Author Topic: nowts going on lets look at the legendary 87-88 team. go on you know you want to  (Read 7993 times)

Offline Hellrazor

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heres one with a twist, enjoy memory lane, feel free to feedback me with mistakes. its taken me a few hours, 2 bottles of wine and 2 cans of miller to work this (aswell as the d button seemingly refusing to work)

here we goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo :wave :wave :wave season 1987 -88  8) a special thanks to King richard IV whose brilliant piss take thread in the transfer forum inspired to get my finger out of my arse and post something i should have posted a long time ago :wave

I hope that you will enjoy this trip down memory lane. Eagle eyed posters will notice that my yearly dose of Liverpool’s season has not appeared for the one just gone, and it won’t. I notice that every season I have done has not been about a league championship success. Maybe if I skip a year being the superstitious git that I am that might work.

Another reason I haven’t is I have followed Liverpool since 1990. I had missed the boat only slightly, my knowledge of most of the clubs success is up there with the best. Stories from older friends and relatives, aswell as books, dvds, videos and the internet brought me up to speed but I still impatiently wait for the day when I can celebrate P1 and a league title. (Maybe I’m the jinx). However there’s nothing to stop me writing about one now is there? What better place to start than one of our most gifted and entertaining teams of all time? The following has largely been written with the help of an old video which is now showing its age known as “the mighty reds” probably our first ever season review, albeit minus several dozen games. It is also helped by a very old book released by Peter Beardsley in 1990 in which he kept a diary of his first season.

This is the story of the 1987-8 season. As you know my reviews aren’t exactly short, maybe because somehow it ends up about me too mostly, although that’s one thing I am short of here is stories about me. I was just a 4 year old boy in my first year at school causing trouble, I suffered from ADHD and although teachers commented I was a relatively talented kid, school lessons often start going over my head when I would lose interest and cause trouble. I even managed to get suspended for jabbing a pencil in someone’s back (no one saw them do it to me first, but I had only reaped what I sowed). Strangely if it was to who I think it was were still friends today.

So my main concerns every day were being hauled to the principal’s office while my Ma was sent for. The suspension lead to a very bad beating from the folks. I wonder why I let it happen, my dad even today at 73 was one hard bastard you just didn’t mess with. Even my friends today admit, how do you think I felt going home to that? My primary concerns were usually how Postman Pat delivered his mail, how He-Man would take down Skeletor and how Thomas the Tank engine would beat Bertie the Bus. (a rented video of the latter plus a Viennese whirl from the bakery next to the xtra vision was sheer bliss, I still remember it fondly, the back cover had Thomas rescuing james from a dastardly deed by those troublesome trucks.)

But even with ADHD I couldn’t help but notice another obsession in the household, it was held by my brother who shared a bedroom and bunk bed with me and his room was plastered in both Duran Duran and Liverpool FC posters, both still intrigue me almost 25 years later.

So from the warm family Dublin home we branch out to Liverpool. The mighty reds were in crisis at the time having finished 2nd to Everton in 1987. That’s not a typo, Everton were good and 2nd wasn’t good enough. We were in our 3rd year under the stewardship of 36 year old player manager Kenny Dalglish who of course returned to the job 6 months ago. Dalglish made the transition from player to manager so easily it was as if he was born to do it. Privately Dalglish found it difficult to be removed from the banter of the dressing room and to being boss to so many friends and team mates but you would hardly have known. ln his first season Kenny became the first  Liverpool manager (still the only one) to win the league and FA cup double, something which was a lot more rare then than now.

His playing staff at the time consisted of the following players. Goalkeepers first:
Bruce Grobbelaar, 29 year old Zimbabwean international who had been ever present in his first 5 seasons since taking over from the legendary Ray Clemence in 1981, although he had his critics, his shot stopping, agility, charisma, and command of the box was up there with the best, and he had 4 league medals, a European cup, 3 league cups and an FA cup to back it up.

2nd choice keeper at Liverpool was a job about as unnoticeable as Joe Cole’s season just gone. Mike Hooper signed from Wrexham in 1985 had featured briefly the previous season and would re-appear for a time this season but in his 8 years he never managed to get the number 1 shirt on a regular basis. “Hoops” was a more than able back up.

In defence Alan Hansen captained the side and had won all there was to win in his 10 years at the club, the 32 year old is still held in high regard among Liverpool fans and was a terrific ambassador for both us and the game of football. His centre back partner was Mark Lawrenson who was just in his late 20s, although Lawro has sullied his legacy with some idiotic statements about the club over the years there is no doubt that he was one of the finest defenders in the club history (Lawro as a player is like a different person than the fool we now see on MOTD).
With Lawro’s involvement restricted that season, Gary Gillespie filled in with aplomb, a terrific player in the air and a man for any occasion, GG possessed a lethal eye for goal, once scoring a hat trick against Birmingham. Later in the season Gary Ablett made appearances, by no means a legend Ablett was perhaps a fine example of Dalglish getting the maximum from players. Ablett's main strengths were his passing, positioning and pace.

Early in the season Barry Venison made appearances at full back, in his 2nd season, Venison was equally adept at either full back position and was just 22. If you were looking for versatility then look no further than Steve Nicol (26). Nicol could play anywhere across the back or in midfield with aplomb; he was to have an outrageous scoring return as the season got underway.
In midfield 26 year old Dubliner Ronnie Whelan was moved into a central role to accommodate new man John Barnes, Whelan had been used in left midfield but was never left winger as such, similar role played by Raul Meireles this term. Whelan’s move into the centre saw him as an experienced foil for others such as Steve McMahon. McMahon was one of the hardest bastards in our history and also possessed an eye for goal. Tough tackling and a terrific passer McMahon was a vital component in our team and was also Kenny’s first signing in 1985. (Whelan and McMahon were not unlike Lucas and Gerrard, interesting).

