Finally Bursting That League Cup Bubble

Red All Over The Land  – Issue 193 – @dmoenlfc

Today we have West Ham United as visitors and hopefully after the Hull and Norwich games in the past week we are still in amongst the top four places. Hard to imagine that it’s only 5 years since we drew 0-0 at home to the hammers to go top of the league– it wasn’t enough to please all in L4 that evening with sporadic boos ringing around the ground at the final whistle at the ‘disastrous’ outcome. A lot has happened since then of course and what we would give to be heading to the summit after today’s encounter.

Recent activity between the two clubs have centered on transfer deals; in the opposing squad we have ex reds in Stewart Downing, Joe Cole and the unlikely to feature Andy Carroll. Sadly none of the three set the world alight during their stay at Anfield, although Andy Carroll will be fondly remembered for his goal in the Merseyside FA Cup semi-final. If any of the lads are reading this, maybe you could tell that goalkeeper Jaaskelainen that the KOP applauds every visiting goalkeeper that comes to Anfield.

The reds have fared much better in recent transfer activity between the clubs, Javier Mascherano and Youssi Beneyoun arriving in 2007 with a large degree of success. Go back a further 14 years and we had a man who would write himself into the Anfield history books, Julian Dicks. It was a deal the Boleyn Ground occupants couldn’t turn down, the hammers getting in two pretty decent players in Mike Marsh and David Burrows for Dicks. He wouldn’t last long at Anfield, signed by Graham Souness to add more aggression to the back line; he would last just a year at Anfield. Souness’s replacement, Roy Evans, didn’t fancy the player and amid concerns over his fitness he was eventually shipped back to West Ham, who must have been delighted with the overall outcome of the deal. Still, in his brief sojourn he would become the answer to a common Liverpool FC quiz question. Who was the last Liverpool player to score in front of the standing KOP? None other than the Terminator himself, netting a 75th minute penalty on Grand National day 1994. The reds lost their last two home games to nil against Newcastle and Norwich respectively.

We have also went head-to-head with West Ham on three occasions with silverware at stake, yes I’m counting the Charity Shield game of 1980, hey I was 8 and it meant everything to me at the time and the 90,000 plus in attendance as well. A Terry Mac strike proving to be the only score of the game. Both sides would meet again in two cup finals, the much written about Gerrard FA Cup final of 2006 and the 1981 League Cup final, which also had its fair share of talking points and was to be Liverpool’s first triumph in the competition.

West Ham had won the FA Cup in 1980 as a second division side with a rare Brooking header overcoming hot favourites Arsenal. The following season they easily won promotion to the top table once more and with it another cup final appearance against a Liverpool side who were on the way to winning a third European Cup later in the spring.

As per the norm when Clive Thomas was in charge – controversy was never far away. A Sammy Lee ‘goal’ in the first half was ruled out for offside before Lee was once again in the action late on in extra-time. This time the Liverpool man was felled in the area after a crunching Alvin Martin challenge and as the hammers defence rushed out leaving Lee lying prostate in the area and in an offside position – Alan Kennedy simply rifled the ball past Phil Parkes. GOAL-NO GOAL? Thomas ignored the lines-man’s flag and gave the goal and with it surely a first Liverpool FC League Cup triumph. Not to be, to West Hams credit they piled forward. Ray Clemence pulled off a magnificent save from a Ray Stewart free-kick and from the resulting corner; Bootle born Alvin Martins headed goal wards, only for it to be punched off the line by Terry McDermott, a sending off offence today. Ray Stewart didn’t miss many penno’s and he sent Clemence the wrong way as both sides headed for an April Fool date replay at Villa Park. As they carried their tired limps off the sapping Wembley surface, I’m sure Alan Kennedy was cursing his luck, he was within seconds of scoring what would have been a cup winning goal. His time would come later that year in Paris and again in Rome three years later.

The replay was a much more open affair and it was the second division side that opened the scoring when Paul Goddard nodded in after five minutes. But the east-end joy was short-lived, within 30 minutes Liverpool had scored the goals that would take the cup to Anfield for the first time. Kenny Dalglish brilliantly hooking home a volley before an Alan Hansen header with the help of Billy Bonds knee won the day for the reds who were playing in their change strip of white shirts and black shorts. Simple strip back then, a classic – probably never to be seen again without some sort of zig-zag design to spoil it.

We did like that cup didn’t we, maybe it was the taste of milk the victors enjoyed afterwards, although stories emulating from that period would suggest most of the team were impartial to the black stuff than the white. We liked it so much that we decided to keep it for four years on the bounce before Clive Allen haunted us on Halloween night 1985. It wasn’t a bad return of silverware for a cup we hadn’t won at all up to 1981.

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