Thirteen First Division Championships, four European Cups, five FA Cups, two UEFA Cups and five League Cups. No wonder they called him ‘Mr Liverpool’ at Anfield and beyond. The great Ronnie Moran has died and Liverpool Football Club and its supporters are in mourning. What a man. By John Maguire.
Ronnie Moran arrived at Liverpool Football Club in 1949 – a whole decade before his future colleague from Glenbuck, Scotland would walk through the gates of Anfield and set about creating a footballing dynasty rivalled by few.
What a life to look back on! Even to closely observe Bill Shankly’s empire being created and maintained throughout the golden age of LFC would be enough to make one’s chest burst with pride. But to have actually been involved, hands on, as player, captain, coach and caretaker manager is such an incredible experience. Ronnie Moran is ‘the fifth Beatle’ of LFC.
As a player, Ronnie spent the first part of his career helping Liverpool find their way out of the old second division and back into the top flight of English football. This was achieved in 1962 and Moran played a pivotal playing role in the 1963/1964 season when Liverpool won the First Division Championship.
When Ronnie’s playing career was petering out, Shankly made the decision to ask him to become a member of the coaching staff, obviously recognising something in Ronnie’s experience, charisma and personality that would stand him in good stead in terms of being a top level coach. Moran would go on to be a significant member of the famous ‘Anfield Boot Room’: the room where Liverpool’s footballing domination was planned, executed and reviewed.
Ronnie saw them all come and go during his time as an employee of LFC: Shankly, Paisley, Fagan, Dalglish, Souness and Evans and was always a fiercely proud right hand man. He stepped into the spotlight on two occasions as caretaker manager, too, with his proudest moment coming when he led the team out at Wembley for the 1992 FA Cup Final watching the reds go on to win the cup from the manager’s hot seat.
I remember reading an interview with one of my own LFC heroes, Robbie Fowler, and he said that even though Graeme Souness was his manager, the biggest influence on him was Ronnie Moran. Robbie told the tale of walking into the changing room after scoring five goals against Fulham… the first thing Ronnie said to him was “you should have had six!”. What a great example of Ronnie always trying to push players to the absolute best of their ability and never allowing complacency to rear its ugly head.
During his time at LFC, he contributed to an incredible gathering of trophies: thirteen First Division Championships, four European Cups, five FA Cups, two UEFA Cups and five League Cups… quite a few reasons why he was christened ‘Mr Liverpool’, coincidentally the title of a biographical book released last month about Moran’s life.
As I woke to the news this morning, my Facebook page was awash with tributes to the great man from both reds and blues alike. My favourite tribute came from a long standing home-away-and-Europe travelling Liverpudlian who recounted his own interaction with Ronnie whilst he was walking along a blustery beach front in Ronnie’s home neighbourhood of Crosby – keen to introduce his young son to such a huge Liverpool legend, they chatted for only ten minutes, but Ronnie’s passion, warmth and love for all things LFC came across in this short time. Happy to have his photograph taken with the son, Ronnie asked questions about the team for which the son had played for that morning, before being thanked for finding the time to stop. Ronnie just pointed and said: “I only live over there… you know where I am, you can always call in and have a chat.” Evidence of there being a significant difference between Ronnie the man, and Ronnie the coach.
As a coach, Moran was referred to using terms such as ‘barking dog’ and ‘Rottweiler’, such was his ‘Sergeant Major’ presentation as someone who you just did not mess with. As a man, Ronnie was humble and approachable. It seems to be the case that many supporters will use praise and positivity to describe their communications with Ronnie Moran – but I’m guessing that there will be certain players whose interactions with Ronnie the coach would not be as positive, particularly if said players did not give 100% at all times for LFC.
Rest in peace ‘Mr Liverpool’ – and thank you for half a century of proud service to Liverpool Football Club.
Ronnie Moran (1934 – 2017)
Pic courtesy JOE