After last night's victory in the Champions League final, Anthony McIntyre reminisces about the history of Liverpool FC's involvement in the tournament. 



For the connoisseur of soccer, Madrid did not host the most memorable European Champions League final. For the Liverpool FC fan that hardly mattered. The trophy returns to Merseyside after a 14 year absence and is the first silverware to make its way to a barren Anfield trophy room in 7 years. Although not as exciting as the 2005 final in Istanbul, this current Liverpool side is a much better group of players than the team that last won the trophy. A more important distinction is this: the Istanbul team played above itself, whereas the Madrid squad played beneath itself. For much of the game the performance was like that served up during those excruciating Premier League draws that ultimately saw the much-coveted title go up the road to Manchester. Spurs were not the walkover many presumed they might be. But for a penalty decision, which for Tottenham was gratuitous and for Liverpool fortuitous, the first half would have been much more evenly poised, the outcome anything but assured. For most of the game Spurs looked the better team.

At half time Graeme Souness called it right: the team was not playing well. The midfield was … well, where was it exactly? Allison, for me the man of the match, made eight saves whereas Hugo Lloris at the other end had only one to make, once the two goals are moved out of the equation. The goalkeeper as man of the match is a statement about the direction and focus of play. The clincher by Origi close to the end was not just relief, but a rescuing of the victory from a suspicion that it was unjustly obtained courtesy of a very harsh penalty decision. There remains within this team a defective gene, a form of dwarfism, thwarting growth and which Klopp needs to eradicate if Liverpool are to once again become a giant striding in the modern game.

It was the ninth European champions final for the Reds, a journey which started out in 1977 with that memorable 3-1 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach in Rome. I watched the match in Cage 10 of Long Kesh, but years later would sit swilling beer in the bars of Monchengladbach, telling my friend about the importance of the city in the soccer history of Liverpool! That 1976-77 side was in my view the best Liverpool team ever. The following year the title was retained in the most boring final to have plodded across the Wembley turf. If life in Cage 11 was monotonous, the match did little to alleviate it. It was as bad if not worse as watching The Virtues and fed into a prejudice I have never quite abandoned about boring Belgians. By the time I got to swilling beer in Brussels, I probably had long forgotten the Bruges game. It was 1981 before the trophy would make its way back to Liverpool courtesy of a win over Real Madrid in Paris. I never got to watch it as we were on blanket protest at the time. Four of the republican hunger strikers had already died that month, so soccer would not have been to the forefront of our minds. Bobby Sands might not have been conscious enough to realise that his team, Aston Villa, won the English league title for the first time in 71 years three days prior to his death. Irishmen with a passion for English soccer. The culture vultures would be appalled.

Three years later Liverpool would defeat AC Roma on their home turf on penalties. Never a satisfactory way to clinch a trophy, the game was watched in a jail canteen on the then customary black and white television. Prison managers made it their mission to stay behind the times in just about everything. Colour would come in 1986. The year following Rome was even less satisfactory when the game (which should never have been allowed to continue) was completely overshadowed by the Heysel Stadium disaster when 39 Juventus fans lost their lives. By the time Liverpool had lost the match, my interest in it had all but vanished. Banned from Europe for years after that, two full decades would elapse before the magnificent victory in Istanbul. A friend and I decided to switch bars in downtown Belfast at half time, where Liverpool were already down 3-0. As we walked in the door of the second bar Alonso was preparing to take a penalty to the bring the sides level. It was beyond belief. Turkish Delight.

Two years later AC Milan would get their revenge when they beat Liverpool 2-1 in Athens. That one I watched from home, drawing little solace from a very late Kuyt goal. Were it not for Gerrard having missed a sitter before Milan’s second, things could have been very different. Last year I had planned on watching the final in Kiev with my son and his friend. For the previous three or four years the two of them have made a day out of the final, alternating the sleepovers between our home and his friend’s. Events intervened and I went up to Belfast to spend the night in the hospice with my brother and watch it with him. There was no televised coverage so we ended up listening to it on radio. A game perhaps best not watched given the howlers inflicted on the side by the unfortunate keeper, Karius.

