Updated: Dec 18, 2020
Legendary Red and Head of Pasadena OLSC.
A born and bred Scouser, Eric was married to his late wife Joan for many, many years and they have two lads, Russell and Stuart - both very well know in the Liverpool Fan Community. Now based in Pasadena, USA, Eric talks us though his Liverpool life:
Q. So Eric, great to see you mate. You've been following the Reds for a few decades now. How and where did it all start?
A. Well, I'm originally from Almond Street in Toxteth - I think it was called that cos that's where all the nuts lived (laughs). I also spent two years in Wales when we were evacuated during the war. Back then, all of our dads were away serving their country.
While my dad was away, I loved watching Billy Liddell play so in his absence became a Red. My dad was a blue, so when he came home and found out, oh boy was he mad at me. He wouldn't give me any money to go the match. (laugh)
Q. So what was your first game back then?
My first game was the Merseyside Derby in 1946 when I was nine years old. I was in the Boys Pen and we drew 0-0. Billy Liddell, Albert Stubbins and Bob Paisley all played that day. Liddell was a brilliant player; one of the best ever - as soon as he received the ball you could sense the anticipation of the crowd. His touch, his weight of pass, speed, skill, everything. He was as tough as nails too. Amazing player.
The greats, Billy Liddell, Bob Paisley and Albert Stubbins
Later on, I spent three years in the army, and when I came out I got to see Roger Hunt's first game. Another of the all time greats, a true gentleman and a fantastic goal scorer. He was de-mobbed just two weeks before me. He missed a sitter that day though. (laughs) One of my big regrets is that I've never met 'Sir Roger' - I'd still love to one day.
'Sir' Roger Hunt
Q. Roger Hunt was a hero of mine too mate and my dad always maintained that Billy Liddell was the greatest ever player. So given all the players you've seen, who's your best ever?
A. Well, before I mention the Liverpool players, I'll just mention that we lived in Brazil and Holland for a few years back in the days of Pele and Cruyff, so I got to see them both play and both were simply brilliant. To this day, both are considered all-time greats by most fans.
But in terms of Liverpool players, I'm gonna say a couple who I don't think get the credit they deserve.
Graeme Souness was an absolute colossus in that midfield in the late 70s and early 80s. What a player he was. A true leader, tough as old boots and yet magnificent on the ball.
But I'm going to say Terry McDermott as maybe my all time favourite - such an underrated player who had this uncanny ability to perfectly time his runs into the box and score so many crucial goals. He was like a ghost, with no one able to track his runs; he was that elusive. And, that Tottenham goal! I was there that day with the two lads, Russell and Stuart. I've never seen any other player play the advanced midfield role quite like Terry Mac did.
You have to remember too, with those two in the Liverpool midfield, we conquered England, conquered Europe and teams everywhere were scared to death of us. We were brilliant to watch and virtually unbeatable. That's why I hold the two of them in such high esteem.
Eric's two favourite players - showing off their excellent taste in both haircuts and fashion
Q. Ok, so while we're talking about the great days of the 60s, 70s and 80s, and you observing the Shankly era from the very beginning, what are your thoughts on the comparisons made between Klopp and Shanks?
A. Oh, Shanks was simply the greatest. He started it all. He won everyone over from day one by making it known that he demanded his players work as hard in their job as the fans do in theirs.
He started absolutely everything. Simple comments like 'pass it to someone in a Red shirt' and 'I'll build Liverpool up and up to a bastion of invincibility,' Liverpool were a second division club going nowhere until Shanks arrived and yet he had an unshakeable vision of 'conquering the bloody world.' We owe him everything.
I don't know if you know this particular story, but Shanks once met the Man United team bus as it arrived at Anfield. As he greeted their players he made a beeline for Bobby Charlton and said "Hi Bobby, how are you? I have to ask, are you sick? You look sick. Are you feeling ok?" Now, apparently he really got into Charlton's head who really believed he was sick. (laughs) - and don't just believe me, it was George Best who told that story. Shanks was the master of psychology.
As for comparisons with Klopp, I felt it within two weeks of his arrival. He's the same kind of motivator; he has the charisma, the charm, the drive. He cares passionately about the club, the people and the City, just as Shanks did.