Later in the season Nigel Spackman began to feature as Whelan was injured. Spackers filled the role so well that when Whelan was fit again, Spackers retained his place and it was fully deserved. It was such a shame for Spackman that despite his superb form his departure from Liverpool the following season was barely noticed (but perhaps not right either). Another midfielder at the time was Danish international Jan Molby, molby’s well documented battle with the bulge was just beginning but that aside he was one of the finest passers of the ball in the game and superb from set pieces. Molby missed much of the beginning of the season with a broken leg sustained in pre season.    

The right side of midfield was patrolled by a hard working player who could play as a forward and gave everything he had for Liverpool. Similar to Dirk Kuyt, Craig Johnston was somewhat a cult figure with his straggly hair and 100% commitment, Johnston was a very popular player. Upfront John Aldridge was signed the previous January with Liverpool knowing Aldo’s lookalikey Ian Rush was Juventus bound. Aldridge, like Johnston was a strong favourite all around the club. A hard working striker he had the happy knack of being in the right place at the right time and his goal scoring exploits were legendary no matter what club or country he played in.

Other players in the squad at the time included Kevin McDonald (mid) who played just once all season, a regular during the double season, Kevin broke his leg at the start of the following season and never regained his first team spot in the 3 seasons he remained on the clubs books. Along with McDonald, John Wark (attn mid) and Paul Walsh (striker) were signed in 1984 but lost their first team spots due to new signings and injury. Both left the club during the season having started just one game each. Later in the season Alex Watson ,made appearances at centre back while other players on the books included Jim Beglin who never recovered from a broken leg the previous season having been a double season regular.

As mentioned Ian rush, for me the clubs greatest striker, had been sold to Juventus in 1986 for a record 3.5m. however because of regulations over the amount of non Italians that could play in your first 11 in Seria A, rush was to be loaned out for one season while Juve figured a way to shoehorn in Rush. Rush’s brilliant suggestion to just go on loan to us for the year atleast allowed us one more season to admire him, not to mention find time to blood his replacement. (Little did we know Rush would eventually return for good for a lot longer than a one year loan).

Rush’s boss Kenny Dalglish was no longer playing regularly so many thought that with Everton winning the league, Liverpool’s domination was over. Far from it. The 3.5m received for Rush had been spent on Aldridge (750k) and on Newcastle striker Peter Beardsley (1.9m) who took over the Dalglish role of basically scoring, assisting and mesmerising the shit out of the opposition with skill and brilliant footwork. But if Beardsley could frighten the shit out of anyone, then what did that say for John Barnes. Signed for 900k from Watford, the strongly built pre fat Barnes was a sight to behold in full flight. With his quick fit, trickery and devastating acceleration Barnes was about to run riot over the UK. Although this changed our style of play to a more wide approach the money was invested wisely and it was nothing short of brilliance from King Kenny. And brilliance was a word used to describe Liverpool’s season one more than one occasion. AND FINALLY. We were off to Highbury for day 1. The acid test.

Highbury was the home of Arsenal before they moved to their wonderful new Emirates stadium; although George Graham’s team often skimped on entertainment they were effective nonetheless. Liverpool kicked off sporting their new stunning grey away kit. It was start as you mean to go on, as on 9 minutes a John Barnes cross was headed home by John Aldridge, it would be a recurring theme for some time. Arsenal levelled with a close range header from Paul Davis but late on a John Barnes free kick seemed to be cleared when outrageously Steve Nicol headed the ball so fast the camera didn’t catch it. Nicol’s header from outside the box flew over Arsenal’s 6ft4 keeper John Lukic into the top corner. I literally rewound the mighty reds 100 times trying to figure out what I had seen. It must go down as one of the finest headed goals of all time. A 2-1 at Highbury was utterly brilliant. Liverpool were off and running.

2 weeks later Liverpool travelled to Highfield road, Coventry (like Arsenal they have since moved ground), FA cup winners of 1987 and many people’s dark horse tip for the title. However that man Nicol was in outrageous scoring form and working his way down the left hand side Nicol twice ghosted into the penalty area and scored for 2-0. Liverpool were then awarded a penalty which the away end demanded Nicol take but if Liverpool missed it Coventry being 2 down would still have an outside chance and rather professionally it was decided the regular taker John Aldridge would get the nod and he made it 3-0 just to be sure. Late on Peter Beardsley outmuscled the much bigger and stronger Brian Kilcline to make it 4-0 for his first Liverpool goal. Although Coventry pulled one back their manager on the receiving end, John Sillett commented sportingly “that’s the finest football I have seen here in 18 months, why don’t they go somewhere else and do it instead of here”. It was a lovely gesture.

A week later Liverpool travelled to Upton Park and took the lead at West ham through an early second half John Aldridge penalty but a late error from Alan Hansen allowed Tony Cottee to level. 1-1 it ended much to our disappointment. It should be noted that in 1986 West Ham finished 3rd having almost beat us to the league but the chance to score 9 from 9 was gone. Afterwards long time coaches Roy Evans and Ronnie Moran picked up their disappointed troops by secretly revealing their modest target was to draw all 3 games away from home at the start of the season so the 2 wins were seen as a bonus. Yet again their staff was lifted, yet again it was brilliant management.

By now you may have noticed we have not played at home, our first 3 home games were postponed due to a sewer collapsing underneath the Kop, repairs postponed these games meaning Liverpool had games in hand for much of the first half of the season (who they were against I don’t know, answers on a post card please). So finally 4 weeks after the season begun Liverpool hosted 1986 league cup champions Oxford United. Liverpool won the match 2-0 when John Barnes set up John Aldridge for the opener against Aldo’s old club. Later on in the first half Barnes curled home a free kick which I have never seen, a goal I am dying to see as much as we all waited for that Molby United one. 2-0 it ended, Oxford outclassed but the performance of their midfielder Ray Houghton had not gone amiss, more about him later.

