Author Topic: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988  (Read 6358 times)

Offline BIG DICK NICK

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“It was the finest exhibition I’ve seen the whole time I’ve played and watched the game. You couldn’t see it bettered anywhere, not even in Brazil.” - Tom Finney

Like, I suspect, many of you I am quite the nerd when it comes to Liverpool. On my laptop sits a spreadsheet, sadly untouched in recent times, where once I went through and listed every match I have ever attended, detailing the result and the scorers. I could bemoan the fact that in recent years I haven’t been to nearly as many games as I’d have liked. But I won’t. That’s because for me, I was fortunate enough to attend games during the time when we fielded one of the greatest sides in our history.

There was a brief false start – my first two visits in 1984 ended in defeat. I was banned for a couple of years. I was given a final chance in the Spring of 1986 and we trounced Birmingham en route to the Double (Gary Gillespie hat-trick stats fans). That game saved me, I was ‘in’! The first season where I attended 3 matches happened to be the 1987/88 season and what 3 matches they turned out to be:

Everton 2-0 (McMahon & Beardsley)
Arsenal 2-0 (Aldridge & Beardsley)
Nottingham Forest 5-0 (Houghton, Aldridge, Gillespie, Beardsley, Aldridge)

How’s that for your first semi-regular season of matchgoing? All at the age of 8 and 9. I often think that’s what’s given me a more laidback attitude than some posters when we have our bad runs. It’s like being taken to a few concerts as a kid and seeing The Beatles at Shea Stadium, Hendrix at Woodstock or Radiohead at Glastonbury rolled into one and just presuming this was the norm.   What was the banner lifted from James’s Sit Down?... “If I hadn’t seen such riches I could live with being poor.”  Except I think I can live with it. The memories still burn on, maybe made all the stronger because I was at such an impressionable age. It’s why John Barnes will always be my favourite player.

You have two choices when you’ve seen such highs: you can rage at anything and everything, demanding all our future players and managers live up to such high standards or you can puff your cheeks, sit back and wonder how anyone can be expected to live up to that.

Onto the game itself. It’s one all of you have probably seen in its entirety (if like me you were a proud owner of The Mighty Reds VHS – the first video we ever owned) or at least some highlights on youTube or LFCtv. If you haven’t then stop reading this immediately and go and search for it. It’s magic!

To give you some context, the fixture was played in April 1988 with Liverpool way clear of everyone else at the top of the table and just games away from sealing a 17th title. One of the best of the rest were Nottingham Forest – one of only two sides to beat Liverpool that season a fortnight earlier, and our victims in the FA Cup Semi Final just the previous weekend. Both games had finished 2-1 and in the modern era you can be sure it would have been defined as some sort of season defining trilogy. This was a Forest fan managed by Brian Clough when he was still operating at a high level and contained some of the most promising youngsters in England in the likes of Stuart Pearce, Nigel Clough, Neil Webb and Des Walker (don’t snigger, they were all decent back then!). Liverpool went into the game on the back of their worst League run of the season. Just 1 win in 4 with two defeats (the only two we’d suffer all season).

I remember approaching the ground with usual butterflies and a fear that our bad run might continue. Given how successful we were back then I was always remarkably pessimistic about how our games would go. I used to love the pre match back then – the giant tin of Crown paints in the centre circle, the players warming up and acknowledging the songs from the Kop. The sheer size and scale of the Kop swaying all over the place as the occasional fainter were passed over heads and down the front to the waiting St Johns Ambulance men. George reading out the teams…all this was a great preamble and took my mind off the game itself. Whenever they kicked off I was a bag of nerves. More nervous than Marouane Fellaini at an Edward Scissorhands convention.

Vs 


From the outset it was clear I needn’t have worried. Liverpool were utterly majestic. You’ll have seen already the comments from Tom Finney saying it was the greatest performance he’d seen. Watching the game again to research this it struck me how much everyone was amazed by the performance. Some of the lines from John Motson on the TV commentary backed up this assertion (this was back in the day when Motson was still considered to be a good commentator and not just a bewildered old fool).

All season the Barnes and Beardsley axis had been ripping teams to shreds and this game was perhaps the pinnacle of that particular partnership. Beardsley in particular was jaw droppingly good; weaving past defenders at will and threading eye of the needle passes like a previous incarnation hybrid of Luis Suarez and Phillipe Coutinho with a bowlcut and gap toothed grin. Barnes saved his best for the latter stages, skinning the young full back Steve Chettle at will, most memorably with a delicious nutmeg in front of the kop en route to teeing up the 4th for Beardsley.

