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Ex-Red: Stan Collymore

Ex-Red: Stan Collymore
Written by Ste Speed on July 27th, 2007 ▪

Each Friday Ste Speed profiles an ex-Red, this time it’s controversial striker Stan Collymore under the spotlight. At the time he was a club record signing and enjoyed a debut which new record signing Fernando Torres would be happy with, scoring against Sheffield Wednesday at Anfield.

I know what you might be thinking, something along the lines of “why Stan Collymore, he was a wanker”. Well that may be true but his performances on the pitch for Liverpool (especially in his first season) get no complaints from me. He scored thirty five goals in eighty one appearances over two years and he also set up a massive amount of goals for others too. In the two full seasons he was with us his strike partnership with Robbie Fowler was incredibly prolific. They scored over fifty goals between the two of them in both the 95/96 and 96/97 seasons. What would we give now for that sort of return from any of our strikers today? I’m not 100% certain that all four of our strikers last season combined scored more than fifty goals between them.

Stan Collymore became a hot property in the mid nineties thanks to a stunning goal scoring record for Nottingham Forest of fifty goals in seventy one appearances. He was a big reason why they gained promotion to the Premiership and then he scored twenty five goals in the 94/95 season helping Forest finish third in the league.

collymore_evans.jpgHe was signed by Roy Evans in the summer of 1995 for what was then a British record of 8.5 million pounds. I remember vividly when we signed Collymore, we had actually been in a battle with Everton for his signature and in the end Roy Evans had to pay what seemed a ridiculous amount at the time in order to secure his services. I was in London the day he signed and I remember it being the lead story on the radio in the car journey home back to Liverpool. I still recall my dad and I whooping with joy as we were both convinced that this would be the signing that proved we deserved to be back at the top again. This was only heightened after Stan’s debut at Anfield when he scored an absolute screamer against Sheffield Wednesday. Unfortunately he got injured in the next game but when he came back a few games later he scored an even better long range goal against Blackburn Rovers, who were the reigning Premiership Champions at the time.

Unfortunately around the same time we found out about his character as a person too. After he was dropped for Ian Rush, Colly gave an interview to a football magazine in which he slagged of Roy Evans, the club and the Liverpool backroom staff. This was a massive story at the time & dominated the back pages of the newspapers for about a week. To be honest at the time I really thought we should have gotten rid of him there and then. However he was able to move forward from then on after settling his difference’s with Evans, and ended up scoring quite prolifically for the rest of the season. His best moment in a red shirt also came that season in the famous 4 - 3 win against Newcastle when he scored two goals including the injury time winner in front of the Kop. I’ll never forget watching that game (and the other 4 - 3 the following season) in the spare room of my mum and dad’s house on a Monday night. It was an amazing game and fully deserved its title of ‘match of the decade’.

Unfortunately Stan’s second season wasn’t quite as successful as his first. It was obvious he wasn’t settling in, the fact that he continued to live in Cannock in the Midlands was a major reason for this. Despite pleas from Roy Evans, Stan refused to move closer to Liverpool and chose to commute every day. He was also known for being quite moody too, especially if things weren’t going his way. We now know that he suffers terribly with depression but back then this wasn’t public information and he just had a reputation for being a sulky git. He would go missing in away games and I know a lot of players found it difficult to get along with him. Robbie Fowler talks more about this in his autobiography.

collymooooorrreeeeOnce Michael Owen started coming through Collymore was sold to his boyhood club, Aston Villa, for seven million pounds. Despite his reputation off the pitch he was actually quite a popular player on the Kop. At the end of what turned out to be his final game for Liverpool he went over to salute the fans in the Kop and even threw his boots into the crowd. My Uncle Marty actually caught one of the boots. See the enclosed pictures of the boot he caught. On the first picture you can see the grass still on the studs from the hallowed Anfield turf. In the second picture you can see that the boot has been stitched so these boots obviously meant a lot to him as he didn’t replace them when they ripped. What a fantastic souvenir!

The story of how Marty caught the boot is as follows; at the last game of the season and what turned out to be his last game for Liverpool, the team did its usual lap of honour and Stan came down to the kop end still wearing his boots. Marty was standing on one of the safety bars shouting to him to throw his boots to him. Stan then took one off and threw it directly to him, and as Marty was standing on the safety bar no one else could get it. He shoved it under his top and then shouted to Stan to throw him the other one but he threw that further down the line into another part of the crowd.

After leaving Liverpool, Collymore’s career went slowly downhill. After three years and only fifteen goals for Aston Villa, he ended up having short stints at Leicester, Bradford and finally Real Oviedo in Spain. His spells at these final three clubs all followed a very similar pattern. He would start explosively (a goal from an overhead kick in his debut for Bradford stands out) and then would get involved in some sort of fight with management and then leave in controversial circumstances.

The last time I saw him was as an actor playing a footballer in the film ‘Basic Instinct 2’. Unfortunately Stan seems destined to be remembered for his off the field tabloid antics, such as wife beating and dogging, rather than anything he did as a footballer. This is a shame because Stan Collymore was a very gifted player who had a natural instinct for scoring goals and if he could have just curbed his temperament he could have been one of the greats.


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