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Because he retired 25 years ago, anyone under the age of 40 will have little to no recollection of him as a player. But those who do will remember a wonderfully elegant, thoroughbred, Rolls Royce of a defender, who had pace and vision and coupled that with a never say die resolve. He was tough lord knows you had to be back then yet in an era which specialised in brutal centre halves, Mark was anything but. He was hard and clever in equal measure. In many ways he was like a modern defender, tasked with bringing the ball out of defence and keeping possession, and he was bloody good at it.

It was no coincidence that his arrival at Liverpool in 1981 led to an incredibly successful period. That season, Liverpool won the League title and the League Cup, then retained both for another two seasons, becoming only the third club in history to win three titles in a row. They also added the club fourth European Cup in 1984. He was also a much loved Ireland international.

He been on our screens and radio since 1992 and spent many years in punditry partnership with ex teammate and fellow centre half, Alan Hansen. While over the years, some have felt he was too downbeat, others like myself saw a man who wasn afraid to put a brake on the hyperbole and hero worship all too prevalent in modern football. He got better and better as the years roll by. Lawro stands out against the froth ocracy who want to whip everything up into something fantastic when we know it isn He doesn flip flop and he not easily impressed. And I sure that why he always in work. There nothing fake about him, nor is there any overly polished media trained blandness. He honest and straightforward and seems content in his own skin, and that gives the viewer or listener a sense of relaxed certainty.

As the years have gone on, even many of his erstwhile critics have fallen back in love with him, in the same way many of us did with Andy Townsend. We all had a drink. We all older. Now we understand that none of this is worth a hill of beans. All that matters is that we have a good time and get on with loving, rather than hating.

He a unique presence and he brings something very different to the party. Primarily sarcasm, at which he is absolutely brilliant. Also, as a big radio fan, I think you can tell the good guys from the rest. It is such an in your ear, nowhere to hide medium that the vibe between commentator and co comm is very discernible and it always feels like everyone is happy that Lawro is there. He paints with a colour that is all his own.

I must say, if you only see or hear him on TV, you are missing out on some gold on 5 live. If you got a couple of hours to fill, especially on a Sunday, get Lawro in. He can spin gold until the next news break like no one else.

He has that classic, ever so slightly camp Lancashire accent that is the sonic equivalent of a cynically raised eyebrow. The fact that most sentences end with a downbeat gives a lot of what he says a sceptical tone but, importantly, not in a crushingly negative way. Pleasingly, he not one for any modern linguistic nonsense like the rising inflective or starting every sodding sentence with I bet both of those things annoy the living daylights out of him almost as much as Twitter does. If you ever hear him say the word Twitter, it is always with acidic, withering contempt.

He a really good storyteller, able to give rhythm and pacing to a tale from his footballing past. And of course he is legendary for puns and terrible jokes. Again, this sets him apart. Yes they are awful and yes he knows they awful, but they are a unique colour in the tapestry of football life.

I always loved his one word responses to commentators:

looks in pain. Do you think he badly hurt, Mark? with as much stating the obvious certainty as possible. course, being a man of 60 years, having grown up in an era where life was considerably less sensitive and very much more brutal, any football person is going to occasionally commit a gaffe which will set Twitter alight and cause accusations of said football person being a very bad man. So Mark has done well to body swerve a proper big boo boo, though 2011 Benders playing against London clubs, that unusual, comment must have made a few BBC knees tremble.

But y making jokes is a tough business. Someone is always the butt of a joke, and in today hysterical environment where being offended has been turned into a lifestyle, and where such offence is prime steak to a media forever looking for meat to feast upon, to even attempt humour while broadcasting is seriously dangerous and not just a little rock roll.

His ability to end a sentence with in order to contradict his previous statement makes him a kind Wayne World of football. Not.

Also likes to end a sentence with he/did he not? For example: started out as a striker, did he not? This is a good technique for discussions because it makes a statement and then invites others to come in. And he most definitely loves a definitely too.

