Embarrassment and confusion and were two words you may not associate with a thumping 11-0 win, but they were just two of the emotions from Liverpool’s camp in their record outing back in 1974.
The year is 1974, the Reds have just lost the transformational legend Bill Shankly after he announced his shock retirement following 15 years and 783 games in the top job.
His right-hand man, Bob Paisley, was the man to ascend to the manager’s seat, a reluctant successor who ultimately turned everything he touched into gold.
And he wasted no time in turning one of Shankly’s records into his own, and it came to be with the visit of Norwegian side Stromsgodset in the European Cup Winners’ Cup on September 17, 1974.
How many Reds scored!?
The visit of Stromsgodset was only Paisley’s 10th game in charge of the Reds, but a record of six wins, two draws and a single defeat made for more than solid foundations.
Yet, few would’ve predicted what was to unfold against the Norweigan outfit at Anfield that night.
“It’s a bit embarrassing, but then if we had messed around people would have said they did not get value,” Paisley said after the match, and value is exactly what supporters received.
To the tune of 11-0, Liverpool’s biggest-ever win.
The tone of the match was set inside two minutes when a penalty was conceded by goalkeeper Inge Thun, Alec Lindsay stepped up to convert for 1-0.
It was the first domino that fell in an opening half that was merciless from the Reds, with five goals scored in 45 minutes of football.
Phil Boersma scored the Reds’ second 10 minutes after the first, Phil Thompson made it three after 30 minutes, with Boersma adding his second soon after before a Steve Heighway goal closed out the half.
Liverpool XI: Clemence; Smith, Thompson, Hughes, Lindsay, Cormack, Boersma, Hall, Heighway, Kennedy, Callaghan
Goals: Lindsay 3′, Boersma 13′, 40′, Thompson 30′, 72′, Heighway 42′, Cormack 65′, Hughes 76′, Smith 85′, Callaghan 87′, Kennedy 88′
The longest lull of the match was just 20 minutes, as Stromsgodset came out of the halftime break with a fire in their bellies that would soon be snuffed out.
Peter Cormack was Liverpool’s fifth different goalscorer after being the quickest to react to a clearance that fell his way, with Thompson then notching his second of the night moments later.
Not to be left out of the fun, Emlyn Hughes saw Thompson’s headed goal and raised one of his own before Tommy Smith, Ian Callaghan and Ray Kennedy all found the net in the final five minutes.
Eleven goals, nine different goalscorers. One record win.
“They are the best team we have played against…better than Arsenal, who beat us years ago, and Leeds, who beat us last year. They were far too good for us amateurs,” Stromsgodset chairman Josef Mathisen said.
48 years and counting
“In the second half, I was confused about all the goals. I even had a chat with Emlyn Hughes to try to work out what the score was,” was Thompson’s assessment after the match.
Put simply, midfielder Brian Hall was the only outfield player not to score that night.
Stromsgodset were part-timers and the Echo at the time assessed: “Stromsgodset did their best, but it was nowhere good enough to give them a glimpse of a chance.
“They were clean and sporting, and for that they will be remembered, but they did not have a player who threatened Liverpool’s overwhelming control. The word outclassed was an understatement.”
While Paisley’s men provided a show that would be hard to peel your eyes off of, the Kop did not miss out on the opportunity to show their wit when a cat ran onto the field during the scoring spree.
Perhaps it was attempting to give the Norwegians a reprieve from the onslaught!
It was not enough, though, to stop Liverpool from amassing 11 goals and setting a new club record for their biggest win of all time, which remains firmly in place more than 48 years on.
The victory surpassed the Reds’ previous record of 10-0, set by Paisley’s predecessor Shankly in a thumping win over Dundalk in 1969.
When Liverpool and Stromsgodset met a fortnight later in the second leg of their first round tie, the scoreline was certainly more respectable with the Reds only finding the net once in a 1-0 win.
Paisley’s side would only make it one more round in the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1974/75 thanks to the away goal rule, and it played its part in what proved to be the manager’s only trophyless season.