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Jamie McDonald

Hi there, Mister Allardyce? Sam? If you wouldn't mind the familiarity overmuch, that is. If it's not being too forward to call you Sam. We can stick to Mister Allardyce if you'd—no? Sam it is, then. I always knew it would be. Had to be. That's just the sort you are.

So. I mean. Look, Sam. I know this is a little awkward. I know we haven't always got on so well, you and I. You and Liverpool fans. We saw you as the enemy; a member of the old guard English footballing establishment. Saw you as a friend of those we hated and an enemy to those we loved.

And so we've called you names over the years. Come up with increasingly tawdry and tasteless ways to sneer at a man one imagines might have little choice but to find his clothing at the plus size end of the rack. Which is to say we've spent a great deal of time focusing on the "big" in Big Sam.

Big in the weights and measures sense, sadly. Regrettably. To our immense shame, we heard "big" and saw the imposing figure you cut though life and could only ever reach for the definition that says "of considerable size." The one that says large. Bulky. Immense. Voluminous.

But Sam, we were wrong. Let me hold up my hand here. We were—I was—wrong. Mea culpa, Sam. It was petty. Mean even—at least a little. It was blinkered football tribalism, pure and simple, that blocked us seeing the truth and led to our petty cries and insults, and I hope you will forgive us, Sam. I hope you can forgive me.

Because big can also mean great, Sam. It can mean important. Significant. Consequential. Consequential like an Alexander or a Caesar, Sam. Important like an Einstein or a Galileo. For were they not big men, Sam? Men of true and lasting significance?

For men such as these—for men such as you, Sam—big is the world staring on, unable but to take notice of your indomitable figure, one that will be carved into the granite of history in a way us little people—us unimportant and insignificant people—can only ever dream of.

That's the kind of big you are, Sam. That's the kind of big you always have been, even if we were all too small to see it for far, far too long. And so, again, I'd just like to apologise, Sam. I think most of us, more than almost anything, would like to apologise. And to thank you, Sam.

To thank you for Joe Cole and Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing. Because you saw us in our hour of need, Sam, and when a smaller man would have turned away you stood tall, reaching out your hand despite the barbs and insults. And that's what we'll remember, Sam. That's what we'll always remember.

At least until West Ham come to Anfield on December 7th.

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