Friday, June 1, 2007

100 Person Who Shock The Kop - NO 26: John Aldridge


At number 26 in our '100 Players Who Shook The Kop' countdown is late eighties goalscoring legend John Aldridge.
Four years after our ground-breaking '100 Days That Shook The Kop', we are delighted to invite you to enjoy our new '100 Players Who Shook The Kop' series – the definitive countdown of the 100 players who have made the biggest impact at Liverpool.

Over 110,000 supporters have all nominated their own personal Top 10 players in order of impact made and now the definitive top 100 countdown is underway.

Every player who has made the top 100 – and there are some surprises in there - will be honoured on this website via the e-Season ticket console with a specially produced video clip, including archive footage and exclusive interviews.

Since 1892 hundreds of players have represented this club but everyone has their own particular favourites so don't expect this list to be based solely on talent. The greatness of a player can be measured in many ways – obviously, his ability on the pitch is the most important, but 100 PWSTK is much more than that. It's about the impact the individuals chosen have had on this club, be it for a variety of reasons. Maybe it was because of their unique rapport with the crowd, a specific incident that has never been forgotten or anything else that has left a lasting impression.

Name: John Aldridge

Years at Liverpool: 1987 to 1989
Position: Forward

Date-of-birth: 18/9/1958
Birthplace: Liverpool

Signed from: Oxford United (February 1987)

Games: 106
Goals: 63

Honours: First Division Championship (1987/88), FA Cup (1989), Charity Shield (1988)

One of British football's all-time great goalscorers, former Kopite John Aldridge earned cult-status at Anfield during his brief spell with the club in the late eighties. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to Ian Rush, Aldo was bought to replace the prolific Juventus-bound Welshman in January 1987 and proved to be every bit as successful in front of goal for the Reds. Born in Garston, Aldridge grew up worshipping the talents of another legendary Liverpool centre-forward Roger Hunt but any hopes he harboured of following in his footsteps must have seemed like a mere pipe-dream as he trawled the local non-league scene with South Liverpool before moving on to Newport County and Oxford United. It was with the latter though that he shot to prominence and his impressive goalscoring ratio for the U's brought him to the attention of then Reds boss Kenny Dalglish. It required a fee of £750,000 to persuade the Manor Ground club to sell their prized asset and Aldridge, not surprisingly, jumped at the chance of joining his boyhood idols. In true 'Roy of the Rovers' style the mustachioed marksman celebrated his Anfield debut with a goal – a fantastic header flying past Southampton's Peter Shilton. His goal-poaching instincts however were not fully utilised until the next season, following the much-heralded summer arrivals of Peter Beardsley and John Barnes. Together, they formed one of the most exciting attacking triumvirates in Liverpool history and Aldo scored in every one of the first nine games as Kenny's side burst out of the Championship starting blocks. He ended that unforgettable campaign as the club's leading goalscorer, fuelling the Red machine's drive to the title and a record-equalling 29-matche unbeaten run from the start of the season. An unfortunate sting in the tail came at Wembley though in that season's FA Cup Final when he saw his penalty infamously saved by Dave Beasant as Wimbledon denied Liverpool a deserved double. His devastation at that miss was only put into context 11 months later. However, the Republic of Ireland international exorcised his demons somewhat with a spectacular over-head kick goal against the same opposition in the Charity Shield a few months later and then responded to the return of prodigal Kop hero Rush with a hat-trick as Charlton were defeated at Selhurst Park in the opening league game of the season. Strong in the air and a selfless forward runner, the ever-popular Scouser had quickly resumed normal scoring business and managed to keep his place in the team against all the odds. Although deeply affected by the Hillsborough tragedy of April 1989, he pulled himself together and embarked on an almost personal mission to win the FA Cup in honour of those who had lost their lived in Sheffield, scoring in the replayed semi-final win over Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford before sweetly sweeping home the opener in the Final against Everton. Sceptics continued to say Rush and Aldridge couldn't play together and, although statistics proved otherwise, it came as no surprise when Dalglish deemed the latter surplus to requirements just months into the 1989/90 season. But with a £1.1 million deal with Real Sociedad done and dusted there was to be one final glorious chapter in Aldo's Liverpool career. It came on the night Crystal Palace were famously routed 9-0 at Anfield. The Reds were cruising 5-0 when they were awarded a penalty at the Kop end and there was only one man the crowd wanted to take it. Despite being named as a substitute Aldridge was quickly summonsed from the bench to face his adoring fans one last time. He didn't disappoint. Calmly placing the ball on the spot before despatching a trademark finish past Perry Suckling. It prompted the loudest roar of an emotional night and even this typically tough Scouser admitted to shedding a tear or two as he threw his boots and shirt into the crowd at the final whistle. His time in a red shirt was brief but he'll always be fondly remembered as one of the Kop's favourite sons and his love for the club remains undiminished. You only have to listen to his radio work for proof of that.

Sold to: Real Sociedad (September 1989)

Claim to fame: Scoring the decisive goal in the 1988 FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest

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