Having a Saturday game on the wrong side of the M25 moved to 8pm on a Monday night isn’t exactly being too considerate for away fans. However, before cursing television too much spare a thought for the travelling Reds in 1994-95 who had to make the trip to Selhurst Park an unprecedented six times, five of them for night games.
The Reds opened their league campaign at Selhurst Park with a fixture against newly promoted Crystal Palace. Roy Evans, who was about to begin his first full season in charge, had so far failed to add to a squad that had finished 8th the previous campaign. However he had been working on getting the team playing the ‘Liverpool Way’ in training and the Reds were 2-0 up in fifteen minutes thanks to a Jan Molby penalty and Steve McManaman strike. Robbie Fowler added a third on the stroke of half time and although Chris Armstrong pulled one back early in the second half, a brace from Ian Rush and another from McManaman completed a 6-1 rout.
Palace were renting their ground out to fellow Premier League side Wimbledon at the time and the Reds were due to play there on 21st January, but the game was called off due to a waterlogged pitch just a couple of hours before kick off. Many travelling fans were on coaches on the M25 when the news of this was announced, with some coaches stopping off in Epsom for a few hours before coming back home.
As if the thought of making that journey around the M25 again wasn’t bad enough, fans already knew that a further trip was guaranteed as the Reds had been paired with Palace in the semi finals of the League Cup. It was then that things got really silly. A last gasp goal from Robbie Fowler at Anfield on 15th February gave Liverpool a slender 1st leg lead, but a week later the 2nd leg was called off. This time though the coaches were there and parked up with many fans already in the ground. A sudden downpour at 6pm took everybody by surprise and the referee called the game off just half an hour before kick off with many fans already in the ground.
Liverpool were back at Selhurst Park the following midweek, but it wasn’t for the re-arranged semi final. Instead it was for an FA Cup 5th round replay with Wimbledon, who had surprisingly held the Reds to a 1-1 draw at Anfield on 19th February. There was no mistake in the replay though as Liverpool put in one of their best ever performances against the Dons, cruising to a 2-0 win thanks to first half goals from John Barnes and Ian Rush. The crowd was a paltry of 12,553 with most of them being Reds fans, many of whom were London based and took advantage of cash admission to help fill the 9,000+ capacity Arthur Wait stand.
On 8th March the Reds were back at Selhurst Park for the third midweek in a row as they played the 2nd leg of the semi final. A 27th minute goal from Robbie Fowler was enough to take the sting out of Palace as the Reds stayed in cruise control to reach their first cup final for three years, which at that time, was considered a hell of a long wait. The crowd for this one was a capacity 18,224 (the Holmesdale Road stand was a building site at the time), with the celebrating Reds restricted to just half of the Arthur Wait stand.
The last trip to Selhurst of the season came on 2nd May for the re-arranged Wimbledon league game. It had a very end of season feel to it, with the Reds already having qualified for Europe due to winning the League Cup. Steve Harkness made a rare start in defence and there was little incident in a 0-0 draw, the main talking point being a hamstring injury to Neil Ruddock, meaning the Reds were now down to just one fit centre back.
Palace went down at the end of the season meaning that apart from 1997-98, when they had a solitary season back in the top flight, it was just one trip per season to Selhurst until Wimbledon were relegated in 2000. Since then, Wimbledon were franchised out to Milton Keynes and the phoenix club play at Kingstonian, while Palace have been in the Premiership just one other season before this one, in 2004-05. We always seemed to get sent there in cups though, in 2000-01, 2002-03 and 2005-06.
Nowadays with no top clubs groundsharing, pitch improvements and League Cup replays being done away with, its hard to imagine a scenario where we’d play 4 four games a season somewhere, then see two of those have to be rearranged.