Earlier this month we looked back at a fixture between Hull City and Liverpool which was one of the first of Bill Shankly’s long association with the Anfield club. As it turned out, we would play them in his final season there too.
The games in 1959/60 were as equals, with both sides in the Second Division, though City exited by the wrong door at the end of the season. By 1973/4, Liverpool had won three First Division championships, an FA Cup and a UEFA Cup under Shankly while City’s sole achievement had been one Third Division crown in the same year that Liverpool won their second league title. So it was fair to say that in November 1973, City were underdogs when the League Cup fourth round draw paired them with Liverpool at Boothferry Park.
Liverpool gave a debut to perennial 70s fringe striker Alan Waddle and the game, played in the daytime due to electricity restrictions imposed by the Government, ended 0-0. City were in good nick at the time, with just one defeat in eight leading up to the replay at Anfield.
It was familiar territory, with Terry Neill taking his team there in the second round just two seasons earlier. Liverpool won 3-0, and still had six of the players on duty that night still in the team when the Tigers made their return on December 4th 1973.
The game, again played by day as floodlight usage was banned, wouldn’t be in City’s grip much and Liverpool were 2-0 up before the 20th minute thanks to a brace from midfield stalwart Ian Callaghan. The game had been dominated by the duel on the flank between Steve Heighway and Jimmy McGill, playing as a makeshift full back as Frank Banks had been injured at the weekend. McGill, usually a midfielder of grit and guts, was not a man of pace against a player of such repute, and Heighway was putting on a bit of a show.
Jeff Wealands made one sterling save from Kevin Keegan as the first half edged towards its end, and Roger deVries kicked one off the line from future City showbiz signing Emlyn Hughes. The second half enabled Liverpool to shut up shop and frustrate the Tigers before Callaghan was sent through by Waddle for the goal that would complete the only hat-trick of his 18-year, 857-game Liverpool career.
Alec Lindsay scored an own goal to get City on the scoreboard, and later Stuart Pearson hit the post, but Liverpool were in total command. City returned east in no disgrace to revert back to their decent start in the Second Division. They beat Crystal Palace 3-0 in the next game but then won just one of the following 12 and eventually limped over the line in ninth place.
In front of Wealands at Anfield were McGill and deVries either side of John Kaye and Steve Deere. The midfield combined the shufflesome escapades of Chris Galvin and the more industrious efforts of Malcolm Lord and Roy Greenwood, while a front three of distinction combined the youthful exuberance of John Hawley, the growing reputation of Pearson and the wisdom and wiliness of Ken Wagstaff. Dennis Burnett, an experienced defender signed from Millwall in the summer, was the unused sub.
Liverpool went out of the League Cup in the next round to eventual winners Wolves but their considerable consolation was success in the FA Cup, victory in which heralded Shankly’s unexpected retirement shortly afterwards. In their side against City were England goalkeeper Ray Clemence, guarded by a back four of Tommy Smith, Phil Thompson, Larry Lloyd and Lindsay. Hughes was in his last spell as a midfielder; he would later in the season replace Lloyd at centre back and never look back. Next to him were Scottish international Peter Cormack and the evergreen Callaghan. Heighway provided the breadth and Keegan and Waddle, with John Toshack rested, did the work up front. Long-serving full back Chris Lawler was the unused sub. Ten of these players – Lawler included – would be in place at Wembley when defeating Newcastle United 3-0. Callaghan was voted Footballer of the Year.
Almost a quarter of a century passed before City next visited Anfield, losing 4-2 on an eventful night and 9-3 on aggregate in the second round of, again, the League Cup, a competition Liverpool eventually won.
The two Premier League visits that followed were somewhat mixed, with City getting a 2-2 draw (from 2-0 up) in December 2008 in a match forever to be remembered for the way Bernard Mendy tore Andrea Dossena to shreds, before being humped 6-1 in September 2009 immediately after the Tigers sold Michael Turner and had to put the useless Ibrahima Sonko and green Liam Cooper in defence, allowing Fernando Torres to let rip. City have never won at Anfield, but until a month ago had never beaten Liverpool at home either, so with one of those hoodoos bust forever, there’s hope for the second one…