Tag Archives: Ray Clemence


Liverpool’s opening game of the 2014-15 season may well be the last time Southampton play in front of the Main Stand in its existing form. It was the Saints who were he opposition for the official opening in 1973, when Len Shipman, President of the Football League , narrowly avoided serious injury when he tumbled down the stairs.

The new stand, which was effectively an extension and re-roofing of the old barrel roofed structure, had taken two years to construct. It seated just over 8,000 fans with room for 5,000 standing in the paddock in front. Writing in the match programme for the Southampton game on 10th March 1973 which marked its official opening, Chairman Eric Roberts wrote: Today’s ceremony is the culmination of the rebuilding of Anfield which started just 10 years ago. In this period we have spent over one million pounds in our effort to make this stadium among the best, not only in Great Britain, but also in Europe.

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Roberts went on to say that first and foremost though was the team and that: Uppermost in our minds all the time is the need to see that Mr Shankly and his staff have all the help that the directors can give them, and thus ensure that the club remains in the forefront of League football. There was no doubt that this was the case as at the start of the season the Reds had matched their transfer record to sign midfielder Peter Cormack from Nottingham Forest for £110,000. Then in January 1973 Lou Macari looked set to sign for £200,000 only for the player to choose Manchester United instead as he felt he had a better chance of getting a game there.

Cormack delivered on Shankly’s promise that he would provide extra goals in midfield and with ten games to go the Reds were top of the league on goal average from Arsenal, who had played a game more. It was a thrilling four way title race with Leeds and Ipswich both four points  behind with two and one games in hand respectively, but the Reds had the easiest run in of the challengers and Leeds still had to come to Anfield.

The guest list for the Southampton game was an impressive one, headed by the Duke of Kent, who was also President of the Football Association. He became the first member of the Royal Family to attend a match at Anfield since 1921, when King George V attended an FA Cup semi final between Cardiff and Wolverhampton. Also in attendance was FIFA President Sir Stanley Rous and Football League President Len Shipman (below), as well as League Secretary Alan Hardaker.

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Hardaker was not too popular with Anfield officials who feared a fixture pile-up due to the club’s continued involvement in the UEFA Cup. In midweek the Reds had beat Dynamo Dresden 2-0 at Anfield in the first leg of the quarter final but he confirmed that although the 2nd leg of the semi final was scheduled for 25th April, just two days after Liverpool were due to face Leeds in that crucial league game, that the game could not be re-arranged if the Reds got through. He did make the concession though of allowing the Reds to switch their game at Coventry, due to take place on Tuesday 24th April, thus avoiding the prospect of games on three successive nights. However, that was only because the Sky Blues agreed to playing the game on another date.

Earlier in the season the Football League had suggested the Reds play a League Cup tie in London on a Monday night then fly out to Berlin for a UEFA Cup tie on the Wednesday. Given such incompetent planning, it was probably not surprising that when Liverpool signed Bristol City forward Peter Spiring a few days before the Southampton game, assistant secretary Bill Barlow drove to Lytham St Annes with the transfer forms to make sure they were processed in time.

The Southampton match fell on the day of a train strike, which meant the crowd of 41,674 was the second lowest of the season at Anfield in the league. This disrupted Southampton who had to make the long journey by coach instead and they were followed by just a handful of fans.There was no such travel problems for the Duke though, whose private plane was met at Speke Airport by several hundred onlookers. The Lord and Lady Mayoress were waiting for him on the tarmac and a chauffeur driven car took them to Anfield where a VIP lunch was laid on. Then, as the party made its way from the boardroom down to the foyer, Len Shipman took a tumble and fell down the stairs, banging his head. Club officials quickly helped him to his feet and checked he was OK before he was sent on to join the rest of the guests. 

There seemed to be little concern shown for Shipman by others in the party, as the Duke of Kent, watched by club president T. V. Williams, got on with the business of unveiling a plaque made of Grecian white marble to commemorate the opening of the stand.

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In the game itself Liverpool took a two goal lead when they scored twice within the space of a minute late in the first half through Larry Lloyd and Kevin Keegan. However before the referee blew for the interval there was just enough time for Mick Channon to take advantage of some hesitancy in the Reds’ defence to nip in and head the ball past Ray Clemence after a long punt downfield by the keeper. On the hour Paul Gilchrist equalised after some slack marking but Keegan got the Reds out of jail with three minutes remaining, when he headed in a Phil Boersma cross.

The game may have been nerve racking for the Reds’s fans but the Duke of Kent enjoyed the occasion, commenting afterwards that it was an exciting game and that the crowd had been well behaved and supported their team well. Sir Stanley Rous said the Reds were lucky to have such wonderful supporters although there were no words of encouragement from any of the Football League hierarchy, who perhaps suspected that Shipman was helped on his way when he fell down the stairs.

By the end of the season the new Main Stand witnessed Liverpool being presented with their first title for seven years and there have been no occasions when royalty have attended games since, unless King Kenny gets counted in that bracket.

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.