Liverpool’s thrashing by Manchester City was not their first semi-detached response to winning the league… their trip to the Cameron Brewery in 1982 has gone down in folklore – while players ‘didn’t know what day it was’ when they played Middlesbrough
- Newly-crowned champions Liverpool were thrashed 4-0 by Manchester City
- It isn’t the club’s first semi-detached response to winning the league title
- In 1982, Graeme Souness and his team-mates travelled to play Middlesbrough
- The Liverpool team ended up at the Cameron Brewery hours before kick-off
- Boro’s David Hodgson claimed the Liverpool players ‘didn’t know what day it was’
The story of Liverpool’s visit to the Cameron Brewery in Middlesbrough in the early 1980s offers evidence that the club’s semi-detached approach to things once the league title is won goes back a decade or two.
The club had decided some weeks earlier they would dispense with an overnight stay, saving themselves £300, if the league was already won by then – which it had been, three days earlier.
So the trip entailed setting off by coach on the morning of match-day – Tuesday May 18, 1982 – with quantities of cider on board which surprised the less initiated members of the squad.
Liverpool’s thrashing at Man City isn’t their first semi-detached response to winning the league
Rooms had been reserved at a Middlesbrough hotel from lunchtime, for the players to get a few hours’ sleep.
A youthful Ian Rush and Ronnie Whelan were preparing to take that opportunity when Graeme Souness, attuned to the local attractions after six years as a Middlesbrough player, informed them that they should report to the hotel lobby.
They did so, finding the entire squad assembled. It was then that Souness suggested they might ‘go for a walk to a nearby park’ since manager Bob Paisley and his assistants were enjoying a ‘good lunch.’
They never reached that park. The Cameron, with which Souness was particularly well acquainted, happened to be on the way.
The Liverpool players throw the First Division title to each other after winning it in 1982
A Liverpool team – that included Kenny Dalglish (centre), Phil Neal (left) and Graham Souness (pictured in July 1982) – enjoyed their title success with a trip to the Cameron’s Brewery hours before their game with Middlesbrough in 1982
They racked up two hours and substantially more rounds inside the place, until Souness suggested they head back to the hotel where Paisley’s drill sergeant Ronnie Moran would be making his rounds of the rooms at 4pm to wake the players up.
Liverpool played dreadfully. Some players remember Terry McDermott being three sheets to the wind on the bench. He remained an unused substitute. David Hodgson, who later signed for Liverpool, was playing up front for Middlesbrough.
‘I remember receiving the ball and pretty much running past Alan Hansen like he wasn’t there,’ he later related. ‘I’m pretty sure he didn’t know what day it was.’
Yet Liverpool still managed a goalless draw. ‘They were so far ahead of everyone else they could still get a draw when the whole team was steaming,’ Hodgson said.
It wasn’t the only year that they experienced the kind of hangover which, metaphorically speaking, affected them at Manchester City on Thursday night.
In their 10 title-winning seasons between 1975-76 to 1989-90, the side played 15 games having already been crowned champions and won only five of them.
Liverpool’s assistant manager Joe Fagan (left) with trainer Ronnie Moran (right) were out with boss Bob Paisley enjoying a ‘good lunch’ before the game at Ayresome Park
In 1977 there were two goalless draws and an ignominious 2-1 defeat at Bristol City after the league had been won.
There was a defeat at Middlesbrough in 1980, while the finale to the 1982-83 season was disastrous. Having clinched the title on a day they lost at Tottenham, they proceeded to lost at Nottingham Forest and West Ham and draw at Aston Villa. In 1988, they drew three of their last four games after winning the title at a canter.
Middlesbrough were already relegated when Liverpool played them in ’82, though Watford and West Ham will be looking anxiously at events at Anfield on Sunday, when three previously improbable points for visitors Aston Villa would make the relegation battle interesting.