We are, what, 61 games undefeated at home now? That's due to Klopp. He told the fans, 'you have to stay till the end' so now they do. How many times have we won games in the final minutes since Klopp arrived because the fans were there roaring their team on.
Before Jurgen scolded us for leaving, fans would stream out of the stadium as the players were trying to salvage or see out a game. Imagine how that impacts you as a player? He reminded everyone that if you expect a player to give their all, you've got to give your all as fans too.
Did you know that Shanks would, in the very early days, play in Everton's training games to keep himself fit? When he was manager of Huddersfield, he'd even play in Sunday league teams. I know times are different now, but you could see Klopp doing that kind of thing if he was allowed. They are both men of the people.
Q. Couldn't agree more Eric. So, you run the Pasadena OLSC. How did it all come about?
A. Well, my job as an engineer took us around the world, and I spent many years in different countries such as Syria, Holland and Brazil. The two boys are fluent in multiple languages because of our moves, although they've thankfully maintained their Scouse accents and wit. (laughs)
I was asked by my company would I start up a plant in Pasadena, California, so I flew over with Joan to take a look. Joan loved it, so we agreed, moved the family there and we've been there ever since.
Back in the 90s, we'd have to travel nearly an hour to the Cock & Bull Pub in Santa Monica to watch games so we had the idea to get our own local pub to show Liverpool games.
It was difficult back then as football wasn't as popular in The States as it is now. But we persevered and after originally not being too keen on it, we got the people at Lucky Baldwins to agree when I promised we'd bring other fans in. (laughs)
Originally there were only about six of us, none of who were American, so it was our ambition to expand the group and hopefully persuade American fans to join us.
To help get the word out, I started a website in the very early days of the internet called 'The Mighty Reds.' I renamed it to California Reds, and then finally to Pasadena Reds.
We've now been watching the game at Lucky Baldwins for more than 25 years, and we routinely pack out the pub for games. Our Russell got the pub a large screen telly with the only stipulation being that every Liverpool game MUST be shown on that telly. (laughs) Stuart is in Houston now where he's very active with the Liverpool fan groups there too.
Finally, In 2015, after all those years, we finally applied for, and were accepted, as an official OLSC. We have an absolutely brilliant, passionate and die-hard group in Pasadena now. As is typical for Liverpool fans, they're like one big family.
It was a long journey to get to where we are now, but it was worth all the hard work from everyone involved.
Q. Having been there a couple of times for games Eric, I couldn't agree more. So, finally, what are your hopes and predictions for the new season?
A. It'll be tough, because everyone wants to beat us now, but I'm going to predict that we win both the Premier League and the Champions League.
With the excellent additions to the squad and the young lads coming through, we'll have more opportunity to rest and rotate players while maintaining the quality. That's another thing about Klopp - he always has a plan. Other teams buy big names with no plan, but he and his backroom staff are meticulous.
Back when he arrived, and with the limited squad he inherited he went full blown 'heavy metal' football which worked at the time with the players he had at his disposal. But as he's evolved the squad, he's evolved the tactics and the style. He tweaks things all the time and keeps the opposition guessing. As such, teams and other managers can't easily figure us out.
I'd also like to mention the Thiago cameo and how exciting it was. It was like watching Xabi Alonso in his prime. From the moment he stepped on the field it was like he was conducting an orchestra. I can't wait to see the impact he has, because he's another world class addition to the squad.
Then there was Fabinho at centre back. Honestly, I can't remember too many centre back performances THAT good in all the years I've been watching. Even Virgil gave him Man Of The Match. His anticipation, calmness and positional sense were just superb.
We have an amazing manager, a superb squad, and I'm expecting more great things over the next few seasons.
Great stuff Eric. Great memories and a fantastic story. Thanks for your time mate, and I'll see you again soon.
See you at KopConnect whenever it happens Alex... cheers!
FanConnect is a blog series featuring Reds fans' stories from around the world, and brought to you by the KopConnect team.
Alex Malone is a lifelong Red and co-founder of KopConnect, as well as a columnist for This Is Anfield.
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