Having waited  weeks to see us, our loyal fans, (3000 of whom were not allowed into Anfield for the first game for fears of overcrowding) had to wait just another 3 days to see us again against Charlton Athletic. Charlton provided a stern test taking the lead after just 7 minutes through Garth Crooks (the same BBC one). 2 mins later a penalty from Aldridge levelled it but the Addicks again took the lead when Colin Walsh scored from a free kick. Late on a diving header from Alan Hansen and a Steve McMahon winner gave us a 3-2 win which set us up nicely for a trip to Newcastle.

Newcastle had replaced Peter Beardsley with Brazilian striker Mirandinha, it was very unusual to see Brazilian’s in the top flight then but it was all about one man, and surprisingly it was Steve Nicol. Nicol opened the scoring when Newcastle failed to deal with a John Barnes cross. Later in the first half Barnes was involved again when he headed down a Barry Venison cross into the path of Aldridge who made it 2. Early in the second half a brilliant through ball from Mark Lawrenson found Beardsley who sprung the offside trap and laid on Nicol for his second. Newcastle briefly threatened a precursor to Istanbul when Neil McDonald scored from the spot after a foul by Gary Gillespie on Mirandinha but that was down the loo when Nicol sprinted clear to chip Newcastle keeper Alan Kelly and make it 4-1 with a stunning hat trick. Nicol was again on the score sheet midweek during a 1-1 draw at Blackburn in the league cup 2nd round 1st leg, taking his remarkable goal tally to 7.

9 days later in a midweek game at home to Derby, Liverpool continued their scintillating form with a 4-0 win over Derby county, which would have been more only for Peter Shilton in the Derby goal. A John Aldridge hat trick consisted of 2 penalties with Beardsley netting the other goal. According to Beardsley’s book, Derby forgot to pack Shilton’s gloves and he used a spare pair of Bruce Grobbelaar’s, although he still managed to keep the score down.

4 days later Liverpool rattled in another 4-0 win at Anfield, this time against Portsmouth, Beardsley and Aldridge (penalty) were again on target while midfielders Steve McMahon and Ronnie Whelan finished the day off. Beardsley noted in his book the attempts by Portsmouth to nullify John Barnes out of game by double marking him. Barnes, merely used this to allow others the space despite being kicked off the pitch. 3 days later a last minute goals from Aldridge following a John Barnes cross downed lower league Blackburn Rovers in the league cup 1-0 while the following Saturday, Liverpool had their 4th postponement of the season when wind and rain made Wimbledon’s Plough Lane pitch unplayable.

One week later despite not playing all their allotted games Liverpool found themselves 2nd in the table behind leaders Queens Park Rangers. It was QPR who were next at Anfield, if proof was needed as to how brilliant this Liverpool side was then this was one of the first exhibits. The Reds (with Ian Rush in attendance) took the lead when Barnes’ cross was met by Craig Johnston for his first of the season. In the second half a clumsy handball by Terry Fenwick allowed John Aldridge to make it 2-0. It was Aldridge’s 11th of the season, 7 of which were penalties. It was then all about John Barnes. A quick one two with Aldridge saw Barnes side foot home the third but what happened next went down in folklore. Barnes won the ball on the half way line from Kevin Brock and bared down on goal. Barnes dinked to the left past one and dinked to the right to leave himself free on goal and he slotted the ball arrogantly under David Seaman. It was a goal of utter brilliance and the ground went absolutely bonkers. The match ended 4-0 and Liverpool were top of the table.

Before their next away game at Luton, Liverpool paid 850k to sign Oxford United midfielder Ray Houghton. A hard working midfielder, Houghton was born in Scotland but played for Ireland and was largely seen to be fighting Craig Johnston for a place, which seemed harsh given Johnston’s performance in the QPR game. Even more harsh was a week later at Luton. At the tiny ground of Kenilworth road, Luton had barred away fans, this due to the crowd troubles of the 80s although some Reds fans blagged their way in, it was sparse and when Gary Gillespie scored the game’s only goal it was met with complete silence.  Luton incidentally also played on a plastic artificial surface which was often criticized by many for thigh bouncing of balls, its pace and indeed the leg injuries that could occur. Dalglish was a known hater of such surfaces, QPR adopted a similar surface.

But midweek Liverpool lost their first game of the season, game number 13 ironically. Everton won 1-0 at Anfield in the league cup when a late Gary Stephens goal, deflected off Gillespie, to knock us out. Everton would be back to Anfield the following Sunday. Liverpool opened the scoring when John Barnes freed Steve McMahon who kept his cool to smash it home beyond Everton keeper Neville Southall. The celebrations that followed were bizarre to say the least with McMahon shouting, John Aldridge looking like he was about to punch him and Craig Johnston charging into them. If you didn’t know better it was as if 3 lads were gonna tear each other apart down the local but it was a wonderful moment that encapsulated the derby. The Reds sealed the win when an outrageous back heel from Barnes released McMahon, who fed Aldo, Aldridge’s had his shot blocked (as replays proved it was in fact blocked by Aldridge himself), the rebound fell to Beardsley whose volley crashed in off the bar. It was a stunning goal; the crowd invaded the pitch with one supporter even planting a massive kiss on Beardo’s cheek. The crowd had just gone wild and 2-0 it ended leaving us with having won 10 and drawn 1 from 11 games. Not so bad.

Beardsley revealed in his book that certain papers were critical of his game, particularly as he cost so much and wore number 7. Dalglish however told Beardsley he wouldn’t be in the team if he was so shit as some suggested. The manager picked the team, not the tabloids, Beardsley felt if that was good enough for Kenny or LFC it was good enough for him. Once again Kenny was showing maturity in management beyond his years.
3 days later, Liverpool travelled to Wimbledon for a re-arranged game that was called off earlier in the season, the match was held at Plough Lane, a stadium which is no more, Wimbledon meanwhile have since been split. Wimbledon were bought and relocated to Milton Keynes becoming the MK Dons while a breakaway team known as AFC Wimbledon was formed by angry and betrayed supporters. Back then though Wimbledon was a nasty place to go, a very physical team lead by Vinnie Jones would leave away teams with cold dressing rooms, no hot water and blocked turd filled toilets.

