When LFCTV staff completed an interview with Luis Suarez in Barcelona earlier this year, the former Liverpool striker filed a simple request.
As the camera crew began to derig their setup, the Uruguayan shared a message intended for two significant individuals on Merseyside.
“Tell Carol and Caroline I said hello.”
Suarez was referring to the long-serving duo that form part of Melwood’s kitchen team, whose force of personality and kind-hearted nature have endeared them to all who walk through the canteen's double doors at the training ground.
Carol Farrell and Caroline Guest have both been employed at the West Derby complex for 13 years, with their partnership starting in 2004-05.
“I worked up at Anfield for a couple of years and then they asked me to come down here because a lady who worked here was retiring, so they wanted me to take over from her temporarily,” explains Carol. “After that. They asked me if I wanted to stay, so I stayed and here I am!”
Such was the bond Suarez struck up with the pair during his three-and-a-half years at the club, he returned to Melwood in March 2016 to catch up with them, in the company of his Liverpool-born children, Delfina and Benjamin.
“It was lovely when he came back to see us, we loved it,” Caroline admits. “It was such a big surprise for us to see him, and for him to come back to see us meant so much.
“Even though his English wasn’t very good at times, he used to torment us when he was here!” Carol adds: “He is a lovely, lovely lad. I loved him to pieces. He was so down to earth, we’d always have a laugh and a joke with him.
“It was brilliant when he came to visit, especially with him bringing his kids because they’d grown up so much. We didn’t know Beni too well because he was only a baby when Luis left, so to see him was really good.”
Suarez is not alone in his appreciation and admiration for the twosome.
Both were recently special guests at the unveiling of the Kenny Dalglish Stand – by personal invitation of The King himself – while Carol joined Steven Gerrard on the red carpet at the LFC Players’ Awards at Anfield back in May.
“We miss him,” is the instant, synchronised response at the mention of the ex-captain's name.
Those who have experienced the cafeteria area have undoubtedly witnessed Carol and Caroline diligently carry out their duties as they fuss over the welfare and comfort of others.
“It’s always a busy day here,” explains Carol. “There’s no typical day, really. It’s usually an 8am start and we finish when we finish. It’s usually 4pm, but it all depends on the training schedule and when the lads come up. If they’re training late, we’ll work shifts.
“Sometimes some of the players have physio and stuff downstairs, so we wait for them to come up. It’s really busy, especially when we have visitors here, too.
“It’s our job to put all the breakfast stuff out as soon as we come in. We make sure the fridges are all filled up. We take the lads’ breakfast orders and we tell the kitchen and the chefs. Then we’ll bring it out to them.
“And we make sure they don’t eat too much as well – we shout at them if they eat too much!”
Such attention isn’t reserved only for players and members of Liverpool’s football staff – visitors are also welcomed with warmth.
When South African Olympic world-record holder and lifelong Reds fan Wayde van Niekerk paid a special visit to Melwood last Christmas with his partner and best friend, the trio were doted upon.
‘Just make sure when you come back you’ve won us another gold medal,’ was all that was asked in return of the sprinter as he bid farewell that afternoon.
Indeed, during this writer’s early days in a role with LFC, a sizeable plate of food was hand-delivered to an office within the facility after Carol and Caroline had learned an interview had been delayed quite significantly, spilling into early evening.
They go out of their way to ensure the experience of being at Melwood is enveloped with cheerfulness.
Carol says: “We love all the different things that happen here. When children come to visit us though the Foundation and the charities, we love being a part of it and making a big fuss over them.
“It’s nice to get letters back from them; we get lovely letters back from them to thank us. We always tell them and their families to write to us and let us know how they are doing once they’ve finished their visits here.”
Caroline adds: “Everyone who walks through the doors here gets treated the same by us, it doesn’t matter who they are – whether they’re the manager, captain, managing director or whatever, they’re all treated the same. Staff, visitors, guests - everyone.”
That was evident on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first day at Melwood in September, when our exclusive behind-the-scenes video captured the new signing interacting with Carol and Caroline for the first time.
The clip was a hit on social media and beyond, with supporters eager to know more about the two straight-talking, no-nonsense members of staff conversing with Liverpool's No.21.
“I found out because my son Andrew phoned me,” reveals Caroline. “He rang me and said, ‘Mum… you’ve done it again, haven’t you?’ I said, ‘done what?’ He says, ‘you’ve done it again… you’re on the blooming telly again!’
“I was so embarrassed! I was thinking, ‘oh, God!’ watching it back.”
“Everyone was coming in and saying, ‘eh you two, getting in on another video again are you?’” adds Carol with a laugh. “But everyone was saying how good it was, really natural with Alex when he walked in, but that’s how we are with all of the lads and everyone who comes in here. We like to treat everyone the same.
“I think we’ll have to get ourselves an agent!”
The superstar pairing of the canteen also act as the social directors, promoting a sense of camaraderie around the pool and table tennis tables within the dining area.
