Updated: Mar 3, 2021
Q. Hiya mate, nice to meet you
A. You too mate.
Q. So Paul, tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m originally from Thornton, North of Crosby, born in a house on Edgemoor Drive. I have one sister, Janet and went to St William of York school there.
I then went to St Mary’s college which was a Rugby school – football was completely banned; it wasn't allowed at all so the first proper team I played for was at age 15. But while I was still at school, I got a chance to go to the North East of England and play for Crosby Boys. Mark Hately played and scored against us in that game. The school were so strict regarding football, that they even bollocked me for playing in that game, even though it had nothing to do with the school. (laughs)
Q. Did you ever come close to making it professionally as a footballer?
A. Well, I played for Liverpool B team, but to be honest I was too slow really. I played in a game in midfield with Ronnie Whelan and one second he'd be in one box, and a split second later he was in the other box. He glided across the pitch at real pace and it didn’t even seem like he was running. That was when I realised I probably wouldn’t make it. I still tell Ronnie now when I see him, it was him who ruined my career. (laughs)
Eventually, I ended up in goal. I thought, well, I can’t run anyway, so might as well be in goal where I don't have to.
In the end, I got an official letter from the club saying I wouldn’t be considered next year but that I could still come to training on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which I did. In hindsight, I should have just moved on; If they’d have said a full goodbye I might have gone somewhere else and tried to make a go of it, but it wasn't to be.
Q. So, what were you like as a player?
A. Well, I’m still in touch with most of the lads from those days, and if you asked them they’d tell you I was a nightmare – to play with or against. I was a little bit like Jan Molby - not to his level obviously - but I could pick a pass, kick a few people up in the air, and I was about as fast as him. (laughs)
Q. Tell us about your memories of your dad and the boot room with Shanks, Bob Paisley and the others. What was it like?
A. I was 12 when Bill Shankly retired and my big memory of that moment was hoping me dad doesn’t get sacked. Thankfully he didn’t, and he ended up being with the club for 49 years.
One of the things I remember was that for quite a long period of time Bob Paisley wasn’t going to take the job. Imagine how history would have been changed if he hadn’t! Thankfully the club persuaded him to take it and the rest is history.
As for the boot room, I went there a lot for reserve games with me dad. As you went in the door there was an area on the right for the non-players, so I’d sneak over there and sit quietly. Shanks would come in, then Bob, Joe Fagan, Roy Evans. I used to call them all Uncle (laughs). I think back now on all the photo opportunities I missed!
Q. Great memories! So, what was your dad like as both a coach and a motivator?
A. He was so hands-on, so committed to the club and to every one of the players. He was truly passionate about it.
He retired in 1998 and people sometimes ask me how do I think he would cope in the modern game. The answer is, he’d do brilliantly.
He was integral at the club through the greatest period in its history and he played such a big part in so many different roles across nearly five decades. You have to remember he worked under a lot of different managers and players across the years but the success remained constant. He worked under Shanks, Bob, Joe Fagan, Souness and Roy Evans and coached many of the greatest players in the world.
He was so passionate and loud on the sidelines that some people tell me they remember him swearing at the players, but he never, ever did. In fact he would say that in football, every split second counts, and it was pointless wasting valuable time swearing at players. It’s a myth that he did that.
He was also a great verbal communicator both during training and on match days. Players always knew where they stood because he was always straight with them and they appreciated that. One thing that would do his head in was seeing managers and players writing notes then passing them to each other. It drove him absolutely bonkers when he saw that. (laughs)
One particular story I think sums him up as a coach. Remember David Hodgson in the 80s? He arrived touted as the next big thing, but dad wanted to see more than he was getting from him so he pushed him hard - as he did with all players really. Anyway, Hodgson got in a strop because he couldn’t take being pushed so hard. I remember Jim Beglin and Ronnie Whelan seeing it play out and saying ‘he's not going to be able to cope.’ Well, obviously he couldn't because he left not long after. Graeme Souness once said, “if Ronnie Moran stops getting on at you and pushing you, you might as well forget it, because it means he’s given up on you.”
Just one funny side note about me dad. He was absolutely terrible at remembering people’s names. I know many of us have trouble with that, but me dad was legendary for not remembering the names of really famous and well-known people. We had this agreement that as someone would approach us, I’d whisper to him who it was. (laughs) Being a Scouser, the temptation to tell him the wrong names was enormous. I always wanted to, but never did – after all, he was in control of the match day tickets.
