Trip to Wembley will suit Carragher fine
Published 22:30 30/11/11 By Mike Walters
The fashion police condemned their white suits as a cross between John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever and Romford gigolo.
Suit you, sir? Not really - they were knocked off the catwalk by a Frenchman with an upturned collar.
Surprisingly, the last time Liverpool made it to Wembley, their FA Cup Final suits left a more lasting impression than the barren scuffle which was settled by Eric Cantona’s late winner for Manchester United.
Amazingly for a club whose fans once called Wembley their holiday home - or Anfield South - the Kop have not swayed down English football’s most celebrated promenade for 15 years.
And incredibly, in 678 games, Jamie Carragher - who is second on the club’s all-time appearance list - has never played for Liverpool at the national stadium.
It's a glaring anomaly he is desperate to address this season.
Carragher anchored the Reds’ third win at Chelsea in 2011 - and their second in the space of nine days - to steer them into the Carling Cup semi-finals.
“It’s strange," he admitted. "I’ve played at Wembley once or twice for England, but I’ve never done it for Liverpool.
“When we’ve got to cup finals in my time as a player, they have always been in Cardiff. But now I’d like to do it at Wembley. It’s something I’ve always wanted.
“There’s still a semi-final to play over two legs, so it’s going to be tough. We will take the semi very seriously - as we have taken every round of the Carling Cup seriously this year.”
Carragher, 33, was full of praise for England Under-21 defender Martin Kelly, who scored his first goal for the club at Chelsea, winning a private bet with fellow academy graduate Jay Spearing over who would open his account for Liverpool first in the process.
Kelly had scored in consecutive games for Stuart Pearce’s Young Lions last month, and Carragher added: “He’s a young lad coming through, he’s still learning the game and he can learn off Glen Johnson, England’s right-back.
“Hopefully, one day in the future, Martin Kelly will be in that position himself, and he showed that in his performance at Chelsea.”
Liverpool’s humiliation by League Two Northampton at Anfield in last year’s competition was a low tidemark from which Roy Hodgson never recovered in his short-lived reign.
In contrast, the conviction of their 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday was the latest instalment of Kenny Dalglish’s march on Wembley the hard way - from potential banana skins at Exeter and Brighton to thankless trips to Stoke and Chelsea.
Now they are within 180 minutes of Wembley, and all bespoke tailors’ leave on Merseyside has been cancelled.
But it’s already a safe bet that Liverpool’s dress code will be more sober than undertakers if they make it to the final on February 26.
Those white suits did nothing for their street cred, and in a side which included Stan Collymore, Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Jason McAteer and David James, it reinforced the ‘Spice Boys’ tag attached to Roy Evans’ side.
The 1996 FA Cup Final was also memorable for Kop defender Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock, who was controversially left out by Evans but still walked away with matchwinner Cantona’s shirt as a souvenir.
Ruddock, who had sparked a running battle with Cantona earlier the season after turning down King Eric’s collar, said: “I was walking down the tunnel afterwards when Eric, who could see I was disappointed to miss the final, took off his shirt and said, ‘Here you are, Big Man.’
“I’ve still got Cantona’s shirt at home, which is nice - because when you change the oil on your car, you can use his shirt to wipe the dipstick!”