Neil Atkinson’s favourite Liverpool goal will remind you of Steve McMahon’s “elastic power”

In celebration of Football Shirt Friday (raising awareness and money for the Bobby Moore fund) we caught up with Neil Atkinson, presenter of The Anfield Wrap, to talk about; yellow trim on Liverpool shirts, classy Ajax shirts and Steve McMahon’s elastic power.

What was your first shirt?

My first ever shirt comes from the 1985/86 season. It’s a Liverpool home shirt. A usual red and white number but there is this yellow trim on all the white stripes.

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My memory of this yellow trim is quite profound – the sort of thing you don’t notice when you are five years old, watching a football team but when you inspect this sacred thing, this Christmas present you very much notice it. It’s the smallest detail but I remember the yellow more than any other thing about the Crown Paints kit.

What is your favourite ever football shirt?

This is a tough one for me because I oscillate between the idea of specific shirts;

And the idea of shirts which have a design purity:

I err on the side of the latter, the idea of the kit you can rely on. The Ajax kit is the most evocative for me. It’s completely distinctive while being classy and it suits the football they always try to play.

What is your favourite goal?

My favourite goal is obviously and inevitably a Liverpool goal. John Aldridge 1987/88 against Arsenal in a 2-0 win.  It’s all about Steve McMahon, Arsenal are under the cosh and they smuggle the ball away, it is trickling out for a throw in and McMahon sprints to keep it in, bounces off the advertising hoarding, turns back and goes around the first Arsenal player to get to him with this elastic power. He surges forward, ignoring another challenge as basically irrelevant to him and his life. He slips the ball to Peter Beardsley and Peter Beardsley squares it across the box. There is Aldridge to turn it over the line, sliding in back post.

It’s everything football should be in one long section. There’s the desire to keep playing when a side is on the back foot from McMahon. We’re on top lads, let’s keep them penned in. Then the skill from him and Beardsley to bring the chance about. Lastly, the importance of goalscorers.  Footballers who exist simply to ensure the ball goes over the line. There’s little glory in what McMahon does if Aldridge doesn’t score; it’s a bar room tale  in years to come. There’s no goalscoring opportunity for Aldridge if McMahon doesn’t do what he does. And amongst all that is the quality of the link play from Beardsley. This is what a football team is all about. Quality, instinct and a sheer effort of will.

Find out more about the Bobby Moore fund.  

mjmaxwell

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