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.



In the aftermath of Hillsborough I was one of many interviewed by West Midlands Police officers investigating the tragedy.  I was 17 years old at the time and considered myself quite grown up, but in reality I was a child, and I really don’t even know if I should even have been interviewed without a parent or other appropriate adult present. Anyway I was, and I was left feeling at the time that this was going to be a whitewash with any evidence that implicated anybody other than fans being suppressed. West Midlands Police  seemed to have done all it could to get their South Yorkshire colleagues off the hook and shift blame, especially when it came to taking statements from fans who were there. When you look at those documents and others uncovered in relation to their policing of the Everton v Norwich semi final at Villa Park that day, its clear we had no chance of having our voices heard as their minds were already made up. The thoughts of West Midlands police in relation to that also explain the goings on at the 1990 semi final and as you join the dots, it becomes clear for all to see what their agenda was at the time. I was in the corner of the Leppings Lane, having been crushed there in 1986 so I knew full well how dangerous it could be. I hoped to be able to tell the plain clothes officer who came to see me about a month afterwards of this but I was severely restricted from doing so due to the nature of the questionnaire that was devised by West Midlands police. I can still recall being sat there in disbelief being asked repeatedly questions along the line of what time did I leave Liverpool, did I stop on the way, did I drink, did I see anyone drunk, did I see any fighting. I don’t remember getting asked any specific question about had I been to the ground before. Eventually at the end I was able to add it on in a ‘general comments’ bit. All the questionnaires that were answered by Liverpool fans are able to be viewed online and I’ve since been able to trace mine. I was described as a fair witness, even though I’d said I saw people climbing out of the central pens as early as 2.30pm. In total I had to answer 54 questions. The first 8 were fairly routine  – did you go, where was your ticket for, did you go by coach/train, but number 9 starts to get sinister – Did you stop and for what purpose? Early on, they were clearly trying to bring out a conclusion that fans were in no hurry to get there. Whilst looking for mine I came across one that answered along the lines of stopping for a drink in a pub on the outskirts of Sheffield, and the ‘drink’ was underlined. Number 10 is about travel delays (the M62 north of Manchester was awfully slow that day), then 11 and others which quickly followed return to the theme they want it to – did you see anyone drinking and did you witness disorder being 11 and 15. Numbers 12 and 16 are interesting – what time did you arrive in Sheffield and what time did you get to the ground, as they sought to show how fans didn’t get to the ground quick enough once there. The notion at that time that football fans were human beings who may want a bite to eat, a drink or even do something touristy and take in a museum was alien to them – basically fans were expected to go straight into the ground or else. Other questions between 10 and 20 related to how helpful signs and stewarding was outside. For questions 20 to 33 it was about how people got into the ground, nothing too controversial there really, as answers were sought as to how many people may have got in without showing tickets or how many officers were available to give directions inside. But by 34 and 35 it gets nasty again as fans are invited to describe any alcohol consumption and disorder they witnessed, with a much bigger space made available, as if it was expected there would be plenty to speak about. 36-41 relate to where you were and with whom you were with in the ground (not sure why who you were with really matters) and if you saw any barriers break, then the negatives are back at 42 –did you see any fights/disturbance at the time of taking up your match viewing point. 43 to 47 relate to being involved in the crush and the extent of any injuries received, then 48 is about what assistance you may have given to anybody who was dead or injured.  Less space is provided on the form for the description of any help given than is allowed for descriptions of drunkenness, which just about sums up the whole tone of what they wanted to hear. It then moved on to when you left the ground and whether it was by own accord or under direction of stewards, then number 52, just in case you may have forgotten earlier, asks if you witnessed a criminal offence. Number 53 asks if there’s any comments you wish to make about the way the incident was handled after play was stopped, then finally number 54 asks if there is ‘anything you wish to add which you feel is vital to this judicial inquiry’, allowing slightly more space than is allowed to describe drunkenness and criminality. In composing the questionnaire, the West Midlands Police felt the need to ask about criminal activity once, alcohol three times, disorder three times and timekeeping four times. Crowd control was asked on five occasions, although this could easily have been combined into three questions, in that they have twice said ‘did you see police at this point’ followed immediately by ‘did you see stewards at this point’ when those could have been asked as one question. Overall the whole questionnaire gives a complete air of looking to build up a picture that drunkenness and disorder was evident and widespread before, during and after the tragedy occurred. There is