An Evertonian's Admiration For Liverpool's Jamie Carragher: Blue, Brilliant & Not A P****
It’s difficult for Evertonians to appreciate any quality amongst those who choose to put on a Liverpool shirt. Of course it doesn’t help that some of their better players over the years have also turned out to be either insufferable p****** or cannibals. But, even taking that into account it’s fair to say that us blues are a little blinkered when it comes to the s**** across the park. I daresay that had Pele signed for Liverpool we’d still contend that he was crap or at least spend an inordinate amount of time highlighting his later problems with impotence.
But despite the fact that loathing Liverpool players is hard-wired into my DNA, one of them has managed to wriggle his way through my defences and gain a modicum of begrudging respect.
This season will mark the final time that Liverpudlians will see Jamie Carragher take to the pitch. And for them I think this will represent a huge loss. In the modern game, where loyalty is a rare commodity, one-club-men, like Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Carragher are thin on the ground. These are those rare souls who seem to recognise that there is more to football than just a pay-packet. Carragher is a Liverpool man through and through, no small achievement for someone who admits to only switching allegiance from Everton to Liverpool in his early twenties.
Plenty of other boyhood Blues have gone on to play for the s****, such as Fowler, Owen and McManaman. But unlike these, Carragher seemed to hold onto his love of Everton a lot longer, which is remarkable when you consider the atmosphere of mutual loathing that now seems to permeate the city. It’s only been in recent years that Carragher has become less enamoured with Everton, regarding them as the team he most enjoys beating. That said, he still found time to score a penalty (own goal) for Everton at the Anfield Road end during his testimonial. Arguably, the slow death of his love-affair with the blues was probably inevitable though. No-one, not even the most ardent of Evertonians could hold-out forever but the fact that he managed to do so for so long earns him a few more brownie points.
Another thing that counts in his favour is his apparent affinity with the Labour Party. There was a time, way back in the sixties and seventies when it was ok for people in football to hold a political opinion. Gordon McQueen, who was a pretty big name in his day, playing for the likes of Leeds and Utd, never hid his left-wing politics, writing articles in the Daily Mirror outlining them. On the managerial side, the likes of Shankly and Clough were avowed socialists, the former in particular incorporating it into his footballing philosophy. Carragher might not share the ‘old-labour’ leanings of Shankly but his support of Andy Burnham in the Labour leadership contest, combined with rumours that the party is planning a role for him post-retirement all add-up to another rarity; a footballer that left-wingers can respect, someone who hadn’t let the greed and avarice of the Premier League to go entirely to his head.
But of course, all of the above would be pretty meaningless if Carragher was a pile of s**** as a player. Over the course of his lengthy career at Anfield, Carragher has been an exemplary performer for Liverpool. He was at the heart of their successful sides of the mid-noughties, forming an effective defensive partnership with Sami Hyypiä under Rafa Benítez. He might have bad games here and there but Carragher has also always given his all, something that has long endeared him to the Anfield faithful.
In recent years, it’s been evident that his pace has diminished and there’s every chance that my nan could probably out-run him. But with age comes maturity and what he lacks in pace Carragher makes up for with his ability to read the game. His re-introduction into the Liverpool side this season has been essential for the s****. Early on in the campaign, Brendan Rodgers’ manic fixation on attacking football created an environment in which the previous season’s meanest defence became one of the leakiest. Carragher’s presence in the back four seems to have restored some confidence to Liverpool’s defending abilities, which has been something of a disappointment for me.
But beyond him being a model professional, a boy-hood blue and a decent centre-half, what I most like Carragher for is the fact that when sitting down he crosses his legs like an 18th century dandy. This little quirk was revealed in the televisual catastro-f*** that was ‘Being Liverpool’. Sitting down while being interviewed, Carragher was filmed adopting the campest sitting position that any man can adopt. And I liked this because it is something that I also do. For many years I have had my sexuality questioned simply because I choose to sit cross-legged and not, as most men seem to do, open legged. I can now point people in the direction of another man who sits as I do. And what’s more he’s a proper man and not some emaciated, effete, shadow of a man like me. It’s the proof that I have longer searched for that how you sit does not determine your sexuality (unless of course you choose to sit on another man’s lap). And for that Jamie, I thank you.