LIVERPOOL completed a hat-trick of Football League titles in 1984, only the third club to achieve that feat, in a season that will always be considered to be one of their most productive. In addition to being crowned champions once again, they also won the European Cup and the Football League Cup.
These successes were all the more remarkable given that the club had waved farewell to its most decorated manager, Bob Paisley and were under the management of Joe Fagan for the first time. Once again, Liverpool’s secret was consistency and continuity, with only 15 players used in the league campaign.
Fagan added to his squad in the summer of 1983, taking Brighton forward Michael Robinson to Anfield for £ 250,000. Defender Gary Gillespie was also signed from Coventry City for £475,000.
In the early weeks of the season, goals seemed hard to come by for Liverpool. It was not until October, when Robinson scored a hat-trick against West Ham, that they scored more than two goals in a game. Shortly afterwards, Ian Rush netted five as Liverpool beat Luton 6-0.
In December, Liverpool suffered a shock 4-0 defeat at Coventry City, but by the end of the year, they were top of the table once more, ahead of Manchester United by three points. But there was another surprise in January when Brighton knocked them out of the FA Cup. Similarly, Walsall gave Liverpool a tough time in the semi-final of the Football League Cup. The Reds won that competition at the end of March when they beat close neighbours Everton in the final, 1-0 after a replay, thanks to a goal from Graeme Souness.
With one trophy secured, Liverpool concentrated on retaining their league title and making progress in the European Cup. They also added to their squad in March when they paid £ 475,000 for Ipswich Town’s Scottish midfielder John Wark.
After winning the League Cup, Liverpool beat one-time high-flying West Ham 6-0 at Anfield to consolidate their position at the top and in Europe, disposed of Romania’s Dinamo Bucharest in the semi-final. Although Stoke City beat them in mid-April to give Manchester United, Southampton and Nottingham Forest hope of catching Fagan’s side, Liverpool remained unbeaten for the rest of the league campaign. They closed in on the title with a 5-0 win against Coventry at Anfield with Ian Rush, now acknowledged as the player of the campaign, scoring four times. The championship was secured in a 0-0 draw at Notts County with one game to go. The season ended with a lack-lustre 1-1 draw at home to Norwich.
In repeating the success of Huddersfield Town in the 1920s and Arsenal a decade later, Liverpool made history as triple-crown winners. “We haven’t always played as free and flowing football as I would have liked, but I could never fault the lads for lack of efforts,” said Joe Fagan as his team clinched the championship with a three point margin over second-placed Southampton.
At the end of May 1984, Liverpool won their fourth European Cup, beating Roma on penalties. In the summer, skipper Graeme Souness, so pivotal in the Reds’ success, moved to Italy’s Sampdoria.
The Liverpool team in 1983-84 was: Bruce Grobbelaar; Phil Neal, Alan Kennedy, Mark Lawrenson, Alan Hansen; Ronnie Whelan, Steve Nicol, Sammy Lee, Craig Johnston; Graeme Souness; Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Michael Robinson.
Bruce Grobbelaar (26): Joined Liverpool in March 1981 from Vancouver Whitecaps, costing the club £ 250,000. A flamboyant goalkeeper, occasionally prone to bizarre mistakes, he became something of a folk hero at Liverpool. Born in Durban, South Africa, he was a Zimbabwean international.
Phil Neal (33): One of the most decorated players in English football history, winning 50 England caps and countless honours with Liverpool. Cost the club just £ 66,000 when he joined from Northampton Town in 1974.
Alan Kennedy (29): Surprisingly only won two England caps in his career, but could console himself with the fact that he scored two European Cup-winning goals, in 1981 and 1984. Joined Liverpool from Newcastle in 1978 solving the club’s “left back problem”. A fine attacking full back.
Alan Hansen (28): Signed from Patrick Thistle in 1977 for a £ 100,000 fee, Hansen established himself in the Liverpool defence in his second season at Anfield and proved to be an excellent reader of the game. He won 26 caps for Scotland and was later named Liverpool’s club captain.
Mark Lawrenson (26): Joined Liverpool in August 1981 from Brighton for a £900,000 fee. Played for Preston North End earlier in his career and won 39 caps for the Republic of Ireland. A tough tackler, he was also a very skilful and fast defender.
Ronnie Whelan (22): A hard-working and consistent midfield player who was signed from Irish club Home Farm in 1979 for £ 35,000. Dublin-born, Whelan was being courted for some time by a number of English clubs, including Manchester United. He developed a reputation for being the man for the big occasion and won 53 caps for Ireland in his long career.
Graeme Souness (30): Signed by Liverpool midway through the 1977-78 season from Middlesbrough for £350,000. Edinburgh-born Souness had started out with Tottenham, but failed to make the first-team breakthrough at White Hart Lane. A tough, skilful player who won 54 caps for Scotland. His Liverpool career ended in 1984 when he moved to Sampdoria in Italy for £ 650,000.
Steve Nicol (22): Joined Liverpool in 1981 from Ayr United for £ 300,000. A versatile player who could play in defence or midfield, he took time to establish himself at Anfield but went on to make 343 Football League appearances. Capped by Scotland 27 times.
Sammy Lee (25): Strong-running stocky young midfielder who became a popular figure with the Kop at Liverpool. A local lad, he made his debut for Liverpool in 1977-78, but had to wait until 1980-81 to become a regular first team player. Won 14 England caps.
