First Person - with Paul McCabe

Paul McCabe, Fife Free Press
Paul McCabe, Fife Free Press

“I’M going down to Liverpool to do nothing,” sang The Bangles back in the day. Whether they ever did or not I’m not sure, but next week I myself am going down to Liverpool.

However, unlike those lazy old Bangles, I’m actually going down for a reason. More in hope than expectation I’m off to watch Hearts play Liverpool in the UEFA Cup. And it’s a journey 35 years in the waiting.

For some reason there’s a trait (more prevalent amongst Scots football fans rather than our neighbours south of the border, in my experience) that when you’re a kid you choose to follow an English team as well as your main Scottish one.

And mine, in an unashamed display of glory-hunting, is Liverpool. It all started on May 25, 1977 when my Dad let the seven-year-old me stay up to watch the European Cup Final which Liverpool won, beating Borussia Mönchengladbach by three goals to one. Ten days later Scotland beat England 2-1 at Wembley, the winning goal scored by the blonde-haired Kenny Dalglish, instantly propelling him to hero status in my eyes (my dad also managed to propel a piece of the Wembley turf back up the motorway). Two months later Dalglish signed for Liverpool.


That was it, the deal sealed, Liverpool were now my favourite English team. I got replica strips, stuck up Liverpool posters and watched with glee as throughout the 80s they conquered English and European football, especially as they had three Scots in their side; the aforementioned King Kenny, the gangly and youthful Alan Hansen and Edinburgh boy Graeme Souness who came from the same housing estate as my dad.

It was cheating in a way but I could always console myself with the fact that my English team were doing well whilst the Jambos usually weren’t.

When I got a bit older a mini-bus used to leave from my dad’s local heading to the borders to watch Liverpool matches on English TV. No Sky in them days, kids. The 1989 FA Cup Final is a particularly fond memory as Liverpool beat their local rivals Everton 3-2 in a thrilling match which went to extra-time, and I had to hot-foot it sharpish from a pub in Coldstream when a group of distraught Evertonians took a dislike to my over elaborate tabletop celebrations.

The city itself is one I’m particularly fond of when it comes to music. Let’s start at the top shall we? Might as well get them out of the way – The Beatles. Bit obvious, but I don’t care. I love The Beatles. I like almost every song they ever recorded. I like lots of Beatle solo stuff. I’ve even got a Ringo Starr album. Yeah, that’s right - someone has to.

Music scene

Then seven or eight years after the Fab Four’s demise an incredible music scene emerged from the end of punk centred around the club Eric’s in Liverpool’s Matthew Street. It would spawn OMD, Echo And The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, The Mighty Wah! and Dead Or Alive and many others.

Less commercially successful but in no way less influential was the remarkable Big In Japan which at one time included Holly Johnson, future Lightning Seed Ian Broudie and the quite wonderful maverick, Bill Drummond.

Other great bands would emerge over the years - The Icicle Works, The Wild Swans and from nearby Birkenhead, the best of them all, the very brilliant Half Man Half Biscuit.

However, despite my fondness for the city’s football and music, until now I’ve never been. It just hasn’t happened. So when this opportunity arose it was far too good to miss.

Unfortunately it’s just a one night flying visit which I can confidentially predict will mostly be spent in a pub, so there will be little time to go and see John Lennon’s childhood house or Carl Jung’s statue, etc. But I’m very much looking forward to it.

That said, despite this Liverpooly love-in, my loyalties aren’t torn and there is no inner turmoil in any way over this match. I’ll be supporting Hearts and will be gutted when we get knocked out.

Which we will. No doubt about it.