Category Archives: Famous Wins


Back in the 1960s Leicester were something of a bogey side for Liverpool but as they closed in on the 1964 league title the Reds finally broke the spell. Goals from Roger Hunt and Alf Arrowsmith gave the Reds a 2-0 win, but only after the Filbert Street groundstaff had re-painted the lines and posts.

With nine games to go of the 1963-64 season Liverpool were locked in a three way battle with Everton and Tottenham Hotspur at the top of the 1st Division. The title was in Liverpool’s hands as they had two games in hand on leaders Everton, who were two points ahead, but pundits suggested the Blues had an easier run in. One  of their fans was so confident that he even wrote to the Liverpool Echo suggesting that their fixture against FA Cup finalists West Ham on 25th April should double as the following season’s Charity Shield.

The Easter period, when teams faced a gruelling schedule of three games in four days would prove crucial and Liverpool faced Spurs at both White Hart Lane and Anfield, with the Leicester game sandwiched in between. Everton had home games on successive days against Blackpool and West Bromwich Albion, followed by a trip to the West Midlands for the return game with Albion.

Liverpool’s squad set off for London on the Thursday before Good Friday, the day that ten men were found guilty at Aylesbury Crown Court of various charges in relation to the Great Train Robbery. The Reds’ party of thirteen was without captain Ron Yeats, who was serving a three match suspension  after getting sent of for fighting in an FA Cup tie at Arsenal the previous month. Chris Lawler deputised for him at centre half but otherwise the Reds were at full strength, with Gordon Milne captaining the side.

In front of 56,952 at White Hart Lane, Roger Hunt hit a hat trick as the Reds dominated from start to finish in a 3-1 win. Many of the home crowd had already left when Maurice Norman scored a late consolation, while the threat of Jimmy Greaves and recent £72,000 signing Alan Mullery was completely nullified by the Reds back line.

There was a further boost when news came through that Everton had dropped a point at home, getting booed off in a 1-1 draw with West Brom. There was no time for celebrations though as the squad then headed for Leicester, where they would be playing less than 24 hours later. Bob Paisley had with him an electrical massage box, which was to be used on Milne and Hunt who had both picked up knocks to their ankles, but Shankly was confident they would be fit for the game.

They were joined in the East Midlands by an army of fans who had also gone to London, many not having any accommodation. Once in Leicester, a few fans scaled the low walls of Filbert Street and painted the goalposts, corner flags and line markings red. This exuberance though hid a deep fear that once again the Reds would come unstuck against the Foxes. Since promotion in 1962 Leicester had won all three league games between the sides without conceding a goal, as well as the FA Cup semi final the previous season.

By the morning the rain had led to the repainted markings and posts turning from red to runny pink. Many more Reds fans travelled to Leicester from Liverpool, while Yeats also made the journey, taking a seat in the stands alongside Scottish national manager Ian McColl who would be watching Ian St John, Willie Stevenson and Leicester’s Frank McLintock.

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The game was end to end at the start and much more open than previous encounters between the two sides. Ronnie Moran had a free kick deflected wide and after Tommy Lawrence slipped whilst racing from his goalmouth, Bobby Roberts missed an open goal when he prodded the ball wide.

Then in the seventeenth minute the Reds contingent erupted when Peter Thompson crossed and Hunt’s shot was deflected past Gordon Banks by Richard Norman. Colin Appleton got back to the goal but the ball had already crossed the line when he hooked it clear. As the Reds fans celebrated, every outfield Liverpool player ran to Hunt, all of them dancing with joy.

The rest of the first half was a tough affair, Gerry Byrne having his name taken for fouling Mike Stringfellow and the same happening to Leicester’s David Gibson for a foul on Milne. Thompson almost doubled the lead but he saw a shot headed off the line, but Leicester also came close when McLintock’s thirty yard effort came back off the bar.

