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History of Liverpool Football Club
The story so far
Liverpool's rivals, Everton, were formed in 1878, by John Houlding, a local businessman, and future mayor of Liverpool. They began playing at Anfield Road, a field rented from a brewer named John Orrell. As Everton became more established, Houlding began to build football stands at Anfield Road. But after a dispute in 1892 the club separated. One half decided to move over to Goodison Park, while Houlding and a few others remained at Anfield Road and called themselves Liverpool Football Club.
His friend John McKenna was given the job of manager. After their first year, McKenna decided it was time to apply for entrance into the Football League.
They won promotion to the first division in their first year in the league, but they continued to be left in the shadow of neighbours Everton. They struggled in their first season, and were relegated to division two. McKenna swore that the club would be back in the top flight within twelve months and under his guidance they won the second division title and promotion to division one. This time though, they finished fifth, higher than rivals Everton.
Liverpool won their first championship in 1900/01, but were again relegated two years later. After another year in the second division they bounced back up and immediately won their second championship in 1904/05. As a reward for winning promotion, the directors built the legendary Spion Kop for the fans. Named after a hill in Natal where a Lancashire army regiment suffered heavy losses in the Boer War. Hundreds died in a vain attempt to lift the siege of Ladysmith, many of them Liverpool lads. "Spion Kop" means "vantage point" in Afrikaans. In 1928 the stand was extended and roofed, providing cover for 30,000 fans.
After world war one Liverpool won two more championship titles. Despite being runner up to Arsenal in the FA Cup final of 1950. They came last in division one in 1953/54, and were relegated. After several bad years Bill Shankly came to the rescue. He was appointed manager in 1959, and over the next fourteen years he turned Liverpool into the greatest club in English football. In his first twelve months he sold twenty-four players. By 1963/64 they won their sixth championship, and the following year added the FA Cup to their list of titles, beating Leeds in the final. They continued their run of success with another league title in 1965/66.
It was another seven years before they won another cup, this time the UEFA Cup in 1972/73, followed by the FA Cup again in 1973/74. Shankly then surprisingly called it a day, handing over the managerial role to his right-hand man Bob Paisley. It wasn't long before he won silverware, taking the league championship and UEFA cup in his second season, 1975/76. Next year they just missed out on the treble, winning the League and beating Borussia Moenchengladbach in the European Cup, but losing 2-1 to Manchester United in the FA Cup final.
They became the first British club to retain the European Cup, beating FC Bruge 1-0 in the final of 1977/78. Two successive League titles followed in 1978/79and 1979/80. 1981 was another great season for the club, winning the first of four consecutive League Cup titles and beating Real Madrid to win the European Cup for a third time. Two more successive League titles followed in 1981/82 and 1982/83, before Paisley resigned. During his nine years in charge he won the Manager of the Year award six times.
Joe Fagan took over as manager and in his first season they won their third consecutive League title, the League Cup and the European Cup, beating AS Roma on Italian soil. The following year disaster struck. During the European Cup final against Juventus at the Heysel stadium, rioting broke out. A wall collapsed killing 38 Juventus fans. The game was won by Juventus, but more importantly English clubs were given an indefinite ban from European football.
Kenny Dalglish became player-manager in 1986, winning the League and FA Cup in his first season in charge. They won the League again in 1987/88, but just missed out on a second double when beaten by Wimbledon in the FA Cup final.
1988/89 was the worst season in the history of Liverpool Football Club. During the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough, 96 Liverpool fans were killed as the Lepping Lane stand became overcrowded. They went on to win the semi-final, and met Everton in an emotional final at Wembley. Both sets of fans were as one, singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' and observing a one minute silence before the start of the game. Liverpool won the game 3-2, with substitute Ian Rush scoring two late goals.
They should have won the League title in the same year, with challengers Arsenal needing to win by two clear goals at Anfield. With Arsenal winning 1-0, Michael Thomas scored in injury time to steal the title, and ruin Liverpool's chances of another double. Dalglish resigned in 1991, blaming stress for his shock exit.
Ronnie Moran became caretaker manager, before Graeme Souness took over in April 1991. He bought a host of new players, but his strict managerial style was unpopular and failed to recreate the success of previous years. Many of the problems surrounding the club today, stem from the Souness era.
Roy Evans took over and immediately won the League Cup in his first full season in charge in 1995. Despite building an exciting team of young players, many from the youth team, he failed to win major trophies. Fans and directors demanded success and in 1998 brought in Frenchman Gerard Houllier in a joint managerial role with Evans. The shared job proved unsuccessful, and Evans backed down after only three months of the new season, ending a 35 year association with the club.
Houllier went on to develop the squad by bringing in relatively unknown players and was not put off by criticism from the media as the Liverpool style became more defensive. He was rewarded with five trophies in 2001 as Liverpool remained unbeaten in all cup competitions that season and qualified for the Champions League.
The following season saw Liverpool make a serious challenge for the Premiership, while also putting in a good debut performance in the Champions League, reaching the quarter-finals only to be beaten by Bayer Leverkusen, who went on to the final.
A heart problem for Gerard Houllier left Phil Thompson in charge for much of the season, but his Boot Room background gave him the ability to keep the club ticking over in the Frenchman's absence. Liverpool went on to finish runners-up to Arsenal in the Premiership and once again qualified for the Champions League, although this turned out to be the high point of Houllier's period in charge.
After narrowly qualifying for the Champions League by finishing fourth, way behind Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United, in the 2003/04 season the board decided it was time for a change. Rafael Benitez was the man earmarked for job and Houllier agreed to move on.
Benitez had turned Valencia into a force in Spanish football and, more importantly, done it on a shoestring. He won a league and UEFA Cup double in 2003/04 and in his first season in charge at Valencia he led the club to their first La Liga title for 31 years.
He didn't waste much time bringing in his own backroom staff and relieving Phil Thompson, Sammy Lee and Joe Corrigan of their duties. Xabi Alonso, Luis Garcia, Josemi and Antonio Nunez all signed up for the new boss, alongside Djibril Cisse who had agreed his transfer a year earlier. Suddenly Liverpool started playing attacking, pass-and-move football again, pleasing both the supporters and the critics and showing promise for the future.
In the 2004/2005 season under Benitez guidance Liverpool won their 5th European cup trophy after a sensational match played in Istanbul, after going 3 goals down in the 1st half, Liverpool, under the captainship of Steven Gerrard, pulled off one of the most memorable comebacks in European history to score 3 goals before fulltime, the match went to penalties where Liverpool completed the fight back and defied all the odds to emerge victorious over AC Milan.
2005/06, another trophy made it to Anfield. This time it was the F.A cup, the final resulted in a very even 3-3 draw after extra time. Again penalties decided the outcome with Liverpool holding their nerves to add to the Rafa Benitez silverware haul.