The Reds took the lead when new man Ray Houghton lead Wimbledon a merry dance and rounded several players to make it 1-0 although Wimbledon levelled late on. The Reds then travelled to Old Trafford for a tough tie with Manchester United. Nowadays King Kenny is of course managing us again albeit after a 20 year gap, but superbly Alex Ferguson was managing United then and he still does today, no gap there, say what you want about Mr Alex Ferguson but that is some going. Whilst Mr Alex Ferguson plotted to knock Liverpool off their perch though he was powerless to stop us back then and in the first half Liverpool took the lead when a superb ball from Hansen released McMahon whose cross was buried home by Aldridge sending the away end wild. A late equalizer from Norman Whiteside, a player of immense talent who retired at 26, equalized meaning Arsenal had now overtaken top spot. 1-1 it ended after Craig Johnston missed a late chance. That said Liverpool were unbeaten in their first 13 league games and with games in hand remained favourites to win title number 17.

The following week we could surprisingly only manage a 0-0 against struggling Norwich. Although Liverpool had Grobbelaar to thank for a late save from Kevin Drinkell, we had wasted several chances all game. The following Tuesday normal service was resumed with a crushing 4-0 win over Watford at Anfield. Struggling after they sold John Barnes and lost manager Graham Taylor, Watford were playing top flight football for the last time for over a decade by May. Barnes, McMahon, Aldridge and Houghton were the scorers.

4 days later Liverpool overcame Spurs 2-0 at White Hart Lane. Spurs had been beaten FA Cup finalists a year earlier and had finished 3rd having beaten us twice but having lost Ossie Ardiles, Glenn Hoddle and Ray Clemence things went pear shaped, ironically all 3 managed Spurs at one time or another. McMahon was again on the score sheet while Johnston added the second. It was incidentally the last game started by Paul Walsh, as Beardsley was injured. Walsh would join Spurs later in the season allegedly having refused a request from Dalglish to play right midfield something he admitted he later regretted. Walsh however remained a popular figure with Liverpool fans as years went on.

As December closed in Liverpool came from behind to beat Chelsea at Anfield 2-1. A Gordon Durie penalty gave Chelsea the lead, but a penalty from Aldridge and a late winner from McMahon, following brilliant work from Barnes and Houghton gave us a 2-1 win. The following week Liverpool drew 2-2 at Southampton. The Saints had remarkably finished runner up to us in 1984 and played their games at a compact yet somewhat cosy ground called the Dell. They now of course play at St. Mary’s but the Dell was a typical old school ground of 17000 of so making raucous noise and very close to the pitch. The reds weathered a late storm as Southampton fought from two (John Barnes) goals down to level through Colin Clarke and Andy Townsend. 2-2 it ended thanks to a late goal line clearance from Steve Nicol. For an interesting piece of trivia, our sponsors at the time were crown paints. Liverpool’s away kit was grey with the crown paints logo in White. With the logo almost unseeable on a grey back round, Liverpool were now using a new kit, grey again only with a red sponsor to make it more visible, each one is now a collector’s item.

Maybe an idea would have been to attach Liverpool and beat them that way, Wimbledon and United didn’t back down and Norwich almost stole 3 points but Sheffield Wednesday came to Anfield 6 days before Christmas and tried the 10 men behind the ball trick. It worked until Gary Gillespie netted from close range. 1-0 it ended and Christmas was upon us. Little I remember as you can tell by the lack of personal stories. Although my sister ‘s boyfriend, who is now her husband visited on St. Stephens Day, (not boxing day, St. Stephens day) and brought his folks. We all hit it off. His dad had just retired and having been with Telecom Eireann (gold star if you remember that) was given a mobile phone for free for 3 months. Now this was in the days when mobiles were about as buyable as a Maserati is now and dad always remembered when his daughter’s future father in law allowed him to ring anyone in the world for free. Being my folk’s 25th wedding anniversary my dad rang his family all over England, Australia and America. It may have cost the guy nothing but it was a wonderful gesture all the same and one that was never forgotten. As for me, remarkably I was also an uncle by this time so maybe attention went elsewhere! Thomas the tank engine talcum powder and bubble bath seems to be coming into my head. Probably a visit to my Grannies too, my parents usually drove there, drank and drove back, no one cared then. It wasn’t right but it was just the way it was. And there were good memories.

The fixtures on Stephens day was at Oxford United, Aldridge opened the scoring against his former club while Barnes added a 2nd and McMahon hit a superb 3rd with a shot that swerved over the keeper (Peter Hucker if I’m not mistaken) into the top corner, 3-0 to us. This season it should be noted the league contained 21 teams meaning one team would be free on a weekend every so often. From our 20 games so far we had drawn 5 and won 15.

2 days later Newcastle came to Anfield and lost 4-0 with an early goal from McMahon, a double from Aldridge and a goal from Houghton giving us a comfortable win. At the start of the season Liverpool were 100/1 to win the league unbeaten, the odds were now just 10/1. On New Year’s Day another 4-0 was recorded, this time over Coventry, Beardsley scored twice with Houghton and Aldridge also weighing in. Beardsley revealed the delight at one of his goals in his book whilst also talking about some players who stayed up late the night before to say happy New Year. Liverpool had just 24 hours after the Coventry game to get ready for their next game, Derby away, such was the workings of the league at the time, two games in two days at Christmas was the norm. I think personally footballers for the last 20 years are paid a lot. I have little sympathy for some dickheads who think 100k a week is too little but I do always feel a touch sorry for those with families. It seems there is a bombardment of football at Christmas time, a family time, and for so many years they will never understand how much Christmas should be a family time. It is one of the few times I would feel sorry for them.

That said the next day the game at Derby was postponed, that said too times have changed with Beardsley saying the players were desperate to build on the demolitions of Newcastle, Coventry and Oxford so the postponement was not well received. That said Liverpool atleast had a week to rest themselves before the weeks following game in the FA cup at Stoke. With Bruce Grobbelaar injured Mike Hooper stepped in for 4 games and kept us in the cup with a late save in a 1 on 1 situation. The match at Stoke’s old Victoria ground ended 0-0 with Liverpool winning a home replay 3 days later 1-0 thanks to a goal from Beardsley.

