Author Topic: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)  (Read 17106 times)

Offline kennedy81

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On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« on: September 19, 2013, 02:41:15 PM »
nice piece on Joe Fagan in the Guardian today.
soz if it's been posted already, couldn't find it in the search.


http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2013/sep/19/joe-fagan-liverpool-european-cup





On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan

The one-time Liverpool manager deserves more acclaim having won three major honours in his first season in charge of the club


In a week when the Champions League group stages kicked off again amid a backdrop of reprisals and recriminations regarding the state of the national game – initiated by Greg Dyke's call to arms and hardened by England's recent dour draw in Kiev – it feels appropriate to pose this teaser: Who was the last English manager to win the European Cup? Answer: Joe Fagan. Cue, one suspects, a raising of eyebrows by some and a shrugging of shoulders by others.

It is a curiosity of this country's footballing back story that Fagan, who managed Liverpool between 1983-1985, remains such an unheralded figure. Rarely, if ever, spoken of as one of the greats and practically unheard of by many supporters under the age of 30. This, after all, is a man who 15 years before Mr. Ferguson's greatest moment became the first British manager in English football to win three major honours in one season – the old First Division title, the Milk Cup and the European Cup. Even more remarkably, the triumph occurred in Fagan's debut season in charge at Anfield, and with "old big ears" captured against Roma in Rome. "Football, bloody hell" as somebody once said.

The 1983-84 season can justifiably be judged to be the finest in Liverpool's history, yet even at the club itself there is minimum recognition of the man who led the glory charge. No statue, no gate, not even a plaque in Fagan's name. In fairness, there are tributes to his achievements at the club's museum, as well as a Joe Fagan meeting room at Liverpool's offices in Chapel Street, and having found himself sandwiched between Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley on one side and Kenny Dalglish on the other in Liverpool's roll-call of managers, it is perhaps not a great surprise that Fagan's achievements are not more obviously celebrated at Anfield, especially given the brief nature of his reign.

At practically any other club Fagan would continue to be hailed as a king among princes but on Merseyside he is generally remembered with fondness rather than pulsating adoration. Fagan probably would have preferred it that way given his modest, humble nature, with his only major regret most likely being the nature of his departure from the Anfield hotseat – the end coming amid the tragedy and cruelty of the Heysel Stadium disaster. "He lived with it all his life," said Andrew Fagan, Joe's grandson and co-author of Joe Fagan: Reluctant Champion. "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."

If the end was bleak then the rest of Fagan's time at Liverpool was tinged with a golden hue. The born-and-bred Scouser joined the club as a coach on 30 June 1958 and, following Bill Shankly's arrival as manager 18 months later, was put in charge of the reserves. Having caught the eye of the Scot, Fagan was made first-team coach in July 1971 and following Shankly's shock resignation three years later, became Bob Paisley's assistant.

Paisley's spell in charge was glorious – he led Liverpool to 14 major honours in nine seasons – and it only enhanced Fagan's reputation as a coach and potential successor despite his only previous managerial experience coming with non-league Nelson in the early-1950s. "To Kopites, Fagan's appointment [as manager] felt like an obvious promotion after the successful in-house succession from Shankly to Paisley," says writer and long-time Anfield season-ticket holder Mike Nevin. "In Papal terms, white smoke from the chimneys on the roofs of Back Rockfield Road filled the Anfield skies in no time once Paisley's decision to retire was known."



But as the title of the book Andrew Fagan wrote alongside author and LFC TV senior producer Mark Platt suggests, Joe Fagan did not himself deem his elevation from assistant to manager as an obvious step. "He was very reluctant to take the job," says Platt. "Joe's feeling was that he was so ingrained in the club's rise to champions of Europe that he was almost duty-bound to take the job, especially as he was next in line to the throne. He also felt that if an outsider came in there was a strong chance he'd destroy the bootroom ethos that was behind Liverpool's success. Joe pretty much told Roy Evans, Ronnie Moran and the rest of the staff that he took the manager's job so they would keep theirs.