The rest of the side were by no means just making up the numbers. Brucie in goal was a spectator for much of the night but still amused the Kop and showed he was an adept mathematician by correctly answering the “Brucie Brucie what’s the score?” questions on a number of occasions. At the back Hansen and Gillespie were the epitome of ball playing centre halves. One early foray from Hansen helped create the first goal. At full back, Nicol and Ablett provided valuable support. The engine room of McMahon and Spackman (brilliantly deputising for the injured Whelan) ran the show and on the right of midfield Houghton scurried here and there, all perpetual motion and passing and movement. Up front Aldridge “the poacher supreme” made the right runs knowing that silver service was all but guaranteed.

All the goals are mini classics in their own right and show what a complete side we were back then. I think a couple made the famous Goal of the Season shortlist that featured 10 goals all scored by Liverpool. In fact, in attending just those 3 games listed earlier I actually saw 5 of those contenders in the flesh.

1-0:Some brilliant pass and move and one touch passing sees Beardsley and Houghton combine for the Glaswegian Irishman to deftly clip the ball over Steve Sutton (who incidentally had a great game!)

2-0: "and that is another superb Liverpool goal...and as with everything Liverpool do, it looked simple but it was of a quite stupendous quality" Deep in his own half Beardsley drops an shoulder, leaves two Forest players in his wake and sprays a glorious 50 yard through ball over the top for Aldridge to race on to and slot past Sutton. In comparison to the slick interplay of the first, this goal was a classic of its kind, a ruthless counter attack with defence turned into attack in a split second

3-0: "another bewildering piece of Liverpool football" After a spell of relentless pressure and with Forest rocking on the ropes like a heavyweight slugger, a poor clearance from a corner is fed back to Barnes (check) who tees up Gary Gillespie to smash a finish high into the net at the Kop End before celebrating like a demented stick insect.

4-0: "and the England forwards conspire again to produce another marvellous moment" A piece of Barnes magic sees him nutmeg Chettle, glide effortlessly into the box and tee up Beardsley for a goal his performance so richly deserved.

5-0: Aldridge completes the rout after a burst from Spackman and one-two with Beardsley tee him up for a simple tap in.

We could have had more. Barnes hit the post. Beardsley smashed one against the bar. Sutton made some great saves. We were relentless. We were insatiable. We were further words like that if you want to  look them up in a thesaurus.

Arguably the result that evening was never in doubt from the moment we took the lead. Certainly when Gillespie made it 3 early in the second half it was a case of sitting back and watching the majesty unfold. We were amazing and we knew it. Forest knew it. Everyone in the ground knew it. It was a performance that “Show them the way to go home” was made for.

After the game, just to top off my luck, my Dad produced tickets that enabled us to go into the Trophy Room for a classic 80’s buffet and a chance to spot a few old players and staff. The buzz was palpable as people discussed the performance and where it ranked amongst the very best they had seen. To my young eyes I didn’t really have a huge amount to compare it too. But 25 years on, it remains the finest team performance I have ever seen. I’ve been fortunate enough to witness ‘bigger’ wins with more at stake. I was there when we won the Title in 1990 and I’ve seen us pick up a few cups. I’ve had higher moments of ecstasy (behave) as we’ve grabbed late winners or beaten bigger rivals. But I don’t think I’ve ever had the buzz, the sheer happiness to be watching a match in total relaxation whilst thinking “this is great”. My non Liverpool supporting mates love to chuck in the stereotypes about our support, and about our superiority complex. When I think back to this game and the others I witnessed that season I think – is it any wonder?! 25 years on (sigh), it remains my favourite game.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/jy-uQT3AqyI" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/jy-uQT3AqyI</a>
« Last Edit: December 2, 2013, 10:10:20 PM by Cranberry Nick »

Offline The 5th Benitle

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2013, 11:24:07 AM »
That's excellent Nick, hard to do justice to such an iconic game but you've managed it.
I have to ask though:
There was a brief false start – my first two visits in 1984 ended in defeat. I was banned for a couple of years. I was given a final chance in the Spring of 1986
What for? Was this in your hooligan days?

Offline BIG DICK NICK

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2013, 11:39:00 AM »
That's excellent Nick, hard to do justice to such an iconic game but you've managed it.
I have to ask though:What for? Was this in your hooligan days?