nowhere in there whatsoever , except at the end and with very little space, to make additional comments such as the one I wanted to make – that the Leppings Lane terrace was very unsafe as I had been in there and got crushed before. The West Midlands Police’s attitude to the people of Liverpool has become apparent through the documents released, one of which shows they should never have been allowed to conduct that investigation in the first place. A letter from J Mervyn Jones, their Assistant Chief Constable , written to Robert Whalley, Secretary of Lord Justice Taylor’s enquiry on 9th June 1989 regarding the Everton v Norwich semi final at Villa Park says ‘I expressed my concern about aspects of that event which reflected similar behaviour to the Liverpool supporters at Hillsborough. I had not previously experienced dealing with supporters in such great number who had consumed so much alcohol. Consequently the accounts that I have read on Liverpool supporters behaviour at Hillsborough show some remarkable coincidences which may indicate some Liverpool characteristic.’ This was less than two months after the tragedy, yet he is using the term ‘Liverpool supporters’, not even inserting the prefix ‘some’, which even the S*n headline did. It really does beggar belief that the behaviour of Evertonians at Villa Park can somehow be linked to what happened 70 miles away in Sheffield but that letter makes it quite plain what conclusion they wanted to draw, regardless of what the fans questionnaires actually told them. But as long as there were enough questions in there about drink and scope to underline anyone who dared to admit having one then their job was done. What was this ‘characteristic’ anyway. Jones attached three statements to his letter, from a chief superintendent, a chief inspector and a sergeant. The first two describe that when the game kicked off 4,000 Evertonians were still outside and uncooperative as they queued to get in, but the sergeant’s actually says that he didn’t witness any disorder and crucially that him and another mounted officer took steps to facilitate better queuing by blocking off an area where fans may end up getting crushed i.e. successfully manage the situation of a large crowd desperate to see the game. 25 Evertonians were arrested, but so what. More people are arrested every day of the Mathew Street festival.  The issue is not about whether fans had a drink but how that is managed – West Midlands Police managed it well, Merseyside Police at Mathew Street manage things well, but to help out their South Yorkshire colleagues West Midlands Police were willing to smear the city completely. What triggered ACC Jones to write that letter? Well, two weeks earlier on 24th May 1989 he had been compelled to reply to a question from Mr Whalley regarding the tone of his forces questionnaire. This was after Jones was faxed a letter written by a fan to Taylor that criticised it for being defensive and putting a disproportionate weighting to drunkenness and disorder, as well as structured in a way that the officers wrote down their own words for the answers, not the exact ones spoken by the witnesses. Jones’s letter to Whalley tries to justify the tone of the questionnaire and says that only three questions – 11,15 and 35 refer to drunkenness and disorder. That itself was an outright lie as 34 and 42 did, while 52 referred to ‘criminal offence’ (which I suppose could have been answered with ‘misconduct in a public office’ but I’m sure that wasn’t the answer they were hoping to receive). Jones then says that ‘Question 54 was the final catch all question designed not to inhibit any person from giving any information.’ The problem is, by then, how many fans would have told the officer to fuck off out their house having been repeatedly asked about alcohol and disorder. In 1990 Liverpool reached the semi final again and this time were drawn against Crystal Palace, with the FA allocating the game to Villa Park with Manchester United v Oldham being played at Manchester City’s Maine Road. The West Midlands Police demonstrated their true feelings to the people of Liverpool in the handling of this game. This was the first year semi finals were televised and you would have expected  the Manchester game to be the early one, but it wasn’t. For reasons that we can only speculate, West Midlands police didn’t seem to want Liverpool fans in the vicinity of Villa Park before the pubs opened (this was when licensing hours were strict, and on Sundays in 1991 pubs opened at 12). An accident on the M6 caused chaos but the kick off wasn’t delayed as that would have fucked up the double headed television coverage, so thousands were still on the M6 when Liverpool scored. Our coach was parked at the Alexander Stadium, a good mile and a half from Villa Park and after a run I finally got there just before half time. A police officer next to the turnstile said ‘DIDN’T YOU LOT LEARN ANYTHING LAST YEAR.’ It summed up the culture of West Midlands Police and their attitude to Scousers. The year after that semi final the court of appeal quashed the convictions of the Birmingham Six, six men who had been jailed in 1975 for bombing a pub in Birmingham. Their conviction was ruled unsafe due to lack of forensic evidence, fabrication and suppression of evidence, and the way ‘confessions’ had been extracted – including by sleep deprivation, beatings and a mock execution. Fabrication and suppression are key words there, link it to the comment that was made to me, ACC Jones’ letter and the questionnaire and all the dots are joined when it comes to West Midlands Police. We were fitted up good and proper by them in their investigation. They need to be brought to task as well.