Last night, my son had scarpered off to his friend’s, leaving me on my own. I asked my daughter would she like to watch it with me. She suggested the pub but the match was about to kick off so I declined. My wife decided to keep me company and refill the wine glass at crucial moments. She even cheered when the goals went in.

Jurgen Klopp’s team did the business in Madrid, but the night belonged to the fans whose rendition of YNWA is as tear inducing as ever since the unlawful police killings of 96 fans at Hillsborough. Now the ringtone for my phone, its meaning is simple, like the words from the Catholic mass ceremony: do this in memory of me.

Seven Year Drought Over

After last night's victory in the Champions League final, Anthony McIntyre reminisces about the history of Liverpool FC's involvement in the tournament. 



For the connoisseur of soccer, Madrid did not host the most memorable European Champions League final. For the Liverpool FC fan that hardly mattered. The trophy returns to Merseyside after a 14 year absence and is the first silverware to make its way to a barren Anfield trophy room in 7 years. Although not as exciting as the 2005 final in Istanbul, this current Liverpool side is a much better group of players than the team that last won the trophy. A more important distinction is this: the Istanbul team played above itself, whereas the Madrid squad played beneath itself. For much of the game the performance was like that served up during those excruciating Premier League draws that ultimately saw the much-coveted title go up the road to Manchester. Spurs were not the walkover many presumed they might be. But for a penalty decision, which for Tottenham was gratuitous and for Liverpool fortuitous, the first half would have been much more evenly poised, the outcome anything but assured. For most of the game Spurs looked the better team.

At half time Graeme Souness called it right: the team was not playing well. The midfield was … well, where was it exactly? Allison, for me the man of the match, made eight saves whereas Hugo Lloris at the other end had only one to make, once the two goals are moved out of the equation. The goalkeeper as man of the match is a statement about the direction and focus of play. The clincher by Origi close to the end was not just relief, but a rescuing of the victory from a suspicion that it was unjustly obtained courtesy of a very harsh penalty decision. There remains within this team a defective gene, a form of dwarfism, thwarting growth and which Klopp needs to eradicate if Liverpool are to once again become a giant striding in the modern game.

It was the ninth European champions final for the Reds, a journey which started out in 1977 with that memorable 3-1 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach in Rome. I watched the match in Cage 10 of Long Kesh, but years later would sit swilling beer in the bars of Monchengladbach, telling my friend about the importance of the city in the soccer history of Liverpool! That 1976-77 side was in my view the best Liverpool team ever. The following year the title was retained in the most boring final to have plodded across the Wembley turf. If life in Cage 11 was monotonous, the match did little to alleviate it. It was as bad if not worse as watching The Virtues and fed into a prejudice I have never quite abandoned about boring Belgians. By the time I got to swilling beer in Brussels, I probably had long forgotten the Bruges game. It was 1981 before the trophy would make its way back to Liverpool courtesy of a win over Real Madrid in Paris. I never got to watch it as we were on blanket protest at the time. Four of the republican hunger strikers had already died that month, so soccer would not have been to the forefront of our minds. Bobby Sands might not have been conscious enough to realise that his team, Aston Villa, won the English league title for the first time in 71 years three days prior to his death. Irishmen with a passion for English soccer. The culture vultures would be appalled.

Three years later Liverpool would defeat AC Roma on their home turf on penalties. Never a satisfactory way to clinch a trophy, the game was watched in a jail canteen on the then customary black and white television. Prison managers made it their mission to stay behind the times in just about everything. Colour would come in 1986. The year following Rome was even less satisfactory when the game (which should never have been allowed to continue) was completely overshadowed by the Heysel Stadium disaster when 39 Juventus fans lost their lives. By the time Liverpool had lost the match, my interest in it had all but vanished. Banned from Europe for years after that, two full decades would elapse before the magnificent victory in Istanbul. A friend and I decided to switch bars in downtown Belfast at half time, where Liverpool were already down 3-0. As we walked in the door of the second bar Alonso was preparing to take a penalty to the bring the sides level. It was beyond belief. Turkish Delight.