Take Emre Can’s arrival in England in 2014, for example.
“When the likes of Emre first come in, he was very quiet and he used to just sit," Carol recalls. "The lads would be playing on the pool table or whatever, so I’d go over and say to them, ‘go and get the lad up to play with you!’ Emre would look and I’d say, ‘well, can’t you play? Get up and these will teach you.’
“Now Emre is bringing other lads into the group to involve them. When they first come in, we like to involve them with the other players – we don’t like to see anyone sat on their own.”
Caroline adds: “If there’s a new player comes in, we make sure the rest of the lads incorporate him. Especially if they’ve come from another country. It can be hard for them, so we’re like their mothers because we like to look after them and make sure they’re alright.
“They’re only young men and to come to a new country where they don’t know anyone, and sometimes can’t speak English, we feel it’s important to try and make them feel at home because they are here eight or nine hours a day.”
It’s not all smiles for Carol and Caroline, though. There can be tears, too.
Most recently in the summer when they discovered Lucas Leiva would be leaving Liverpool after a decade having agreed a move to Lazio.
“I was so upset when he went,” Caroline. “He was a baby when he come, he was only 20 when he arrived here and he grew into a man while he was here. His family and his wife were lovely, lovely people.
“He came into the dining room and it was a busy day in here, especially because Carol was off that day. He called me over and said, ‘I’m leaving’. I said, ‘what? No you’re not!’ And that was it then, I had to go into the back because I burst out crying. Even now I am filling up because was such a lovely person.”
Carol chips in: “Caroline phoned me up one day and said, ‘guess what? Lucas has gone’.
“I couldn’t stop crying - I didn’t think I’d ever get that upset about anyone leaving, but he was here for 10 years. When his wife went away anywhere, she’d say to us, ‘make sure you look after my Lucas!’ We’d make him his dinner to take home for in the evening.
“When he came back in with his family to say ‘ta-ra’… oh, I sobbed. I couldn’t stop. He told me to stop, but I just couldn’t stop crying because he was leaving us.
“I haven’t spoken to him since he left, but we’ve got his phone number. I hope he hasn’t bin-bagged us for two Italian women!”
Nevertheless, such memories and friendships made over the last 13 years are ones they treasure.
“Pepe Reina was great with us, he loved a laugh and a joke,” recalls Caroline. “Mascherano was lovely, always telling me to have a sing-song with him,” adds Carol.
Even now, new bonds are continually being forged: “We have a laugh with Jürgen when he comes in for his dinner…we don’t have a laugh with him when he comes in after we’ve got beat, though!” jokes Carol.
So how do these close relationships affect their emotions on matchdays?
For the only time during the 25-minute conversation, the responses are conflicting.
“I don’t watch them; I never watch them because my nerves go to pieces,” reveals Carol.
“I just can’t watch them. I went all the way to Istanbul and stayed under the stand and never came out. I felt ill, so I ran downstairs, went in the toilet and did nothing but say my prayers until the end. I was absolutely sick. I couldn’t come back up and watch it.”
By contrast, Caroline says: “I will watch them, but I was never a big Liverpool or football supporter before I came here.
“Now Jimmy, my husband, will say to me, ‘I can’t believe how much you’ve changed!’ because he’d be watching the game on his own, but when I started here I started watching with him. Now I’m shouting along with him!
“It’s because you get to know everyone. I also like to watch other games to see the old players we’ve had here and see how they’re getting along now.”
After a decade of working alongside each other, perhaps the strongest bond Carol and Caroline hold is with each other.
“We’ve been very good together, very good. We don’t bicker… unless we’re tired and I’ll go, ‘move!’” jokes Carol. “But in all seriousness, we never argue or anything; we know what each other has to do and we just do it.”
It’s a sentiment backed up by Caroline, who says: “I know when Carol is tired because she gets the giggles - and I’ll go the other way!
“If I am doing one thing, she’ll go and do another. We work that way – we know what each other is doing, so the jobs get done quickly and it’s a lot easier for us.
“It’s great fun working here, it’s a home from home for us. It’s a great environment, there’s always banter and laughs.
“The whole job is lovely. I have loved it ever since day one.”
Throughout the course of this interview, many names past and present were mentioned and spoken of in glowing terms, so there was just one final natural question to pose before the conclusion: just who has been the favourite over the years?
“They’re all our favourites, all of them,” is Caroline’s fast and firm response. “We don’t have a single favourite.”
Carol continues, with her trademark humour: “The players will also say to us, ‘am I your favourite?’ and I’ll go, ‘no, I’ve got 20-odd favourites here!’
“Everyone is the same and there’s no difference in our eyes; as long as they know we’re definitely the mothers here, so they’ll do as they’re told and there is no messing around here, right?”http://www.liverpoolfc.com/news/first-team/282976-btb-a-message-from-luis-suarez-tears-for-lucas-and-jokes-with-jurgen