#ThrowbackThursday - West Ham v Liverpool: Part Three - 1981 to 2001
West Ham’s first meeting with Liverpool on returning to the top tier in 1981/82 came at the end of September 1981, six games in at the Boleyn Ground. The Hammers – unbeaten in the league since Boxing Day - had an excellent start to the season, winning four and drawing two and had topped the old first Division with a better goal difference than Ipswich Town. Liverpool in contrast were reigning European Champions on the basis of defeating Real Madrid in Paris the previous spring. In the league however, Bob Paisley’s were in the midst of something of a mini-decline relative to their previous dominance. They had finished 1980/81 in fifth place, the first time they had failed to finish within the top two for a decade. The Reds started 1981/82 with a 0-1 away defeat to Wolves.
There had also been a 0-2 defeat to Ipswich Town two weeks prior. The Reds had only won two of their first six games and languished in eleventh place. Geoff Pike gave West Ham the lead on twenty eight minutes. David Johnson equalised for Liverpool on seventy seven minutes and according to the Times Newspaper report on the game, the Hammers were lucky to hold on to their unbeaten run. The game ending in a 1-1 draw.
The return fixture came in early January 1982 back at Anfield. By this time, West Ham had only won two further games and had sunk to eleventh place. Liverpool meanwhile were still struggling, having won just six games from seventeen games played. They stood one place beneath the Hammers in twelfth – starting the calendar year of 1982 in the bottom half of the table. Goals for Terry McDermott, Ronnie Whelan and Kenny Dalglish earned Liverpool a 3-0 win. That started a run of six wins out of seven for Liverpool. Astonishingly, by May Liverpool had recovered lost ground to seal the League title by four clear points. West Ham in contrast finished their first season back in the top flight in ninth place.
In 1982/83, Liverpool came to the Boleyn Ground in early October with five wins from their first eight games and topping the old First Division on goal difference over Ron Atkinson’s Man United. The Reds however lost their first game the previous week against Ipswich Town. West Ham meanwhile stood in fourth place on the back of four straight wins over the previous four games, scoring fourteen goals in the process. The game would be covered by LWT’s ‘The Big Match’. Merseyside born Alvin Martin gave the Hammers the lead. Three minutes into the second half, Geoff Pike doubled West Ham’s lead. On seventy seven minutes, Graeme Souness pulled one back for Liverpool with an excellent shot from outside of the area. Three minutes later however, Sandy Clarke bagged West Ham’s third, to seal a 3-1 victory over Liverpool. The result saw Liverpool drop to fifth, while West Ham moved to one point from the top of the table, behind Man United.
The next meeting between the two sides came in Quarter Finals of the League Cup in January 1983. Amidst snowy conditions at Anfield. Liverpool took the lead with a goal from David Johnson on sixty eight minutes. Within two minutes, Paul Allen equalised to score West Ham’s first goal at Anfield for nine years. With three minutes to go, an error by Hammers goalkeeper Phil Parkes led to a winner for Graeme Souness, as Liverpool progressed to the Semi Finals of the League Cup with a 2-1 victory. Liverpool went on to a third straight League Cup final at Wembley and a third straight League Cup win, defeating Man United in the final.
West Ham returned to Anfield two months on in the League, in mid-March 1983. By this point, Liverpool held a fourteen point lead at the top of the old First Division over second place Watford. West Ham meanwhile were in tenth place, with a run of four defeats out of six. The deadlock was broken five minutes into the second half with an own goal by Geoff Pike, which put Liverpool in front. Further goals for Sammy Lee and Ian Rush gave Liverpool a comprehensive 3-0 win. By the end of the season, Liverpool retained their title with by an eleven point margin. There would also be the retirement of Bob Paisley as Liverpool boss. West Ham in contrast finished the season in eighth place.
In 1983/84, Liverpool came to the Boleyn Ground in mid-October. After eight games, West Ham topped the table with six wins out of eight – a run which included winning all of their first five games. Liverpool meanwhile stood sixth, winning four of their first eight games. The game would be covered by BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’. Liverpool took the lead on the quarter hour with a header from Michael Robinson on the end of Bruce Grobbelaar’s wind assisted drop kick, to bag his first goal for Liverpool after transferring from relegated Brighton and Hove Albion.
Robinson added a second ten minutes later and rounded off a hat-trick with sixteen minutes left to play. The Hammers pulled one back with a goal from Alan Devonshire four minutes from time. Liverpool also had Australian Craig Johnston red carded, however ran out 3-1 winners, which moved them up to fifth and saw West Ham lose the top spot to Man United.