Early in the second half the Reds had a let off when Billy Hodgson headed over from close range, but they then took the game to the opposition and another shot, this time from Hunt, was cleared off the line with Banks beaten. At the back Byrne and Moran gave nothing away, Lawler was like  a seasoned pro at centre half and the three of them played great balls to the forwards, creating attack after attack. Leicester were defending just like they had against the Reds in previous games but this time there was a major difference, they were not defending a lead but instead trying to prevent a heavier defeat.

With fifteen minutes left Ian Callaghan clashed heads and was severely dazed, leaving Liverpool effectively playing with ten men. But Leicester couldn’t take advantage of this and with five minutes left Hunt passed to Arrowsmith and he drilled the ball past Banks into the bottom corner to the delight of Reds fans on all four sides of the ground. Before the end it was almost 3-0 but Banks saved Arrowsmith’s shot at point blank range.

The win kept Liverpool in second due to Everton beating Blackpool 3-1. However the tide had clearly turned and in the Daily Post on the Monday Horace Yates wrote how the victory was achieved by unrivalled teamwork and that the two away performances had the ‘stamp of champions.’ The following day Spurs were beaten 3-0 at Anfield which, coupled with Everton’s 4-2 defeat at The Hawthorns, took them to the summit of the 1st Division. They were never off it and won the next three games against Manchester United, Burnley and Arsenal to clinch the title with three games to spare.


On the opening day of the 1946-47 season the first league match at Anfield for seven years saw Billy Liddell and Bob Paisley make their debuts in a game that saw the Reds hanging on after being 6-0 up within an hour.

The 1939-40 season was just three game sold when fixtures were suspended after the declaration of war, with Liverpool’s final game being a 1-0 win over Chelsea before a subdued crowd of 18,000. All records from 1939-40 were officially expunged but when league football began again in 1946, the fixtures were to be the same as had been intended seven years earlier.

Liverpool went on an American tour to get to know each other again and began the domestic season with a 1-0 win at Sheffield United, followed by a 1-0 home defeat to Middlesbrough. Liddell, who had been signed from Lochgelly Violet in 1938 missed both these games through injury, but was passed fit for the Chelsea game.  Paisley was another debutant, being given an opportunity due to an injury to Eddie Spiver. Regular keeper Cyril Sidlow was also out injured and his place was taken by Charlie Ashcroft. Five of the Liverpool line-up had played in the 1939 fixture but as Chelsea’s Dick Spence was injured they fielded all new faces, including former Everton legend Tommy Lawton.

With the Middlesbrough game having been played on a Wednesday afternoon and many fans not making it due to work, this Chelsea game was the first chance many would have to see the Reds. A crowd of nearly 50,000, more than double that for the Middlesbrough game, squeezed in and many fans had to be redistributed around the ground for safety as the stifling heat made the conditions even more uncomfortable.


It took just three minutes for Liddell to get off the mark when he scored directly from a corner, the ball going in off the post. Bill Jones scored two just before the half hour mark and a minute before half time Willie Fagan made it 4-0.  Outside the ground, an estimated 5,000 fans who were locked out were following the game from the cheers of the crowd.

Soon after the restart Jack Balmer made it 5-0 and Liddell got the sixth in the 50th minute when  he weaved through Chelsea’s backs and fired the ball home. He had taken a clout on this run though and was nowhere near as effective for the rest of the game, which saw Chelsea stun the Reds with four goals in a seventeen minute spell.

Paisley came close to a debut goal when he exchanged passes with Liddell but he shot over the bar. Then with three minutes remaining Fagan calmed nerves with a seventh Reds goal, leading to a pitch invasion by many of the youths who were now spread out around the cinder track.

That nights Liverpool Echo concluded that Paisley and Liddell had ‘made a big difference’ and it so proved as the Reds went on to end the season as league champions.



Steven Gerrard may have failed with his third penalty at Old Trafford but 27 years ago Jan Molby did managed to score a hat trick of penalties in a League Cup 4th round replay with Coventry.

