Young Guns are back with their second album Bones, which they are set to tour extensively throughout the UK and Europe (dates here, including European shows supporting Lostprophets), so Football Burp caught up with the band’s drummer Ben Jolliffe for a ruddy good natter about his beloved Liverpool…
Merseyside derby FA Cup semi-final is on! Are you confident?
Will you try to get a ticket?
I can’t go, we’ll be away! I think we’re in France when it’s on, and we’re pretty much away for the rest of the year so I’m not going to be able to go to any games. I’ll probably have to stream games off my laptop while I’m onstage!
How did you come to support Liverpool?
I’ve always supported Liverpool, right from when I was a little kid. My family generally don’t really care about football, but my uncle was quite a big Liverpool fan growing up and that was enough for me to latch onto. Around the age of five or six I suddenly became the biggest fan – my bedroom was covered in posters, even Liverpool wallpaper, lampshade, bed covers…everything. I used to go to sleep in a Liverpool kit. I was absolutely obsessed. People ask me why I’m a Liverpool fan and I say I don’t really know – there weren’t any good teams local to me, I suppose. I wasn’t going to support Wycombe Wanderers because they were rubbish!
Do you agree with the criticism that Kenny Dalglish has been coming in for of late?
I don’t know. I still have faith in him, still think he’s a great manager and Liverpool believe in him. The players haven’t been that great though, and the last few weeks show that we’ve probably given up on the league. It’s not like we’re fighting for anything in the league any more, and he’s got us our first cup in a long while, so it’s not like he’s doing anything too bad. We’ve been having constant injury problems as well. It’ll be interesting to see what he does in the summer, see if he can bring in the players who’ll get us into the top four. I still have faith, but ask me in a few weeks after Everton have knocked us out and I might say different!
Let’s say Liverpool finish 7th or 8th in the league but complete the domestic cup double. Would that go down as a good season? For 99% of teams, it would be a truly great one!
I think it is now – top four was our goal at the start of the season, but that’s obviously not going to happen now. You can’t really come away from a season with two cups and be disappointed, although I wouldn’t be surprised if we finished 10th or something! It’s a bit of a catch 22, really.
Which areas of the squad would you like to see strengthened?
I think we need a decent winger – Kuyt and Henderson on the right aren’t really doing enough, and Downing’s form hasn’t been too great. Once Lucas is back, central midfield should be quite strong again with him, Gerrard and Adam. Lucas had become a brilliant player, but then Liverpool luck took its toll and he got injured. I guess I’d like to see another striker – Bellamy’s great but he’s always injured, and getting on a bit. Carroll’s just rubbish – I’d love him to improve, but how long can you wait? We need someone who can play off Suarez, who I think is going to be unbelievable at this club, but he needs some support. Obviously Gerrard’s a bit all over the place with his injury problems at the moment, and other than him there aren’t that many who help chip in with goals and assists. So a winger and a striker would be great.
Have you managed to get to Anfield much over the years?
I haven’t really been able to go for five or six years because we’ve been so busy with the band, but I used to go a bit when I was a kid. My grandparents lived in Nottingham, which isn’t a million miles away from Anfield, so I used to go with my granddad quite a lot. These days, it’s just so hard to find the time – I’ll try and get tickets whenever they’re playing away at Reading or someone like that, but even then they can be hard to get hold of. I’m absolutely desperate to go. My best mate’s a Swansea fan so I’ve been going to some of their games over the last few years, but it’s pointless cheering on a team that I don’t really support! They’re my second team though, the team I’d support if Liverpool somehow fell off the face of the earth.
What was the first match you ever went to?
My first Liverpool game? Probably when they beat Nottingham Forest 4-2 at Anfield. My granddad could only get tickets for the away end so he made me wear my tracksuit top and bottom over the Liverpool kit I had on! I missed two of the goals because I went to the toilet twice, but I got to see Collymore and Fowler score two great goals right in front of me. I remember being in a coach full of depressed Forest fans on the way back, and a big Liverpool bus drove past, all the fans swearing and cheering at us, and I opened my tracksuit top to show them my Liverpool shirt! I’ll never forget that.
Finally, if you had to select a five-a-side team out of all the Liverpool players you’ve seen in your time as a fan, who would you pick?
Reina, Carragher, Gerrard, Fowler, Torres. I’d also like to have included McManaman, and also Ruddock just to be controversial. I liked Ruddock.
Ben, thank you.