The Times newspaper’s Tony Evans recently published the following, impressive, list of events which have shaped Liverpool FC…
50-25 are below, top 25 here.
50 Hell’s angels, February 26, 2002
There was plenty of apprehension for any British fans going to Istanbul in the early years of this decade. After all, two Leeds United fans were stabbed to death in 2000 before playing Galatasaray and the locals’ ‘˜Welcome to Hell’ banners had sent shivers down Manchester United spines. However, Liverpool’s visit to Gala in the second Champions League group was different. The visiting fans’ approach was summed up with a banner; ‘œWelcome to hell my arse. If you think this is hell, try the Grafton on a Friday night.’
The Grafton is a nightclub, famous for ‘˜grab-a-granny’ nights, where innocent young scallies find themselves at the mercy of predatory Liverpool divorcees. But the attitude was perfect: no fear, no aggressive confrontation and a slice of humour. It sums up the best attributes of the modern Liverpool fan. And, since then, every time the Reds have played in Istanbul, the local supporters have joined their party. And this is the essence of this list. The culture of football is about more than players and managers ‘“ in ten years, most of them will have moved on. It exists and grows through the supporters as much as the team.
49 John Houlding creates an alehouse team, March 15, 1892
The strict Methodists who formed St Domingo FC ‘“ later Everton – were never going to get on with the brewer who ran the club from the Sandon pub. Houlding owned Anfield and argued with his colleagues over the rent and their refusal to sell his sparkling ale at the ground. When the schism occurred, Everton decamped from Anfield as reigning champions, Houlding formed a new club, Liverpool. Without Houlding, we might all support a little club and have serious thirsts’¦
48 Red all over, November 1, 1964
Bill Shankly had a brainwave ‘“ to discard the team’s white shorts and wear all red. He chose Ron Yeats for his experiment. After training, Big Ron was sent to put on new shorts. Shankly liked what he saw: ‘œChrist son, you look about seven foot tall, we’re going to play in all-red from now on.’ Every player grew a few inches when they listened to Shankly and dressed in red. Another small step on the path to greatness.
47 First post war champions, 1947
If ever a city need a boost after the Second World War, it was Liverpool. Bombed heavily, the city was in ruins and short of supplies. The team wasn’t though. Billy Liddell provided Jackie Balmer and Albert Stubbins with the ammunition to shoot the Reds to the top with a team fit for heroes.
46 Red Stars and falling stars, autumn 1973
Fresh from winning the Uefa Cup and the title, Shankly went into the 1973-74 European Cup campaign with high hopes. Red Star Belgrade showed Liverpool how far they had to go to be successful, however. The side from what was then Yugoslavia snuffed the Anfield challenge out at the first hurdle, winning both legs 2-1. It was time for more creative thinking from Shankly. He realised that a traditional British centre half like Larry Lloyd, who played in both legs, was a liability in Europe. Lloyd was soon on his way out of Anfield, replaced by the more ball-literate Phil Thompson and Liverpool were back on the path to glory. The hapless Lloyd would eventually get his consolation ‘“ two European Cup medals with Nottingham Forest.
45 Howard Gayle in Munich, 1981
Bayern had come to Anfield, got a 0-0 draw in the semi-final of the European Cup and headed home to plan the trip to the final in Paris. Things got worse in the second leg of the Bavarian capital when Kenny Dalglish was injured in the first 10 minutes. On came Gayle, the club’s first black player of the modern age, bringing some Liverpool 8 attitude with him. Bayern kicked him, he kicked back ‘“ harder – and, when his heroic performance was finished and he was substituted, the German side were in trouble. Ray Kennedy scored late to finish them off and though the home side levelled the score, Liverpool were through.
The 1960s had been good to Merseyside. The Beatles ruled the world and Liverpool were on the rise. By 1970, the Fab Four were gone and it looked the same fate for Shankly’s team when they were humiliated by Watford, who were struggling a division below Liverpool. But Shanks knew how to change his tune: out went Ian St John, Ron Yeats, Roger Hunt and Tommy Lawrence ‘“ the old stagers. In came Kevin Keegan, Steve Heighway, Larry Lloyd and Ray Clemence. The 70s were looking up, suddenly.
