“I have a story to tell, a unique story…”
Brian Barwick is not wrong.
A Scouser born and raised, Barwick is a lifelong Liverpool fan who, as a child, marvelled at Bill Shankly’s Reds from his vantage point on the Kop.
Later in life, his chosen profession of journalism saw him rise to positions such as editor of Match of the Day and head of sport at both the BBC and ITV, before he became chief executive of the Football Association.
“My first game was October 28, 1961, Liverpool versus Leyton Orient in the old Second Division,” Barwick recalls to Liverpoolfc.com.
“That’s now 60 years ago and during lockdown I thought to myself that there was a book to be written because I’ve been a fan of Liverpool all that time, but I’ve also had some interesting roles to play professionally that have got me both very close to club and also into situations where I’ve had to be very objective about the club.
“I have a story to tell, a unique story, because of how I went from being a small lad who stood on the Kop and went to Melwood to watch the team train during school half-term - where Bill Shankly would come out and have a chat with you - to doing jobs that brought me very close to the club itself and the personalities within it.”
The product of Barwick’s idea is Sixty Years a Red... and Counting!: A Lifetime’s Passion, a new book that chronicles his personal history with the club and how his passion became intertwined with his career.
“I’ve written two other books and co-wrote another, but I think this is the one I am proudest of,” he states of his latest publication, which features a foreword written by Jamie Carragher.
“I thought the best way to approach this would be to do a chapter on every single season of those 60 years, so I set myself a task of writing an essay on each one.”
And, with the invaluable assistance of LFC statisticians Ged Rea and Dave Ball, Barwick did just that.
He remembers the 1960s team of his childhood most fondly and reels off the names effortlessly.
“When you’re growing up they are heroes to you: Lawrence, Lawler, Byrne, Milne, Yeats, Stevenson, Callaghan, Hunt, St John, Smith, Thompson, with Geoff Strong too. Winning the FA Cup for the first time in ‘65 was a historic moment for the club, a special occasion.”
Fast forward a few decades and Barwick offers illuminating insight into how his professional life overlapped with his support for the club.
“I introduced Prince William to the teams before the 2006 FA Cup final and also fought very hard for Liverpool to be back in the Champions League after Istanbul,” he says.
“I joined the FA in January 2005 and in the March, I sent a note to UEFA informing them that Liverpool may win the Champions League but may not finish in the top four of the league. I said I thought it would be wrong if the champions were unable to defend their trophy and I got very dismissive notes from UEFA initially.
“I was also very keen to make sure Everton weren’t disadvantaged by this because it looked like they might finish above Liverpool in the league and they ended up doing so. I was clear in my mind that I would fight the fight for Liverpool, but not at the expense of Everton.
“At 3-0 at half-time in Istanbul, I remember Michel Platini coming over and saying, ‘So the problem has gone away, Brian’. And I said, ‘Well yes, either that or you are about to see the best comeback in the history of the competition!’”
The book comes full circle for its closing chapters, with Barwick again simply a passionate fan of Liverpool.
So, what does he make of the present-day side, Jürgen Klopp’s champion team?
“I think we’re in a remarkable period in our history and I think the Jürgen Klopp appointment was a masterstroke. I think he is a remarkable coach and is absolutely the right fit for Liverpool, both the club and the city,” he notes.
“It’s a great time to be a Liverpudlian... but then I would tell you it’s been a great 60 years of being a Liverpudlian!”
- Sixty Years a Red... and Counting!: A Lifetime's Passion is available to buy online and in book stores now