"The club's long-term plan was to give the manager's job to one of the senior players – Phil Neal and Kenny Dalglish were both in the frame – but they still had much to offer as players so Joe was seen as a more than worthy short-term appointment. And given he was 62 when he took the job, just two years younger than Paisley, that was all it was ever going to be, short term."

It it no surprise Fagan was so protective of Liverpool's bootroom given he essentially founded the fabled inner sanctuary. It was he, after all, who took delivery of the crates of Guinness given as a thank you from the brewery's team, which Fagan sometimes coached. With no obvious place to put the gifts Fagan ended up storing them in the same room as the boots which, holding a consistent and increasing supply of alcohol, became an obvious place for the backroom staff to gather, relax and share their thoughts.

Fagan officially became Liverpool manager on 1 July 1983 and soon two contradictory charges were thrown at him – that he was too soft to be the manager of a team that had to compete for major honours having won three of the last four league championships and three of the last seven European Cups, and that he was bound to succeed given the strength of the side Paisley had left him. Put another way, Fagan could not win or lose.

The soft-touch charge in particular was a myth. The laconic Fagan was anything but, with a host of players and coaches who worked with "Uncle Joe" testifying to his steely, no-nonsense attitude. Neal, who Fagan made Liverpool captain following Graeme Souness's departure to Sampdoria in the summer of 1984, tells a story of how the then assistant manager took it upon himself to hold the players to account after they found themselves 12th in the First Division following a 3-1 home defeat to Manchester City on Boxing Day 1981 . "One morning we came into training and Joe Fagan said to Bob Paisley: 'Boss, you go down to Melwood. I'm going to have the lads,'" remembers Neal.

"Joe sat us all down and had a go at every single player, to Souness, to Dalglish, to me. He said: 'We've had more meetings in the last month at this club than I've had in 17 years. [Alan] Hansen, start heading the ball, Souness, you haven't won a tackle, Dalglish, you should have twice as many goals by now'. Joe was such a strong man that no one would doubt what he was saying. His finishing words were: 'I've said my piece. You're all playing like individuals, start playing as a team. I'm not having another meeting from now 'till the end of the season'. We went on to win the league."

Souness also remembers Fagan as a man who could get his message across "with a single look", a device he may well have used when telling Dalglish in October 1984 that he had been dropped for the upcoming league visit to Tottenham, a close-to-unthinkable decision at the time and one that stunned John Smith and Peter Robinson, the club's chairman and chief executive, when they heard the news upon landing in London for the game having been in Germany securing a new kit deal with Adidas. Liverpool lost 1-0 and Fagan admitted afterwards that he had made a mistake in dropping Dalglish, yet his reason for doing so was sound. The Scot had lost some of the spark that made him the key creative cog of a winning machine and, as Fagan saw it, when Dalglish played badly so did Liverpool.




This touches on the other charge laid against Fagan – that success as manager was inevitable given Liverpool's strength at the time. There is no doubt he was taking over an awesome side, but therein also lay a problem. "Liverpool were so far in front of everyone else, domestically at least, that complacency had begun to set in," says Platt. "They won the title in '83 at a canter and, if anything, it had been too easy. The team failed to win any of their last seven games, losing five, and it was obvious that the players had taken their foot of the pedal. The danger was this attitude carried into the following season, and so Joe's main task was to remotivate the squad and stop them thinking winning was easy."

It helped Fagan that the squad he inherited from Paisley was not only talented but also fully accepting of his rise from No2 to No1, no one more so than the captain. "Souey was a big fan of Joe's," recalls Mark Lawrenson in Reluctant Champion. "That pre-season he called a meeting just for the players. He came in and said: 'Right, we think the world of this fella and this year we are absolutely determined to be successful for him.' To a man everyone said: 'Yep, you're right.'"