In the second home game of 1966-67, Liverpool beat newly promoted Manchester City with a late winner after they had surrendered a two goal lead.

Champions Liverpool had won their opening game of the season against Leicester, but two away trips since then had ended in defeats to Everton and Manchester City. In addition to beating the Reds a week earlier, newly promoted City had won against Sunderland and drawn with Southampton and had hopes of maintaining their unbeaten start to the season.

The clash with City was set for Tuesday 30th August 1966 and the City team stopped off in Lymm on their way to Liverpool for an early evening meal. Leaving in what they thought was good time, they got caught in a rush hour traffic jam and then were held up in matchday congestion once they got near the ground.

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With just half an hour to go until kickoff, the City squad had no choice but to leave the coach and make the rest of the journey on foot, hauling the kit skips with them. Needless to say the ribbing they got from Reds fans was merciless and on arriving at the ground, there was no time for any preparation or teamtalk as the kickoff had already been delayed for a short time.

Liverpool were swift to punish their opponents and with Peter Thompson in fine form on the wing, they were 2-0 up inside the first seven minutes through Roger Hunt and Geoff Strong. However, City managed to regain their composure and Jimmy Murray pulled a goal back before half time. In the 2nd half City stunned the Reds when Matt Gray scored an equaliser. However, their earlier ordeal finally took it’s toll and Roger Hunt got Liverpool’s winner ten minutes from the end.

For City manager Joe Mercer, an ex Everton player, the defeat had been hard to bear as he was keen to do the league double over the Reds so early in the season. He blamed the coach driver for taking the route he did (the M62 was just at the planning stage then) but they still hadn’t recovered by their next game. Seven days later West Ham beat them 4-1 at Maine Road.



Thirty seasons ago Liverpool enjoyed a comfortable 3-1 win against table topping West Ham at Upton Park, with Michael Robinson hitting a hat trick to the disbelief of Kenny Dalglish.

Signed that summer from Brighton and Hove Albion for £200,000, Robinson had struggled to make his mark on the Liverpool side so far. He hadn’t scored in his first eight league appearances, although he had got two in a comfortable 5-0 win at Anfield over Odense Bk in the European Cup.

Whilst Robinson struggled individually, the team were also taking their time to get going under new manager Joe Fagan. They were sixth in the table and had lost two of their opening eight games. West Ham were the early pacesetters at the top and had won all four of their home games, scoring fifteen goals in the process but on this particular afternoon they were made to look ordinary by a rampant Reds side.


Fagan made one change to the line-up, Phil Neal being recalled in place of Steve Nicol. He almost gave the Reds the lead in the eleventh minute when he hit a low shot from a corner that Phil Parkes dived to his right to save. This was Parkes’ first save of the game, with an earlier effort from Graeme Souness going well wide and an attempted headed clearance by Ray Stewart going over him but thankfully bouncing off the crossbar.

The deserved opening goal came after fifteen minutes courtesy of a huge wind assisted punt downfield by keeper Bruce Grobbelaar, the ball landing in the ‘D’ of the penalty area. As Parkes raced out of his goal to try and punch the ball clear Robinson bravely flung himself forward and headed it into the net. There was little celebration though as he fell awkwardly and had to be treated by Ronnie Moran before play resumed. 

The second came in the 25th minute after Billy Bonds had made a complete hash of a Craig Johnston cross, heading the ball high into the air. When it landed Souness cleverly backheeled it into the path of Robinson, who fired it home with his left foot from the edge of the six yard box. Liverpool were in total control with Alan Kennedy and Ian Rush both forcing Parkes into making good saves and Grobbelaar didnt make his first save until the 39th minute, when he easily held on onto Steve Whitton’s low shot.

The second half began in monsoon type conditions and Liverpool were now against the wind, but West Ham couldn’t use it to their advantage. In the 57th minute Rush took a knock and was replaced by David Hodgson, then in the 64th Craig Johnston was sent off for a second bookable offence after he had fouled Billy Bonds.