The return fixture occurred back at Anfield in early April 1984. Liverpool were in the running for a third straight League title with a two point margin over Man United with nine games left to go. West Ham meanwhile stood in fourth place and looked on course for their highest ever league finish. Earlier on in the season, Liverpool defeated Luton Town by a six goal margin. This match went on to equal that score as their biggest victory of the season. Liverpool found themselves four goals up in under half an hour with goals from Kenny Dalglish, Ronnie Whelan and two for Ian Rush. Two further second half goals from Graeme Souness rounded off a 6-0 win for Liverpool.
Liverpool sealed a hat-trick of titles with a 0-0 away draw against Notts County to become the first side in half a century to do so. It would be part of a treble along with a League Cup and European Cup. West Ham meanwhile finished in ninth place. Over the summer of 1984 however, Liverpool lost Graeme Souness to Sampdoria and by the start of 1984/85 were reeling from his departure, despite the signing of Danish international Jan Molby from Ajax. West Ham’s visit to Anfield that year came in late August two games in. In the opening fixture, Liverpool played out a 3-3 away draw with Norwich City, while West Ham drew 0-0 at home to East Anglia’s other side Ipswich Town.
Paul Walsh put Liverpool ahead in the first minute. In the final fifteen minutes, two goals from John Wark rounded off a comprehensive 3-0 victory for Liverpool. The sides next met at Upton Park for Liverpool’s penultimate league fixture and West Ham’s final fixture in May 1985. Liverpool had a disappointing term, after seeing neighbours Everton bag their first title in fifteen years the Reds stood fourth, but with two games left to play had hopes of bagging the runners up spot. West Ham meanwhile teetered around the relegation zone toward the end of 1984/85, but secured their top tier status with a 5-1 hammering of a doomed Stoke City side who anchored to the foot of the table had won just three games all season. By the time of Liverpool’s visit they stood safe in sixteenth place.
Goals for Jim Beglin and two for Paul Walsh gave Liverpool a 3-0 away win, which secured Liverpool’s runners up spot. In their final league fixture three days on, Liverpool suffered a 0-1 loss to the new champions Everton. The real tragedy however came at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels six days on from that Derby, as Liverpool looked to end a disappointing season by retaining their European crown and win a fifth European Cup. The deaths of thirty nine people resulting from crowd disturbances saw all English sides banned from Europe indefinitely. In the aftermath of Heysel, Liverpool boss Joe Fagin retired from management, to be replaced by Kenny Dalglish as Player Manager.
Dalglish’s first visit to the Boleyn Ground as boss came in late August 1985, five games into the season. Liverpool had won two of their first four games, with just one defeat away to Newcastle United. West Ham’s form seemed to have carried on from where they left off from the previous season, with three defeats out of four. The bad will which carried over from Heysel meant that the TV companies were less interested in covering the game and the first half of the 1985/86 season would be lost to a TV black out due to a dispute between the TV companies and the Football League over the amount that the BBC-ITV duopoly paid out to show the game. Liverpool’s visit to the Boleyn Ground however would be captured for foreign broadcast.
West Ham took the lead with a goal from their new signing from St. Mirren, Frank McAvennie, on twenty five minutes. Craig Johnston equalised six minutes into the second half, before McAvennie restored the lead with nineteen minutes to go. Twelve minutes later however, a Ronnie Whelan equaliser earned Liverpool a 2-2 draw. After six straight defeats to Liverpool, West Ham finally managed at least a draw against the Merseysiders.
The return fixture came in mid-January 1986. By this point, Liverpool stood in third place and five points behind leaders Man United. West Ham were just two points behind Liverpool in fifth place, but with two games in hand. Jan Molby gave Liverpool the lead around the hour mark from the penalty spot. Further goals from Ian Rush and Paul Walsh put Liverpool three up with twenty minutes to go. Alan Dickens pulled one back eight minutes from time, but couldn’t prevent a 3-1 win for Liverpool. As the battle for the League unfolded, both Liverpool and West Ham went into the final Saturday of the season both having won their last five games.
The Hammers stood four points behind Liverpool in second place. The East London side were on course for their highest ever League finish, but still in with a chance of winning their first ever League title. They were however reliant on London rivals Chelsea preventing a Liverpool victory at Stamford Bridge. West Ham kept the pressure on Liverpool with a 3-2 away win over relegated West Brom. Liverpool however secured the title with a 1-0 win over Chelsea and the first leg of their League and FA Cup Double. West Ham meanwhile had to make do with finishing third.
