No. 8 – Super Sub David Fairclough

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Liverpool 3-1 St.Etienne
European Cup Quarter Final, 2nd Leg

Date: March 16th, 1977
Venue: Anfield
Attendance: 55,043

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Que Sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, we’re going to Italy, que sera, sera….. The atmosphere was electrifying, the tension was rising, the expectations had been felt hours before kick off. On entering Anfield nobody ever considered they were about to witness one of the Greatest Anfield European nights ever that would have immortality bestowed on it…. The whole of Anfield were in full chorus, even the thousands of St. Etienne fans in the Anfield Road End were belting out Allez les Verts….

Just 1-0 down from the away leg, the odds had been slightly against the Reds. As both teams entered the pitch, Anfield erupted, you could sense this would be an inspiring, tense night…. Just 2 minutes into the game, Kevin Keegan had the Reds ahead when he lobbed the ball past the French goalkeeper, Curkovic. The fans began to believe, both sets of supporters were trying to outmatch each other! The Kop was just a sea of more than 25,000 people with wave after wave of people being drawn back and forth towards the goal line as each Liverpool attack unfolded! The sheer passionate noise was just incredible! Half time came and Liverpool were still 1-0 up on the night…… (1-1 on aggregate)

With the massed 5,000 French supporters singing “Allez Les Rouges” the French equalised 6 minutes after the interval. Bathenay beat the offside trap, sprinted onto a long ball and sent the ball dipping over Cleamance from 25 yards out. Saint Etienne were back ahead on aggregate again. The Kop was silenced but erupted again 10 minutes later in the 59th minute when Ray Kennedy blasted the Reds back into the lead, but with the French having an away goal, Liverpool were still on their way out, Liverpool had to push forward looking for the winning goal…. With our European hopes vanishing, the atmoshere became an unbearable tension.

As Toshack hobbled off injured, Manager Bob Paisley sent Fairclough on in the last 20 minutes of the game and the red-haired striker, only just 20 years old, responded in style. With 6 minutes remaining, Fairclough collected the ball just beyond the half way line. As the Kop heaved with anticipation, Fairclough sprinted 35 yards and swayed past the French defender before showing the skill, the cool nerve and calmness to strike the ball past the advancing French Goalkeeper, Curkovic, sending the densely packed terrace into raptures and cementing his place in Liverpudlian folklore forever…

There was pandemoinium in Anfield, It was uncanny how many times David Fairclough responded to Bill Shankly or Bob Paisley’s prompting by going on the field to turn the fortunes of the game between 1973 and 1983. The last 6-8 minutes were just a blurr to me as Liverpool held out to win 3-1. It was a night of tension, drama, elation, frustration and sheer jubilation, as Liverpool won a tactical battle that stretched them to the limits. A night Liverpool fans would never ever forget…..

Anfield had rarely seen the atmoshere and tension as they had this night on March 16th 1977. The frantic atmosphere and spine tingling emotions was one of the most inspiring ever witnessed at Anfield as Liverpool held out to win 3-2 on aggregate. Que Sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, we’re going to Italy, que sera, sera….. Liverpool progressed to the semi’s and then onto the final where they would eventually bring the European Cup home to Anfield for the very first time.

Liverpool’s Team : Clemence, Neal, Jones, Smith, Kennedy, Hughes, Keegan, Case, Heighway, Toshack (Fairclough), Callaghan
Goals : Keegan (2), Kennedy (59), Fairclough (84)

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