The squad of 1983-84 contained seven players – Neal, Hansen, Lawrenson, Alan Kennedy, Souness, Dalglish and Ian Rush – who would walk into many Kopites' "greatest Liverpool XI" and would have been strengthened to an even greater degree had Fagan been able to secure his key summer transfer targets: Charlie Nicholas of Celtic and Brondby's Michael Laudrup. For different reasons neither were signed, leaving Fagan instead to wrap up deals for the young Scottish defender Gary Gillespie from Coventry and the Brighton forward Michael Robinson. Gillespie did not feature until February, in a 2-2 draw with Walsall in the semi-finals of the Milk Cup, but Robinson was prominent straightaway, starting in the opening-day draw with Wolves as the manager opted for a three-man attack that also contained Dalglish and Rush.

It was a tactic Fagan turned to regularly during that season and contradicted the perception of him being an orthodox British coach and of the Liverpool team of that time being less than imaginative. Nevin describes them as "seldom fluent", while in a tribute to Fagan on the club's own website the side of 83-84 is deemed to have operated with "cool, calculating efficiency".

In fairness, the stats back up those assertions. In Fagan's first season, Liverpool won 22 league games, scoring 73 goals and conceding 32, which compares to 24 games won, 87 goals scored and 37 conceded in Paisley's final campaign in charge. In other words, they appeared to have become tighter at the back and less rampant up front. But it should be noted that under Fagan, Liverpool beat Luton and West Ham 6-0 and Notts County and Coventry 5-0 en route to winning their 15th league title and won every European away game prior to Rome, including a 4-1 victory over Benfica in Lisbon. The Milk Cup, meanwhile, was secured with a 1-0 win against Everton in a final that to be replayed at Maine Road after the initial tie at Wembley had ended goalless.

The European Cup final was, as Nevin puts it, "more absorbing than thrilling". Liverpool took the lead through Neal's 14th-minute strike before Roberto Pruzzo headed in an equaliser just before half-time. There were no more goals, leaving the visitors from Merseyside with the daunting prospect of having to beat Roma in a penalty shootout in front of a largely partisan crowd at the Stadio Olimpico. Here, though, came an opportunity for the manager to shape his own crowning moment.

"With exhausted, limp players preparing for a shootout, Fagan played his trump psychological card, explaining to his team that he didn't care if they prevailed on penalties or not after such an epic season-long effort," recollects Nevin. "The pressure removed, enter stage left Bruce Grobbelaar's jelly legs to cause Roman mental implosion."

With Grobbelaar having done his bit to put off the home side, Kennedy tucked away the decisive penalty to crown Liverpool kings of Europe for the fourth time since 1977. Fagan, in turn, joined Jock Stein, Matt Busby, Paisley, Brian Clough and Tony Barton as part of the select group of British managers to have landed club football's greatest prize.




Souness collected the trophy and it was to be his final act as a Liverpool player ahead of his departure to Sampdoria. Platt describes losing the Scot as a "massive blow" for Fagan, the man who was not only his captain but also the driving force of an all conquering side. The manager reacted by signing Jan Molby from Ajax, but the 21-year-old was a different player to Souness and not yet ready to become an influential member of the Liverpool side (that would come a season later when he inspired Dalglish's team to the league and FA Cup double). Soon realising this, Fagan then deployed Lawrenson in centre-midfield before also using Kevin MacDonald after he arrived from Leicester in November '84.

None of them, however, came close to filling the void left by Souness, and with Dalglish suffering a dip in form and Rush out injured until October, the 1984-85 campaign proved a gruelling affair for Liverpool. They found themselves 17th after a 1-0 home defeat to Everton on 20 October, and while Fagan's men were able eventually to string some wins together they could not maintain their grasp on the title and finished second to Howard Kendall's side. Liverpool also lost to another rival, Manchester United, in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Another European Cup final was reached, however, but this, prior to Hillsborough, was to be the darkest moment in the club's history. Rioting by Liverpool supporters in Brussels led to the death of 39 Italian and Belgian fans and a subsequent five-year ban from European football for all English clubs. Juventus's victory was something of an afterthought, especially for Fagan who had told his players before the game that, afterwards, they could call him Joe instead of boss having taken the decision some months earlier to retire. He returned from Belgium a broken man, seen crying on the shoulder of Evans as he stepped off the plane and barely able to comprehend what he had witnessed the previous evening.