If Grobbelaar hadn’t turned Alan Devonshire’s shot round the post with his legs the Reds could have been in for an uncomfortable final quarter of the game, but with Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson in total control at the back they never looked like losing their lead despite being down to ten men.

Robinson completed his hat trick in the 74th minute after a clever ball into the box from Kenny Dalglish. After letting it bounce once, Robinson struck it on the half volley from near the penalty spot, giving Parkes no chance. He then ran with his arms raised to the celebrating Liverpool fans in the corner section of the South Bank terracing where they were gathered.

West Ham’s consolation came four minutes from time and was one of Grobbelaar’s classic mistakes. Trevor Brooking went on a good run and laid off to Alan Devonshire, who burst into the box and hit a low shot towards the right hand corner of the goal. Somehow, in trying to turn the ball around the post the Reds’ keeper instead managed to divert it under his body into the net. Although it was academic, he was still given a load of verbals from an arm waving Alan Kennedy.

In the dressing room after the game, all of the players signed the match ball with Dalglish adding ‘I don’t believe it.’ The win lifted the Reds up to fifth in the table and was the start of a four match winning sequence that would take them to the top by early November. Liverpool would eventually end the season with a third successive championship, while also adding the League Cup and European Cup, in which Robinson came on as a substitute for a tiring Dalglish in the final.

Robinson left Liverpool in December 1984 for Queens Park Rangers. This treble was half of his final total of six goals in thirty league appearances and his first team opportunities were seriously hindered by the arrival of Paul Walsh. In 1987 he joined Osasuna in Spain and has lived there ever since, carving out a successful career in punditry after he retired from playing.

When interviewed by Simon Hughes for his book Red Machine, many Reds players who played with Robinson said he was the most likely to go on and have another career in later life. Many of them have joked that he is better analysing the game than playing it and Robinson himself replied ‘I couldn’t disagree with that.’ Nobody can take away this massive contribution he made to Liverpool’s league title win that season though.


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.




Fifty years and one day before Liverpool travel to the Emirates Stadium for an FA Cup 5th round tie, the two sides met at Arsenal’s old home of Highbury, Liverpool progressing thanks to Ian St John’s goal.

A week before the cup tie, the Reds were beaten 3-1 by Everton at Goodison Park, meaning they dropped to third in the table. But there was no time to dwell on the derby defeat for captain Ron Yeats, who travelled to Largs straight after the game with victorious opponents Jimmy Gabriel and Alex Scott for a Scottish national team training camp.

Melwood was quieter than normal on the Monday and Tuesday, with Yeats in Scotland and Roger Hunt, Peter Thompson and Gorson Milne at an England squad get together in Matlock. Bill Shankly was not happy about Alf Ramsay’s sessions at all, especially when Blackburn’s Keith Newton suffered cartilage damage. He told the Daily Post: ‘It might so easily have been one of our own players. This special training question is a matter of doing something that is going to be useful at the right time. It might have been better at the get-together to have been satisfied with talks and tactical functions without any real strenuous exertions. They actually played two games, players at this time of the season do not need extra training.’

Shankly was also not happy about Liverpool’s kick off being put back to 3.15pm, to ease congestion as Tottenham were also at home that day, starting at 2.45pm. The Reds’ party was booked to return on the 6pm train but despite protestations the kick off time was upheld and the Metropolitan Police promised to escort the players to Euston. Around 15,000 Liverpool fans made the journey to North London, with nearly 1,000 travelling with Ribble Motor Company, whose coaches set off at 11.30pm on the Friday night. A select group even travelled by plane, the Shareholders’ Association chartering a 58 seat Viscount aircraft which was £6 for the return flight and coach to Highbury. 


Following a poor attacking display against Everton, Shankly decided to make a change and dropped Jimmy Melia, bringing in young forward Alf Arrowsmith in his place. The teamsheet implied that Arrowsmith would be an inside forward as he was numbered ten, but when the players took up position it was clear he would be playing in the centre with St John taking up Melia’s role. This confused Arsenal as they were subjected to him chasing everything very early on, linking well with Ian Callaghan and almost forcing Ian Ure into a short backpass.  Arrowsmith was everywhere, on one occasion going down the right wing to put in a cross that was shepherded back to keeper Jim Furnell by Vic Groves, only for the Reds forward to run up and try to block the kick from his hands.

