Jimmy Case is best remembered for a spectacular FA Cup final goal and a deserved reputation as one of football's genuine hard men. But that does scant justice to a career that covered more than 700 appearances for 7 league clubs and did not end until he retired, through injury, at the age of 41. Raised on Merseyside, Jimmy began at his beloved Liverpool, becoming a key player in the all-conquering team of the late 1970s alongside stars like Kevin Keegan, John Toshack, Ray Clemence, Phil Thompson, Kenny Dalglish and his two great mates, Tommy Smith and Ray Kennedy. At Anfield, where he was signed by Bill Shankly and guided by Bob Paisley, Jimmy won a boxful of medals: four league titles, three European cups plus a host of other domestic honours which tell the truth about Jimmy Case - that he had much more than a tough tackle and a ferocious shot. As the man himself says, you couldn't get in that Liverpool team if you couldn't play.His ambition was to play his entire career at Liverpool but fate sent him on a different route: to Brighton, where he almost won the FA Cup; to Southampton, where he played more than 200 games; to Bournemouth; Halifax; Wrexham; and a single outing for Darlington. Along the way he came up against players like Andy Gray, Graeme Souness, David Speedie, Graeme Sharp and Norman Whiteside, often with painful results. Packed with incident and anecdotes, usually funny - but occasionally sad - this is the story of Jimmy Case, a true football legend.
|Publisher:||John Blake Publishing, Limited|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)|
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By Jimmy Case, Andrew Smart
John Blake Publishing LtdCopyright © 2015 Jimmy Case and Andrew Smart
All rights reserved.
WEMBLEY AND ME
I can roll back the film in my mind as if it just happened yesterday.
It is 21 May 1977, and the old Wembley Stadium is rocking. There are 99,250 people packed into the great stadium with its Twin Towers, a sea of red as fans of Manchester United and Liverpool chant and sing, with dreams of the greatest domestic prize in world football ... the FA Cup.
As if there wasn't enough pressure from the crowd and the millions of TV viewers around the world, both teams were desperate to win.
United were hell-bent on lifting the cup because only the year before they had been shocked and humiliated by unfancied Southampton with that winning goal, scored by Bobby Stokes, coming out of the blue.
And we were Liverpool, cock of the North, all our focus on securing a unique treble. Already we had won the Division One title, but not only was the elusive League and Cup double on the cards, four days later we would face Borussia Möenchengladbach in the European Cup final. History was there to be made.
We knew it wasn't going to be easy; there was never a chance of us underestimating the opposition, even though we were the champions. Our manager, Bob Paisley, and his coaches, Joe Fagan, Ronnie Moran and the rest of the boot room boys, would never let that happen. Arses would be kicked if any sign of complacency was shown, but we really fancied our chances.
And we knew what we were up against. United were definitely on the rise again with Tommy Docherty in charge, and they had some class players: Alex Stepney in goal, Martin Buchan, Jimmy and Brian Greenhoff, Stuart Pearson and Lou Macari, with Gordon Hill and Steve Coppell on the wings.
Hey, but we weren't so bad either.
This was our line-up: Ray Clemence, Phil Neal, Joey Jones, Tommy Smith, Ray Kennedy, Emlyn Hughes, Kevin Keegan, Yours Truly, Steve Heighway, David Johnson and Terry McDermott. Substitute: Ian Callaghan.
It was set up to be a great game. Two top teams. For weeks ahead of the final, the media and the supporters had been building it up to be one hell of a clash and all the ingredients were there. We started out as favourites but, as we all know, cup ties can be unpredictable and the Wembley factor just made it an extra-special test.
It was only my second season as an Anfield professional but I don't remember any great worry or nervousness. This was what I had dreamed about as a kid playing in the streets of Liverpool: walking out at Wembley Stadium to take part in an FA Cup final and, best of all, in a Liverpool strip. They had been my team for as long ago as I could remember.
The atmosphere during the build-up was immense, all the hopes and the expectation. We were just twelve ordinary blokes and there we were, representing the red half of our wonderful city, the dreams of the faithful resting on our shoulders. And as we walked into the stadium, the fans surrounded us. I remember one shouting, 'Go 'ed, Jimmy lad, sort em out!' and that type of thing hits home. That was the sort of relationship I always had with the fans: they knew I would give them everything.
