Thursday 2 April 2009

Icons #3 John Aldridge

I got into football late really. I was about 13 and so I pretty much missed most of the Dalglish and Rush years of Liverpool's heyday.  But I got nearly three glorious years of Aldo.

Rush was leaving and Aldridge came in just before the end of the 86/87 season.  He joined from Oxford United and looked the spit of Rush.

From the start of the following year it was obvious that he was special.  Scouse to the bone and a kopite, he quickly struck up a great partnership with the other new signing Peter Beardsley and John Barnes.  They played the best football I've ever seen from a club side that season and it was a shame that squad never got to compete in Europe.

And the goals from Aldo just flowed. 26 that season and the title comfortably won.  The goal I remember best was in the FA Cup semi final.  I remember hearing it on the Radio, a superb volley past the Forest keeper from a Barnes cross.  Watching it again now isn't easy.  The site of the Liverpool fans behind the goal at Hillsborough celebrating a year before the tragedy gives the goal real poignancy.

He scored two more semi final goals a year later against Forest in the replayed game at Old Trafford.  It was one all at half time and I think most of the country wanted us to win the match.  The second half we were all over them and I can recall John Motson saying something about the Liverpool fans trying to suck the ball into the net as we won a corner. And then bang, Aldo headed it in.  It's the only time I can remember being brought to tears by a goal.

He netted in the Final that year too, which sort of made up for the saved penalty the year before.  The writing was on the wall for him in that final though.  Rush had been back all season and replaced him late on and scoring twice in extra time against Everton to win us the game.

Aldo lasted until September the following season before leaving for Real Sociedad.  His last act for the club was to come on and take a just won penalty in the 9-0 demolition of Crystal Palace.  He scored it at the Kop end.  Fitting.

Aldo played with his heart on his sleeve.  He loved and understood what Liverpool FC is and what it means to the fans.  That isn't something you can explain.  A quiet pride I think.  A sort of humbleness with a steely resolve that we will come again.  Aldridge was like that on the pitch and I loved him for that.

Two glorious seasons then and 50 goals.

There's three of his on this goal of the season link I found on youtube, including that volleyed semi final goal from the 1988 semi final.

That's right goal of the season competition.  All Liverpool goals. Goal H won by the way.

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