In summary, he was a superb coach, but people tend to forget - or don't know - that he was also a great player. He played 379 times for Liverpool, captained the club and won the league as a player. We won a total of 44 trophies in the 49 years me dad was at the club so that tells you just how successful he was, alongside the others of course. Yet he had no sense of entitlement whatsoever and was as genuine as they come. He mixed hard work with humility – it’s the Liverpool way.
Q. No doubt mate. Class is permanent. So, you ended up co-authoring the book Mr. Liverpool about your dad. Can you tell us a bit about that, and a little bit more about that chippy story. (laughs)
The book was actually written by Arnie Baldursson and Carl Clemente from Iceland and Spain respectively. They were really keen on writing a book about dad’s legacy with the club and I was, of course, more than happy to help. They would email me a series of questions, and I’d respond, so it was all done remotely really. I hope for anyone who reads it, they get some insight as to the honest, genuine man my dad was, and how much he lived and breathed Liverpool Football Club.
Oh, yes, the chippy story (laughs) Well, we were playing QPR away and me and a few mates drove down there, but the car broke down in Northampton. So we had to find the train station, get the train to London, meet up with the Special then got the tube to the ground.
That was an experience in itself, but then of course we had to get home! Some of the lads went back on the train to Northampton so they could get the car. I stayed and tried to find me dad.
I went up to one of security guards near the players entrance and said “excuse me mate, can you get Ronnie Moran for me.” I finally managed to convince him I really was his son, so a few minutes later out he came.
Thankfully, I ended up on the team coach back to Anfield, but before we set off, the players noticed a chippy a couple of hundred yards down the road. Because I’d managed to sneak a free lift home, I was unanimously chosen to go get chips for the players.
So, I had to get off the bus and walk through a load of not so friendly QPR fans. I came back to the coach with two of the biggest boxes of chips you’ve ever seen.
You wouldn't believe it. The players were like a bunch of mad seagulls scrapping for them! Then there was a big scramble for the spare salt & vinegar. This was 1983-84 so there was Bruce Grobbelaar, Alan Kennedy, Kenny, Rushy, Michael Robinson, Sammy Lee to name but a few. Clive Tyldesley was working for Radio City back then and he was also on the bus. I was made up when he gave me a bottle of Carlsberg – until me dad snatched if off me and said. “here’s a can of Pepsi – you’re driving back when we get home.”
Q. Brilliant! Your dad did so much for the club, but what was it like for you seeing him lead the team out for the 1992 cup final?
A. Well, there’d been talk about me dad possibly doing it because Graeme Souness was still recovering from his heart surgery. The club had told him to pack his suit just in case. But we weren’t sure right up until the moment the team walked out the tunnel.
Knowing that there was even a chance, I'd left me mates at the pub to make sure I got to Wembley as early as possible. As you know, the FA Cup was a massive trophy and occasion back then, so the chance of seeing dad possibly leading the team out was not to be missed.
We were actually up the other end of the ground from the tunnel but if you look at the video from the game, you’ll see that dad actually waves to us. Seeing him lead them out was an incredible moment – but to be honest, we were so far away, I was only sure it was actually him because the sun glinted off his head. (laughs)
Another thing is if you see me dad leading the team out, he’s in a suit. But then if you watch the game, he’s back in his track suit. He wasn’t one for the posh suit, so he ran off and changed out of it as soon as he could.
It was such a proud moment for him, but to be honest it was years later when he truly and fully appreciated just how monumental a moment that was.
Q. Ah, mate – epic stories – how about one more?
A. (laughs) …. ok, I’ll tell you about the day I met Jock Stein.
Scotland were playing Wales at Anfield in a World Cup qualifier in 1977. It was mayhem around the ground with drunken Scots everywhere. I remember for the first time ever on match day you could actually find parking at Anfield because none of the Scots were in any fit state to drive.
I went with me dad to the boot room, and I remember sitting on a wicker hamper in the corner. First Shanks walked in, then Roy, then Bob. Normally that was the time I’d get the nod to leave but because it wasn’t a Liverpool game I got to stay. Bill then went out and a few minutes later came back in with Jock Stein. They were all chatting amongst themselves about the game, but as a 15 year old I just sat there quietly.
Anyway, Shanks looked over to me and said “so what do you think, son?” So me, y’know, 15, said “I want Wales to win” – then I pulled up the bottom of me pants and showed them my socks – I had Welsh socks on! (laughs)
There's me in the boot room with two legendary Scots before a vital World Cup qualifier, and I’m showing them my Welsh socks! I loved Joey Jones back then and he was playing for Wales. (Paul had once paraded around the team hotel banqueting hall on Joey Jones's shoulders carrying the European Cup Liverpool had just won for the first time in 1977.)