Arsenal were beginning to get on top early on, with Tommy Lawrence saving from both Geoff Strong and John Snedden and Ron Yeats needing to be his best to win the aerial battles. Then in the fifteenth minute the Reds took the lead with their first real chance of the game. Gordon Milne floated a ball into the box and St John ghosted in unnoticed at the far post to score with a low header that was greeted by pandemonium amongst the Liverpool fans amassed on the Clock End. Less than a minute later Arsenal were almost level when Strong hit a shot that Lawrence couldn’t hold but Gerry Byrne got there to clear the danger.

Lawrence had another escape when he dropped the ball from a corner and Yeats cleared but only as far as Eastham. He fired the ball low towards the goal but the Reds’ keeper made up for the previous error by turning the ball around the post. Arsenal then had a huge penalty appeal turned down when from a corner Eastham’s shot was blocked on the line by Ronnie Moran, with the crowd screaming for handball.  Photographs later showed it had been headed away but even if it had struck Moran’s hand it had been travelling so fast there was no way he could have got it out the way. They had two more appeals turned down in quick succession with fouls being waved away and this led to some oranges being thrown at the referee and linesman. They could only sportingly applaud Lawrence though when he made what Leslie Edwards described as the ‘save of a lifetime’ in that night’s Echo, the Reds’ keeper managing to adjust his dive in mid air to turn away a deflected Armstrong shot.

Seven minutes before half time Joe Baker and Yeats went down together after a foul on the Liverpool skipper. Both got up exchanging punches before Yeats went back down with a cut eye, leading to Bill Shankly coming onto the pitch to check he was ok. The referee, who had been following play, came back and promptly dismissed both men from the field and told Shankly to leave too, but not before he had quickly given some tactical instructions to players. It led to both sides having fiery tempers and St John was furious when he was denied a penalty after apparently being tripped from behind by Billy McCulloch. The Arsenal left back then turned his attentions to Ian Callaghan, fouling him near the touchline and receiving a booking, while the Liverpool winger needed treatment. There was little more goalmouth incident before the break, the only chance of note being a Strong header that was well held by Lawrence.

Thankfully for the Reds the half time interval did Callaghan good and he came out not showing no signs of limping. He was soon a danger down the flank and put in a cross for Arrowsmith but his volley was just wide. Arsenal were not playing like  a team that were a goal down in a cup tie, as they passed the ball around too much and didn’t try to break the strong Liverpool defence, which now had Willie Stevenson playing at centre half with St John dropping from inside left to left half. Too many times they resorted to long shots and the Reds were happy to sit back and try to catch them on the break for a second goal. Despite the beckoning of Strong, too many of the home players remained near the halfway line with only Eastham posing any real threat. Liverpool looked more likely to increase rather than surrender their lead and Peter Thompson had a low right foot shot well held by Furnell. Lawrence was first called into action when Armstrong crossed for Strong, whose downward header was caught by the keeper.

Towards the end of the game Arsenal did increase the pressure, but Stevenson was doing a great job at centre half and on one occasion cleared a Snedden header off the line. Arrowsmith was by now playing as a lone striker and struggled to deal with the offside trap, but he did spring it once to round Furnell only to roll the ball wide. Liverpool continued to weather the storm, then in injury time Arrowsmith again broke clear and went past Furnell, only to be rugby tackled by the ex Reds’ keeper. A penalty was awarded but Hunt’s kick was saved by Furnell. There was no time for Arsenal to go down the other end and score and the final whistle was greeted with a pitch invasion by hundreds of travelling fans. Also with them was Yeats, who couldn’t bear to watch the game after his sending off so had instead changed and gone to a local coffee bar, arriving back just as Hunt was placing the ball on the penalty spot.

It was a great victory for the Reds. They hadn’t played attractive football but they had done what they needed to do and Bill Shankly said afterwards: ‘We knew it would be hard, we prepared for a tough fight. I was proud of Liverpool, every man Jack of them.’ St John called it a ‘real tonic after we were right down in the dumps after our showing against Everton.’ The Reds may have had a police escort to get them home but not all fans had it so easy. Twenty fans missed their coach and had to come home courtesy of British Rail, who agreed to let them travel without tickets providing they promised to pay when sent a bill. The Reds were through to the quarter finals for the second year in a row, but were surprisingly beaten 2-1 at home by Swansea in the next round.