Craig Johnston (22): South African-born Australian who joined Liverpool from Middlesbrough in March 1981 for £ 650,000. A busy, skilful midfielder who had an eye for goal. He was capped at under-21 level by England.
Kenny Dalglish (33): Named both FWA and PFA Player of the Year in 1982-83. Dalglish arrived from Celtic in August 1977 and became one of the club’s most popular and celebrated players, winning over 100 caps for Scotland and becoming player-manager in 1985, leading Liverpool to the coveted “double”.
Ian Rush (22): Arrived at Anfield from Chester in March 1980, costing Liverpool £300,000. Became one of the most prolific goalscorers in the history of the game and in two spells with Liverpool, netted 346 goals for the club. He was named PFA and FWA Player of the Year in 1983-84. He scored 47 goals in all competitions in the 1983-84 campaign.
Michael Robinson (25): Joined Liverpool in the summer of 1983 from Brighton, costing his new club £250,000. Robinson began his career with Preston North End and made headlines when he was bought by Manchester City for £ 750,000 in August 1979. His spell with Liverpool was brief as he joined Queens Park Rangers in 1984. Won 24 caps for the Republic of Ireland.
Football League Appearances
|Dalglish, K||33||Kennedy, A||42||Robinson, M||23+1|
|Grobbelaar, B||42||Lawrenson, M||42||Rush, I||41|
|Hansen, A||42||Lee, S||42||Souness, G||37|
|Hodgson, D||4+1||Neal, P||41||Wark, J||9|
|Johnston, C||28+1||Nicol, S||19+4||Whelan, R||20+3|
Goalscorers: Rush 32, Souness 7, Dalglish 7, Robinson 6, Nicol 5, Whelan 4, Johnston 2, Lee 2, Wark 2, A.Kennedy 2, Own Goals 2, Neal 1, Hansen 1 Total: 73
Football League Results
|Aug 27||Wolverhampton W||Away||D||1-1||Rush||26,249|
|Aug 31||Norwich City||Away||W||1-0||Souness||23,859|
|Sept 3||Nottingham Forest||Home||W||1-0||Rush||31,376|
|Sept 10||Arsenal||Away||W||2-0||Johnston, Dalglish||47,896|
|Sept 17||Aston Villa||Home||W||2-1||Dalglish, Rush||34,246|
|Sept 24||Manchester United||Away||L||0-1||–||56,121|
|Oct 15||West Ham United||Away||W||3-1||Robinson 3||32,555|
|Oct 22||Queens Park R||Away||W||1-0||Nicol||27,140|
|Oct 29||Luton Town||Home||W||6-0||Rush 5, Dalglish||31,940|
|Nov 6||Everton||Home||W||3-0||Rush, Robinson, Nicol||40,875|
|Nov 12||Tottenham Hotspur||Away||D||2-2||Robinson, Rush||45,032|
|Nov 19||Stoke City||Home||W||1-0||Rush||26,529|
|Nov 26||Ipswich Town||Away||D||1-1||Dalglish||23,826|
|Dec 3||Birmingham City||Home||W||1-0||Rush||24,791|
|Dec 10||Coventry City||Away||L||0-4||–||20,586|
|Dec 17||Notts County||Home||W||5-0||Nicol, Souness 2 1-pen, Own Goal, Rush||36,690|
|Dec 26||West Bromwich A||Away||W||2-1||Nicol, Souness||25,139|
|Dec 27||Leicester City||Home||D||2-2||Lee, Rush||33,664|
|Dec 31||Nottingham Forest||Away||W||1-0||Rush||29,692|
|Jan 2||Manchester United||Home||D||1-1||Johnston||45,122|
|Jan 14||Wolverhampton W||Home||L||0-1||–||23,325|
|Jan 20||Aston Villa||Away||W||3-1||Rush 3||19,566|
|Feb 1||Watford||Home||W||3-0||Rush, Nicol, Whelan||20,746|
|Feb 11||Arsenal||Home||W||2-1||Kennedy, Neal||34,642|
|Feb 18||Luton Town||Away||D||0-0||–||14,877|
|Feb 25||Queens Park R||Home||W||2-0||Rush, Robinson||32,206|
|Mar 10||Tottenham Hotspur||Home||W||3-1||Dalglish, Whelan, Lee||36,718|
|Mar 31||Watford||Away||W||2-0||Wark, Rush||21,293|
|Apr 7||West Ham United||Home||W||6-0||Rush 2, Dalglish, Whelan, Souness 2||38,359|
|Apr 14||Stoke City||Away||L||0-2||–||24,372|
|Apr 18||Leicester City||Away||D||3-3||Whelan, Rush, Wark||26,553|
|Apr 21||West Bromwich A||Home||W||3-0||Own Goal, Souness, Dalglish||35,320|
|Apr 28||Ipswich Town||Home||D||2-2||Kennedy, Rush||32,069|
|May 5||Birmingham City||Away||D||0-0||–||18,809|
|May 7||Coventry City||Home||W||5-0||Rush 4 – 1pen, Hansen||33,393|
|May 12||Notts County||Away||D||0-0||–||18,745|
|May 15||Norwich City||Home||D||1-1||Rush||38,837|
FA Cup: Round Four
Football League Cup: Winners
European Cup: Winners
Average home attendance: 31,974