In 1986/87, the first meeting between the two sides took place at Upton Park in early September, just four games into the season. Both Liverpool and West Ham had won two of their opening four games. West Ham took the lead with a goal from penalty king Ray Stewart from the spot, the Reds however equalised with a superb goal from Ronnie Whelan, with a twenty yard shot. Six minutes into the second half, Craig Johnston put Liverpool ahead. On the hour mark, Tony Cottee equalised for the Hammers, however goals for Ian Rush and two for substitute Kenny Dalglish gave Liverpool a 5-2 victory.
The return fixture at Anfield came in early January 1987. Liverpool stood nine points off of leaders Arsenal in third. West Ham meanwhile were eighth. A Steve McMahon goal four minutes from time secured a 1-0 win for Liverpool. The Reds finished 1986/87 as runners up to Champions Everton, while West Ham in comparison to the season prior finished a disappointing fifteenth. In 1987/88, Liverpool’s visit to the Boleyn Ground again came in early September.
West Ham had played four games, winning just the one. Liverpool had only played two league games on account of the fact that they were yet to play a home fixture, on account of essential maintenance works carried out on the Kop end due to the collapse of a sewer. Liverpool – wearing a new grey away kit - took the lead with a John Aldridge penalty, while an equaliser from Tony Cottee sixteen minutes from time earned the Hammers a 1-1 draw.
By the time of West Ham’s visit to Anfield in early February 1988, Liverpool held a seventeen point lead at the top of the table, had been unbeaten in twenty four games and homing in on the record of Leeds United’s twenty nine unbeaten from the start of the season which was set fourteen years prior. The Reds had also won their last seven games in a row. In contrast, West Ham stood in ninth place. The Hammers managed to disrupt Liverpool’s winning run with a 0-0 draw at Anfield.
According to the report on the game by Stuart Jones from the Times Newspaper: ‘Shamelessly they hid their principles, their creative ideas, and any prospect of an open game behind a barbed barricade. Mentally, they erased the half-way line and repainted it a few yards outside their own penalty area. Physically, the London team reinforced their keen sense of self-preservation by policing their limited territory with so many guards there was scarcely room to manoeuvre’.
Liverpool however marched on to equal Leeds United’s record. Their unbeaten record however fell at the thirtieth game with a 0-1 defeat to Everton. Liverpool ended up as League Champions again in 1987/88 for the seventeenth time, losing just two league games. That season, only runners up Alex Ferguson’s Man United and Norwich City could also prevent a Liverpool win in both League meetings. The Hammers however, with just one win in their final six games (a 4-1 home win over Chelsea), were only kept out of a play off to keep their place in the top tier on goal difference. West Ham finished sixteenth, while Chelsea found themselves relegated after losing the play off final to Middlesbrough over two legs.
Into the following season, the first League meeting between the two sides occurred at the end of October 1988 at the Boleyn Ground. After nine games, Liverpool stood in seventh place with just three wins all season. They trailed league leaders Norwich by as much as ten points, in seventh place. West Ham meanwhile stood second from bottom, only kept off of the foot of the table by their London rivals Spurs, who had managed just one win all season by this point. Two second half goals for Ian Rush with a twenty yard shot and Peter Beardsley gave Liverpool a 2-0 victory (@21.54)
One month and one day later, Liverpool returned to Upton Park in the fourth round of the League Cup. Liverpool had knocked Arsenal out of the competition in the replay with after a second replay at Villa Park. West Ham however by this point were only kept off of the foot of the table by a goal difference of +2 over Newcastle United. The Hammers however ripped up the form book, taking a two goal lead after twenty five minutes with two goals from a young Paul Ince – the first a superb volley in the penalty area.
A penalty successfully converted by John Aldridge pulled one back eleven minutes before half time. Eleven minutes into the second half, a headed own goal from Steve Staunton restored West Ham’s lead. Twelve minutes from time, a Tony Gale free kick rounded off the scoring with a 4-1 win – West Ham’s first victory over Liverpool in fourteen games, the last came six years prior in October 1982. The Hammers managed to reach the Semi Final of the League Cup that year, before losing 0-5 on aggregate to holders and that year’s runners up, Luton Town.
