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Reporter’s book tells story of Liverpool FC’s golden era

A former regional newspaper reporter has published a new book going behind the scenes of Liverpool FC’s domination of English football in the 1980s.

Simon Hughes, left, who used to work at the Crosby Herald, has written ‘Red Machine, Liverpool FC in the ’80s: The Players’ Stories’, which documents the team’s trophy-laden era, revealing a series of anecdotes from the time when the Reds were one of the most feared teams in Europe.

The book focuses on the characters of the players and their stories rather than simply giving an account of what happened.

Twenty-nine-year-old Simon, who is now a freelance writer for the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, interviewed several stars including goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar, Nigel Spackman and Craig Johnston, as well as former first team coach Ronnie Moran.

“The book is not about me reflecting on the games but is more about bringing those characters back to life and what my impressions are of them now as people, and contrasting it with how footballers are now,” Simon told the Crosby Herald.

“There was no Sky TV back then so all my knowledge was based on VHS videos which my dad handed down to me. There were all these characters I saw scoring goals and lifting trophies but that I didn’t know much about.”

Liverpool won six league titles, two European Cups, two FA Cups and four League Cups during the 1980s and can lay claim to being one of the finest teams ever seen in the country.

“The player I enjoyed speaking to most was Michael Robinson,” he added.

“He talks in the book about his insecurities and he was big enough to admit that he felt he was never really good enough to play for Liverpool despite winning a treble with them.

“He really analysed why he didn’t fit in with the social structure at Liverpool at the time.”

He also spoke to one of Liverpool’s greatest ever players, John Barnes, whose silky skills made him an Anfield legend.

“When I think back to the 80s John Barnes is the first player I think of,” added Simon.

“He sums up Liverpool during the 1980s with his personal struggles, triumphs and ups and downs. He was a genius footballer but I think he has been left very frustrated by his career post-football because he hasn’t been afforded enough opportunities.”

Throughout the book, Simon writes vividly about Liverpool in the 1980s when the club’s unrivalled on-pitch success often went hand in hand with an alcohol-fuelled social scene fraught with rows, fights and wind-ups.

“Jan Molby told me the players never drank more than what a normal working man did and said that it never affected their football,” added Simon.

“But when players were playing in the 70s and 80s there weren’t any camera phones so maybe the reality wouldn’t quite be as romantic as we like to think.”

Simon has published two previous books, ‘The Secret Diary of a Liverpool Scout’ and ‘The Torres Story’.

‘Red Machine, Liverpool FC in the ’80s: The Players’ Stories’ is available