His predictions of Liverpool results are legendary because he never casts them as losers. This annoys the hell out of people, but what they failing to understand is that he doesn care. He appreciates that the whole thing is a nonsense and to be cross about such a thing is daft. He knows he is the only sane man in the madhouse.

One of our fine commentators got in touch to say this about Lawro:

is a man who, unlike many other so called experts, actually goes to matches, and is totally genuine. There no false are you mate when you catch up with him.

knows the game and loves the game. Plus he actually knows your name, which is terrific. At a funeral of a dearly loved Radio 5 colleague we all met in a pub beforehand, Lawro had already covered in advance whatever the bar bill would come to, but you only knew that when you attempted to pay, he certainly wasn going to mention it.

I had to choose a meal with any ex footballers now working in the media he be at the head of the table first name on the team sheet. that absolutely heartwarming?

is a great guy to work with. Very funny and a brilliant storyteller. You sometimes forget he was a big player in a historically great team. No airs and graces. Always gets a round in. suspect a crucial aspect to being a successful long serving football pundit is to be a good team player, a good tourist and be very clubbable. And clearly, Mark is all of those things.

Famously had a lush for many years. Is one of those men who, even after shaving off the fungus, seems like he actually still a mustachioed man. Clothing is just distinct enough to be memorable but not fashionable enough to express vanity or self regard. Only gets as ostentatious as wearing a stripey shirt with a white collar. Must own all manner of sensible, well made, moderately expensive menswear. Dark cashmere coats, plain heavyweight cotton tailored shirts, maybe even a pale pink polo shirt for the golf. Possibly has just one pair of very expensive leather shoes which will see him through most of a decade.

It may surprise under 40s to know that Mark was a dashing, rather rock roll looking man in his youth, he also had incredibly wide shoulders.

It inevitable when you a distinctive, characterful, colourful broadcaster that you will annoy some people. That is one of the qualifications you need to have to be great at the job. No one made good being middle of the road.

To be interesting you have to be who you are, you have to strike a distinctive tone. I think there is such joy in embracing all things Lawro and many people agree. When I asked on Twitter for comments, I got loads. I think he has a lot of secret fans people who know it not cool to like Lawro in the way it is to like James Horncastle but who nonetheless feel nothing but good vibes when he on radio or TV. I think these comments perfectly express what we enjoy about the man. Some are very funny.