The return fixture in the league at Anfield came in late May, three days after Liverpool lifted the FA Cup. The match was delayed due to Liverpool’s FA Cup run and the postponement of Liverpool’s fixture due to the Hillsborough disaster, which occurred six weeks prior. Liverpool were kept off of the top spot by virtue of having scored eleven goals less than Arsenal, though the Reds had a game in hand. West Ham in contrast stood second from bottom and needed a victory to overhaul Aston Villa in seventeenth place and ensure safety.
The Hammers had giving themselves a fighting chance by winning five of their last six games. Liverpool however had a run of fifteen wins and three draws from their previous eighteen games. They were unbeaten since New Year’s Day and effectively steamrollering their way to the Double. The Hammers also hadn’t beaten Liverpool in the League since 1982 and hadn’t won at Anfield for twenty six years.
John Aldridge put Liverpool ahead on twenty minutes, before a Leroy Rosenior header equalised for the Hammers. The East London side held out until the hour mark before Ray Houghton put Liverpool back in the lead. With ten minutes to go, Julian Dicks lost possession to Peter Beardsley who put Ray Houghton through again to bag his second. A late collapse for the Hammers meant that further goals from Ian Rush and John Barnes led to a 5-1 victory for Liverpool. For the Hammers, it meant that the 1980s would end as they started – in the old Second Division.
The Hammers late collapse however would be worse for Arsenal, as it meant that in Liverpool’s final fixture against the Gunners three days later only a two goal defeat would mean an Arsenal League title. It was a feat that no side had managed at Anfield for three seasons. Miraculously however, Arsenal pulled it off with a 2-0 win secured in the final minute of the game with a late burst through the midfield by Arsenal’s Michael Thomas. Relegation however meant the end for Hammers boss John Lyall, who lost his job after fifteen years in charge at the Boleyn Ground (Lyall had only been fifth person to ever manage the Hammers during their eighty nine years history!).
In West Ham’s absence, in 1989/90 Liverpool won their last league title to date. The Hammers took two seasons to return to the top flight, under veteran player Billy Bonds after a short spell under Lou Macari. The Hammers finished as runners up in 1990/91 and managed automatic promotion back to the top flight. Liverpool’s first visit back at the Boleyn Ground came in late November 1991. Liverpool were now managed by former player Graeme Souness, after Kenny Dalglish’s resignation eight months prior.
Liverpool suffered an unusually poor start to the 1991/92 season, winning just five of their thirteen games played to date, standing in twelfth place. West Ham stood just two points behind Liverpool in sixteenth place after two straight wins over London rivals Spurs and Arsenal over the previous fortnight. The game would be televised live on ITV’s ‘The Match’, with Liverpool lining up in an unusual green away kit. At half time, ITV’s Gary Newbon interviewed the late Cilla Black in a Liverpool scarf @02.04, where she revealed she was previously an Evertonian until converted by her husband Bobby.
The match ended in a 0-0 draw, with Gary Newbon’s interview being with a po-faced Graeme Souness handing Bruce Grobbelaar his ‘Man of the Match’ champagne bottle. The footage ends with Elton Welsby discussing the game with the late Bobby Moore, around eighteen months prior to his untimely death from cancer.
The return fixture came the following March. By this point, Liverpool stood fifth while West Ham were anchored to the foot of the table with thirteen games left to play. A goal from Dean Saunders after three minutes gave Liverpool a 1-0 win. The Reds however ended their first season under Graeme Souness in sixth place. West Ham however finished the season rock bottom and relegated back to the second tier, meaning that the Hammers would miss out on the inaugural Premier League season in 1992/93. The Hammers however came back up to the top flight after finishing as second tier runners up the following season. The very first Premiership meeting between Liverpool and the Hammers came in early November 1993.
Liverpool were in seventh place in the Premiership table and fourteen points off of run-away leaders Man United. West Ham meanwhile were fifteenth, with four wins from their first thirteen games. Goals for Nigel Clough and an own goal from veteran Liverpool born Hammers centre half Alvin Martin meant a 2-0 win for Liverpool.
The return fixture at the Boleyn Ground came in late April 1994, by which point Liverpool had parted company with Graeme Souness and appointed Roy Evans as Liverpool boss. The Reds were seventh in the table with just one win in their last six games. West Ham had climbed to thirteenth on the back of three wins out of their last four games. Martin Allen gave the Hammers the lead in the first minute, before a Robbie Fowler equaliser twelve minutes later. With three minutes to go, an Ian Rush goal after pouncing on a Tony Gale error gave Liverpool a 2-1 victory. Liverpool finished 1993/94 in eighth place, while West Ham finished thirteenth.