Liverpool Win At Fulham As Liddell Dropped

When Liverpool went to Craven Cottage in 1958-59, the unthinkable happened as star player Billy Liddell was dropped from the side, but the Reds still returned with a victory.

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After five wins and five defeats from their opening twelve games, hopes of promotion were already diminishing for the Reds. Fulham, on the other hand, were unbeaten and flying high in the in he second promotion spot, nine points clear of Liverpool and with five wins from their opening six home fixtures.

The greatest talking point before the game was that of the team selection, as Scottish international Liddell, a virtual ever present since 1946, was sensationally left out and Louis Bimpson called up in his place. Liddell had scored nine goals from nine appearances so far that season, whilst Bimpson hadn’t featured at all and had never won the crowd over in previous appearances. Speculation about Liddell’s future intensified when he was also left out of the reserves side and manager Phil Taylor chose not to attend the game, going on a scouting mission to Grimsby instead.


Despite all the upheaval, the Reds were able to put in a resolute first half display with the defence repelling everything that was thrown at them. Reserve keeper Doug Rudham, a late replacement for Tommy Younger who had suffered a hand injury, belied his deputy status. Up front Alan A’Court was a constant threat and helped silence a previously confident home crowd. Unfortunately the other forwards, Bimpson in particular, failed to make use of his pinpoint crosses.

Liverpool upped the tempo in the second half and totally overwhelmed Fulham. The forwards played much more as a unit with Fred Morris and Jimmy Melia being very impressive, the former hitting a tremendous shot against the post. But Bimpson had a quiet game and it was clear he was not the answer to the Reds striking problems as he missed a number of chances. The ex Burscough man did get the game’s only goal however with a simple finish after A’Court had crossed in low from the left.

The win was a vital one for the Reds, who desperately needed to peg back Fulham.  With new leaders Sheffield Wednesday next up at Anfield, there was renewed optimism that a good run could be put together to get back in the promotion frame.  For that game Liddell was again left out, with the Board taking the unprecedented step of explaining his omission in the programme. Calling Liddell the greatest player the club had ever had who they hoped would have ‘many more games in the Reds jersey’ they wrote:

‘Every player in the game reaches the time where he can not satisfy without some relief. The greatest players of the game have shown the wisdom of a lighter programme of games in order that they can give their best and prolong their playing career. Our readers can be rest assured that the action taken was believed to be in the interests of the player as well as the club’

The team selection again proved justified as Liverpool came from 2-0 down to win 3-2, but there was again to be no promotion, as they finished a distant third behind Fulham and Wednesday. Liddell was used sparingly that season, and the next, eventually hanging up his boots in 1960-61 aged 38.



Liverpool Win 1st Title at West Brom

Liverpool won the first of their 18 League Championships when they beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 at The Hawthorns on 29th April 1901.

Three months earlier, Liverpool had looked anything but champions lying eighth in the table. However  a 1-0 win at leaders Sunderland on the 23rd of that month  was the first of an eleven game unbeaten run that was to bring them to the brink of glory.

On 27th April Liverpool beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 at Anfield to go level on points with Sunderland, who had completed their fixtures, at the top of the league. However Liverpool had an inferior goal average meaning that one more point was still needed to clinch the championship.

In front of a crowd of 4,000, both sides had chances early on but failed to capitalise until Liverpool took the lead when Albion’s keeper was only able to parry a Raybould shot, leaving John Walker(below) to slot home the rebound. Although Albion were already relegated, they continued to give Liverpool a game and bombarded the goal for a large part of the second half, but the Reds held out for victory.


At the end of the game the players surrounded the team’s captain, Scottish international Alex Raisbeck and lofted him shoulder high before Football League officials presented Liverpool with the trophy. The team travelled home by train, where they were greeted by thousands of fans that were waiting at Central Station at midnight. As a band played The Conquering Hero Alex Raisbeck was once more carried around on peoples shoulders, but this time the rest of the team were given the honour too. However, the crowd refrained from lifting larger than life manager Tom Watson.

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The players and club officials finally arrived back at Anfield in the early hours where the trophy was proudly displayed in the boardroom to the delight of club founder John Houlding, who would sadly die a year later aged 70. The next day, the Daily Express was very praiseworthy of the Reds, writing ‘Their late form has been good enough for anything and tom Watson and his team are to be congratulated’.


