In any sports team, the players and coaches are always going to be the most visible part. Then the ownership, the supporters, guys at the concession stand, backroom staff, and then finally the groundskeepers. Well, this long-serving man behind the pitch finally got his moment to shine upon his retirement.
Terry Forsyth started his Liverpool career as an apprentice groundsman at age 17 in 1972. The great Bill Shankly was still roaming the sidelines at Anfield. Now, 43 years, 11 league titles, 6 FA Cups, and 5 European Championships later, Forsyth will hang up the gardener's gloves and retire from his duties as groundsman in charge of Anfield, Melwood, and the Academy.
In a fantastic interview with the club's official website, Forsyth explained his role and relationship with the various managers over the years at length:
All different managers have their own way. Liverpool have always had this slick passing with the pitch watered and cut short. LFC have always had a fast-slick game and different players like it different ways. We always had to cater for the managers, there were very few moans. I always had a good rapport with the managers, their doors have always been open. Sometimes it amazes me where it'll be raining for three days before a match and the managers want the pitch watered before kick off and at half time! And it can be minus four degrees and they want the pitch watered at half-time. That totally amazes me but we just have to fulfill whatever the manager asks for.
If Rodgers' infamous complaints about the Anfield pitch bothered Forsyth, he was a big man for not showing it.
Forsyth had the most to say about the first and last managers during his time at Anfield, including a great story about Shanks checking in on him when he was home sick:
Bill Shankly was like your dad, he was a lovely man. All the managers were lovely. Two weeks into when I started work here, I went home ill one day with migraine. and Shanks phoned my mother. He said ‘Hello Mrs Forsyth, it's Bill here, Bill Shankly. How's Terry?' Now that's man management isn't it?
When Jürgen came on site, with me knowing that I was leaving, I kept in the background. Normally I would have been right in there saying who I was and introducing my staff. But I kept back and allowed Warren Scott - the head groundsman at Melwood - to build up a rapport with him. I went into Melwood a few days ago and saw Klopp, he didn't know who I was and his first impressions from me were that you could tell that he's a proper man with big stature.
As for the future of grounds keeping at Anfield, Forsyth is confident he's leaving the work in good hands. And apparently "The Liverpool Way" is not just for footballers:
My staff are excellent. I couldn't have wished for three better heads of departments underneath me. My men like to achieve the correct standard. They will prepare a pitch as it's required and they would get it done...They've been taught ‘The Liverpool Way' like I was, so maybe that's the correct way. The standard is perfect. ‘The Liverpool Way' is the compassion in your heart to work to the highest ability and achievement that you can and always perform and do your best.
Thanks for all the beautiful Anfield surfaces over the years, Terry, you'll never walk alone.