The Reds had drawn 0-0 at Highfield Road a week earlier in front of a capacity crowd of nearly 27,000, but Anfield was less than half full for this replay, which took place on 26th November 1986. With the Reds again failing to find the net in the league against Everton on the Sunday, player manager Kenny Dalglish dropped Paul Walsh and recalled himself to the starting line-up. Ex Reds reserve keeper Steve Ogrizovic was in goal for Coventry, who also had Micky Adams and Cyrille Regis in their starting eleven.

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It took just four minutes for Liverpool to get ahead, Dalglish playing the ball into the area where Ian Rush was brought down by Steve Sedgeley. Molby stepped forward and coolly despatched the ball to Ogrizovic’s left as he dived to the right. It was the big Dane’s seventh goal of the season and the sixth from the penalty spot.

Dalglish’s decision to restore himself to the team was certainly paying dividends and he was a constant menace to Coventry’s defence in the first half. He had a shot ricochet into the keeper’s hands and then crossed dangerously for Rush, whose effort was blocked as was that of Steve Nicol who the ball had then rebounded to.  

Dalglish then had a hand in the second penalty in the 39th minute when he collected a pass from Molby before laying it back off to him. As Molby surged into the area he was blocked by Lloyd McGrath and referee George Curtis pointed to the spot. The kick was a carbon copy of he first one, Ogrizovic diving to his right but seeing the ball go to his left.

On the hour Coventry pulled one back when played the ball forward to Dave Bennett who shook off the challenge of Mark Lawrenson to fire the ball past Bruce Grobbelaar from the edge of the area. The goal was very much against the tun of play against a Reds side who had been strolling and it was enough to make the crowd nervous for a while. Coventry suddenly found some momentum and pushed the Reds into their own half, but they were unable to convert this possession into meaningful chances.

With eighteen minutes left Liverpool were given another penalty when Lawrenson played a clever ball into the path of Rush and he was bundled over by Sedgely as he got ready to shoot.  Once again, Molby stepped forward and placed the ball to Ogrizovic’s left, with the keeper diving right for the third time.

The win set up a quarter final with Everton at Goodison, where Ian Rush scored the only goal of the game. A semi final victory over Southampton followed but the Reds were then beaten 2-1 by Arsenal in the final, the first time that Ian Rush had scored for the club and ended up on the losing side.


In 1989-90 two goals from John Barnes helped Liverpool to their first away victory at Manchester United in eight years, keeping the Reds on course for their eighteenth league title.

Despite Liverpool’s league dominance in the 1980s, they always struggled against United and had only won two of the last twenty league meeting between the sides. They had lost three and drawn four of their last four visits to Old Trafford, their last victory there being in 1981-82 when Craig Johnston scored the only goal of the game. 

Going into this game on 18th March 1990 Liverpool were on a twelve match unbeaten league run and second in the table, five points behind Aston Villa but with two games in hand. In contrast United were in serious danger of relegation, just two points separating them from the drop zone after a terrible run of two wins in fifteen matches. Even though form seemed to count for nothing in these fixtures, this was an even worse United side than they usually faced and many of their fans were calling for Alex Ferguson’s dismissal.

The day before this game a crowd of 1,999 at Anfield saw the two clubs reserve sides face each other, Liverpool winning 2-1 thanks to goals from Mike Marsh and Israeli loan signing Ronny Rosenthal. Midfielder Neil Webb made his combeack for United in that game after seven months out through injury, but the main event was deemed too soon. There was better news for Ferguson though when Mark Hughes, who damaged a calf muscle earlier in the week, declared himself fit to play.

Shorly before kick off there was a blow for Reds manager Kenny Dalglish when Steve Nicol failed a fitness test on a leg injury, meaning Steve Staunton took his place. United tried to exploit his inexperience early on when Mike Phelan played a ball down the centre for Brian McClair to chase, but the young Irishman showed great awareness to read the ball and clear.

Liverpool soon took control of the game by imposing their authority in midfield, with Steve McMahon and Ronnie Whelan being far superior to Paul Ince and Clayton Blackmore in terms of both skill and physical strength.

