History and the right of revenge

This is a story about AC Milan’s cries for revenge, and I argue we should be avenging our only ever loss in a Champions league semi final (1965) when we were denied a place in the final by a bribed referee:

I spent the weeks leading up to the Chelski semi finals telling worried Liverpool fans the same story: Relax, we havent lost a European cup semi-final for 42 years, and even the the Ref was bribed! Seven semi finals. Chelski, on the other hand have managed to lose three in four years!

Now we stand in our seventh final, and I have already heard the word ‘œrevenge’ from the Italian camp once too often for my liking. What exactly is revenge and which team deserves it?

Istanbul in 2005. Kaka ran riot in the first half. AC Milan, started the winners celebrations at half time, Rafa made a decisive tactical change, the crowd stood by their team with the most crucial ‘œwalk on’ of all time, and the Liverpool eleven took advantage of the situation and won in historic fashion, and in a way that will probably never be repeated.

Revenge for that? I can think of Shevi missing an open goal in extra time and his very poor penalty, I can think of all the players who celebrated at half time. I can think of the nervousness that swept through there ranks, which seemed to repeat itself again at Old Trafford in the first leg of the semi final. I think there revenge could be directed inwards to those who messed up in almighty fashion. But at Liverpool ? No way. They should be men and congratulate us for doing the unthinkable.

The forgotten heroes of 1965

Lawrence, Lawler, Moran, Strong, Yeats, Stevenson, Callaghan, Hunt, St.John, Smith, Thompson.

If football were clean, the above names would be engraved in gold at Anfield. This team SHOULD have been this first British winners of the Champions league ahead of Celtic and then Man Utd. We would have won our fifth big ears in 1984, and we would be going for number seven tonight.

Why werent they?

Only days after the famous FA cup win against Leeds, Liverpool played the first leg against the reigning European champions Inter Milan. Little did they know that the year before Inter Milan had bribed the referee in the Semi finals.
Shankly sent out cup hero Byrne (who broke a collar bone in the final but played on) with the FA cup, to get the crowd going before the start. It worked. Roger Hunt put them 1-0 up inside five minutes.

Milan, however equalized after ten minutes. Ian Callaghan made it 2-1 before half time, he explains:

‘Even when Mazzola equalised I was still confident this was to be our night, and after 34 minutes I scored the most treasured goal of my career. What made it all the more rewarding was that it came from a free kick plan we had been practising for some time. It worked like a dream. We got the opportunity to make it work when Peter Thompson was fouled a few yards outside the penalty area. Willie Stevenson and I lined up, then I dummied to shoot, ran over the ball and kept on running as Willie stroked it through to Roger Hunt, who sidefooted it to me – and I hit it into the net.’

Five minutes before half time, Chris Lawler scored a perfectly good goal from the edge of the box only for the referee to disallow it !!!! Callaghan said:

‘To this day I have never been able to understand that decision, and even though Ian St John did put us 3-1 ahead in the 75th minute, after Tommy Smith and myself had set up a chance for Roger Hunt, whose shot crashed against the keeper and rebounded for Ian to slot home, that decision did, in the final reckoning, crush our chances of a place in the European Cup Final, which at that time, no British club had reached.’ (1)

The infamous second leg

The referee had been bribed for this game. It was widely recognised that Inter had paid him. Reputable journalists at the time saw the ref drinking champagne with Inter officials after the game. The ref retired (was banned) after that game and never refereed again. He later admitted that Inter bribed him.

There was one good goal by Inter. But the second came when the ball was kicked out of Tommy Lawrence’s hands ‘“ a definite foul, play was allowed to continue and they netted. More incredibly, the third was scored DIRECT from an INDIRECT free kick!!!!!!!!

‘Three years in a row, Inter made offers to referees in the second legs of European Cup semi-finals to be played at the San Siro and twice it worked, in 1964 and 1965, when they went on to win the final. On the third occasion, in 1966, Gyorgy Vadas, a brave Hungarian official, refused to be bribed. Real Madrid held out and went on to lift the trophy.

In 1964, the sufferers were Borussia Dortmund, who had a key player sent off. In 1965 it was Liverpool, victims of two dreadful decisions by Ortiz de Mendibil, the Spaniard.’ (2) Glanville

Dedicate Number six to the memory of the first great Shankly team of ’65

So when people talk of revenge, just remember. Liverpool are owed one very large slice of revenge for what Inter Milan did that night. And I say, we are the ones who should be going out there with a reason to win, and we should dedicated it to the forgotten heroes of 1965. Like the knighthoods to ‘œSir’ Bill and ‘œSir’ Bob, some elements of society may try to belittle (or in this case: Bribe away) our history, but, I for one, will never forget that great team, and the accolades they truly deserved. Raise your voices an extra few decibels in the final for the foregotten heroes of 1965: Lawrence, Lawler, Moran, Strong, Yeats, Stevenson, Callaghan, Hunt, St.John, Smith, Thompson.


Thanks to :

  • (1)www.Shankly.com
  • (2)An extract from an article written by Glanville for Soccernet about Inter Milan. The copyright belongs to Glanville.