The following Saturday 250m viewers watched as Liverpool beat Arsenal 2-0 at Anfield thanks to goals from Aldridge and Beardsley, the first following excellent work from McMahon while Beardsley’s was simply individual brilliance. A week in a bottom vs. top clash Liverpool extended their lead at the top of division 1 to 17 points with a win over Charlton Athletic, Charlton were playing home games at Selhurst Park as their home, the Valley, was out of commission for some 8 years. Beardsley and Barnes were the scorers in a 2-0 win.

Those two were at it again 8 days later as Liverpool swept Aston villa aside in the FA Cup, the Villains were leading the old division 2 and would be promoted at the end of the season. Although Mike Hooper had kept 4 clean sheets in 4 games, Grobbelaar returned and made a good early save from Geddis. Liverpool in a 3rd strip of white with red shorts took the lead thanks to a spectacular diving header from Barnes whilst Beardsley finished off with his 6th in 6 games when he converted home a cross from Aldridge.

The reds team changed slightly with Gary Ablett getting a run out and he would hold his place for the rest of the season. Around this time Mark Lawrenson left the club because of ongoing injury problems, tragically he was just 29. Elsewhere having started just one game each, Paul Walsh joined Spurs while John Wark rejoined Ipswich. However the reds would surprisingly drop two points at home to lowly West Ham in a 0-0 draw but normal service resumed thanks to a crushing 4-1 win over struggling Watford at vicarage road. Beardsley made it 8 in 8 with two superbly taken goals whilst Barnes was on target against his former club and Aldridge was also on the score sheet. It was our 8th game of 1988 and our first goal was conceded when Luther Blissett scored a late consolation. The first goal we had conceded in 11 games, such was the pride in the record, Bruce Grobbelaar was said to be devastated afterwards despite the big win.

A week later a John Barnes cross set up Ray Houghton as Liverpool won 1-0 at Everton in the FA cup 5th round, Barnes famously back heeled a banana off the pitch in response to some racist taunts. Barnes was at it again 6 days later scoring twice in a 2-0 win at Portsmouth making it 27 league games and no losses. A week later we opened March on QPR’s notorious plastic pitch but a 1-0 was achieved when John Barnes scored again after some good work involving Craig Johnston. If the plastic pitch was bad it was nothing compared to the muddy Maine road surface that awaited us in round of the FA Cup. The double bandwagon marched on with a 4-0 win at Man city. Ray Houghton scoring the opener with a spectacular volley. In the second half Beardsley stroked home a spot kick after City keeper Mike Stowell attempted to decapitate Johnston. Johnston survived another decapitation attempt by Stowell to make it 3 (he still had the mud and paint from the first attempt to show for it. Barnes finished city off springing the offside trap for a fine 4th.
 
Midweek the Reds equalled a record of 29 unbeaten games from the start of the season with a 1-1 draw at Derby. Johnston scored the opener but Derby pulled it back late on. The record of 29 games had been set by Don Revie’s Leeds, albeit with Liverpool having more wins, points, goals scored and fewer goals conceded. We should have made it 30 and taken it ourselves but all good things come to an end. 4 days later. Remarkably it was our 7th game in a row away. But this undone us. Everton’s Wayne Clarke scored early on and a 1-0 loss was our first of the league season. But there was still plenty to play for.

When Liverpool finally returned to Anfield they disposed of Wimbledon by 2 goals to 1. Barnes and Aldridge the scorers while Eric Young pulled one back later on, even Kenny Dalglish got in on the fun by making a cameo appearance as a sub late on. A week later though Liverpool lost again, this time at Nottingham forest. An own goal from Alan Hansen set forest on their way and although Grobbelaar saved a penalty from Nigel Clough, Neil Webb would make it 2-0. Aldridge scored a penalty making it 2-1 but that was where the scoring ended. Revenge was just around the corner.

But 48 hours later Liverpool first had to contend with Man United. United took an early lead through Bryan Robson but Beardsley equalized with a wonderfully worked goal. Before half time John Barnes’ cross was met with a crushing header from Gary Gillespie, shortly into the second half Steve McMahon rattled in a 30 yard screamer. With us 3-1 up and united soon to have Colin Gibson sent off it seemed we would rack up a cricket score, but a deflected goal from Robson made it 3-2 before Gordon Strachan burst clear and made it 3-3, Strachan famously pretended to smoke a cigar in celebration. Although United might well have had just 9 men when Norman Whiteside appeared as a sub with the sole task of breaking up Barnes and McMahon. After the match Dalglish famously scolded Alex Ferguson by claiming Dalglish’s baby daughter had more intelligence than our whisky nosed friends. Long before the Kevin Keegan explosion, Kenny was the master of mind games, it was by no means an invention by Ferguson!

Our attention then turned to the FA cup semi final against Forest at Hillsborough. I won’t quote what one paper claimed forest defender Steve Chettle said about John Barnes that morning as I have since heard it was a certain paper that shredded its credibility on Merseyside 12 months later but if indeed Chettle said what he said then Barnes set out to take him to the cleaners. Barnes worked tirelessly to subdue forest winger Gary Crosby and terrorized forest all day. Barnes was fouled by Chettle allowing Aldo to make it 1-0 from the spot. The next goal was voted goal of the season by the BBC. Beardsley and Barnes worked a 1-2 and Barnes cross was volleyed home by Aldridge, incidentally the much renowned BBC goal of the season competition which still runs today was monopolize by us. Every contender was a Liverpool goal. Forest did get one back through Nigel Clough but a 2-1 put us into the final where we would play Wimbledon in what would surely be our 2nd FA cup and league double.

4 days later we met Forest again in the league at Anfield. The Reds turned in their finest 90 minutes of the season. Forest were certainly no mugs and spent all season in the top 3 but tonight they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ray Houghton set us on the way with a fine finish after a 1-2 with Barnes. Aldridge added a second following a wonderful through ball by Beardsley. Beardsley would terrorize forest all half, hitting the crossbar, as well as bringing off a fine save from Forest keeper Steve Sutton. John Barnes also hit the post.