imagine he a very dry wit and excellent company off screen. I gone full circle with him, and think he ace again of late. He does also, most definitely, know his stuff if that sort of thing matters to you. met him personally a couple of times, couldn hope to meet a nicer guy. felt that no football match he was covering could affect the mood he happened to be in that day. Loved him for that! love him to release spoken in the same style as Telly Savalas. Thinks he the king of laconic humour. I do love him not in the way he probably appreciate. cynical when doing co comms, but usually works out quite funny. That sort of his thing now. Has improved from his misery stage of a few years ago. complaints while watching a dire 0 0 Euros group game (for example) are just hilarious. In the era of Sky hype it quite a nice antidote. He better on radio, and refreshingly humble about his own playing career. me of an elderly, but good natured snail. commentated and analysed games as if he was suffering from a dark rum induced hangover. fairness his grumpiness and biblically hysterical 1 1 predictions for big games is hilarious. Dad jokes are something to behold. hair looks like the roof of a cottage. was a truly wonderful player in today market he would be worth many, many millions. I feel it is his self deprecation that stops people remembering quite how good he was. As a pundit he has a Sancho Panza role of broad humour, insight and saying what he thinks. Nice. the greatest comm/co comm badinage in the Croatia qualifier in 07. Croatia take the lead again at 3 2 and England look abject. Motty loses his sht after a period of silence; something Mark! can John! Loved him since then! occasionally a bit too knowing, but a sense of humour and a back catalogue aren to be dismissed on having a good commentator to with. Loves the game, as passionate and blinkered as all of us. a bit of work on Irish radio on Saturdays and always talks sense, with plenty of Lawroisms thrown in. our younger readers an absolute thoroughbred of a centre half. Like if David Luiz was being controlled by Ronnie Moran instead of know. the greatest day the world has ever known (Birmingham Carling Cup win) his famous sense of humour hit heights never before seen. is 6 when standing and 5 when jumping. For that alone, I shall always love him. I happily have a pint with him after that. the one hand he’s a caricature, a relic from a punditry age gone by, but then I hear him on Irish radio and he fully up to speed with the modern game. His sarky comments on co comms are glorious too. legend in his own lifetime. Bumped into him at the CL Final in Rome 2009. Happily posed for photos with a load of beer up United fans. Including me. Given the result, was a highlight of the trip. greater joys than hearing him laugh uproariously, half off mic, to the witty aside of his comms partner during a dreary dead rubber World Cup stalemate. man, he is so entertaining for his absolute grumpiness and the glimpse of any poor defending. And his sense of pride that is so visible every time he makes what he thinks is the funniest joke ever. And where would he be without his brilliant predictions each week. Legend. to annoy the hell out of me, but like a kidney stone, passed through. Now I quite like him like an older Andy Townsend in that respect. misanthropic co comms were sometimes a very accurate reflection of the dirge he was watching. love Lawro. He biased, grumpy and gives awful puns but like your uncle he knows way more than you and can tell you so with just a sideways glance. be lauded for his use of truly unique character amidst a sea of identikit flotsam. Has the air of a man who discovered the elixir and isn about to share it with the likes of you or I. is a unique voice and presence among the punditocracy. There is, was and will only ever be one Lawro. across as genuine when he being grumpy, unlike other pundits who are deliberately trying to be controversial. Clearly loves the game and his bluntness is sometimes a nice antidote to all the hype. Another one of those people who are better on the radio than the TV. these quotes from Lawro re his role as defensive coach at Newcastle under Keegan: did absolutely nothing. Honestly I did absolutely nothing but my CV looks great because we finished second and got into the Champions League. I trained every day I was first pick of the staff in the five a side! I got myself fit and all that and after three months I said to Kevin I earning money under false pretences here Self deprecating and disarmingly honest to a fault. has the air of someone who was in ELO and fell out with both Jeff Lynne AND Roy Wood. Probably even Bev Bevan. sartorial taste and terrible puns when Valencia keeper Canizares dropped a bottle of aftershave on his foot, Lawrenson remarked the injury had his chances of a move to Cologne Easy to forget what a superlative defender he was. played him Andy Cole song on Football Focus in the week of its release, asked Lawro his opinion and he just wearily shook his head and said toilet liked Lawrenson. One of my first newspaper jobs as a temp was to call him out of the blue and ask some rubbish questions. He was very, very nice about it. (Barney Ronay) Mark when I did a Five Live Premier League preview show in February 2015 he was lovely. I also spotted him write my name down on a piece of paper after I introduced myself so he wouldn forget it and could reference me by name during the show. Which he did often. (Sachin Nakrani)

I fervently hope that Mark is in our lives for many years yet, because there no one else who can express being unimpressed or disgruntled in quite so magnificent a manner. I leave you with 5 live absolute commentating star, Ian Dennis, who got in touch to say this.

is a joy to work with. He is so easygoing, no ego whatsoever. His career both on and off the pitch speaks for itself, especially when you consider his longevity as a pundit. He so modest, what people might not know is how generous he is in every respect. Funny, kind, modest, a genuine top bloke and it always a pleasure to be in his company. we should all hope to be so well regarded. To all doubters, I say free your mind: Lawro is a national treasure and lord knows we will miss him when he gone.

Better still, he probably hate all these nice things being said about him because, like all us Northerners, he built to resist hate, not to accept love. But love it be. Cheers Lawro!
los angeles water polo club A Football365 love letter to