Liverpool Football Club : History : Bill Shankly : Bob Paisley : Heysel : Hillsborough
Liverpool FC – Introduction
Liverpool is one of the most famous football clubs in the World. It has a rich and varied history that has brought tremendous success on the pitch but has also been touched by tragedy and sadness. Eighteen League titles and five European Cup & Champions League triumphs are a cherished part of the history of the Merseyside club. But then too the events of the Heysel Stadium and Hillsborough are unforgotten human tragedies embedded in the fabric of Liverpool FC.
Liverpool FC History
Liverpool FC is a scion of Everton FC. Following a dispute within the Everton club Liverpool FC came into existence in 1892 without any players but with an international standard football ground at Anfield Road. The club owner John Holding appointed Monaghan man John McKenna as director of football. McKenna travelled to Scotland and recruited 13 Scotsmen. In Liverpool the team became known as ‘the team of the Macs’.
This team won it’s first match against Rotherham Town 7-1 with the first ever Liverpool FC goal scored by Malcolm McVean. Liverpool finished the season as champions of the Lancashire League. In the first Merseyside derby Liverpool beat Everton on 22 April 1893 at Hawthorne Road in the Liverpool Senior Cup.
Liverpool and Woolwich Arsenal were elected to the Second Division of the Football League and the Merseysiders won that league, and promotion, without losing a match in the following season. Unfortunately the club was relegated back to the Second Division after just one season.
In a move reminiscent of the more recent failed experiment of employing joint managers (Evans & Houllier in 1998) Houlding appointed William Barclay alongside McKenna to look after team affairs. This worked much better than the later incarnation.
Liverpool FC Adopts Red Strip & Spion Kop
Tom Watson became the manager of Liverpool in July 1896 and remained in the role until the outbreak of the First World War. Liverpool, who had originally worn blue jerseys
switched to red jerseys under Watson. Earlier John McKenna had initiated the building of a large cinder bank behind the south goal. Following the loss of many soldiers from Liverpool in the Lancashire Regiment during the Boer War, this vantage point was called the Spion Kop. Watson delivered the first two of Liverpool FC’s League titles in the 1900/01 and 1905/06 seasons.
World War I interrupts Liverpool FC’s Development
Liverpool’s pursuit of football greatness was halted by the outbreak on the First World War in 1914. Liverpool recruited Irishman David Ashworth form Oldham Athletic to manage the team. Using a blend of experience and youth he delivered the third League title to Merseyside in the 1921/22 season. About half way through the 1922/23 season Ashworth made the surprise decision to return to manage Oldham. His timing was strange in that it was just a few days before the two teams met in back-to-back League ties.
Matt McQueen took over in a caretaker capacity and helped Liverpool to retain the First Division title. He went on to manage the club until February 1928 but did not deliver any further major honours. Matt McQueen was in charge of Liverpool for a total of 229 matches and won 93, lost 76, and drew 60.
Liverpool FC’s Long Wait for Next League Title
McQueen was replaced by George Patterson who had performed various roles within the club over a number of years. Not a lot of note happened during his eight year term as manager of Liverpool – no titles, no silverware, and no relegations. Patterson stepped down in August 1936 largely due to poor health.
Manchester born George Kay took up the reins from Patterson and was Liverpool FC manager for more than 14 years – albeit his term was severely interrupted by WW II. Two of Kay’s signings as manager were highly significant in the history of Liverpool FC – Billy Liddell and Bob Paisley. Kay had not made any great waves in the League or Cup in the period leading up to the war. Following the war he took his playing squad on a ten match, one month, tour to the USA. He believed that as the US had not been as badly affected by food rationing he could use the opportunity build up his team physically in preparation for the forthcoming season. His tactics seem to have worked as Liverpool took the 1946/47 League title, their fifth, by a single point from Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Kay resigned in January 1951 for health reasons
Liverpool FC Fire a Manager for the First Time
Another Mancunian replaced Kay as Liverpool appointed former wartime guest player Don Welsh. It was not an inspired appointment and despite some fantastic performances by Billy Liddell Liverpool slid to bottom of the League and into relegation to the Second Division. In the following season Liverpool finished in 11th position suffering 16 defeats including a 9-1 drubbing at Birmingham City. In May 1956 Don Welsh became the first manager in Liverpool’s history to be fired as the board lost patience.