In the second half there was no let up as Gary Gillespie rifled home number 3 before Barnes made a monkey out of the forest defence and allowed Beardsley his long due goal for 4-0. There was to be further drama when Nigel Spackman was involved in the centre of a move that allowed Aldridge to make it 5-0. Spackman was having his finest hour, he had come into the team mid season as Ronnie Whelan was injured but Spackman filled the role so well that when Whelan returned Spackman stayed put. Spackman showed glaring unselfishness when he was clean through on two occasions with the game sown up but graciously let others take the plaudits, this despite him never scoring for us. The performance of Spackman and co drew warm plaudits with notably Tom Finney commenting “It's the finest exhibition of football I have ever seen”. High praise indeed! The aforementioned mighty reds video commissioned by the BBC had in fact included this match in its entirety. It was 90 minutes that summed up the season and the team of the 80s. It was an utterly brilliant showpiece.

Despite our next game being number 34 of our 40 game season (21 teams rather than 20) Liverpool could win the league in their next match but a goalless draw at Norwich meant we would have to wait a while but just 3 days later we wrapped up title number 17 with a 1-0 over Spurs at Anfield. Beardsley scoring the game’s only goal as the players did a lap of honour. It was our 10th title in 16 years. Beardsley, a self professed tee total spent the night at home with his wife munching on a local take away’s fish and chips. Modesty amid brilliance!

A week later Beardsley missed a late penalty at Chelsea. Chelsea took the lead through a penalty of their own from Gordon Durie but John Barnes levelled from a free kick. By now though all attention had switched to the FA cup, but relegation threatened Chelsea still had a lot to play for. That’s not a typo; remarkably Chelsea would end the season relegated!

The Reds meanwhile were presented with the title before their next home game with Southampton, with the trophies being dished out before hand on the bank holiday Monday it was maybe an anti climax. Liverpool took the lead in typical fashion, Barnes crossing for Aldridge to score though Southampton equalized in the second half thanks to a stunning volley from Rodney Wallace. 5 days later though we shifted back up through the gears to demolish Sheffield Wednesday 5-1 away. Two goals apiece for Johnston and Beardsley as well as one from Barnes made it an emphatic and deserved win. Just 2 days later our last home game of the season was played out; it was a 1-1 draw with Luton. The main cause for concern was clash of heads between Spackman and Gillespie and both famously wore headbands for the next game at Wembley. The games goals were scored by Aldo and David Oldfield.

All that was left was for Liverpool to become the first team to become league and FA cup champions for the 2nd time in the same season. Nobody fancied Wimbledon with some pundits predicting another 4 or 5 goal romps. It should be noted that all games with Wimbledon since they had landed in the top flight were close run things. Wimbledon had actually beaten Liverpool at Anfield the previous season.

It just wasn’t meant to be Liverpool’s day as John Barnes missed an early chance while Peter Beardsley had a goal ruled out when he was fouled. After being played through by Gillespie, Beardsley shrugged off a clumsy challenge by Andy Thorn and slotted past Dave Beasant but the referee had already blown for a free much to the consternation of Beardsley. It seemed harsh with all players seemingly playing on. Thorn may have been sent off for it today, while early on a vicious challenge by Vinnie Jones went unpunished after he deliberately walloped Steve McMahon, much was made of this allegedly taking McMahon out of the game but it was probably just something Wimbledon did to psyche themselves up rather than make McMahon vanish from the game. In the tunnel beforehand Wimbledon players repeatedly shouted at our lads but we had seen it before and it was largely laughed off by our lot. Jones was probably just attracting attention for his and his teammate’s obnoxious attitude which famously included him claiming in the run up to the game he would “rip of Kenny Dalglish’s head and spit down his hole”. Charming!

Wimbledon eventually took the lead when from a controversially given free kick Lawrie Sanchez rose to head home from a Dennis Wise cross. We had our chances to equalize most notably when Clive Goodyear fouled Aldridge for a penalty. Aldridge had scored over 10 penalties all season usually going to the keepers left, Wimbledon studied this and Beasant on the advice of Vinnie Jones dived left and pushed Aldridge’s spot kick wide. Jones once said “I had seen all his penalties go the same way, I told big Dave this and if he had gone the other way I’d never have forgiven him”. Wimbledon were remarkably FA Cup champions. John Motson famously quipped that the crazy gang had beaten the culture club. It seemed that way, it was just meant to be for Wimbledon, it was their greatest day, for us it just wasn’t meant to be. After the game sub Jan Molby gave his medal to Mike Hooper insisting Liverpool wouldn’t have made it to Wembley had it not been for Hooper. It was a marvellous gesture.

That said our season had ended on a low but it would never overshadow the achievements of that wonderful team. On atleast 12 occasions we found the net 4 times in one game. Even more sensationally Kenny Dalglish had effectively retired and made only sporadic appearances over the season while long time goal getter Ian rush had left the team but Dalglish had reinvested to make the team even stronger. It was as I said before, brilliant management. So with Kenny back at the helm maybe we just need patience and trust, the guy has done it before and rebuilt the house bigger and better. I myself have wondered over the money spent on the likes of Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson but then again they arrived from teams no more fashionable then the Oxford who sold us Houghton and Aldridge, the Chelsea that sold us Spackman, the Sunderland that sold us Venison, the Newcastle that sold us Beardsley and the Watford that sold us Barnes.

I myself have wondered but to question the judgement as I and you have of Kenny is plain wrong. He has proved that this season, who in their right mind would have said we would be 6th when he came back. I never even thought he was would get his full time deal but there you go , as I started by saying Dalglish was born to do this job it has to be a belief I maintain. Kenny is back, and we have to trust him, he has done it before and maybe he could do it again.