As I strolled onto the pitch with my buddy, Ray Kennedy, the sun was beating down. But then again, it always seemed to shine on Cup Final day. I remember as a kid it was always a special day, no matter who was playing. FA Cup final day was a television ritual: watching the teams at their hotels, interviews on the bus, It's A Knockout, wrestling ... Sadly, it doesn't happen now – it's treated just like any other match, really.
But we were buzzing that day. Ray and me looked up at the stands as the fans began to stream in, the atmosphere boiling towards kick-off. I remember we talked about the pitch and how some teams complained it sapped their energy. Ray, who knew what it was like to win an FA Cup from his Arsenal days, just said, 'Only if you are getting beat.' One cool dude was Ray.
The joker in the pack that day, and every other day, to be honest, was Terry McDermott. Back in the dressing room he stood up and did his spot-on impersonation of Bob Paisley – voice, expression, the lot – but always with one eye on the door just in case the boss appeared.
'Right, lads,' said Terry in his best County Durham accent, 'we've got this mob today. You know what they're like, man, they can blow hot and cold. Well, make sure they're blowing bloody cold, man!'
We were howling. Terry Mac should have been on the stage, he was that good.
I was the new kid, really – three days on from my twenty-third birthday – so I left it to the more experienced guys to ease the inevitable tension. And I was fascinated, watching Tommy Smith as our physio, Ronnie Moran, rubbed Tommy's chest and out would come a great loud belch. Just like me mum used to do to our Frank when he was a baby to get his wind up. Tommy said it was to prevent him getting a stitch in his side at the start of the game. Well, you learn something every day.
I sat quietly, trying to block everything out of my mind but the job in hand: winning the FA Cup. I didn't give a thought to the fact that come Wednesday, we would be in Rome, playing in the European Cup final. Say it now, all those years later, and I sometimes wonder at the importance of it all but back then it was one game at a time and I knew I could handle the pressure. It might have been my first full season, but I already had two league titles, a UEFA Cup and a Charity Shield win at Wembley under my belt.
The secret to achieving that level of success was being able to cope with it all and we were good at that: we had played so many high pressure games to win the League and get to this final and then the European showdown the following week. All we had to do was keep it together for two more matches and we could write our own chapter in the club's glorious history.
So no, I wasn't nervous – quite calm, really, even though for me this was the big one, the top of my wanted list ever since those days in front of the telly with me mum. I wonder if today's professionals think the same way.
I looked round the dressing room at Emlyn Hughes, Kevin Keegan, Stevie Heighway, Terry Mac and of course there was big Ray Kennedy, who had already won the double with Arsenal. What was there to be nervous about? I'm not particularly superstitious either, just one little routine: I would always put my shorts on last and that would be just as we went through the dressing-room door. If you were going to have a superstition it had better be something you would never forget to do, I thought!
As the referee's buzzer went, all twenty two players plus subs clattered into the tunnel. There were some nods to pals, even one or two handshakes between familiar rivals, but that was not for me. I never shook hands before a match. That could wait until after the final whistle when, win or lose, I would shake everyone's hand.
As we lined up, my focus was totally on the game. I just had no idea what a bittersweet afternoon it was going to turn out to be for the team, and certainly for me.
It was United who got to play in their home strip but I wasn't bothered. I liked our white shirt with that Liver bird on the chest, standing proud in Anfield red.
You hate the waiting before a big game like that. Blow the whistle and let's get on with it! But Wembley on FA Cup final day isn't like that; there are all the formalities to get through first, and slowly, the tension builds. Then we are on the move, Bob Paisley leading us out alongside Tommy Doc. As we emerge from the gloom of the tunnel, the sunlight is blinding and the noise rattles our eardrums.
We go through the formalities: a handshake from the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and some suit from the FA, then the National Anthem. Finally, we peel away to our respective ends, wave to the fans, kick a few balls. I'm ready. Bring it on!
Bob Matthewman, a good ref, gets it started and we quickly settle into our possession game, building from the back, looking to dominate in midfield. We push United onto the back foot, create a few decent openings; Ray heads against a post. But Buchan and Brian Greenhoff are colossal in defence for United and half-time comes with no goals.
