My Back Pages - 30 Anfield

Liverpool 4v0 Newcastle United
FA Cup 3rd Round
6th January 1984

It’s Friday, it’s 7 0’clock and it’s time for (no not Crackerjack!) Match of the Day Live.
My first visit to one of my favourite grounds Anfield, was also a first for several reasons, being the first FA Cup tie apart from the final to be broadcast live, first 3rd round FA Cup tie played on a Friday night and the first time that Kevin Keegan realised his playing days were numbered, after a certain Mark Lawrenson had our little captain fantastic in his back pocket all night, which was a pivotal moment in his decision to hang up his boots at the end of that season.
In those days when the annual draw for the third round of the FA Cup is made, I usually hoped to get a big tie away, with one of the big clubs in the First Division, Newcastle were a Second Division side back then, so when we were paired with mighty Liverpool the whole of Tyneside got caught up in cup fever, looking to avenge the embarrassment of Wembley ten years earlier (as if!)

The initial allocation of 10,000 tickets were quickly snapped up, so Liverpool kindly sent an extra 3,000 tickets, so a mass exodus of black and white left Tyne and headed for the Mersey, I was on one of the 14 coaches which left with the Supporters Club, there was an additional 56 coaches as well as special trains booked.
Liverpool FC have played at Anfield since 1892 when the club were formed after Everton, the original residents of the previous eight years, moved out of the ground after falling out with their landlord John Houlding who then formed a new club to play in the ground.The Anfield circa 1984 was as most fans looking back nostalgically will be best rememered. The most prominent aspect of the ground is of course the world famous Kop, built in 1906 after Liverpool won their second League Championship, it was the Liverpool Echo that suggested naming the terrace ‘Spion Kop’ after a small hill in Natal, South Africa where in January 1910, 300 soldiers serving within the Lancashire Regiment lost their lives in the Boer War, many amongst those were Liverpudlians. The terrace is well named because the translation of Spion Kop is ‘Vantage Point’ it was later extended and a steel roof added in 1928.It once held more than 30,000 spectators but the capacity was later reduced to 21,500, the terrace had white crash barriers and a low perimeter wall which brings the fans closer to the pitch and the famous flag pole in the far corner.
The Main Stand was rebuilt in 1973 and has two tiers of seats with 8600 in the upper and 2150 in the paddock, it has a large suspended TV gantry and the entrance is gained through the Shankly Gates, official opened in August 1982, these wrought iron gates have “You’ll Never Walk Alone” adoring it’s entrance.
On the opposite side was the Kemlyn Road Stand, built in 1963 this had a seating capacity of 6600, the stand had a strangely shaped cantilever roof so not to block the light to the neighbouring homes, around this time the club had plans to extend the stand but needed to buy the houses in Kemlyn Road so they could then demolish them and use the land for extension, there was only one house remaining that the club were yet to obtain, owned by a Mr. & Mrs.Mason and it wasn’t until 1990 that the tenants finally accepted a settlement which meant the stand we now know today as the Centenary Stand, was finally constructed.
I arrived at the ground at about 6.50 with the game due to kick off at 7.05, i jumped off the bus and ran up to the ground I couldn’t wait to get inside, the Anfield Road Stand was (and still is) the away end, there was a standing area in the corner which offered a good view, considering that maybe wasn’t the case at some other grounds around this era, I was in the seats for this game which were divided in to six multicoloured sections in orange, yellow, violet, red, green and the section I was in, white.
The atmosphere was electric with the Black & White Army (phrase Toon Army was still to be born) making plenty of noise and hoping that United would reflect their supporters passion on the field, we started well enough, that is for the first five minutes, until the Reds decided to take the lead in the seventh minute, a Sammy Lee corner was headed on by Steve Nicholl finding Ian Rush in the box, who lay the ball in to the path of Michael Robinson to score from close range.
Newcastle then produced their best spell of the game, be it for only for 15 minutes, with chances for Beardsley and Waddle twice going close, until after a near miss from Craig Johnston, the same man showed some great skill on the right before slipping the ball to Ian Rush for his 100th career goal in the 26th minute.
Half time came as a respite with hopes of keeping the score down in the second half, I remember thinking I would happily take a 3-0 now, well in the 63rd minute it was, this time it was Man of the Match Craig Johnston accelerating into the box from the right and firing past Thomas at the near post.
Liverpool finished the game strongly missing several chances until the rout was complete on 86 minutes with Rush claiming his second of the night, bundling the ball home after Johnston’s shot was saved, so four-nowt and an unhappy return for Liverpool old boys Keegan and McDermott, who received a mixed reception from the Kop.