43 Robbie Fowler’s protest, Liverpool v Brann, Cup-Winners’ Cup quarter-final, March 20,1997
‘œIt may seem strange and even unfair…” Too bloody right. Even Uefa knew in its statement that it was wrong to fine Fowler Â£900 after he displayed a shirt supporting sacked Liverpool dockers while celebrating his second goal in a 3-0 win. Through the dark days of the 1990s, as football players lost their link with the fan on the terraces, Fowler remained one of us. Would Shankly have done it? Yes. It is not only goals we remember. Incidentally, Fowler was also banned for a goal celebration that mimicked drug-taking. Paul Merson was lauded for admitting taking real drugs. Strange. Unfair.
42 Kop takes shape, 1906
A mound of earth on Walton Breck Road was created for the growing numbers of fans to watch the team. It was called the ‘˜Spion Kop’ after a battle in the Boer War six years earlier. It was not the only Kop ‘“ low hill in Afrikaans ‘“ nor the first. But it would become the greatest.
41 Wimbledon 1 Liverpool 0, FA Cup Final, May 14, 1988
The pinnacle of Wimbledon’s climb from non-League to Cup winners will be remembered as long as football is played. And yet the victory would have had less resonance had the opposition been any other side. Liverpool were arguable the best team in Europe and played like it until Peter Beardsley had a goal disallowed by the referee, Brian Hill, who awarded the subsequent foul against Wimbledon. Still, funny how we’re there for the historic moments.
40 Take it as red we’re Liverpool, 1899
After the break with Everton, the new club in the city wore blue-and-white halved shirts. Then, just as the 19th century came to an end, Liverpool adoped red shirts ‘“ Everton switched from pink to blue. Shortly after, the Reds took the Liver Bird, the symbol of the city, as part of the badge. The die was cast and there would never be a need for a ‘˜People’s Club’ style rebranding of the team associated with the city.
39 The American take over at Anfield, March 28, 2007
After months of uncertainty, George Gillett and Tom Hicks confirmed their takeover of the club. Those who expected Glazer-style protests were confounded. The fans are welcoming, if cautious ‘“ as long as the new boys don’t mess with the traditions of the club.
38 Dalglish resigns, February 22, 1991
Sir Alex Ferguson, with characteristic obscenity, says his greatest achievement is ‘œknocking Liverpool off their f****** perch’. When Kenny Dalglish resigned as manager after Liverpool threw away a quartet of leads in the 4-4 draw with Everton in the FA Cup, the team were top of the league. Dalglish left, emotionally in tatters, another victim of Hillsborough. Manchester United filled the vacuum created by tragedy, that’s all. But expecting humility from Ferguson is too much. Grim years loomed ahead.
37 Panorama, 1964 (Watch the video clip here)
The Kop had been making a big noise for some time, but it came to the nation’s attention with the BBC’s Panorama featured the crowd singing on a programme called ‘˜The Other Mersey Sound’. Afterwards, the whole nation wanted to be like the Kop. Why wouldn’t they? After all, any terrace that could sing ‘˜Anyone who ever had a heart’ and ‘˜She loves you’ like that… The Kop rocks.
36 Liverpool 1 AC Milan 2, Champions League final, Athens, May 23, 2007
Mass bunk-ins and ticket snatching hit the headlines in the aftermath of defeat but, while the glare of publicity focused on the minority of wrongdoers, the massed body of Liverpool support stood, almost to a man, and applauded Milan on their lap of honour with the Cup. William Gaillard had obviously nipped back inside to get the prawn sandwiches while this was going on.
35 Liverpool 3 Borussia MÃ¶nchengladbach 0, Uefa Cup final, first leg, May 10, 1973
The game kicked off on May 9 and, with the German side looking comfortable after 27 minutes, the match was abandoned after a torrential rain storm. The next night it was 10p at the gate on the terraces and Shankly had noticed the opposition’s weakness in the air. John Toshack, who had been left out 24 hours previously, was selected and caused havoc. Liverpool took a three-goal lead to Germany ‘“ just as well, as MÃ¶nchengladbach won 2-0 in the second leg.
34 The end of an era, July 12, 1974
The unthinkable news shocked the city. Shankly had resigned. People wept on the streets while the great man gave a strangely composed press conference to announce his departure. A sad day but Shankly’s spirit would never leave the club.
