a wonderful read in their entirety.
Not sure about the books to be honest - I think there'll be some really good stuff in them, but I'd imagine the majority of entries is more like "so-and-sos foot still gives him trouble", "players a, b, c badly out of breath after the run", "xxx turned up late" and so on...
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Offline Davvo7

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #36 on: September 3, 2011, 02:02:19 PM »
I remember crying my eyes out when I saw him come back from Heysel so overcome with grief. I knew his next door neighbour at the time and after he retired I asked her to put a letter through his door fro me - just wanted to wish him well and thank him for everything he had been part of. I got a brilliant hand written response; he really didn't need to, I wasn't looking for that, but it spoke volumes for me about the type of man he was that even as he was grieving and at his lowest he took the time to write back to a young kid like me. I still have it, obviously, wrapped in plastic and safely stored away. I will be in the queue for the book as soon as it comes out. So many happy days and so sad that his career ended with those terrible days.
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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #37 on: September 3, 2011, 02:07:13 PM »
I think this will be a good read.

I too remember him coming off that plane and seeing how sad he looked.

I remember the City game too at Anfield at Christmas when we lost 3-1 and were nowhere in the League. I think Kevin Reeves and Francis might have scored and Brucie threw one in, I think Corrigan might have got hit with a bottle too if memory serves.

The manchester papers were full of "The End of an Empire" etc  and then Souey was made captain and we went to somewhere like Swansea who were riding high and nailed them 3 or 4-0 before coming like a steam train to win the title. Happy days.

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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #38 on: September 3, 2011, 06:59:27 PM »
Really look forward to reading these diaries, sadly the likes of Joe fagan who was so impressive not only for his achievements in football but for his modesty and total lack of flashness, look like characters from a different age despite being in living memory for a lot on here. No wonder so many of us feel alienated from modern football when we had men Like Joe to look up to, who did their job well and went home to houses in the same community the fans came from.
 
Apologies for going off on a tangent but in a generally excellent article one thing did jump out to me was calling Militant sharp suited gangsters. As someone who spent more time than I care to recall arguing with members of Militant, one thing they weren't was gangsters and apart from Hatton I rarely saw any of them in suits. A few years ago I got in a taxi and Tony Mulhearn was driving it to earn a crust and talking to him he wasn't living a life of luxury with ill gotten gains but was trying to keep the wolf at bay after being blacklisted for his politics. Despite disagreeing with their politics, with the exeption of Media whore Hatton, most of those in Militant were in it for the right reasons even if their politics didn't work. However the rest of the article was spot on and certainly has me waiting for this new book.
« Last Edit: September 3, 2011, 07:07:29 PM by The 92A »
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Re: Found in a loft: Fagan's secret boot room diaries
« Reply #39 on: September 3, 2011, 07:47:55 PM »
I was working at Guinness Exports at this time and knew about the supply of Guinness to LFC bootroom.
Joe used to look after us and made sure we never went short of tickets which we paid for.
We made sure they were never short of beer a win win situation all round.
Spoke to Joe on several occasions and he always come across as a really nice man.
Will be very interested to what he has to say, he was a top man.
remember hearing a story about how guiness was used to beef up ex players way back...bryan robson was one and i think george best was another...wonder if the bootroom boys used it with our lads back then?...i know during that era ginseng was recomended,maybe vic gill  could back any of that up?
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