Legend’s Trabzon warning

David Fairclough is hoping Liverpool can secure a healthy first-leg advantage in their Europa League play-off tie with Trabzonspor on Thursday and ensure a dampened mood amongst the Turkish fans ahead of next week’s return meeting. The Reds take on Senol Gunes’s side at Anfield tomorrow evening before travelling to the notoriously boisterous Huseyin Avni Aker stadium for the second leg on August 26.

It’s the first time the two sides have met since a European Cup tie in 1976 and though Liverpool progressed on that occasion, the first-leg defeat in Turkey is still fresh in the memory of Fairclough. And the Kop legend is eager for Roy Hodgson’s contingent to quell the expectation levels of the Bordo-Mavililer fans by taking a big step towards the Europa League group stage at Anfield.

“It’s over 30 years on and you would imagine it won’t be quite as intimidating for Liverpool,” he said. “But we know just how passionate the Turkish fans are from recent trips to Galatasaray and Besiktas. “We can’t leave too much to chance tomorrow night ahead of the return. “We need goals and Joe Cole and Fernando Torres could be vital for us. “Joe will be keen to make the most of his game time in light of his Premier League suspension and will probably figure heavily in both legs. “Fernando is still on his way back so the more time he gets the better. A goal would give him masses of confidence.”

The 1-0 defeat in Trabzon 34 years ago was later described by Ray Clemence as ‘the worst’ European trip he endured at Liverpool. Sentiments Fairclough – a 75th-minute substitute that night – can appreciate. “I’m not sure what it’s like now but in those days it was such a headache just getting to Trabzon,” he recalls. “The main runway was that small it would only accept internal flights. “We actually stayed in Ankara initially, where we trained before flying on to Trabzon for the game. It was very much a reduced group that went on to Trabzon, with barely any media and no supporters. “I remember it so vividly simply because it was so shocking. “It was just one thing after another.”

Liverpool were able to turn the tie around at Anfield, winning 3-0 thanks to goals from Steve Heighway, David Johnson and Kevin Keegan. But the experience of the first-leg has left a lasting impression on those in attendance. Fairclough continued: “There’s no doubt the conditions contributed to our losing over there. “As we pulled up to the hotel I remember Bob Paisley coming out with the now infamous words ‘they’ve put us in a doss house. I had better rations in my bivvy in the western desert.’ “It wasn’t the most impressive of places but we had little alternative in those days. We were still finding our way in Europe. “Then the hotel turned out to be right next to a prayer tower. Rest wasn’t really easy to come by.

“After that, there were continuous electricity failures. There are images from the trip of the lads sitting round eating and playing cards by candle light. “I remember going out for a walk with Jimmy Case and Ray Kennedy. There was nowhere to go. It was a very basic place. “We just had to sit around the hotel and bide our time for the game.”


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Filed under Europa League, Liverpool Football Club

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