The Cutter is launching a brand new series called Amazing Fan Stories and want YOUR fantastic tale. We all have them – a chance meeting with a player or memorable first ever game, a personal recollection out of the ordinary that has come about from a lifetime of loving this mad, brilliant game.
We start off our series with a compelling recital of the time Kenny Dalglish shocked one and all in 1991 by resigning as Liverpool’s manager. Where were you when you heard the news? PJ Vaughan has every reason for remembering it well….
I grew up in Ireland a huge red. As a kid I would see Liverpool on Irish TV maybe three or four times a season but we didn’t have BBC or ITV so there was no Match of the Day or The Big Match for me. I loved visiting my relations in Cork even it meant fighting 5 first cousins – all girls – over the TV or trying to stay up late to watch Match of the Day and trying to convince them to turn over just for a minute, or trying to delay the journey home by any way possible to see The Big Match on a Sunday.
For the rest of the time I lived on newspaper reports that were usually good at the weekend but the midweek papers might only be a few lines and no team line-ups. I spent many a cold night in my parents car shaking (as I wasn’t allowed to turn on the engine) trying to listen to the weakest BBC 5 live reception. I would listen to commentary and the static for a couple of hours and often returned to the house unsure who had scored or even if Liverpool had won. I would have to wait until the next evening to see the paper to fully confirm what I had half heard the previous night.
In February 1991 I had just turned 15. On Saturday I watched a David Speedie inspired Liverpool defeat Everton 3-1 on Irish television. On Monday I had no energy at school and I had to stop playing football after school as I couldn’t walk never mind run. I felt weak and unsteady. I went home and my parents thought I had a virus. The next day I lasted one class at school before a teacher had to bring me home. I didn’t feel good but I had a portible tv in my room probably for the first time in my life and that night’s scheduling was the best I had ever seen. It was the final episode of Cheers and another Irish programme that I loved but would never usually see as my dad would be watching current affairs on the other channel.
That night I was very sick, I vomited blood a couple of times and I had no energy. The doctor called the next day and he said it was a virus. As the day progressed I didn’t feel any better and continued to vomit and pass blood in other ways. At 8pm I turned off the television as I couldn’t concentrate. At 9 I needed to go to the toilet but as I stood up I just collapsed on the floor. I was scared. I felt fuzzy, like I didn’t have much life left in me. I tried to muster any energy I had left to call my parents but the dishwasher was on – it was very loud and my parents were in the living room the other side of the kitchen. After a few minutes I just sat there looking at the door unable to do anything thinking ‘I am dying’.
Suddenly for some unknown reason the dishwasher stopped mid-cycle. I mustered the last bit on energy in me and shouted for help.
My mother heard me and rushed down to see me slumped on the ground. The next few hours were a blur as an ambulance arrived and I was rushed to hospital. The lady in the ambulance was trying to keep me awake the whole way and the next few hours were horrendous as I had tubes put down and up places I just don’t want to think about. I was given the Last Rites and doctors and nurses were panicking and my parents were upset. The next week or so was crazy. I had two life saving operations and got 60 units of blood. I was in and out of consciousness. I would awake and a priest would be giving me Last Rites, waking up with big woollen gloves taped on my hands and I was so hot and so thirsty and begging for the gloves to be taken off and for a drink as all I could see in the distance was bottles of pop near the nurse station. I begged for the gloves to be taken off but they said I kept pulling all the wires off my arms and it was for my own good. I said I won’t do that now but they said I said that last time. I had no memory of that time. All I got was an ice cube rubbed on my lips as I had an operation the next morning. I nearly bit the fingers off the nurse ensuring I got the ice cube: I had never been as thirsty in all my life. I remember waking up during an operation and trying to look in my stomach that was clamped open. All I could remember after that was hearing blurred voices similar to BBC 5 live just without the interference but I don’t know what they were saying. One morning I woke up in intensive care and everyone kept saying ‘He is awake’ but I had no clue they were talking about me.
I was very fuzzy. They wanted me to try and read but my eyes were sore and I wanted to go back to sleep. They wouldn’t let me sleep and kept talking to me and doing tests on me. They kept making me sit up but all I wanted to do was slide back down and sleep. A nurse came and put a walkman on my ears and told me to listen to the radio. She planted them on my head and turned the sound up loud. I listened to the radio but wasn’t fully with it. I would take off the headphones for a bit but the nurse kept putting them back on my head. At one stage I heard a mumbling Scottish accent say something. The next thing I heard was from the newscaster saying ‘and that was the former Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish who resigned today’. I could not believe what I just heard. I called the nurse in distress and asked her about it but she hadn’t a clue and told me it was normal to be confused after what I had being through. She just told me to relax. At that stage I had no clue I had just woken up from a coma. I was confused anyway but hearing the news I was even more confused. I waited a whole hour to hear the news again. I still couldn’t believe it. I thought this must be all part of the crazy dream I had being having. Soon my family arrived they were really happy to see me awake but all I wanted to know was had Kenny Dalglish left Liverpool. I remember the doctor telling my dad he is bound to be confused until they realised hours later that I wasn’t confused and that it had actually happened.
It took me over a year to recover from my illness but 25 years later I still haven’t got over the news reporter saying ‘and that was former Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish who resigned today’.
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