Geoff Shreeves talks Jordan Henderson, Frank Lampard and one of the most profound experiences of his action-packed career. Melissa Edwards caught up with theman behind the mic.
After thirty years of Premier League reporting, including countless matches at Liverpool, Sky Sports journalist Geoff Shreeves’ has picked out his favourite moment at Anfield, and that was all the way back in 1996.
“The answer’s obvious,” he says, “The 4-3 against Newcastle [United]. I can hear Martin Tyler now ‘Rush, Barnes, Rush, Barnes… Collymore’s closing in.’ That was it. That has to be my favourite.”
Stan Collymore scoring a last-minute winner against the Magpies over two decades ago beats the recent league trophy lift in an empty Covid-hit stadium, and witnessing that Mohamed Salah goal against Chelsea back in 2019.
One of his top moments at Goodison Park is a little different though, as he recalls a conversation he had with a certain Everton legend.
“Joe Royle is one of my favourite people in football. I remember saying to him once, when he was manager, about signing a certain player and we were watching a training game, and he went ‘slower than a weekend in prison’,” he laughs.
“I had never heard that expression before and I think it’s just such a wonderful description so, for this player to be labelled as that – I thought it was brilliant.”
The famous stadia in the city are renowned for their suffocating atmospheres and the highly experienced reporter wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Of course you’ve got the football itself. At both grounds when the crowd are up, that is very, very difficult for the opposition.
“So, I love going to Merseyside, I really do love going there.”
But his fond memories aren’t all tied to the big wins even great celebrations as the touchline-man reminisces about being too stunned to work after Liverpool beat Manchester United 2-0 back in 2001, following the breaking news of Arsenal’s David Rocastle passing.
“I remember sitting at Anfield in the dugout and I was just crying my eyes out,” he reveals, “And Sammy Lee, he came out and he had a big box of tissues, a big mug of tea and he put his arm around me and said: ‘Go on lad, just let it all out’.
“It was just a real act of kindness. Now, that could happen easily at many, many football clubs. But, you know, there is a very human side to these great institutions when they do look after you as people.”
The personnel who make up the history of these two great football clubs are expected to reflect the city they play for and Shreeves finds there’s one red star who does just that.
“The current boss, Jordan Henderson, is just an extraordinary man. He seems to spend his life trying to look after other people, trying to help other people as well. Just an incredible guy.”
Across Stanley Park, the present Everton head coach, Frank Lampard, is another character who makes reporting in Merseyside rewarding even when you’ve got to ask the tough questions.
“You can understand why some managers would want a friendly face on the other side [of interviews], to maybe soft-soap it a little bit, but Frank made it very clear, he and Steven Gerrard are the same, they’d say ‘Listen, you ask the questions you’ve got to ask, you’re doing your job, it’s no problem whatsoever’.”
Shreeves’ debut book ‘Cheers, Geoff’ rounds off his thirty-year career working through the very highs and lows of the Premier League and features even more of his memorable tales in Merseyside.