HALF TIME v LIVERPOOL, 1989
Heights of Joy
Rarely do lower league football clubs have moments of genuine global significance. Premier League clubs on the other hand, do so routinely, so City beating Liverpool in successive Premier League seasons can make it easy to lose sight of what a remarkable achievement it can be for a small club to best a genuine world class footballing side, no matter how briefly.
In 1989 the Tigers, an established second tier side thanks to the calm administrations of manager Brian Horton but now piloted by dour Leeds-type Eddie Gray, reached the Fifth Round of the FA Cup after solid wins at Cardiff and Bradford and drew a plum tie at home to Liverpool, a global phenomenon in the 1980s.
The masses crammed into Boothferry Park (the attendance of 20,058 that day wasn’t subsequently bettered in the old place) and watched in amazement as goals from bludgeoner Billy Whitehurst and arch-poacher Keith Edwards saw City return to the dressing room at half time with an unlikely 2-1 lead. Boothferry Park witnessed a remarkable spectacle at half time, an almost deafening hum of people talking in low tones to each other about how unbelievable this all was. It was a sound that many football fans will never experience.
Alas, it all faded away as quickly as it arose. Liverpool soon assumed a second half lead and the plucky Tigers went down 2-3. City narrowly avoided relegation while Liverpool suffered their worst of tragedies two months later when the South Yorkshire Police force facilitated the death of 96 supporters in the sheep pens of Hillsborough.
But just for a moment, whispering scarcely credible predictions over steaming cups of half-time Bovril, the little guys from Hull believed they were going to rock the footballing world. Nice feeling, that.