Where do you start with a season like this? The 7-0 rout of Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield? The 3-0 victory at Old Trafford? One of the finest teams ever to play in England cruised to the title with crushing dominance. Four defeats, 85 goals scored and a mere 16 against. Ah, but Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles went a season unbeaten in 2003-04, you say. But did they have the European champions in the division? A stunning year in more competitive times.
32 Liverpool 1 FC Bruges 0, European Cup final, May 10, 1978
Not much of a spectacle but doubling the tally of European Cups meant a great deal to fans of the Reds. And it made a point to Kevin Keegan, who had left Anfield the previous summer ‘œfor the challenge’ and joined SV Hamburg. ‘œWhat greater challenge,’ Kenny Dalglish, who arrived from Celtic to take over Keegan’s No7 shirt, asked, ‘œis there than to retain the European Cup?’ By the time Kenny jumped the advertising hoardings to celebrate his winning goal, Keegan was long forgotten.
31 John Barnes signs, July 19, 1987
There was some resentment among Liverpool fans when the club was linked with Barnes. The knee-jerk reaction was to assume it was a matter of race. It wasn’t. Barnes had flirted with Arsenal when Dalglish’s interest was clear and there was a general feeling that the Watford winger did not want to come to Anfield. All doubts disappeared when the Kop saw him play. Part of a team ‘“ alongside Peter Beardsley and John Aldridge up front – that rivalled the great Liverpool sides.
30 Liverpool 5 Alaves 4, Uefa Cup final, Dortmund, May 16, 2001
After such a long time off the big European stage, it was only fitting that Liverpool should renew their trophy-winning ways in such dramatic style. On the perfect stage, Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion, Markus Babbel’s golden goal in a see-sawing match to add the Uefa Cup to a knockout treble of the FA Cup and League Cup. The travelling Kop were back in Europe in big numbers. The way ‘œYou’ll never walk alone’ resonated around the best football stadium in the world created one of the game’s great sounds.
29 Shankly’s first title, 1964
Promoted in 1962, Shankly was never one to sit around mid-table, especially with Everton winning the league in the Reds’ first year back in the top flight. His ambition was to create a ‘˜bastion of invincibility’ at Anfield and the plan was coming to fruition. Manchester United, the main challengers, were beaten 3-0 on Merseyside in March and Arsenal were walloped 5-0 to seal the trophy. Five years after arriving at the club, Shankly was ready to take on Europe.
28 How to handle defeat, 1971
On the train back from London after losing to Arsenal in the FA Cup Final, Shankly asked Brian Hall, a university graduate: ‘œWho’s that chairman with the red book.’ Hall was bemused. ‘œYou know, in China.’
‘œMao,’ Hall said and Shankly changes the subject. When they arrived in Liverpool, Shankly addressed the crowds waiting outside the Town Hall. After praising their support and behaviour at Wembley, he surveyed the crowd with pride. ‘œEven Chairman Mao has never seen such a display of Red strength,’ he crowed. You still wonder why we’d follow him anywhere?
27 Athens ticket fiasco
Nothing could shake Liverpool supporters’ loyalty. At least that was the theory until the club allocated tickets for the Champions League final this year. Thousands of season-ticket holders were left disappointed by the bizarre distribution method and fewer tickets than expected appeared to reach the fans. Rick Parry, the chief executive, exacerbated the problem by refusing ‘œto play the numbers game’. The mess prompted a protest march and anger. Banners complaining about the allocation have since been suppressed at Anfield. So much for the 12th man.
During the dark days of Thatcherism, a match in London was as much a political statement as a football trip. Thousands of ski-hatted Scousers, Blue and Red, disgorged from trains into Euston station singing in support of the Miners and Liverpool’s Militant Council. Scouse power in action.
25 Liverpool 2 Leeds United 1, FA Cup Final, May 1, 1965
A year earlier, the Shankly revolution had delivered the title, but Liverpool were still the poor relations in the city. Everton, the Mersey Millionaires, still had notions of superiority. The stick that they used to beat their Kopite neighbours was that Liverpool had never won the FA Cup. On May Day the Cup came home to Anfield, courtesy of goals from Roger Hunt and Ian St John. The balance of power had shifted on Merseyside for ever.