Two years later AC Milan would get their revenge when they beat Liverpool 2-1 in Athens. That one I watched from home, drawing little solace from a very late Kuyt goal. Were it not for Gerrard having missed a sitter before Milan’s second, things could have been very different. Last year I had planned on watching the final in Kiev with my son and his friend. For the previous three or four years the two of them have made a day out of the final, alternating the sleepovers between our home and his friend’s. Events intervened and I went up to Belfast to spend the night in the hospice with my brother and watch it with him. There was no televised coverage so we ended up listening to it on radio. A game perhaps best not watched given the howlers inflicted on the side by the unfortunate keeper, Karius.

Last night, my son had scarpered off to his friend’s, leaving me on my own. I asked my daughter would she like to watch it with me. She suggested the pub but the match was about to kick off so I declined. My wife decided to keep me company and refill the wine glass at crucial moments. She even cheered when the goals went in.

Jurgen Klopp’s team did the business in Madrid, but the night belonged to the fans whose rendition of YNWA is as tear inducing as ever since the unlawful police killings of 96 fans at Hillsborough. Now the ringtone for my phone, its meaning is simple, like the words from the Catholic mass ceremony: do this in memory of me.

10 comments:

  1. I still thought Ajax were the most impressive team in the competition alas fate conspired against them. The luck is hanging outta that Liverpool team. True to form I backed them to win 3-0 but unfortunately Origi didn't get 90 minutes!

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  2. Not a classic last night but a much deserved and long overdue trophy for Klopp. I was really glad that Oirigi scored that second goal as the penalty decision did leave a bit of sour taste in the mouth. (VAR anyone).

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  3. As a part time Man Utd supporter, didn't watch the match but by all accounts yours (AM) account is as good as any sports pundit I have heard today...Personally I slept through it and saved my energy watching Katie Taylor win a great fight and unify her division and loved it when AJ got beat up and lost his titles..I am a Fury head..

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  4. Without doubt the most boring Champions League final in history.

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  5. Steve - you really haven't seen the Liverpool-Bruges final of 78. Nor do you really want to see it.

    The second was important Barry - winning it so unconvincingly was bad enough but to have done so with a=the most dubious of penalties … Nah

    Wolfe Tone - 3-0 as a bet. You must have been uber confident. Absolutely right about luck.

    That was nice Frankie.

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    1. Am a Utd fan so wanted to take the sting out of thon shower winning lol! Once I seen Kane was starting I thought Spurs goose was cooked.

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  6. A dire spectacle of English football to watch. I thought initially the penalty was harsh but after repeated playings of it at half-time the referee got it spot on. Liverpool parked the bus after that and that was it as far as football went....YNWA was attempted several times in the bar I was watching it in, never saw as many Liverpool fans in my whole life gathered in one place...there was only about 3 or 4 Spurs fans....but YNWA seemed to have been rewritten as the wording changed quite a few times....but drunken euphoria has that affect!

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  7. Reds side of 1979 scored a then record 68 from 84.Best Reds team considering how even the money was spread throughout the lge.Klopp is class,Wenger never won it,Fergie took decades to win two ✌. Jk record in Europe is incredible, never lost a knockout tie during his Anfield sojourn. Didn't watch game until this morning. Bought no duds,Robbo is worth 10 times what he cost.Defence as good as any Reds team.Matip, Vvd the new Hansen and Lawro. Kings of Europe is better than mickey mouse domestic lges.

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  8. Ronan - I missed all the seasons from 78-81 - keeping up vis being told the scores or Denis Faul's match reports. Screws walking the yard on nightguard would often tell us the results if we called out to them from the cells.

    A poor performance won them the cup but that type of playing will not take the Premiership. In psychological terms the premiership is the one the fans want: the Champions League is the big one but only if it is based on a premiership title. A crucial ingredient is missing when it is not there and it has not been in 30 years.

    Defence is fine if he keeps Lovren away from it but the problem is the lack of a creative midfield. The best midfielder is Fabinho but he is a defensive midfielder.

    Niall - it was pretty much a lacklustre affair. I still think the penalty was harsh but maybe you are right that it was justly so.

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  9. Anthony

    Liverpool will not be playing in temperatures of 32C for most of next season Once again I shall be betting on you guys to win the Premiership and my lot to come up automatically from the Championship next season which will amount to a repeat of such coincidental events of 30 years ago (I have finally come out the other end after Leeds' hari-kiri end to the season and we can still all trust in Bielsa!)

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