After the game we all boarded the coach, having all been in different parts of the ground and not seen one another since we arrived, everyone was in an upbeat mood and didn’t seem too disappointed with the Magpies performance, looking back it seems hard to understand why, was it because we kept the score down to four, or that we had a few shots and won a couple of corners? No, it was the performance off the park, from us the supporters who fully deserved the plaudits, 13,000 travelled down from Tyneside filling the whole of the Anfield Road End as well as sections of the adjoining stands.
The mass ranks of Toon supporters backed the side throughout even though it was men against boys on the pitch, there was a good array of songs largely aimed in the direction to our hosts on the Kop, chants of “Scousers stay at home and watch it on the tele” and “There’s more of us than you” in reference to there being only 20,000 Liverpool supporters at the game, but on reflection why should this match be a sell-out? It wasn’t a big game to them, it was only Second Division Newcastle in the 3rd round of the cup and not a big league game, a cup semi final or a European Cup tie (which they won that year) but this game was massive to us, after what we had been used to playing in the second tier of English football for the past six seasons and trips to the football backwaters of the likes of Cambridge, Shrewsbury, Carlisle etc. (no disrespect intended)

The best and funniest chant of the evening came in reference to two of the most popular TV series that were around at the time, ‘Auf Wiedersehen,Pet’ told the story of three Geordie brickies going off to work in Jormani, while the Liverpool based black comedy ‘Boys from the Black Stuff’ was a gritty drama set on Merseyside during the recession in the early eighties, so the millions viewing on BBC were treated to a rendition of “We all agree…Oz is harder than Yosser” even the Scousers renowned for their famous sense of humour, could at least raise a
smile to that one.
There was one unsavoury incident during the game when Phil Neal was hit over the head by a flying beer can and had to receive treatment for a cut to the head, I’m not taking sides and defending a fellow supporter of my club, but I think the offender was probably
this person who happened to be travelling back in time. On the final whistle a few Newcastle supporters ran onto the pitch and engulfed Chris Waddle, appreciating the endless effort he put in to the game, it was obvious even then that we had a unique talent with a bright future ahead in the game, clearly that was to be elsewhere.

As we set off to head back home there was a sudden bang and a crash, when we all emerged from under our seats and off the floor it suddenly appeared to feel very drafty, two of our coach windows had been put out, one at the side but worse still, the drivers window. We safely got out of Liverpool and eventually on to the M62,someone gave our driver a black and white bobble hat to protect him from the elements, as we headed north obviously the wind and rain was blowing south straight into our drivers face, this was a hilarious sight and we couldn’t help but see the funny side (poor bloke) eventually the coach cut out, the rain had buggered up the electrics, so we were left stranded somewhere in Yorkshire on the hard shoulder of the A1,waiting for another coach to come down from Newcastle and get us.
By now we were all obviously “cattle trucked” and just wanted to get home to our beds, all except Big Ian (who wasn’t as big in those days) he was delighted we broke down, his other half was in hospital at the time and he had recently moved in to a new house, he thought his abode was haunted so he was glad he wouldn’t have to go home to his spooky empty house. Eventually we did get home, I got dropped off on Low Fell and walked up the steep bank home, collecting the morning papers on the way and arriving in our house at 8am, tired and totally peed off.

My first visit to Anfield was memorable for lots of reasons and not just for a heavy defeat and a few smashed windows, I remember being in admiration of a marvellous ground which was capable of generating a fantastic atmosphere, I’ve always enjoyed my visits to Anfield, no matter what the score (but don’t mention 4-3) I actually saw us win there once. I’ve always found the Liverpool fans good crack with a knowledgeable and objective view of the game and they don’t appear arrogant about their success, well maybe not all Liverpool fans are like this, but that’s the impression I’ve personally got during the last 20-30 years.
It’ll be a sad day when Liverpool leave their home and head for pastures new, because Anfield has a mood, a feeling about it, with the Shankly legacy and a sense of history, it’s own personality of Scouse wit and Championship winning days, something which even I’ll miss and that’s coming from me, who isn’t a citizen of Merseyside or doesn’t even possess curly hair and a tache.


Anonymous said...

Remember the day fondly.Went with the NME lads, first off we got the train down to Leeds where a couple of sports shops were turned over in order to replenish our wardrobes/provide stuff to flog to pay for the days expenses.After that took the train to Manchester where we chased a few locals around the Arndale Centre.Finally train to Liverpool where we were met by the Scouse old bill who took offence at us congregating in such numbers with ensuing battles taking place next to St George's Hall.Made it to Anfield for Kick Off (was in the paddock at the side of the ground opposite the tunnel),remember a few of our lot emerging from the Kop end at half time with tales of Stanley Knives, Adidas Munchen and trying to 'tax' one lad for his diamond Pringle.
Match was a non-event and remember getting an escort to Edge Hill station and getting the football 'special' back to Toon.I remember the taxi driver who picked me up at the Central saying that the City had been dead that night. Fond memories indeed.

fitba daft said...

This is excellent stuff. All sadly before my time!

Made me think of the FA Cup tie at Anfield in early 2004, 4th round i think it was. Evening kick off that time too for telly. Was in the last season of Houllier's reign and it didnt even sell out in the home end. 6000 geordie fans arriving in fancy dress having travelled down in limos and cadalacs!!

Liverpool won 2-1 with a bruno cheyrou double...had to check teletext when i got home to see if had imagined that it had been him.

Anonymous said...

hi superb memories i went with magpie travel, got back window put out, great day i remember the convoy of buses ganing over the m62. Wor fans were tremendous the atmosphere was one of the best ive ever witinessed,wor fans were all over the ground.
Huddersfield was another great memory wor fans on 3 sides of the ground, i remember the kids climbing the floodlights, the wooden seats flying out windows at the back of the main stand at the end of the game.
In 30 years of watching football definitly two of the best days.
Reat website by the way.
Mark Bowman

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