24 Liverpool 1 Real Madrid 0, European Cup final, May 27, 1981, Paris
To really play with the big boys, you need at least three European Cups. After all, small clubs can win two ‘“ Nottingham Forest, FC Porto, Manchester United. This was the hat-trick in the Parc des Princes, against one of those big boys. Alan Kennedy completed the job with a late goal at a time when no team in Europe relished playing Liverpool.
23 Replacement on the cheap. Dalglish signs, August 10, 1977
Kevin Keegan leaves for Â£500,000. In comes Kenny Dalglish for Â£440,000. A player like that and money left over? Deal of the century. Genius from Bob Paisley in buying the greatest player to grace Anfield.
22 Celtic v Liverpool, April 30, 1989
The first game after Hillsborough was a friendly in the truest sense of the word. Instead of selling Liverpool fans tickets in a block, Celtic spead them all around Parkhead in small groups, without any segregation. Liverpool won 4-0 but nobody cared. When the whole ground sang You’ll Never Walk Alone at the end, everybody in the stadium cried. Those who lack faith in football fans should have been there that day.
21 The Kop fights back
The game is becoming increasingly globalised with foreign ownership and fans from all corners of the world but, worried about the dilution of Liverpool values, a group of supporters got together to create a movement devoted to protecting the soul of the club. Reclaim The Kop started on January 1 this year and aims to educate newcomers to supporting Liverpool in our ways and keep our culture distinctive. A force for the good in the 21st century and the first wave in a new fans’ movement.
20 Juventus 0 Liverpool 0, Champions League quarter-final, second leg, April 13, 2005
A flashpoint game. At Anfield the Juventus Ultras showed their contempt for Liverpool’s apologies for Heysel by turning the back on the conciliatory mosaic. There followed dark threats about vendettas in Italy. The second leg looked as if there was bound to be trouble. However, the Liverpool fans in Italy kept a low profile and behaved almost impeccably. The match ended in a 0-0 draw, which sent Liverpool through after their 2-1 victory at Anfield. But, more importantly, there was no violence. The best result.
19 Everton 0 Liverpool 5
‘œAnd we played the Toffees for a laugh and left them feeling blue, 5-0!’ A glorious day at Goodison. The home side, with Glen Keeley on loan from Blackburn Rovers playing in defence, could not match a rampaging Liverpool side. Dalglish tormented Keeley for 20 minutes until he was sent off and then Ian Rush ran wild, scoring four. A day still celebrated in song whenever Reds get together.
18 Emlyn Hughes’ magic touch, May 1977
Back from Rome with the European Cup, the players, er, celebrated. When he rose to address the crowd Hughes appeared a touch unsteady on his feet. Carrying an injury, no doubt. ‘œI want you to sing a song,’ he said. ‘œLiverpool are magic, Everton are tragic.’ It was, indeed, the soberest of notions and, recognising that, the red hordes sang it back. Meanwhile, Terry McDermott, more ahead of his time than Martin Peters ‘“ 30 years in fact ‘“ was answering the call of nature and splashing a group of nurses. The next time they ask for a day’s slice of a footballer’s salary, we’ll send Terry round.
17 Liverpool 3 FC Bruges 2, Uefa Cup final first leg, April 28, 1976
Another of the great comebacks. Two down in the first 12 minutes, Liverpool looked out of it for an hour as the Kop built up a head of steam. Then, in a wild five minutes, Liverpool shot into the lead with Ray Kennedy, Jimmy Case scored before a Kevin Keegan penalty sealed victory. The Reds were one down to an early goal in the second leg, too, before Keegan equalised from a free kick. Europe learnt early that you can’t relax when in front against Liverpool.
They’d seen it all before. This time Chelsea would be ready. Surely. Er, no. The Anfield storm blew Jose Mourinho’s team away, again. They were lucky to take the match to penalties as the other three sides of the ground joined the Kop in creating a hurricane of noise.