Bill Shankly is Appointed as Manager of Liverpool FC
In May 1956 Welsh was replaced by former English schoolboy international Phil Taylor who would become the only Liverpool manager to never manage in the First Division. Taylor was a former Liverpool and had worked as a part of the coaching staff. Unable to achieve promotion back into the First Division ‘nice guy’ Taylor resigned as manager of Liverpool. His replacement would bring about a revolution at Anfield.
From Genbuck in Scotland Bill Shankly became the manager of Liverpool FC on the 1st of May 1959. Shankly was a hugely ambitious manager and in club chairman Tom ‘TV’ Williams he found matching ambition.
Liverpool finished in third place in Shankly’s first full season in charge. Following this he made to important acquisitions when he bought Ian St John from Motherwell for £37,500 and Ron Yeats from Dundee United for £22,000. The following season Liverpool won promotion as champions of the Second Division.
Just two seasons later Bill Shankly had delivered the first major honour for the Reds since 1947. More than that he was creating a type of English footballing dynasty that would last for more than 25 years. In the following year he led Liverpool out at Wembley to win the first FA Cup in the
history of the club, with a 2-1 victory over Leeds United. He also made an impact in the European Cup as Liverpool narrowly failed to make the final that year. Before Bill Shankly retired as Liverpool manager he led the club to two more League titles and another FA Cup win. Most importantly his vision and abilities had turned a Second Division club into a powerhouse of English football and was now well equipped to go on to conquer Europe. Shankly retired in July 1974.
Liverpool FC History – The Bob Paisley Era
Most Liverpool fans were concerned when Shanks retired. How could anyone replace such a genius? Shankly had recommended to the the club’s directors that they look within the club for his successor. A former Liverpool player Bob Paisley was somewhat reluctant when first approached to take up the role. Under some pressure from within the club that he had been with since 1939, Paisley agreed to become the manager of Liverpool FC.
Despite Paisley’s initial reluctance and a relatively poor season in his first year in charge Bob Paisley would become the greatest ever manager in the history of Liverpool Football Club. Following that first barren year Paisley and Liverpool went on to win major trophies in each of his next eight seasons with the club. In an amazing sequence of successes Paisley won six League titles, three European Cups, three League Cups, and one UEFA Cup. The only blemish, if it can even be called that, on his managerial record is that he did not win the FA Cup although Liverpool did make the final in 1977. The Merseysiders lost 2-1 to Manchester United. Bob Paisley retired in 1983 with an unprecedented record of success and is a true Red legend.
Liverpool FC History – The Joe Fagan Era
Joe Fagan had been Bob Paisley’s right-hand man and, not willing to mess with a winning formula the, Liverpool board appointed the Scouser as club manager in the Summer of 1983. Fagan had indicated that he would only stay in the job for two seasons. Hi first season could hardly have been more successful as he became the first British manager in history to win three major trophies in a single season. Liverpool scooped the League, the League Cup, and the European Cup as the Reds beat Roma in the final in Rome.
Heysel Stadium Disaster – A Black Mark on the History of Liverpool FC
Fagan drew a blank in the following season having come second in the League to Merseyside rivals Everton. Despite this Liverpool FC still had yet another European Cup final to look forward to. The final was being staged in the Heysel Stadium in Brussels and European football fans were relishing the meeting of two of the football powerhouses of the continent. In the Heysel Stadium rioting Liverpool fans caused panic and a stampede amongst Juventus fans ensued. In a truly appalling scene 39 fans, mostly Italian, were crushed as barriers and then a wall collapsed under the pressure. Despite the loss of life UEFA officials decided that the match should go ahead. In a bizarre atmosphere the teams played out a lack lustre match which Juventus won 1-0 courtesy of a Michel Platini goal. A tragic end to a short but glittering managerial career for Joe Fagan
Liverpool Legend Kenny Dalglish Becomes Player Manager
In the summer of 1985 Kenny Dalglish became the first player-manager in the modern game. Yet again Liverpool FC had replaced the manager from within the club. Once again it was an inspired choice. Following the catastrophic events in the Heysel Stadium all English clubs had been banned from European competition. This allowed Kenny Dalglish to concentrate on the domestic competitions. In his first season Dalglish and Liverpool FC won the domestic double of League and FA Cup. This was a first in Liverpool’s history. In the following four seasons Dalglish’s Liverpool won two more League titles and a further FA Cup.