In conclusion here is the team photo that season, now if you think we would struggle without Kenny playing and Ian rush take a look at this photo, I’m just glad they were with us, not against us. It may have been before my time but in the words of Mike Bassett England Manager “I don’t know what they do to the opposition, but they scare the shit out of me.”

They scared a few others too!
 
« Last Edit: June 27, 2011, 10:28:29 AM by HELLRAZOR »
yer ma should have called you Paolo Zico Gerry Socrates HELLRAZOR

Offline J-Mc-

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You can get to fuck if you think I'm reading all that!

;)

Offline ericcsson

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can't wait til I have time to read this! looks excellent, although I must admit I only skimmed it so far
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Offline Terry de Niro

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can't wait til I have time to read this! looks excellent, although I must admit I only skimmed it so far
Same here on both counts.
That side was the most attacking team I have ever had the pleasure to see.
I remember there being a problem with the drains under the Kop and us not playing at home for the first few weeks.
After that just a massive buzz watching that side rip shreds out of most of the teams that were put in front of them.

Great days..
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Offline Broken Accidental Stars

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Just watched the Forest 5-0 game again, Beardsley was really something. That through pass to Aldridge was a thing of beauty. All that twisting and turning around the box reminded me a lot of Suarez actually.
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Long post but a great read, so thanks.

AND FINALLY. We were off to Highbury for day 1. The acid test.

Highbury was the home of Arsenal before they moved to their wonderful new Emirates stadium; although George Graham’s team often skimped on entertainment they were effective nonetheless. Liverpool kicked off sporting their new stunning grey away kit. It was start as you mean to go on, as on 9 minutes a John Barnes cross was headed home by John Aldridge, it would be a recurring theme for some time. Arsenal levelled with a close range header from Paul Davis but late on a John Barnes free kick seemed to be cleared when outrageously Steve Nicol headed the ball so fast the camera didn’t catch it. Nicol’s header from outside the box flew over Arsenal’s 6ft4 keeper John Lukic into the top corner. I literally rewound the mighty reds 100 times trying to figure out what I had seen. It must go down as one of the finest headed goals of all time. A 2-1 at Highbury was utterly brilliant. Liverpool were off and running.

This is up there with St Etienne as one of my fave ever matches. First day of the season is always one filled with hope and expectation and this was no different - I remember being a bit wary and unsure of Kenny's signings, after that 90 mins nobody was left in any doubt he'd pulled a rabbit from the hat, a marker was laid down for the season. My other abiding memory of the day was the heat - everyone who stood on the Clock End that day got really bad sunburn down the left hand side of their face. Was well worth it though. :lol:

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My dad took me to three games that season.

Everton 2-0 with a brilliant Beardsley goal (and a decent one from McMahon)

Arsenal 2-0 with that amazing team goal scored by Aldo and a great Beardsley individual goal

Forest 5-0...no further comment needed!

Luckiest 8/9 year old ever!

Offline GODS LEFT BOOT

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Great read mate
I hope I never end up on the piss with you if you can bang that out after a couple of bottles of wine and some beer chasers  :hally
If my assistant had not signalled a goal, I would have given a penalty and sent off goalkeeper Patr Cheh. he beeped me to signal the foul. The noise from the crowd  stopped me hearing it, I have been involved at places like Barcelona, Ibrox, Old Trafford, Arsenal, but I've never in my life been involved in such an atmosphere. IT WAS INCREDIBLE

Offline Sangria

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That said our season had ended on a low but it would never overshadow the achievements of that wonderful team. On atleast 12 occasions we found the net 4 times in one game.

There were a number of games that were 4-1 away and 4-0 at home. Coventry and Newcastle come to mind, but there were others too. The 5-0 stood out because it was the only occasion where they scored more than 4, and it was against the 2nd best team in the country.
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Offline Lusty

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First Liverpool team I can remember.  In fact one of my earliest memories is sitting at school having the piss ripped out of me after the FA Cup Final.

What a team though.  Still think it's the best I've seen.

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I'm too drunk to read all that.
Whats that on your lip? Is it a mustache or is it SHIT !

Offline JasbinderX

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JOHN BARNES that season .... perhaps the greatest single performance by any player i've ever seen. He was unplayable.

Naturally in today world of Sky Sports, football only began with the Premiership, so Barnes season legendary season is forgotton by most neutrals.

Offline Dougle

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Great read. I was a the Wimbleton game. it was crap ! as you expect from those muggers but I liked Plough lane. Great times all around. Dynamite.

Offline Danyaals Kop

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Great Read,

and as pointed out, one of the finest games ever : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z46vRy-SHFc

Offline afc turkish

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Quote
A week later we opened March on QPR’s notorious plastic pitch but a 1-0 was achieved when John Barnes scored again after some good work involving Craig Johnston.

Was at that match, my university side had come over to play a series of friendlies and we all got tickets to that match at Loftus Road.  Funny how Barnes could make playing on plastic look similar to playing on grass...
Since haste quite Schorsch, but Liverpool are genuine fight pigs...

Offline JasbinderX

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I remember watching the scores on BBC TEXT ... we had just lost to Everton the week before, and when i clicked over (302 on BB1, 140 on ITV) we were losing 2nill again Nottingham Forrest.

Turned on Grandstand, and they were predicting some doomsday scenario where'd we implode and had the wobbles.

Offline Wingman

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The best ever Liverpool side, managed by my idol with two (Barnes & Beardsley) of my all time favourite players in their prime.

They were breathtaking, the Forest game was like watching Brazil vs Tranmere

And then they broke my heart at Wembley and I cried all the way home listening to the "Anfield Rap"



.... Great OP btw!

Offline JasbinderX

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Remember Man City in the cup. Johnston was class that day, on a mud soaked pitch.

Offline The Gulleysucker

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That 5-0 Forest game is still one of the best exhibitions of dominating yet graceful football I've ever seen from a Liverpool side, if not any side.
It truly was a stunning performance and will always be my memory of that great team.
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Offline Fazakerley Red

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Remember Man City in the cup. Johnston was class that day, on a mud soaked pitch.
was there  a very wet day in manchester the platt lane roof was leaking but a great display by the reds

Offline bunjibloomer

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Great read! My earliest memories of The Mighty Redmen! Those were the days.

