Howard Kendall: A Mersey Great
May 22nd 1946 – October 17 2015
I have been a Liverpool fanatic for as long as I can remember. As a Red I consider myself blessed. Though it’s fair to say I’m dining on slim pickings these days, I am lucky enough to have watched some of the greatest players and managers in the history of the game. Today we said a final farewell to one of them, as we laid to rest Howard Kendall.
As an Everton player Howard Kendall achieved legendary status in the 60’s and 70’s. I don’t really remember his playing career. I do know, from Blues I count as friends, that he was as important to them as any Reds legend is to me. That’s all I need to know.
My memories of Kendall stem from when he managed the club during the 80’s. During the preceding decade it had been easy following Liverpool through Derby matches. Everton didn’t cause me too much concern back then. I would usually go to school on the Monday following the game ready and eager to rub salt into Blue wounds.
All of that changed when Kendall took over at Everton. This was a period when all Scousers could justifiably gloat that the two best teams in England lived either side of Stanley Park. Kendall and Kenny gave the city of Liverpool something to shout about during some very tough times. The loss of one half of that double act is felt by us all.
Kendall’s Everton were the worthiest of opponents during the 80’s. It’s a compliment to him to say that he ruined more than a few Monday mornings for me. However that barely does him justice.
Kendall’s achievements in football go beyond getting one over on the old enemy. He took an under-performing team, living in the shadow of it’s neighbour, and transformed them into a force. In that sense he can be compared to our own Bill Shankly. Kendall won two League Titles, an FA Cup and the European Cup winners Cup in just 6 years; a truly magnificent achievement.
Howard Kendall is undoubtedly Everton’s greatest manager, at least in my lifetime. He may have been from Durham, but he is now part of the fabric of Merseyside’s sporting history. This isn’t sentimentality. It’s just how it is.
As a football fan I know what Evertonians are feeling today. Red or Blue, we are threads woven into the same cloth and we understand how important people like Kendall are to our heritage. In Liverpool today both sides of the divide have lost a piece of their history and the city is a sadder place for it.
Rest in peace Howard Kendall you were a very worthy adversary and a footballing great.