On 21 February 1991 Kenny Dalglish dropped a bombshell by announcing his resignation as the manager of Liverpool FC. It was a bombshell because the Anfield club was leading the First Division and Liverpool and Everton had played out a pulsating 4-4 draw fifth round FA Cup the evening before his announcement. Dalglish cited the stress of the job as the reason why he had decided to resign.
Liverpool FC History – The Hillsborough Tragedy
During Kenny Dalglish’s term as manager of Liverpool FC had been drawn to play Nottingham Forest on the 15 April 1989 in the FA Cup semi final at Hillsborough, Sheffield Wednesday’s home ground. As the match kicked off there were thousands of fans still outside the ground trying to gain access. The Liverpool fans had been allocated the Leppings Lane end of the ground. In those days the terraces are all-standing and the fans were fenced in to keep them off the football pitch. The fans outside the ground knew that the match had already started and the crush to get into Hillsborough intensified. To alleviate this, decisions were made that meant far more people were given access to areas of the terrace than was safe, and with tragic consequences. Five minutes into the match the officials and players realised that there was something seriously wrong and the referee ordered the players to the dressing rooms. The crush on terrace reached critical proportions as the fans continued to flood in and more than 700 people were injured. Ninety-six of these were fatally injured.
Graeme Souness Becomes Manager of Liverpool FC
With something of a break with tradition Liverpool appointed Graeme Souness to replace Kenny Dalglish as manager of the Reds in April 1991. It was an unhappy return to the cub that he had played so well for as a midfield general. He tried to change an ageing team too quickly and let some players such as Steve Staunton and Ray Houghton go prematurely. Some of his purchases were not of a Liverpool Football Club standard. During his time as manager Souness also suffered some heart problems and had to undergo by-pass surgery. He made a major error of judgement by selling his health-scare story to the Sun newspaper. To many on Merseyside the Sun was hated because of some of it’s coverage of the Hillsborough disaster. Despite winning the FA Cup in 1992 the writing was on the wall for Graeme Souness and he resigned at the end of January 1994. His games-won ratio of 41% was the worst since the Don Welsh era of Liverpool FC’s history.
Liverpool FC Return to Joint Managers
Roy Evans from Bootle took up the reins at Anfield following the departure of Souness. He had played briefly for the club and he had been working as part of the back room staff at Anfield for 28 years. The club was now competing in the era of the Premier League and Manchester United were at the beginning of a sustained era of domination of English football. Despite winning the League Cup in 1995, the first silverware in three years, it seemed clear that Roy Evans would not be able to deliver what the fans on the Kop wanted most – the League title. During the summer of 1998, the club was announced that Evans’ duties would be shared by Frenchman Gerard Houllier. The second time in Liverpool FC’s history that it would have joint managers. It would not be a happy partnership and one that would not last long.
After and initial appearance that the two were getting on fine it soon became clear that it was an unsustainable situation. Rumours of rows over team selections and tactics began to surface. Following some disappointing results Roy Evans had had enough and quit in November 1998 thus leaving a clear run for Gerard Houllier.
Gerard Houllier’s Cups Runeth Over
Gerard Houllier would not be able to deliver the Premier League title but be did manage to create his own bit of Liverpool FC history in the 2000/01 season when his Anfield team won a unique treble of cups. He and his team won the League Cup, the FA Cup, and the UEFA Cup. They also finished third in the League thus qualifying for the European Champions League in the following season. Despite this remarkable achievement, and winning a further League Cup in the 2002/03, Houllier’s days were numbered. Many fans did not like his defensive tactics and when he could not build upon his cup triumphs by winning the League title he was dismissed at the end of the 2003/2204 season.
Rafael Benitez Brings Back European Glory to Liverpool FC
Spaniard Rafael Benitez replaced the Frenchman Gerard Houllier as Liverpool FC manager at the start of the 2004/05 season. Houllier had left Benitez a legacy of qualification for the Champions League in that season. Liverpool had a very poor Premier League campaign finishing in fifth place, outside of the Champions League places. To make matters worse they finished 37 points behind the champions Chelsea and three points behind Everton. This was the first time in the history of the Premier League that their Merseyside rivals had finished ahead of Liverpool. But there was to be some consolation – and what consolation it was.