Anyway, Scotland won 2-nil but opened the scoring with a penalty that should never have been. Joe Jordan handled it in the box, but the ref thought it was a Welsh hand and awarded the Scots a pen. Kenny Dalglish scored the second with a header.
Once again, back in the boot room after the game, Shanks looked across to me and said “so laddie, what do you think?” I replied, “Joe Jordan handled it.”
Shanks looked at me dad and said “Ronnie, it’s good that your lad has got an opinion. It’s the wrong opinion, but at least he’s got one.”
Q. (Laughs) Amazing stories mate. I can only imagine the faces on Shanks & Jock Stein! Sadly, your dad passed away in 2017, but the crowd and the club did him proud with the following home game dedicated to his amazing Liverpool career with the tributes, the mural on The Kop etc.
A. Yeah, it showed just how much me dad meant to the club and how much the club meant to him. He passed on March 22nd 2017 and by a quirk of fate, the next home game was the Merseyside Derby.
Because of the occasion, I was in the Director’s Box, sitting next to – believe it or not – James Bond himself, Daniel Craig. He’s from Hoylake and a big Reds fan. All he talked about through the whole game was football.
Sadio Mane got injured that game and Daniel Craig turned to me and said “that’s a nasty one – it’ll be six weeks that.” So I responded, “oh come on mate, I’ve seen you get shot, then fall off the top of a speeding train and be perfectly ok five minutes later.” We both had a bit of a laugh.
Q. I could listen to these stories all day mate, but I’ll move on. So, being from the same era as me and having seen it all, who are your favourite players, both then and now?
A. Ray Clemence was my first ever favourite player, then Phil Neal, then especially Ray Kennedy. He was a brilliant left footed left midfielder and that midfield of Kennedy, McDermott, Souness and Case was one of the best ever. It had absolutely everything you could want in a four-man midfield.
Then there was the team of 1978/79 – I think that team was probably the greatest Liverpool team ever. Then of course there’s Dalglish, Rush.. I could go on.
In the 80s, I think for obvious reasons I mentioned earlier, I was a big fan of Ronnie Whelan too.
As for the current team, it’s more difficult I think, because they really are ‘a team’ and it’s hard to single one out. But if I had to , it’d be Sadio Mane. Such a great player, a great person, humble, determined. The type of character and talent we love at Liverpool.
Q. Ok mate, last question and I’ll let you go. You’ve been going the match for many years now and I hear you’ve kept rather good records of all the games.
A. Yeah mate… I’ve kept handwritten records of everything; every game I’ve been to, home & away. I’ve got records of all the games by season, who scored, what the score was etc.
I have a book dedicated to each team we’ve played and how many times I’ve seen them (Paul randomly opens one of his books and shows me a page – a handwritten record of all the games he’s seen live against Ipswich Town)
For example, I’ve seen Ian Rush score 246 goals live. Curtis Jones was the 150th Liverpool goal scorer I’d seen live.
I’ve been to 1025 games – we’ve won 660, lost 134 and drew 231 We’ve scored 2095 goals and had 772 against. (at the time of the interview)
Of those, I’ve been to 659 league games, 84 FA Cup, 113 League cup, 101 Champions league 41 UEFA/Europa Cup, 8 Cup Winners Cup, 11 Charity Shields and 8 other proper games. I don’t count friendlies, but I’ve been to quite a few of them too.
that's Paul, far right, in the dugout, age 9
(as Paul is showing me the books, I spot something framed on the wall I can’t quite make out)
Q. Amazing stats Paul! Hey, what’s that in the frame, on the wall behind you?
A. That’s one of me dad’s flat caps from back in the day. We had it framed, and if you look closely, you’ll see it has the words of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ transcribed behind it.
Ronnie Moran's flat caps, one with pride of place on the wall
Q. Wow – amazing. What memories. Paul, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Let’s grab a pint next time I’m home. Any final thoughts before I let you go?
A. Thanks Alex, enjoyed that. Just a final word to mention that the last time me and me dad ever went to Melwood together was in February 2016. We got to meet Jurgen that day and in hindsight I'm just made up they got to meet each other on what turned out to be our last visit there.
Commitment, Dignity, Unity - Two bona-fide Liverpool Legends - how fitting that the words above Ronnie Moran say "be true to yourself and trust each other to do the right thing."
Ah, brilliant photo mate, two Liverpool greats together.... all the best and see you soon.
FanConnect is a blog series featuring Reds fans' stories from around the world, brought to you by the KopConnect team.
Alex Malone is a Scouser, lifelong Red and co-founder of KopConnect, as well as a columnist for This Is Anfield.
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