Still, we're happy. The dressing room is buzzing. Bob and his coaches, Joe Fagan and Ronnie Moran, tell us that if we keep playing the way we have been playing, a goal will surely come.
Well, it came soon enough, but not the way we were expecting. The fans barely had time to pick up their pies and get back to their seats before Jimmy Greenhoff headed on a long ball from the back, Pearson gambled and picked the right number, and from the corner of the eighteen-yard box, he unleashed a fierce shot that seemed to surprise Ray Clemence.
What the fuck was going on here? All that good work and we're one down, only five minutes into the second half. It was against the run of play, but that can happen. What matters is how you react. Teams are always vulnerable just after they score and hard and fast, we came back at them. Within three minutes we were back on level terms.
I scored. Me, Jimmy Case, the so-called hard man coming up with a bit of delicate control and then an unstoppable shot from the eighteen-yard line. To this day people say what a fantastic goal it was, one of the best FA Cup final goals Wembley has ever seen ... and in the next breath they ask me what the hell I was doing on the edge of the box, smack-bang in the middle of the pitch when I was supposed to be wide right.
Well, this is how it happened.
Throughout the first half I had been watching Kevin Keegan's movement, especially when our left-back, Joey Jones, got the ball. Kevin would jog along the edge of the penalty area and as Joey shaped to fire in a high ball, he would come short for a chipped pass.
So we're one down and I'm thinking I need to get more involved instead of staying out on the wing all the time. Stevie Heighway gets the ball at his feet and I drift towards the corner of the box, right behind Keegan. We're lined up like two planes coming into land at Heathrow. Steve passes to Joey and Kevin is off, jogging across the box, ready to pick up the expected pass.
Whether United had wised up to the move or what, I don't know, but the plan changed because Steve Coppell forced Joey inside, onto his right foot, and anybody who knows Joey on his right peg, that ball is going nowhere near Kevin Keegan. I just knew he would find me instead ... and true to my word, he over-hit the pass to KK.
I can see the ball arcing towards me as if in slow motion, right onto my thigh. It all happened in perfect harmony, with perfect timing. I cushioned it with my right, pulled the ball down and then pivoted like a frigging ballerina and lashed it on the half-volley. It was like a good drive on the first tee, right out of the sweet spot. Don't bother diving, Alex, no one's saving that. Top corner. 1–1.
Wembley erupted – well, the Liverpool end, anyway. I'm leaping up and down, Phil Neal wraps his arms round me, then raises his fist in triumph towards our fans. It's often been said that scoring a goal is as good as sex. I'm not sure about that but what I can say is that there is no feeling quite like it – the adrenalin rush, the euphoria, the noise, the excitement ... I've scored in a Wembley Cup final ... Get in, you beauty!
No question, it should have set us up to go on and win. United had held their lead for only three minutes, they should have been down and ready to be taken. We rolled our sleeves up and set about them but fate had decided to play a different hand.
Only three minutes more on the clock and United came up with one of the craziest goals ever seen at Wembley. It was a sheer bloody fluke. I have seen the goal about three times and every time it looks worse than the last.
It was a tackle-cum-shot from Lou Macari that was destined for Row Z in the stands when it hit Jimmy Greenhoff on the shoulder and deflected towards the goal and out of the reach of Ray Clemence. Three goals in five minutes and we were losing again. Unbelievable! The Liverpool fans filled Wembley with a tremendous noise as we tried everything to get back at United, but it was not meant to be. And I guess we knew it wasn't going to be our day when Ray Kennedy smashed a shot against the woodwork late on, with Stepney beaten all ends up.
We were still on the attack when Matthewman blew the final whistle. I can remember sitting down on the turf, having given it everything, believing we had been the better team, and feeling bitterly disappointed about losing. No, it was worse than that: I was totally gutted. And let me tell you, back then, losing at Wembley in the FA Cup final was a horrible feeling. That was the nature of the prize.
As I sat on the Wembley grass, deep in thought, Joe and Ronnie walked around, patting us on the head, trying to lift our spirits. There was another big game coming up and we had to be ready to go again. But right then I could only think about the disappointment of losing my first Wembley cup final. I thought about my family watching from the stands and there and then, I made a promise. Like Arnie used to say, 'I'll be back.'