It took just fifteen minutes for them to open the scoring as United’s defensive frailties were ruthlessly exposed. Despite having two men on him Peter Beardsley, who was on the half way line, received a pass from Ray Houghton and swivelled to play the ball into the path of Barnes, who had acres of space. He ran a full forty yards unchallenged to slide the ball under the advancing Jim Leighton for his nineteenth goal of the season.

Liverpool remained in control of the game for the remainder of the first half, their midfield acting quickly to break up any moves that United threatened to create. However there was a moment of hesitation between Glenn Hysen and Alan Hansen that gave Danny Wallace a shooting opportunity. Thankfully for the two central defenders Bruce Grobbelaar was alert and comfortably saved his effort. 

The half time interval didn’t disrupt Liverpool’s momentum and just ten minutes after the restart it was 2-0 after a penalty was awarded following a foul by Viv Anderson on Ian Rush. The Reds’ striker had been put though by McMahon but although United’s defender tried to say it was outside the box, television replays clearly showed referee George Courtney made the right decision. Barnes stepped forward to send Leighton the wrong way to the delight of the Liverpool fans behind the goal in the paddock of the Scoreboard End.

Anderson was immediately taken off by Ferguson and replaced by Mike Duxbury in a double substitution that also saw Russell Beardsmore come on for Wallace. This gave Liverpool even more space in midfield to control things and United were so inept there was no possibility of a comeback, Hughes clearly struggling with his calf problem.

As Liverpool’s fans sang ‘Fergie Must Stay’ and many home fans were heading for the exits with ten minutes left Brian McClair hit a volley that Grobbelaar brilliantly tipped over the bar. It was by far the closest they had come to scoring and just a minute later they were gifted a lifeline when Ronnie Whelan, 25 yards from goal, lobbed the back to Grobbelaar and it sailed over the keeper’s head into the net.

United didn’t seize the opportunity to ensure a frantic finish, their players being no match for Liverpool who were masters of running down the clock. Hansen and Hysen took it in turns to pass back to Grobbelaar and the Reds comfortably held on for victory. They went on to collect a 18th league title at the end of the season,  while nobody could have predicted how things would go on to change in terms of both club’s fortunes in the following two decades.



Reds Win At Spurs to Kick Start Challenge

In 1985-86 Liverpool bounced back from a disappointing derby defeat with a win at White Hart Lane to start off a run that would see them crowned as Champions.

With just twelve games to go Liverpool were eight points behind Everton in the title race, a 2-0 home defeat to the Blues the following week seriously denting their hopes. It wasn’t just Everton that Liverpool had to overhaul if they were to win the league. Manchester United were in five points ahead in second place while Chelsea, who were in fourth and separated from the Reds by goal difference, also had three games in hand.

In the game against Everton Bruce Grobbelaar had inexplicably allowed a low Kevin Ratcliffe shot to squirm under his body, the latest of a serious of gaffes that season. On BBC Grandstand’s Football Focus the day before the Spurs game, it was estimated that Grobbelaar’s errors had cost the Reds as many as fifteen points already that season.

It was a bitterly cold Sunday and Liverpool’s fans setting off for London did so in the knowledge that the game was sill in some doubt. However heavy sanding of the pitch managed to save the day as Spurs were desperate not to lose out on television revenue and late morning the pitch was declared fit for the 3.05pm kick off. There was now even more ground to make up, as the previous day Everton had beaten Aston Villa to open up an eleven point lead.

White Hart Lane, Spurs and English football in general were completely different propositions than now. Although they had been Everton’s main challengers for the title the previous season, Spurs were struggling in the bottom half of the table this time around and the pressure was building on manager Peter Shreeves after three successive home league defeats. The stadium too was crumbling, with three of the four stands dating from before World War II, although it was seen as somewhat modern (for the time) in that it offered both standing and seating on all four sides and was totally covered.