Haha I read it back last night and that bit jumped out at me too (and then i forgot to change it). The ban was imposed by my Dad for thinking i was a jinx although I was part of the Anny Road Aggro on all those visits (was just blissfully unaware of it. :D )

Offline Hinesy

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #3 on: December 5, 2013, 12:07:55 AM »
Bump. On the 5th day of Christmas my true love brought to me Fiiiiive golden goals....
Yep.

Offline Barney_Rubble

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #4 on: December 5, 2013, 12:19:36 AM »
More nervous than Marouane Fellaini at an Edward Scissorhands convention.
;D Great.

87:13

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #5 on: December 5, 2013, 12:25:46 AM »
Nice read, Nick and that's a cracking memory to have, such a game to have been at.

Offline nicholasanthony

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #6 on: December 5, 2013, 01:05:13 AM »
Nice one Nick.

Offline redgriffin73

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #7 on: December 5, 2013, 11:46:15 AM »
Great read, and fantastic to have a game like that to store away in your memory for during the leaner times. I remember watching the highlights of that game over and over on an old video.

And I think I have that Mighty Reds VHS tape stashed away somewhere too! ;D

Wahey, the Christmas smilies are back! :D
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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #8 on: December 5, 2013, 11:50:25 AM »
what a game what a season.

did anyone go to the first games ? 3 on the bounce ( i think because of the collapsed sewer ? ).

I went to the first 2 home games, Oxford and then Charlton, there was already a feeling of great excitement in the air because of the great start in the league. I'm shit at remembering stuff from games, but I can remember it being very warm and a really great atmosphere for his home debut  (  and it was the second summer of love after all  :) ).

Did Barnes score with a free kick against Oxford? I think he did, he went on of course to become a  Liverpool legend, but I think even then in those opening games people who had marvelled at Kenny, Rushie and the great Paul Walsh were thinking this lad was very very special. Back then money was tight and to a certain extent you could pick and choose your games as you could pay on the door but in 87 it seemed everyone was going the game again, lads who maybe had a season or two off  ( like me )were suddenly back in the kop, brilliant times  8)

Don't get me wrong I think Kenny is the best red and the best Man you could ever meet but if I had one pick for an all time Liverpool XI I'd have to go for  Johnny Barnes


I suppose the highlight for me that year was the Forest game when the likes of Tom Finney, Patini and er Des Lynam hailed us as maybe the best club side ever.

Offline Harinder

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #9 on: December 5, 2013, 11:58:21 AM »
Beardsley - what a hero for us over the years! :)
Just clicked on the main board and my virus scanner came back with this

"When we visited this site, we found it exhibited one or more risky behaviors."


:lmao

Strip his knighthood https://submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/47770

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #10 on: December 5, 2013, 11:59:03 AM »
fantastic!

what a performance that was
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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #11 on: December 5, 2013, 01:39:33 PM »
Fantastic read Nick
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Offline Foregone Concussion

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #12 on: December 5, 2013, 01:43:10 PM »
Great read that.
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Offline 19th Nervous Title

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #13 on: December 5, 2013, 01:48:26 PM »
Saw it on TV. The amazing thing was that Forest weren't that bad on the day. We were just so good. Beardsley and Barnes in their pomp.
It's all good.

Offline John C

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #14 on: December 5, 2013, 11:14:24 PM »
Thanks Nick, there's 7 undeniably immense players in that line-up.

Offline FlashingBlade

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #15 on: December 5, 2013, 11:21:57 PM »
Such was the response to the game , the BBC showed the whole 90 minutes on the Thursday night.

And who was Man of the Match in this  stunning game..........Nigel Spackman!

Offline BIG DICK NICK

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #16 on: December 5, 2013, 11:24:25 PM »
Thanks Nick, there's 7 undeniably immense players in that line-up.
Thanks Nick, there's 7 undeniably immense players in that line-up.

I was thinking about this. It's obviously one of our greatest sides but in terms of all time elevens I think only Barnes, Hansen and mayhe Nicol would get in or closely in contention. Is that because the team was greater than the sum of its parts? Or was it (more likely) that due to various unfortunate circumstances the team was broken up earlier than it could and should have been?

Offline John C

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #17 on: December 5, 2013, 11:33:44 PM »
I was thinking about this.
Its a discussion I struggle with from the beginning mate, we've had too many greats to attempt to compile an all-time 11. But I'll always compare with what's in our current team and its incomparable unfortunately. I long for another Steve McMahon.