15 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Liverpool 3, May 4, 1976
The Black Country has seen nothing like it. Untold thousands of Liverpool supporters descended on Molineux in anticipation of seeing the victory that would secure the title. Wolves, fighting relegation, had other thoughts, with John Richards giving them a lead that lasted 75 minutes. But the relentless pressure wore the home side down and, just when safety looked in sight for Wolves, John Toshack equalised. Kevin Keegan got a second and Ray Kennedy provided the icing on the cake. Thousands of Scousers poured on to the pitch to celebrate. Soon they would be invading Europe in similar numbers.
14 Liverpool 1 AS Roma 1 (Liverpool win on penalties), European Cup final, May 30, 1984
A night of great tension and violence, remembered by the television audience for Bruce Grobbelaar’s crazy-legged bravado during the penalty shootout and by those who were in Rome for the sustained assault on Liverpool fans before and after the match, events barely reported in Britain. A day that showed how ugly European football could be. It would get worse.
13 Last day of the Kop, April 30, 1994
The terraces were about to become history at Anfield but the Kop had one last fling when Norwich City arrived for the final day of the season. Designated a ‘˜Flag Day,’ the old terrace rocked like on the great nights as the game went on barely noticed in front of a full house. An era was ending but, in the vibrancy of the flags and banners, a new age was starting. The ethos of the Kop could not be as easily demolished as those concrete steps
What should have been a festive occasion was overshadowed by events five weeks earlier. An exciting match but better remembered for the collective sadness of a city. ‘Abide With Me’ sung in a Scouse accent was a first ‘“ normally it was only our own communal songs – and the eeriness of the minute’s silence, broken only by the cackle of police radios, lives in the mind longer than the action on the pitch.
A year earlier, Kenny Dalglish had taken over as manager amid the debris of Heysel. Seven days before the first all-Merseyside Cup Final, the player-manager had scored the only goal against Chelsea to take the title from under Everton‘s noses. Now, on a frenzied day in the old stadium, Everton took the lead and Liverpool looked about to disintegrate when Jim Beglin and Bruce Grobbelaar squared up. Then Jan Molby took over, Ian Rush scored twice and the Double was secured. And the trains, coaches, minibuses and cars rolled northwards still decked in red and blue with little hint of trouble. Sadly, it could not happen now.
10 Johnny Todd at Anfield, Liverpool v Toulouse, August 28, 2007
You know it as the Z-Cars theme. It is the song that Everton run out to at Goodison Park. It is anathema across Stanley Park. When 11-year-old Rhys Jones was shot, the city was appalled. At Anfield, they showed their respect for the young Evertonian ‘“ and the anger at the killers ‘“ by playing his team’s song. Driven by Tony Barrett, a local reptile, the ensuing show of Scouse solidarity at once moved and inspired pride.
9 Heysel, May 29, 1985
Drunks, anger, charges, dead bodies. A sickening night, forever shrouded in a fog of tear gas and fear. Uefa’s choice of stadium set up a disaster, Liverpool fans did the rest. A night few can look back on with pride. A low point.
After a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge, Jose Mourinho brought his side north confident that they would reach Istanbul. That was until they met the wall of noise waiting at Anfield. After four minutes, Liverpool were up by a disputed Luis Garcia goal that Chelsea claimed did not cross the line. Did the crowd’s ferocity influence the referee and linesman? Only they know but anyone who was there as the six minutes of stoppage time ticked away knows the meaning of the word atmosphere.
7 Winning and losing, 1989
Seconds to go at Anfield and another double looming. Although the team are 1-0 down to Arsenal, unless the London club score a second, then the title is coming home. Then Michael Thomas gets the run of the ball, get clear through on goal and delivers the championship to Highbury in the final seconds of the season. Anfield is stunned into silence. Then, a voice says: ‘œYou know what? Worse things happen. We know.’ Two months on from Hillsborough, thousands of voices said the same thing around the ground and no tears were shed for a losing team. Arsenal and their fans were visibly shocked by their reception.
6 Liverpool 3 St Etienne 1, European Cup quarter final, 1977
Things were going so well. Just 1-0 down from the away leg, Kevin Keegan evened the game up in the first minute. The place exploded ‘“ the gates had been locked more than an hour before kick-off and the anticipation had been building. Then things got tight and, after half-time, when Fabien Bathenay scored from distance, everything seemed to be going wrong. Ray Kennedy lifted hopes with a headed goal but, with 10 minutes left, Liverpool were out on away goals. Enter David Fairclough, supersub. With six minutes left, Kennedy knocked the ball long. It seemed that the rake-thin Fairclough could neither outrace the St Etienne defence, nor stay on his feet as the centre half bundled into him. Yet he did, and struck the ball towards the goal. It seemed to bobble yet it found the net. Chaos. The roof almost came off the Kop. The old ground would not shake like this until Chelsea arrived nearly three decades later.