It was an awful way for Fagan's spell as Liverpool manager to end and it is further credit to the then 64-year-old that he took it upon himself to speak for the club at a memorial service at Liverpool's Catholic cathedral. "We pray for the families and friends who have suffered through bereavement," he told the congregation. "We pray that the sporting spirit, so treasured on Merseyside, may never be lost to violence or bitterness."

The address characterised Fagan's warmth as a man, a quality Liverpool's all-time record-appearance holder Ian Callaghan saw from the time they first worked together at reserve level.

"Joe was a lovely man, someone who was always around to give you advice and help in any he could," says Callaghan. "I remember once, we were at the Daresbury hotel, where we always stayed before a home game, and I was injured and needed to get to Anfield for some treatment if I was to stand any chance of playing that afternoon. Nobody was around to take me so Joe said he would. We got in his car and, on the way, he asked if I was hungry and wanted to eat something before my treatment. I said I wouldn't mind so he drove me to his house where his wife Lil made me scrambled eggs. That was typical not just of Joe but of his entire family – they were lovely, down-to-earth people."

Joe, Lil and their six children lived in a semi-detached house in Lynholme Road, a short walk from Anfield, and it was where they remained even after Fagan, upon becoming Liverpool manager, was offered a larger place by the club in Southport, Formby and the Wirral. The property became Fagan's sanctuary after retirement, offering him a quiet, family-orientated existence which suited him perfectly. Eventually he became a source of advice and encouragement to Evans after he took the manager's job in the mid-1990s and who looked upon Fagan as a mentor, describing him in later years as the "glue that held everything together" during Liverpool's golden era.

Fagan died following a battle with cancer on 30 June 2001, aged 80. It was perhaps apt given how his managerial achievements were overshadowed by those of Shankly and Paisley that his passing should occur in the same week as the Liverpool legend Billy Liddell and his fellow bootroom disciple Tom Saunders. Once again Fagan did not have the spotlight to himself but the fact that hundreds of Everton as well as Liverpool fans lined the streets as his funeral procession made its way to Anfield Crematorium showed Fagan had left his mark on the city of his birth.

"When you look at the all-time greats of Liverpool, Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley, you have to have Joe up there," said Hansen shortly after Fagan's death, while Dalglish described his contribution to the club as "immense".

From Souness, who attributes much of his success as a player to Fagan, came perhaps the greatest tribute. "Joe was Mr Liverpool," he said. "His contribution should never be allowed to fade from the memory."
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Offline dmorgan

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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2013, 02:45:13 PM »
Quite a brilliant article....and an insight for younger fans like me to the extent of his immense contribution to he club. One of the greatest LFC legends without a doubt

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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2013, 02:55:31 PM »
Wonderful, moving piece that.
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Offline MrEazi1

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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2013, 03:18:23 PM »
Outstanding piece. What a bloody club this is.

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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2013, 03:22:12 PM »
Great read, thanks for posting that, Love Fagan, was a true great and a legend.
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Offline readybreck

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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2013, 04:08:58 PM »
Enjoyed reading that. True Legend.

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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2013, 04:30:59 PM »
I really really enjoyed that.


