Our football ambassador Phil Thompson hopped on the From The Horse’s Mouth podcast with Paddy Power and Ruby Walsh this week and he recalled the time he got into it with Kop legend Robbie Fowler on the training ground.
When Gerard Houllier and I first came in we gave the players a list of about 20 rules to work with. One of the first things that happened afterwards on the training ground was we’d have four bags of balls with 10 in each of them and they would be on the sidelines waiting when you went out at Melwood.
You’d have the ‘B’ team pitch to the right and the ‘A’ team were on the one on the left, but they lads had emptied the bag of 40 balls and had launched them to the end of the ‘B’ team pitch to see if they could get them into the far away goal.
This was before training even started and who would be the ones to have to collect all those balls? The coaching and medical staff! That’s not right, that’s not disciplined and we put a stop to that straight away. No one was allowed to take any balls out until we had done our warm-up and aid we were starting our session.
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One day, we’ve done the warm-up and all the balls are on the sideline. We were just waiting for Sammy Lee to say what we’re going to be doing. As this is going on, I’m walking across the goalline and I’m about a foot away from the post.
Next thing I know this ball flashes past my nose and misses by a couple of inches.
I turned around and shouted, “Who’s just done that?” and everyone is looking the other way. I shouted again, “Who’s just done that? You know the rules, who was it?” and Robbie Fowler said, “It was me”.
So I said to him, “You know the f**king rules” and added “what if that had smashed a player’s nose, then we’d have a problem wouldn’t we?”
Suddenly we are walking towards each other and we’re squaring up and he said “F**k off big nose” and I was furious.
Gerard Houllier arrived on the scene then and asked, “what the hell is going on here?”. I told him Robbie was out of order and that he knows the rules. So, Gerard separated us and after training he got the staff and players in to ask them what happened.
Houllier then called a team meeting and told Robbie “everyone knows the rules including you Robbie. You are not playing until you apologise to Phil.”
Robbie told him he was not apologising and it lasted for about three weeks.
That was part of the discipline. After about two weeks of it I asked Gerard if I could go to Robbie and square it, but he said, “No, it’s not about you now. It’s not even about Robbie. It’s about the football club now. If we back down now, we’ve lost all our credit in the bank. We’re not doing that.”
Fowler missed out on winning the Charity Shield against Manchester United over it and he was gutted.
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