The man who solved the riddle of the decorated supervisor coat with the signatures of the players and a huge liver bird responded to an appeal to reveal the secret of the coat.
The story of an incredible cloak dedicated to Liverpool FC, left on the head in honor of the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy, can now be told.
John Collins decorated the warden’s coat and then wore it in Paris when Liverpool won the European Cup in 1981. He left it on his head in memory of the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy, as it was his most valuable possession.
When he was 23, he asked a friend who was a foreman at the factory to get him one – and his friend was able to help him.
John received the coat from a colleague when he worked at Jacob’s in Aintree in 1981.
And John Collins has now explained the background to what became his most valuable possessions – and with it the most touching tribute he could pay to the 96 supporters who died in the worst disaster at the British sports stadium.
The 62-year-old, who grew up in Norris Green and now lives in St Helens, said: “When I came home, the first thing I drew was a liver bird on the back, then two more on the front.
“After all this, one of my old schoolmates from St. Philomena’s, Robbie Savage, was then in the books of Liverpool. I asked him if he could take it to Melwood for me to have the players sign it. When I got it back, I agreed.”
“Then I just started trying things and putting different things on it.
John’s most appreciated signature was that of Terry McDermott, one of his favorite players at the time, and his mother and sister helped embroider some of the designs so they would survive wearing them.
The coat had its first appearance in Paris, at the 1981 European Cup final between the Reds and Real Madrid, which Liverpool won 1-0.
John traveled to Paris and back on a four-day tour with friends of Jacob’s – and a hitchhiker from Liverpool, which they took along on the way.
When he returned home, the coat was famous – an ECHO photographer had taken it off the floor when it was worn, and his picture appeared on the front page.
He said that his comrades-in-arms applauded and commented on the coat at the finale – although he had to explain to someone that he was not claiming to be the proudest liver poodle – he applied the term to the liver bird under the title
While John went to home and away games in the 1980s, he did not always wear the coat.
One of the most striking features was the huge liver bird on his back, about which John wrote: “The proudest liver poodle”.