featured large in Liverpool's recent history, bringing a sad end to a
period of dominance in the English game that spanned nearly 10 years.
However, it all
started a long time ago, when a group of kids played football on a piece
of green just outside the City at Calme Downe. They went to to get
a team together, but an argument over a new ground, saw the side split
into Everton and Liverpool. The owner of the ground could not
secure the name of that part of Liverpool (Everton) and so they played
under the name of the City. They should have played under the name
of Liverpool Scottish, because in their first game, the only player who
wasn't from North of the border was the goalkeeper. And that was
only because Scottish goalkeepers had a reputation even back then !!
An early FA Cup
saga developed, when they met Sheffield United in the semi-final.
After a 2-2 draw, they played out a 4-4 stalemate, before the third game
was abandoned because of too many fans being in the ground and they kept
coming onto the field of play. This meant that the first half had
already gone on for 105 minutes !!
Cyril Sidlow was an innovator, as he was regarded as the first keeper to
throw the ball out to his team-mates, rather than kick it. Further
on in the history of the club, Zimbabwean international Bruce Grobbelaar
became the first goalkeeper to throw the ball into the back of his own
net !! In the 1920s, the team had God on their side ... well one
of his messengers anyway. The Reverend James Jackson turned out
for the side and he was know as "the Parson" to his
team-mates, because he had a nose for sniffing out a goal. Much
like Robbie Fowler ... who also had a deity based nickname.
management of the club had a big impact, in more ways than one.
His thoughts on the existing kit of red shirts and white shorts was to
change it to all red, because he thought it made the players look
bigger. Not something that was necessary for signing giant centre
half Ron Yeats, who Shankly said it would take an afternoon to walk
around !! Joining in 1959, he took the club to the First Division
championship within six years and went on to win two more Div. 1 titles,
two FA Cups and the UEFA Cup.
In 1964, they
beat Arsenal 3-2 in the first match on "Match of the Day" on
despite having two players with degrees (Steve Heighway and Brian Hall),
things got so bad in their youth ranks, that youngsters were invited to
enter a competition run by the Liverpool Echo to win a place as a
professional at the club. It was won by Tommy Tynan, who failed to
make an appearance for the first team, but went on to have a long career
at Plymouth Argyle and Rotherham United.
In 1974, Kevin
Keegan became the first Englishman to be sent off at Wembley, when he
and Billy Bremner had a fight in the FA Charity Shield match. They
both took their shirts off in disgust ... which is exactly what the
watching nation felt at seeing their naked torsos.
replacement came from the famous Boot Room, so named because it was
where managers and players were taken to be told they were no longer
required by the club. Bob Paisley won 13 trophies including three
European Cups, but the only one he failed to take back to Anfield was
the FA Cup. His successor, Joe Fagan won one European Cup, one
league championship and the League Cup - all in his first season in
charge, but the tragedy when 39 people died in trouble at the Heysel
stadium at the European Cup Final in 1985 ended his love affair with the
game. It was left to legend Kenny Dalglish to take over and he
went and won the Double in his first season in charge.
him Souness and Roy Evans found it hard to live up to the success that
had gone before, but then in 1989, another disaster, this time at
Hillsborough, when 96 fans died, hit Liverpool hard. The memory of
those fans lives being taken lives on today.
And it was
Gerard Houllier, who's job it was to try and bring back the
silverware. He'd done OK with two League Cups, an FA Cup and a
UEFA Cup - one of each of them achieved in the same season, but the
League eluded him and the money being spent to get there has not
been inconsiderable. Blowing most of it on Emile Heskey probably
didn't help him though !!
So, in came
Spaniard Rafael Benitez from Valencia and in an up and down first league
season, he managed to take his side past Chelsea in the Champions League
semi-final and beat AC Milan on penalties after being 0-3 down at
half-time. It was a great start for Rafa, but what a start to move
the team up from in future years !! While failing to reproduce the
same form in the Premier League, their European performances continue to
impress with a losing final appearance in 2007 and a semi-final slot in
2008. Maybe, they are years ahead of their time and are just
waiting for a European league to start !!
However, wrangling among the
cowboy American owners saw Liverpool fall from grave and changes in
management from Benitez to Roy Hodgson saw them dwell near the bottom of
the table at the start of the 2010-11 season, until the former Fulham
boss was deposed and replaced by King Kenny, who guided them back
towards the top six and failed, so was out-ed for Swansea City boss
Brendan Rodgers, who had to make do with a squad that money had
been thrown at but without a lot of thought, which was something some of
the purchases suffered with. Despite mounting a challenge for the
title that came closer than they had for a considerable number of years,
only scuppered by Steven Gerrard's slip that let Chelsea through for a
goal at Anfield, Rodgers failed to get the team to perform despite the
Fenway Sports Group spending lots of money on their moneyball system.
Rodgers had eight games at the start of the 2015-16 season and left
after a 1-1 draw at Everton to be replaced by the charismatic Jurgen
Klopp. Whether that is enough to revive Liverpool's fortunes, only
time will tell.
: - Roger Hunt, Peter Seek, Ian Rush,
Gerry Dawdle, Kenny Dalglish, Michael Owen, Howard Gayle, Ian Ross,
Al Fresco, Micky Windy, Billy Liddell, Ray
Clemence, Torben Piecnik.
Famous Fans : - Cilla
Black (Singer/entertainer); Jimmy Tarbuck (Comedian); Stan Boardman
(Comedian); Esther McVey (Morning TV presenter - GMTV); Ian Brodie
(Musician - The Lightning Seeds), Graeme Smith (South African cricketer);
Melanie Chisholm = Mel C (singer - "Sporty Spice" in the Spice Girls), DJ Spoony
(Radio 1 DJ); Phil Redmond (TV producer - "Brookside" [Channel 4]); Alan
Bleasdale (TV and film writer - "Boys From The Blackstuff"); Elvis
Costello (musician); Chris De Burgh (Singer); Daniel Craig (Actor -
James Bond); Michael Howard (MP); John Bishop (Comedian);