Kelvin McKenzie, short of publicity, decided to recycle his Hillsborough lies. The BBC, mistaking bombast for opinion, decided to give the man an outlet on television. The Kop responded by spending the first six minutes of this BBC-televised tie standing up and displaying a mosaic saying: The Truth. During this time ‘“ the game at Hillsborough was six minutes old before it was stopped ‘“ the crowd chanted ‘˜Justice for the 96’. The teams, reduced to bit-part players, wandered around the pitch unnoticed. It was a protest the like of which has never been seen before at a football ground and, watching, I have never been prouder.
4 Liverpool 3 Borussia MÃ¶nchengladbach 1, European Cup final, Rome, May 25, 1977
They came every way they could to the Eternal City, more that 20,000 fanatics, some taking a nightmare five-day train journey that would today provoke a human-rights lawsuit. What they saw was an immense performance from Kevin Keegan against a fine German side, stunning goals from local boys Terry McDermott and Tommy Smith to set up a victory that was sealed by a Phil Neal penalty. They danced in the streets and fountains and waved those red chequered flags with glee. European adventures come no better.
3 Half-time, Liverpool v AC Milan, European Cup final, Istanbul, May 25, 2005
‘œThat’s it. Game over,’ Andy Gray said, unable to keep the tone of satisfaction out of his voice. Of course, no one in the Ataturk could hear the television commentary but, at 3-0 down as the break loomed, Liverpool looked beaten. Then, with the players trooped down the tunnel, someone started singing You’ll Never Walk Alone. It started hesitantly, with an undertone of anger, but suddenly turned into the ultimate assertion of culture and belief. When it finished, the tension had lifted and the 40,000 Liverpool fans were no longer broken and defeated, even if the team was. Did this act of faith inspire the subsequent comeback from the team? If it didn’t, they don’t have a shred of soul between them.
2 Bill Shankly arrives, December 1, 1959
The man from Glenbuck came to Anfield, via Huddersfield Town, to find a club in almost terminal decline. Mired in the second tier for five years, Liverpool were going nowhere. ‘œQuite a character,’ the local paper mused. But it was a little bit more than that. This was year zero: nothing would ever be the same again. In the book Here We Go Gathering Cups in May, John Maguire, one of the writers, says: ‘œWho knows what type of person I’d be now if that Scottish fella hadn’t walked into Anfield on a cold December day in 1959’¦’ Maguire was not even born when Shankly left the club, but he understands his legacy. It would be a perfect ending if this was the most important moment to Liverpool fans. If only.
1 April 15, 1989. Hillsborough
First the objections. Why is this more important than Heysel? It is not a case of one set of dead being more valued than another. People were called to account for Heysel ‘“ not enough, sure, but an attempt was made to apportion responsibility. People were jailed, the Belgian government held an inquiry. Officials lost their jobs. There was justice of sorts. That disaster would not have happened without the dreadful behaviour of Liverpool fans. We accept that. It was a peculiar set of circumstances that, removing any one link in a causal chain, could have been avoided.
Hillsborough was different. It could have happened to anyone ‘“ ask Tottenham Hotspur fans, who had a lucky escape when they played Wolves in 1981.
But it happened to us and, instead of trying to get to the bottom of the problem and ensure the safety of fans, those charged with the protection of the public found it easier to blacken the name of innocent supporters ‘“ a libel that lingers on today. The consequences linger with the lies ‘“ the lack of standing, the prohibitive ticket prices. And knowing the sectarian nature of football support and its uncritical biases, it was easy to convince people that we stole from our own dead and urinated on the bodies and the police. Would you do it? Then why are you happy to believe I did. This was not just Liverpool’s disaster, it was all supporters’ disaster. And no game worth 96 bodies ‘“ or 39. The most important moment in our history. Let’s hope the 96 get justice one day, then maybe it will be knocked off the top.