Liverpool Overcome Valiant Effort

On 27th January 1964 Liverpool kept up their hopes of an League Championship and FA Cup Double when they overcame plucky Port Vale after extra time in a 4th round replay at Vale Park.

Just two days earlier the 1,000/1 outsiders from the 3rd Division has stunned Anfield when they held the Reds to a 0-0 draw. Liverpool Chairman T.V. Williams said afterwards that Vale did not deserve to lose a game in which former Reds reserve forward John Nicholson went close to scoring in the second half.

Not everyone else was quite as complimentary however, with forward Ian St John criticising them for putting too many players behind the ball, writing in his Daily Post column that ‘word seems to have got around that the only way to beat Liverpool is to bolt and bar the way to goal with a packed defence.’ in the Liverpool Echo, Reds correspondent Leslie Edwards was critical of St John and his fellow forwards, saying they had played too narrow and it was Vale who created the better chances.

The 1,200 fans who left Lime Street in the late afternoon on three football special trains were the last to do so for quite a few years. That morning, British Rail announced that following vandalism on a train carrying Evertonians home from their cup tie at Leeds on the Saturday, the latest in a long line of incidents, they would not be running any more specials from the city. Fans queuing for the trains expressed disappointment, as the specials fares were about 60% of the price of the regular services.

Bill Shankly took an unusually large squad of fifteen players to the game, making sure he had an extra man in each department should anyone still have any aches and strains from Saturday. When kick off approached he decided to make some changes and go for experience, recalling Ronnie Moran and Jimmy Melia in place of Bobby Thomson and Alf Arrowsmith. Moran’s return was no great surprise, but Melia’s inclusion raised some eyebrows. The winger was often made the scapegoat by the crowd when the team struggled and he was rumoured to be set for a move elsewhere. It was harsh on Arrowsmith, who had scored four in the previous round against Derby County and followed this up with a wonderful late winning strike against Chelsea the week after.

There was a huge crowd of 42,179 at the game and it was estimated that another 6,000 got in when the gates were rushed at the Railway End. A man from Leek died of his injuries a few weeks later, but such events were not seen as unusual at this time and the incident didn’t even get a mention in the Echo or Post.

Vale didn’t take the game to the Reds as expected, instead defending deep and employing a man marking system which shackled St John and Melia. It took half an hour for the Reds to have a meaningful shot on goal when Peter Thompson’s drive from outside the box shaved the bar as it went over. Five minutes later though Liverpool did take the lead, Roger Hunt breaking free of his marker to latch on to a long ball from Gerry Byrne and cleverly guide it past Tom Hancock.

The second half was no different from the first, with Vale seemingly accepting that their chance had gone. Tommy Lawrence didn’t make his first save until the hour mark, easily holding a low shot from John Rowlands, but despite being in control of things the Reds failed to up their game and finish the tie off. They paid the price with eleven minutes to go when Rowland beat Moran on the left flank and crossed to Stan Steele who nodded the ball down into the path of Albert Cheeseborough, a last minute replacement in the side for the injured Jackie Mudie. Vale’s stand in striker hit an unstoppable shot past Lawrence to the delight of the home crowd. Revitalised, Vale went for the jugular and only the solidity of Moran and Ron Yeats prevented them finding a winner before the ninety minutes were up.

Half time saw very little action, with both sets of players tiring after playing ninety minutes for the second time in three days. There were just two minutes left when Gordon Milne hit a hopeful shot that cannoned off a defender into the path of Peter Thompson, whose volley flew into the top corner. This led to delirium amongst the thousands of Liverpool fans in the ground, two of whom fell through the roof of the railway end and had to be taken to hospital along with another supporter his by falling debris.

For the remainder of the game the Liverpool supporters sang ‘When The Saints Go Marching In’ and ‘We Love You Yeah Yeah Yeah’, then the final whistle was greeted by a mini pitch invasion. Although there was some over exuberance, the behaviour of fans was otherwise exemplary, with none of the special trains being damaged and the licensee of the nearby Star Hotel telling the Post reporter: ‘I have never met a finer lot of people than I did last night. They drank well and behaved well and if they ever come to Burslem again there will always be a welcome for them and their supporters.’

In the next round Liverpool beat Arsenal 1-0 at Highbury, only to be sensationally knocked out by 2nd Division Swansea Town at Anfield in the quarter final. In the league they more than made up for it though, clinching their first title since 1947 with three games to spare.