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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2013, 04:38:34 PM »
Cracking read. Used to walk past his house in Anfield for years (within spitting distance of the ground) without knowing he ever lived there, until the Missus told me. Think I always shared the idea that he was a jovial uncle-type figure, one who the players perhaps turned to if they were getting grief from Ronnie Moran. Love that story about how he stayed behind at Anfield and bollocked the likes of Souness, Neal and Dalglish after the City game in 81. The rest is history I suppose. Still choke up when I see those pictures of him returning from Heysel. Sad end to a brilliant career.
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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2013, 04:41:22 PM »
Joe Fagan; Reluctant Champion is a cracking read. As a 18 year old, the only stuff I know about Liverpool in the past is from my auld fellas red tinted nostalgic versions of events, watching VHS's and reading on places like this. Great book.
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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2013, 04:59:14 PM »
Ive posted this before , even in the early 80s most players and staff lived on the wirral , formby , southport etc
But would often see Joe walking along the shops on priory road , he literally lived a 1000 yards from anfield . Great article that and most definitely forgotten by lots of supporters and to some extent by the club every european cup winning manger should be honoured in some way at the club including rafael benitez , and also kenny dalglish hate the way they wait till someone dies

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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2013, 07:08:19 PM »
We should have big placards above the Centenary stand with the faces of the managers on the European Cup and the year they won it.  Would remind the players about our Glorious History, and intimidate visiting teams.

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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2013, 07:27:40 PM »
We should have big placards above the Centenary stand with the faces of the managers on the European Cup and the year they won it.  Would remind the players about our Glorious History, and intimidate visiting teams.

Or do it with a banner? Anfield isn't the Emirates..

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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2013, 07:36:58 PM »
Wow that's a great article.

Thanks.

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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2013, 07:56:45 PM »
He was the manager when I first realized what a manager actually was, and did. Always thought he gets far too easily dismissed not just by opposition fans, but by our own.
And of course, like so many of our greats, he was at least as good a human being as he was a football manager.
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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2013, 07:57:19 PM »
Here is a link that might be worth a read

http://www.redandwhitekop.com/forum/index.php?topic=280570.0

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
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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2013, 08:03:13 PM »
Great peice, hopefully some of our younger fans will have a read.
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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2013, 08:47:56 PM »
I remember hearing he'd resigned after Heysel - I thought the world was ending.

Wonderful servant, fantastic achievement.

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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2013, 08:58:57 PM »
 A lovely piece ..usually such articles about Liverpool in the so called 'quality' papers are followed  by comments from readers filled with bile...but this time mostly nice non Liverpool comments....maybe, maybe, for once the character of a man like Joe , even after all these decades makes even the most sour Liverpool hater acknowledge what a sound , decent and bloody good football man he was and still deserves respect.
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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2013, 09:11:03 PM »
It's a great article. I read it this morning, in fact I only popped into the main forum to post it but was pleased to see someone had beaten me to it.

It's a shame he's often overlooked (& he is) & needless to say the circumstances surrounding his retirement (not that it caused him to retire) are awful & shameful. But these days fans of most other clubs wouldn't recognise the name of the last English man to manage a side to win the European Cup. That's not right.

 

On a personal note I have a small take to tell...

This would've been around 1981 or 1982 & Joe was watching the reserves, I guess he was running the rules over them on Bob's behalf. They were playing in the northern league at Spotland vs. Rochdale reserves. At the time I lived in Rochdale (blame my parents, I do) & as a young 10 year old I had gone along to watch the game mainly because it was my team, LIVERPOOL.

Anyway, there was me & around a hundred or so other people there & basically no stewards so just before H/T, I jumped the low wall, wandered along the touchline & said "Mr Fagan, could I have your autograph please?". Needless to say, polite & humble as ever, he obliged & signed his name in blue biro on pink note paper.

I kept it in an old travel sweets tin for years & I must still have it somewhere...
@Mal_A_

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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2013, 09:25:34 PM »
Go on then, if were telling anecdotes, circa 1970 I would often go into Melwood with my two cousins ( both Blues!) who lived on Melwood Drive and overlooked the training ground, one day there was a training game on, we got into Melwood and it started raining, they used to have these  wooden 'dug outs' on wheels so we ran to one, two guys where already sat in there watching the game , they budged up to let us three kids squeeze in...they didnt mind...we stayed for a bit then got off, the two guys stayed...then again they where working ..a Mr.Paisley and a Mr.Fagan. Four European Cups.
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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2013, 09:48:42 PM »
Whilst he finished on a low this picture is how I like to remember him....


