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Jamie Carragher's Liverpool away days and the coach of card tricks | Off Script

"Sometimes players would look like there was something on their mind, and we'd be laughing thinking we took a couple of quid off them on the coach, maybe more"

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Jamie Carragher reminisces about his Liverpool away days, playing cards on the team bus and how you could work out if you were playing by your room-mate

In the latest edition of Off Script, Jamie Carragher reminisces about his Liverpool away days, playing-card antics on the team bus and how you could work out if you were playing by who you shared a room with...

The typical Liverpool away day

You always came down to a game at, say, Stamford Bridge the day before, the local ones like Everton or the Manchester clubs you would go the day of the game. You'd stay in the same hotels, a very fancy hotel if it was Chelsea - you wouldn't mind an away day at Chelsea!

When I first got into the team, we'd get a coach down, we'd play cards, but that stopped with Gerard Houllier. He didn't like money being handed over on different tables or someone being a few quid down going into a game - and rightly so.

There was a bit of cheating from David Thompson, he and I had a little thing when playing three-card brag. If he went out, he'd look at other people's cards and give me a signal whether to stay in or not.

David Thompson
Image: David Thompson and Carragher collaborated to avoid losing their wages on the coach

One finger on the table would be ace high, two would be a pair and there were others for a flush or a run. He'd let me know whether to go in or not. That's important when you're a young lad and not on big wages!

Sometimes under Rafa Benitez we got the plane, that's probably the same as what they do now. But towards the end of my career we got the train, my preferred mode of transport. We'd have carriages booked out so people weren't everywhere - can you imagine the carnage if they were?

'Adapt or die, financially'

When it came to the match, sometimes players wouldn't get that crucial first pass right. They'd look like there was something on their mind, and we'd be laughing thinking we took a couple of quid off them on the coach, maybe more.

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Steve Harkness was the best, but everyone was trying to get the kegs off someone else. It was either adapt or die, and some died financially.

Steve Harkness
Image: Steve Harkness had a habit of coming out on top when playing cards

Rafa's revealing room-mates

I was always in a room with Michael Owen for the first four or five years, then he went off to Real Madrid. Then it was Steven Gerrard and it never changed really.

A lot of people used to like having their own rooms, I didn't, I always thought it was better being with someone. Whether it be interacting with team-mates or talking about the game, it's better than everyone going back to their room, it's not right.

Some people prepared for games differently, but I was predominantly with those players. Rooms were almost always sorted by the players with someone they were close to. It would only change on pre-season tours when new signings came in.

Rafa and Carra
Image: Rafa Benitez's room pairings gave an indication to the team he was going to select

It was funny when Rafa Benitez first came in, he put me in a room with Sami Hyypia because we both played centre-back, almost as if we were going to talk about the striker we were playing against the next day. He would put the two strikers together, the full-backs and the wingers together and so on.

The funny thing is that everyone knew the team - we could work out the team from the rooms! Everyone knew if they were playing or not, so that quickly went out of the window. The substitute rooms were a little depressing, not that I was ever in them!

Toughest opponent?

Thierry Henry was the toughest opponent. I had a lot of good games against Didier Drogba. I think he scored three goals in about 30 games against Liverpool, but people seem to forget that and remember his unbelievable goal in 2006.

Didier Drogba
Image: There was not a lot more Jamie could do to prevent Didier Drogba's stunning goal

Sometimes as a defender against some of the top players we had at that time - Alan Shearer, Henry, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie - there's not a lot you can do in certain situations because they were that good. That goal Drogba scored there wasn't a lot I could do.

I trained with great strikers like Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez every day, so I never came up against them, but I worked out their games. The same thing happened with Drogba because we played him so much.

Almost every game we played with Chelsea was either 0-0 or 1-0, every game was on a knife edge.

You knew as a defender if you made a mistake it was over because with John Terry at the back, Chelsea wouldn't concede too much. If you got the first goal you knew you wouldn't concede too much either.

'You shouldn't give them a kick'

There were definitely players I played against that were tougher than expected. I always talk about Kevin Davies, Bobby Zamora, Carlton Cole.

Kevin Davies
Image: Kevin Davies scored five Premier League goals against Liverpool while Drogba managed just two

No disrespect, they weren't great strikers, but people thought you shouldn't give them a kick, but all of them were four inches taller than me, quicker than me and stronger than me.

So it wasn't as easy as you think, but more often than not you would get the better of them because I played in a better team and they wouldn't get as many opportunities.

When you're playing against a top player there is a bit of give and take, sometimes they would do well, sometimes you would do well, and it would get labelled a great battle. But that wasn't accepted when you played Bolton or West Ham, the teams those players played for.

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