It's funny how things turn out. I thought one day soon, I would be back with Liverpool. In fact, I never thought I would play for any other club; that I would be at Anfield for the whole of my career. But six years later, in 1983, I was back at Wembley, this time wearing the blue and white stripes of Brighton and Hove Albion on the final day of a roller-coaster season in which Brighton had got relegated ... and won a place in their very first FA Cup final.
What a bizarre season that was. We struggled in the League, shipping goals by the hatful, but the FA Cup was different. It started with a win at Newcastle in the Third Round. And who am I up against at St James's Park? Only Terry McDermott and Kevin Keegan. You couldn't make it up. And that was just the start of a whole string of coincidences during that extraordinary run to the final.
On paper, we looked a decent side, with players like Steve Foster, Steve Gatting, Tony Grealish, Gary Stevens, Michael Robinson, Andy Ritchie and Gordon Smith. And to be honest, we weren't playing that badly, but the fact of the matter was that we couldn't string two league wins together. If anything, we were too open and at times defended like a Sunday pub team.
You can't play like that for forty-two league games and get away with it, especially at the top level, but in the Cup it's different. Half a dozen games, with a bit of luck along the way, and anything can happen.
We beat Newcastle in that replay at St James's Park, then we stuffed Man City 4–0, and that's when you start to get a feeling that it might just be our year. Back at the Goldstone Ground, we all crowded round the radio to listen to the draw for the Fifth Round. All we wanted was a home tie. Instead we got Liverpool away.
I mean, come on, play the game! Was Lady Luck taking the piss? Sending me back to Anfield, along with our manager Jimmy Melia, a Kop favourite in the fifties, to take on my boyhood favourites. So what had I done to upset the old girl? Ironically, the Liverpool team included central defender Mark Lawrenson, who had been signed from Brighton by Bob Paisley at the same time that he sold me for £350,000. And it turned out to be a special day in my life. I had had my fair share of unforgettable moments with Liverpool, but that day in February 1983, playing in the stripes of Brighton, is up there with the best.
Anfield was packed as usual for an FA Cup tie in those days. The Kop heaved and swayed, passion flowing from the terraces, which is always worth an extra man to Liverpool. But they were briefly silenced when we scored. Just after the half-hour mark Michael Robinson went through Liverpool's defence like a hot knife through butter and set Gerry Ryan up for a tap-in. Then came the inevitable siege and we held out until well into the second half, when Craig Johnston came up with this amazing bicycle kick to equalise. I reckon that's the best goal an Aussie has ever scored! The Kop roared and snarled, baying for blood, expecting the inevitable victory ... but then I buggered it up for them.
There wasn't long to go and I was just outside the box when a clearance dropped perfectly onto my right foot. I didn't need a second invitation. Bang, back of the net! I have to admit I did celebrate the goal. I've seen players go back to their old clubs, score and then do the whole humble bit, but that's not me. I loved scoring goals and that was a biggie. Coming near the end of the game, it meant so much to Brighton, so no apologies for going off on one.
And the Kop understood. They knew, deep down, Liverpool would always be my club but I was a Brighton player and I did what I had to do. When the final whistle went, the Kopites sang 'Oh, Jimmy, Jimmy' and I gave them a wave. Nice moment that, the sort of memory that stays with you.
Anyway, as I came off the pitch this TV reporter shoved a bloody great microphone into my face and said, 'This is Bob Paisley's last season. Do you realise you have just robbed him of his last chance to win the FA Cup, the only trophy he has never won?'
Excerpted from Jimmy Case by Jimmy Case, Andrew Smart. Copyright © 2015 Jimmy Case and Andrew Smart. Excerpted by permission of John Blake Publishing Ltd.
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Table of Contents
FOREWORD BY KEVIN KEEGAN,
1. WEMBLEY AND ME,
2. FROM THE BEGINNING,
3. WELCOME TO ANFIELD,
4. INTO THE FIRST TEAM,
5. CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE,
6. FAREWELL, KEVIN, HELLO, KENNY,
7. TIME TO MOVE ON,
8. A BRIGHTON BOY,
9. SUPER SAINTS,
10. NEXT STOP, BOURNEMOUTH,
11. TIME TO CALL IT A DAY,
12. THEN AND NOW,
13. LIVERPOOL ARE BACK,
14. WHAT THE OTHERS SAY,
15. NOT SO SUPER MARIO,
About the Author,