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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2013, 10:18:42 PM »
Brilliant read, thanks for sharing.

like somebody else said, what a club we support eh?

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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #22 on: September 19, 2013, 10:32:25 PM »
Go on then, if were telling anecdotes, circa 1970 I would often go into Melwood with my two cousins ( both Blues!) who lived on Melwood Drive and overlooked the training ground, one day there was a training game on, we got into Melwood and it started raining, they used to have these  wooden 'dug outs' on wheels so we ran to one, two guys where already sat in there watching the game , they budged up to let us three kids squeeze in...they didnt mind...we stayed for a bit then got off, the two guys stayed...then again they where working ..a Mr.Paisley and a Mr.Fagan. Four European Cups.

Love this.

Great article too.

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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #23 on: September 19, 2013, 10:34:11 PM »


On a personal note I have a small take to tell...

This would've been around 1981 or 1982 & Joe was watching the reserves, I guess he was running the rules over them on Bob's behalf. They were playing in the northern league at Spotland vs. Rochdale reserves. At the time I lived in Rochdale (blame my parents, I do) & as a young 10 year old I had gone along to watch the game mainly because it was my team, LIVERPOOL.

Anyway, there was me & around a hundred or so other people there & basically no stewards so just before H/T, I jumped the low wall, wandered along the touchline & said "Mr Fagan, could I have your autograph please?". Needless to say, polite & humble as ever, he obliged & signed his name in blue biro on pink note paper.

I kept it in an old travel sweets tin for years & I must still have it somewhere...

Go on then, if were telling anecdotes, circa 1970 I would often go into Melwood with my two cousins ( both Blues!) who lived on Melwood Drive and overlooked the training ground, one day there was a training game on, we got into Melwood and it started raining, they used to have these  wooden 'dug outs' on wheels so we ran to one, two guys where already sat in there watching the game , they budged up to let us three kids squeeze in...they didnt mind...we stayed for a bit then got off, the two guys stayed...then again they where working ..a Mr.Paisley and a Mr.Fagan. Four European Cups.

I absolutely love hearing stories like these. I hope others have more like them to share  :)

I enjoy reading anything about the old days at LFC and encounters with the legends; makes me a tad envious as well!

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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #24 on: September 19, 2013, 10:44:32 PM »
A great read.

Was too young at the time to appreciate what a great man Joe was but everything I've read about him since confirms how highly he was thought of and what a gentleman he was. 

I was 10 years old during that treble year of '84 - the year I really got into footie and absorbed all things Liverpool.  I have such vivid memories of watching the Milk Cup final & that shootout in Rome then strutting around in my LFC jersey the next day.

A great servant to the club and what an amazing contribution.





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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #25 on: September 19, 2013, 11:20:15 PM »
What a lovely read, I remember the era so fondly except a minor irk that Joe didn't seem to favour Craig Johnson.

I take it its Mike Nevin from TAW or Em-Nev as Neil likes to call him.

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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #26 on: September 19, 2013, 11:24:04 PM »
Brilliant article.

A good reminder for us auld arses and eye opener for the young uns about the great men who steered the club to so much success. Looking forward to reading more about others like Saunders too

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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #27 on: September 20, 2013, 10:58:10 AM »
That just brought a lump in my throat. Beautiful and moving article. This club is blessed with such people
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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #28 on: May 30, 2014, 10:15:02 AM »
Thanks Joe!
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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #29 on: June 1, 2014, 05:31:05 AM »
83-84 - arguably our greatest ever season.
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Re: On Second Thoughts: Joe Fagan (Guardian article)
« Reply #30 on: June 3, 2014, 12:03:09 PM »
Still the last English manager to win the European cup and will be for a while yet!