There was no need to worry about tickets, with all terraced areas being pay on the day and admission prices being below £3. Liverpool’s support was accommodated in just two of the four sections in the away end and they were only about half full, with the total crowd being just 16,436 in a ground that could hold close to 50,000.


After just four minutes Liverpool were a goal down and it was again Grobbelaar who had to take responsibility. After turning Chris Waddle’s shot around the post for a corner that was taken by Glenn Hoddle, the Reds keeper jumped for the ball and palmed it goalwards, Waddle helping it over the line.  The rest of the first half was dire from the Reds, who struggled to put more than a couple of passes together on the bone hard pitch and at half time they were given a rollicking by Kenny Dalglish and Ronnie Moran.

The players came out rejuvenated for the second half and played some of their best football for some weeks. Former Reds keeper Ray Clemence made two great saves from Steve McMahon and Craig Johnston, while Jan Molby had a powerful headed bounce back off the crossbar. McMahon, returning after an injury, was dominating the midfield allowing Molby the space and vision to seek out the attackers and it was the big Dane who eventually got the equaliser in the 66th minute.  From a Johnston corner, Ronnie Whelan’s shot rebounded back to Molby who scored with a low drive from the edge of the area.

Liverpool dominated the rest of the game as the temperature remained around freezing point. McMahon hit the bar and Clemence made three good saves from Rush. As the game entered injury time, it was the home side who were whistling for the referee to blow for full time. Then in the 94th minute, Whelan played a defence splitting pass into the path of Rush, who was one on one with Clemence. He calmly stroked the ball past him into the corner of the net, sparking huge celebrations amongst the visiting fans, while Rush was mobbed by most of his teammates.

Rush told the Daily Mail after the match: ‘Bruce was the most relieved man in the ground when I scored the goal. I’m glad for him that I got the winner.’ Grobbelaar himself was honest in his assessment of the mistake that could have cost Liverpool he game, saying: ‘After all the publicity I’ve been getting it was a poor show to make a mistake like that. Fortunately the lads pulled it round for me. In the past I’ve made mistakes and they haven’t been able to do that but this time it might be quickly forgotten.’

The win was the fillip for Liverpool’s title charge. They won ten out of their next eleven fixtures and clinched the league championship on the last day of the season, when Dalglish himself scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Chelsea.


Reds Go Top Unnoticed Due To World Events

A strange omen about the impending Mersey derby on 23rd November 2013 is that it gives Liverpool the chance to go top of he league, fifty years to the day since they went top for the first time in the 1963-64 title winning season.

All the games on 23rd November 1963 though were overshadowed by the assassination of John F Kennedy at 6.30pm British time on the Friday.  A Daily Post journalist was dispatched around some pubs in Liverpool city centre to get some opinions and was told by one drinker: ‘You feel as if you knew him personally. It’s hard to believe that such a thing could take place.’

One pub goer who thought he could bring a humorous touch to the event failed to do so. A planned screening of serial Emergency Ward 10 on ITV was cancelled, leading to a man to comment that they should have left it on as the doctors may have been able to help. The Post reported that he was knocked off his barstool by a left hook from another regular, to the cheers of others.

On the River Mersey ships flew their flags at half mast but life went on and there were no cancellations of the planned football matches, although a period of silence was held at all 1st Division games. The one that took place at Goodison Park though was interrupted by a fan shouting ‘Long Live Kruzchev’ leading to his arrest for a breach of the peace. The shooting clearly did have an effect on the attendance at Old Trafford though as the crowd of 54,654 was less than the 60,000+ which had been expected.

The Reds sat back early in the game and Peter Thompson almost gifted united an opportunity when he tried to play a ball upfield but instead sliced it across the edge of the penalty area. Thankfully Denis Law and Bobby Charlton were taken too much by surprise to capitalise on it. United’s gameplan to stop Liverpool seemed to be to stifle Roger Hunt, which gave Willie Stevenson some space and his hard low shot was only just tipped around the post by Harry Gregg. United hit back though with Albert Quixall having a shot go just over the bar and another pushed away by Tommy Lawrence within the space of a minute.  Ronnie Moran then misplaced a pass into the path of Paddy Crerand, whose cross was headed inches wide by Law.