Miracle of Istanbul
In 2005 Liverpool FC took part in one of the most amazing finals ever in the history of European football. Having narrowly eclipsed Chelsea in the semi final Liverpool lined up to play Italian giants AC Milan in the Champions League Final in the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul. With one minute gone in the match Liverpool were 1-0 down as an unmarked Paolo Maldini scored from a Pirlo free-kick. Things got much worse for the Merseyside team as Crespo scored twice within a five minute spell just before half time. There looked to be no way back for Liverpool FC as their first half performance was so inept.
Seven minutes into the second half the Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard pulled one back to give the Reds a glimmer of hope. The glimmer ignited as Vladimir Smicer added a second goal just two minutes later. Unbelievably Xabi Alonso equalised three minutes after that. An amazing comeback that had Liverpool FC fans all over the World enraptured and Milan fans totally perplexed.
The match descended into a very cagey affair that went to extra time and then to a penalty shoot-out. The Italians missed their first two penalties and when Jerzy Dudek saved their fifth penalty from Andriy Shevchenko Liverpool FC, and their fans were in pure ecstasy as Europe’s top football prize returned to Anfield for the fifth time in the history of the club.
It would have been almost impossible to match the events of the miracle of Istanbul but Liverpool did add further silverware to the trophy room in the next season. The Reds took on West Ham United in the FA Cup Final on 13 May 2006 at the Millennium Stadium. Amazingly yet another cup final involving Liverpool FC ended up with a 3-3 score line and went to penalties. Yet again Liverpool prevailed winning 3-1 in the penalty shoot-out.
Liverpool under Rafael Benitez reached another Champions League final in 2007 against AC Milan. Unfortunately for the Reds fans Milan won 2-1.
Liverpool FC Change of Ownership Brings Strains with Benitez
In 2007 new American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett brought a new air of uncertainty into the club. After an initial demonstration of support by providing funds to purchase players like Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano, tensions between Benitez and the American owners became public knowledge. Transfer wrangles over various players, including Gareth Barry and Robbie Keane, led to questions about who really managed the team. On the football pitch Liverpool FC had their best ever finish in the Premier League in the 2008/09 as the Merseysiders finished in second place, four points behind champions Manchester United.
At the beginning of the next season Most observers and fans believed that Liverpool were on the verge of a major breakthrough and that the Club could deliver the much coveted Premier League title for the first time in it’s history. Unfortunately the reverse happened, Liverpool went backwards. They finished seventh in the League, suffered early exits in the two domestic cup competitions, and failed to get out of the group stages of the Champions League. Despite being just one year into a five year contract, Benitez had lost a lot of the support of the fans and the American owners moved to dismiss him in June 2010.
Roy Hodgson Becomes Liverpool FC Manager
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson was recruited as manager of Liverpool FC in July 2010.
List of Honours Won by Liverpool FC
Liverpool FC has a hugely impressive list of honours won over the years that is only surpassed by Lancashire rivals Manchester United. Although Liverpool had won the League title on five separate occasions the real silverware rush began with Bill Shankly in the mid-1960’s, reached a peak under Bob Paisley, and has tapered off ever since.
(a) First Division / Premier League (b) European Cup / Champions League
List of Liverpool Managers
The following is a complete list all Liverpool managers and the major football honours that they won.
|Liverpool Irish Players – Liverpool Supporters Clubs|
|John Aldridge – Phil Babb – Jim Beglin – Willie Donnelly – Sam English – Steve Finnan – David Hannah
Steve Heighway – William Hood – Ray Houghton – Robbie Keane – Mark Kennedy – Billy Lacey
Mark Lawrenson – Jason McAteer – Ernest McCappin – Billy McDevitt – David McMullan – Billy Millar
Brian Mooney – Richie Partridge – Darren Potter – Michael Robinson – Elisha Scott – Kevin Sheedy
Sammy Smyth – Steve Staunton – Ronnie Whelan
|Manchester United History – Manchester United Irish Players – Man Utd Irish Supporters Clubs
Glasgow Celtic History – Celtic’s Irish Players
|Irish Footballers (Non-Liverpool)|
|Liam Brady – Damien Duff – Eamon Dunphy – Niall Quinn|