You'll Never Walk Alone
Liverpool FC is ranked as the most successful soccer team ever in the English League with an unparalleled record in domestic and European competition. However the history of the club is marked by sadness as much as it is by celebration.
The Early Years
Bizarrely, this incredibly successful soccer team was born as the result of a rent dispute! Anfield ? the home of Liverpool FC ? was originally the home ground of Everton. When they (Everton) won the English Football League Championship in 1891, Anfield owner John Houlding tried to increase their rent substantially. When Everton refused to pay, and no agreement was reached, the club decamped to a new ground at Goodison Park, leaving only three players behind.
Determined to see soccer remain at Anfield, Houlding recruited 13 professional players from Scotland and created the first Liverpool FC side.
The club was unable to secure election to the league until 1893, when they joined the second division. Ending their first season with an unbeaten record, they were promoted to division one, and have never been lower than the second division again in their entire history.
Liverpool won their first Football League championship in 1901, and their second only a few years later in 1906. That same year, a significant expansion of Anfield took lace with the construction of a massive cinder bank behind the home goal.
This bank ? named "the kop" after a British defeat in the Boer War where many Liverpuddlian soldiers died ? is the sentimental home of every Liverpool fan.
It wasn't until 1914 that Liverpool played in their first FA Cup final, and it was 1921/2 before they won it ? though they did then go on to win it again the next year!.Famous Managers
Most great soccer teams are defined in terms of their great players, and of course Liverpool has had its fair share of stars over the years.
But it is managers more than anyone else who have defined the different eras of Liverpool's history ? starting with perhaps the most famous of them all; Bill Shankly.
Shankly joined Liverpool as manager in 1959 when Liverpool were languishing in the second division. Although he had no real experience of managing big teams, it was Shankly who firmly set Liverpool on the path to success and established the management and training systems that served subsequent managers well for the next 30 years or more.
The changing fortunes of Liverpool ? and Shankly's personal charisma ? resulted in the club fielding the greatest players of the time, including Emlyn Hughes, Kevin Keegan, Ian St John, John Toshack and Roger Hunt.
Shankly took Liverpool back into the first division in 1962, the season in which Roger Hunt scored a record (to this day) 41 league goals. First division championships and FA Cup victories followed through the 1960s and 70s, and then came Liverpool's first European trophy (the UEFA Cup) in 1973.
In 1974, Shankly's shock retirement resulted in the promotion of his assistant, Bob Paisley, and the beginning of a new chapter in Liverpool history. This continuity of management may well be one of the secrets of Liverpool's success, as two of Paisley's player signings ? Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness ? later became managers of the team.
If Shankly is remembered as the manager that turned Liverpool around, Paisley is the manager who made it all pay and the record he established for winning soccer trophies was unbroken for twenty years after his retirement.
His record in nine years of management:
In the 1982/3 season, Liverpool won both the Football League Championship and the League Cup for the second consecutive year. Following this victory, Bob Paisley retired, handing over to Joe Fagan ? another internal promotion to manager at Anfield.
- 6 Football League Championships
- 3 European Cups
- 1 UEFA Cup
- 3 League Cups (successive years)
- 1 European Super Cup
- 3 Charity Shields
Fagan only stayed for two seasons, but they were spectacularly successful seasons, winning the League Championship for the third consecutive year as well as Liverpool's fourth European Cup.
As well as the established squad that remained from the Shankly years, Fagan was able to field players such as Ian Rush, Alan Hansen and goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar.
The end of Fagan's managerial career was also the first of two great tragedies in Liverpool's history, when crowd violence led to 39 Juventus fans being crushed by a falling wall at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, Belgium. The occasion was the 1985 European Cup final ? what should have been another great night for the club turned to disaster.
The resulting six-year ban from European soccer meant that new player-manager Kenny Dalglish had to focus only on domestic competition ? which he did with great success. In 1986, Liverpool were only the fifth team to achieve the double of FA Cup and League Championship ? a particularly satisfying season for them as they beat local rivals Everton into second place in both competitions.
A dip in form the following year led Dalglish to inject new talent in the form of Peter Beardsley, John Barnes and John Aldridge to the attacking unit, and a return to former glories followed.
The 1988/9 season saw the second great tragedy in Liverpool's history, this time in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. Playing Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough stadium, crowd control problems resulted in 96 Liverpool fans being crushed to death, and over 700 more injured.
The end of Liverpool's ban from European competition ended in 1991, and with it came the departure of Kenny Dalglish. His replacement ? Graeme Souness ? was yet another manager to be promoted through the ranks at Liverpool.
Although home-grown players like Robbie Fowler and Jamie Rednapp were making names for themselves, Souness followed the trend of the day and invested heavily in new players from outside ? a strategy that did not prove successful and Souness was gone by 1994.
Souness was replaced by the last of the internally-promoted Liverpool managers ? Roy Evans. While Evans tinkered with the squad, Liverpool still relied heavily on veterans like Ian Rush to score goals, although newcomer Robbie Fowler made an impact with a 29-goal season.
The brightest playing talent from this period came in the form of the young Michael Owen who played regular first-team soccer from the age of 18.
With no major trophy success under Roy Evans, the Liverpool board drafted in French coach Gerard Houllier to assist in 1998, but Evans left after another disappointing season, leaving Houllier in charge.
Returning to form in 2000/1, Liverpool won the incredible treble of League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup. Building the squad to new strengths with the addition of soccer goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, midfielder Steven Gerrard and striker Emile Heskey did not bring more trophies to Anfield ? although they enjoyed some league success in 2002 and 2003.
The changing pace of English soccer then seemed to leave Houllier's style of management behind, and the Valencia manager Rafael Benitez replaced him in 2004.
Early indications suggest that Liverpool may well be back on the road to substantial trophy success if their 2005 Champions League campaign is any indication. Playing AC Milan in the final, Liverpool were 3-0 down at half time. In the second half, Liverpool heroically fought back until the score was 3-3 at full time. With no change after a dramatic period of extra time, a penalty shoot-out finally resulted in Liverpool winning their fifth European Cup trophy.
Liverpool FC's anthem, "You'll Never Walk Alone", is emblazoned everywhere ? on soccer apparel, badges, stickers and countless DVDs, books and videos ? and is an appropriate sentiment for a team that has endured such a mixture of elation and sadness throughout its history.
About The Author
Julie Amos is a freelance writer providing tips and information for consumers purchasing various soccer gear, soccer apparel including replica jerseys, and soccer goalkeeper equipment.
By: Julie Amos