Most of Liverpool’s attacks were coming from the back, with Hunt dropping back on one occasion and undertaking a thirty yard run, but Jimmy Melia failed to take advantage when the ball was laid off to him and he shot well wide. The Reds had another great chance when Ian St John prodded the ball past Gregg but as it slowly dribbled towards the goal the united keeper managed to recover and get to it before Hunt could help it over the line. United were continuing to look dangerous, with Charlton giving Ferns a hard time and Quixall trying a shot at every opportunity. They then came close to taking the lead in comical fashion when Gordon Milne’s attempted clearance looped over Lawrence’s head but the keeper managed to acrobatically get back to tip the ball over the bar.  United then strongly appealed for a penalty when Ron Yeats tackled David Herd on the edge of the area but the referee waved their claims away.

After surviving the first half onslaught Liverpool almost took the lead shortly before half time when Thompson took a corner which was headed goalwards by Yeats bit cleared off the line by Maurice Setters, who clattered into the post. The game was stopped while both Setters and Gregg, who had been knocked out by Yeats, received treatment with Bob Paisley lending a hand. Gregg was stretchered off the pitch with Herd taking over in goal but Setters was able to carry on. Yeats was booed by most of the crowd when he touched the ball for the first time and after the half time whistle went Gregg continued to receive treatment for a couple of minutes at the side of the pitch before he was able to get up and walk to the dressing room.

When the second half began Liverpool adopted a more attacking approach as they sought to utilise the extra man advantage and United’s lack of a regular keeper. Thompson put in a dangerous cross from the left which was knocked down by Ian Callaghan to Jimmy Melia, whose shot was deflected wide by Noel Cantwell. Thompson then cut inside after Hunt had drew some defenders away from him but his shot was skied well over the bar. After Liverpool’s initial flurry United managed to get to grips with the numerical disadvantage with Quixall posing a significant danger. Ferns was still struggling and hauled back the United winger, leading to calls for his dismissal from the crowd but the referee had a word with him and nothing more.

Liverpool’s best chance came just after the hour mark when St John’s pass got behind Bill Foulkes and gave Hunt a clear run on goal, but his effort was weak and gratefully gathered up by Herd. The stand-in United keeper then had a let off when Crerand hit a poor backpass but he managed get out of the box and clear the ball before St John got to it.  Herd then had to make his first save when Melia hit a low shot near the post after a cross by Callaghan. With fifteen minutes remaining Liverpool took the lead through Yeats, who came forward for a corner and ran onto the ball, stooping low head the ball past Herd and claim his first goal for the club.

United almost got straight back into the game when Setters tried a long range effort but it went just wide of the post, but Liverpool had two good chances to double their advantage with St John and Thompson hitting shots over the bar. With nine minutes left the crowd was stunned when Gregg re-appeared with his arm strapped to his chest to take his place on the right wing. As he went on to the pitch the Liverpool players joined in the applause for a player who turned out to have a fractured collar bone. Gregg only touched the ball once, but Moran was able to tackle him without making bodily contact as the Reds held on for victory.

Cynics may have pointed out that Liverpool had only won the game due to Gregg’s injury, but in his analysis in the Daily Post on 25th November Horace Yates commented that he doubted United could have fought any harder even with eleven men. He also believed that Yeats’s header was so powerful that even Gregg wouldn’t have saved it.  Bill Shankly afterwards pronounced that the Reds scorer was the greatest centre half in the world, while any suggestion that he had been responsible for Gregg’s injury was ridiculed by Yates. He wrote that ‘only the nincompoops’ thought he should take any blame with Yeats himself saying ‘it was just one of those unfortunate things.’ 

With leaders Sheffield United losing at Fulham, it meant Liverpool were now top of the league but only just, with the top four teams being separated only by goal average. By the end of the season though it was far more clear cut as the Reds eventually clinched the title with three games still remaining.