Offline BazC

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #18 on: December 6, 2013, 12:50:13 AM »
Nice one Nick. I remember at uni I was browsing Stage6, and found the full match on there in good quality. I sat there with a couple of mates, some beers, and the birds buzzing around trying to get us to give them attention. We were fixated on Barnes et al. Funny, as not one of us had been born when that match was played!
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Offline Gifted Right Foot

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #19 on: December 6, 2013, 12:56:54 AM »
Great read.  I'm loving all these write ups.

Offline elbow

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #20 on: December 6, 2013, 01:02:35 AM »
I was there on the Kop, what a game. One thing though:

"2-0: "and that is another superb Liverpool goal...and as with everything Liverpool do, it looked simple but it was of a quite stupendous quality" Deep in his own half Beardsley drops an shoulder, leaves two Forest players in his wake and sprays a glorious 50 yard through ball over the top for Aldridge to race on to and slot past Sutton. In comparison to the slick interplay of the first, this goal was a classic of its kind, a ruthless counter attack with defence turned into attack in a split second"

I havn't seen the game for years, but didn't Beardsley sort of almost curl the through-ball between a couple of Forest defenders, rather than over the top?
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Offline StrikingMidfield

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #21 on: December 6, 2013, 06:02:07 AM »
Love this RAWK Advent Calendar. Just watched about half of the match and the goals on YouTube, we really were an amazing team back then. Fantastic write up mate.
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Offline Ycuzz

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #22 on: December 6, 2013, 10:51:09 AM »
Just got around to this one.

Oh, and
Quote
celebrating like a demented stick insect
Made me Lol that one ;D

I remember I watched this on the telly - grinning from ear to ear.
Hard, no.. impossible to pick out 'our best' that day, but I've always liked Beardsley. Lovely player and he was unplayable that day.

Very nice Nick, thanks mate.
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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #23 on: December 6, 2013, 11:29:15 AM »
I was there on the Kop, what a game. One thing though:

"2-0: "and that is another superb Liverpool goal...and as with everything Liverpool do, it looked simple but it was of a quite stupendous quality" Deep in his own half Beardsley drops an shoulder, leaves two Forest players in his wake and sprays a glorious 50 yard through ball over the top for Aldridge to race on to and slot past Sutton. In comparison to the slick interplay of the first, this goal was a classic of its kind, a ruthless counter attack with defence turned into attack in a split second"

I havn't seen the game for years, but didn't Beardsley sort of almost curl the through-ball between a couple of Forest defenders, rather than over the top?
he did

but i was letting the OP away with it ;)
yer ma should have called you Paolo Zico Gerry Socrates HELLRAZOR

Offline BIG DICK NICK

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #24 on: December 6, 2013, 11:36:02 AM »
he did

but i was letting the OP away with it ;)

The ball was lofted - a 5 a side ref would have called it for over head height.

I did write that before watching it back!

Offline Hellrazor

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #25 on: December 6, 2013, 12:59:59 PM »
The ball was lofted - a 5 a side ref would have called it for over head height.

I did write that before watching it back!
over head height? maybe if sammy lee played
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Offline BIG DICK NICK

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #26 on: December 6, 2013, 02:12:53 PM »
over head height? maybe if sammy lee played

I was only 9 at the time. Pay attention.  ;)

Offline The 5th Benitle

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #27 on: December 6, 2013, 02:37:38 PM »
Its a discussion I struggle with from the beginning mate, we've had too many greats to attempt to compile an all-time 11.
Clemence
Kennedy
Hansen
Hyypia
Nicol
Barnes
Gerrard
Souness
Heighway
Dalglish
Fowler

Howzat


Offline Jookie

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #28 on: December 6, 2013, 02:48:53 PM »
Great write up and what a game that was.

We were amazing that season and John Barnes was an absolute magician. I'd absolutely love to have someone like Steve McMahon patrolling the midfield now. He'd be worth about 35M in today's money!

Put that team in the league now and they'd have it sewn up by Xmas. I honestly think only Suarez from our current team would get into that line-up -  maybe Gerrard at a push.
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Offline John C

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #29 on: December 12, 2013, 10:27:37 PM »
Clemence
Kennedy
Hansen
Hyypia
Nicol
Barnes
Gerrard
Souness
Heighway
Dalglish
Fowler

Howzat

Very impressive mate.

Offline Hinesy

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #5: Liverpool v Nottingham Forest, 13th April 1988
« Reply #30 on: December 25, 2013, 12:01:49 AM »
Bump for Christmas
Yep.