I had that poster on the back of my bedroom door. I was only thinking about it the other day funnily enough. Hoping that it may still be stashed somewhere in my mums gaffe.

And I have that video you mention with the full forest game on it. It's class. Haven't watched it in years. I plan to soon with my boy to show him why I love this club, and to never give up.

In relation to your statement re current purchases which have raised eyebrows, including my own, I too have full faith in The King and am mostly keeping my opinions to myself with thoughts in the back of my mind that mirror yours. Who the fuck am I to doubt him! He's done it his way before, so why not now... I've said before I think its a blessing in disguise we're not in Europe next year. And I stand by that. Come and play for Liverpool cause you want to. And hopefully together we'll make a success of it!

Off to bed now full of nostalgia. I can't wait for the new season to start and hopefully the beginning of a new era full of silverware with The King in charge and a team of not just full of household names, however a group of lads that want to play for us with pride for the club, the fans - the family - and with a Passion for the Liverbird upon their chest.

Great post and thanks. YNWA
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Offline HillsOfEastManchester

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A week in a bottom vs. top clash Liverpool extended their lead at the top of division 1 to 17 points with a win over Charlton Athletic, Charlton were playing home games at Selhurst Park as their home, the Valley, was out of commission for some 8 years. Beardsley and Barnes were the scorers in a 2-0 win.
 

The first match I ever saw, aged 7. Dad was a Palace fan, we were down visiting Gran who lived just round the corner from Selhurst. He hoped Palace would be playing at home, I hadn't really 'chosen' a team at that point. Didn't take long.

Offline TomG

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Great read that.

I was but a twinkle in the milkmans eye at this time so really appreciate reading about how good these guys were.

Thanks for that.
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Offline Cleveland_Red

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Too young to remember this.  For those like myself or anyone that wants to see the season to believe it:

87-88 season review featuring the entire 5-0 forest game.

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=VDBOD5WA


 :scarf        :scarf         :scarf
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Offline keyo

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my first away game that season, arsenal, first game of the season, whole season was a joy to behold...barnes was awesome, beadsley got better and better, and houghton, aldridge, macmahon, et al all stepped up to the mark....the kop sewer thing even seemed to set us up nicely, holding back the home appearances and upping the enthusiasm to see the new line up.....particularly enjoyed the derbies that season, really intense, and the forest games, and also remember the united games not meaning that much!!

thoroughly enjoyed remembering it, cheers for that!!
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I read the title. I hope the rest was a good read.
They say it fades...if you let it.

Football without fans is nothing.

We've won 18 titles, 5 European Cups, 7 FA Cups, but today must be the greatest victory of all.

Offline redleyther

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Quality Read  ;D  bring back the 80@s  i just about remember that season ! that was around when all the warehouse partys kicked so cant remember much atfer then  :lickin

Offline stevedo

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Great read!  :D

Offline Carlito Roberto

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That 5-0 Forest game is still one of the best exhibitions of dominating yet graceful football I've ever seen from a Liverpool side, if not any side.
It truly was a stunning performance and will always be my memory of that great team.

As an 8 year old LFC fanatic that was my first ever game - I still remember my Dad warning me they weren't all like this, turns out he was right!

Offline nez808

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I remember there was an April's Fool in The Echo that year saying that Liverpool were so good that next season they would be handicapped by two goals at home and one away. You were invited to ring a number if you wanted to protest this. Being eleven and, therefore, rather naive, I duly rang to voive my disapproval  ::)

The only player I can't place in the photo at the end of the OP is the bloke between Spackman and Ablett. Any ideas? It's doing my head in.

Offline Terry de Niro

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The only player I can't place in the photo at the end of the OP is the bloke between Spackman and Ablett. Any ideas? It's doing my head in.
Alan Irvine.
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Rest in peace Ray Osborne/shanklyboy

Offline Hellrazor

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Alan Irvine.
yep, i didnt mention him cos he didnt feature that season. think he was sold to dundee united in october 87?
yer ma should have called you Paolo Zico Gerry Socrates HELLRAZOR

Offline Hellrazor

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cheers for the all the kind words people
Great read mate
I hope I never end up on the piss with you if you can bang that out after a couple of bottles of wine and some beer chasers  :hally
this being my favorite
yer ma should have called you Paolo Zico Gerry Socrates HELLRAZOR

Offline nez808

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Alan Irvine.

Nice one.

Cheers, I can get on with my life now.

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still fucked off for getting such a bad view at highfield road.
it sounded a great game but id slightly strained my calf in pre season so couldnt stand tip toe all game ffs
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Thanks for that HELLRAZOR, I was born the year before that season so I have no real recollection of it, I have seen some of the season reviews but your post was a bit more humorous. What a team, hoping for something of the sort next season.
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Offline Hellrazor

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Too young to remember this.  For those like myself or anyone that wants to see the season to believe it:

87-88 season review featuring the entire 5-0 forest game.

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=VDBOD5WA


 :scarf        :scarf         :scarf
  ACE
yer ma should have called you Paolo Zico Gerry Socrates HELLRAZOR

Offline Hellrazor

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Thanks for that HELLRAZOR, I was born the year before that season so I have no real recollection of it, I have seen some of the season reviews but your post was a bit more humorous. What a team, hoping for something of the sort next season.
more than welcome

check out the 5-0 forest game in the link
yer ma should have called you Paolo Zico Gerry Socrates HELLRAZOR

Offline koolkamal

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Enjoyable read... just seen this on youtube earlier today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QNy3Fj4a1s

Video representation of pretty much the entire post. :) ESPN review with Aldridge.
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Offline Fazakerley Red

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Alan Irvine.
made his debut at goodison park in the league cup tie were gary stevens broke jim beglins leg he came on for jim , once again rush got the  winner at the park end ,i was in the upper bullens that night .