In 1994/95, West Ham’s visit to Anfield came in early September. Over the summer, the Hammers had replaced Billy Bonds with Harry Redknapp as boss. The East London side however stood second from bottom in the table having drawn one and lost three of their first four games, without a win. Liverpool in contrast held a 100% record with three wins out of three, scoring eleven goals in the process. The Hammers however held Liverpool to a 0-0 draw.
The return fixture at the Boleyn Ground occurred exactly eight months later in early May and would be the penultimate fixture of the season for both sides. Liverpool had won the League Cup and stood in fifth place. West Ham stood eighteenth and one point clear of the relegation zone, with four teams going down that season due to the reduction of the Premiership from twenty two to twenty clubs. Goals for Matty Holmes and two for former Liverpool star Don Hutchinson meant a comprehensive 3-0 win for West Ham – their first League win over the Merseysiders for thirteen years.
The result pushed the Hammers up to thirteenth in the table. The final game of the season for both sides on ‘Super Sunday’ would decide the title that season. Liverpool defeated Premiership leaders Blackburn Rovers 2-1 at Anfield, however West Ham holding Man United to a 1-1 draw meant that Blackburn stole the title. In 1995/96, Liverpool returned to the Boleyn Ground in late November. The Reds stood in eighth place, while West Ham were eleventh. The two sides played out a 0-0 draw.
West Ham’s visit to Anfield came the following April. Liverpool stood third and eight points behind leaders Man United, with five games left to play. West Ham meanwhile were tenth. First half goals for Stan Collymore and John Barnes gave Liverpool a 2-0 victory.
Liverpool finished 1995/96 third, while West Ham finished tenth. The two sides however met in the final of the FA Youth Cup that season. Among West Ham’s youth squad had been future England stars Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard. Liverpool’s squad meanwhile included Michael Owen and Jamie Carragher. The first leg at the Boleyn Ground attracted a crowd of 15,386, where Liverpool left with a 2-0 lead to take back to Anfield. In the second leg, a crowd in excess of 20,000. A goal for Michael Owen opened the scoring for Liverpool who secured a 2-1 victory on the night (West Ham’s goal scored by Frank Lampard), who ran out 4-2 winners on aggregate to secure the FA Youth Cup for 1996.
The following September, Liverpool headed to Upton Park at the top of Premiership and unbeaten, with five wins and two draws from their first seven games. West Ham meanwhile had won just two from their seven games played and stood fifteenth. Stan Collymore gave Liverpool the lead on three minutes (and seemingly hit by a missile thrown by the West Ham crowd while celebrating), before the current Hammers boss Slaven Bilic equalised for West Ham. Ten minutes into the second half however, a goal from former Arsenal star Michael Thomas gave Liverpool a 2-1 victory.
West Ham’s visit to Anfield came in January 1997. Liverpool still topped the table, with a two point margin over second place Arsenal but the Gunners had a game in hand. West Ham meanwhile were sixteenth. The two sides played out a 0-0 draw, though Liverpool extended their lead to three points after Arsenal lost 0-1 to Sunderland at Roker Park. Liverpool finished the season in fourth place, while West Ham finished fourteenth. Liverpool again came to the Boleyn Ground in late September in 1997/98. After seven games, Liverpool stood sixth with three victories. West Ham meanwhile stood twelfth.
John Hartson gave the Hammers the lead after sixteen minutes. Six minutes into the second half, Robbie Fowler equalised for Liverpool. The Hammers however secured three points with a winner from Eyal Berkovic on sixty five minutes, with a 2-1 win.
The return fixture back at Anfield came in early May 1998, with three games left to play. Liverpool were fourth and sixteen points behind Leaders Arsenal. West Ham meanwhile were seventh. Goals for Michael Owen, Oyvind Leonhardsen, former Hammer Paul Ince and two for Jason McAteer meant a 5-0 victory for Liverpool. The Merseysiders finished 1997/98 in third place, while the Hammers dropped to eighth.
In 1998/99, Liverpool came to the Boleyn Ground in mid-September. Gerard Houllier had joined Liverpool as a joint manager alongside Roy Evans. After four games, the Reds topped the table with three wins and a draw. The Hammers meanwhile had won just one game from their first four. The Reds suffered their first defeat of the season, after West Ham secured the points with a 2-1 victory with goals for John Hartson and Eyal Berkovic, while Karl Heinz Riedle had been on target for Liverpool.
Within two months, Liverpool parted company with Roy Evans to leave Gerard Houllier in sole charge. West Ham’s visit to Anfield came in late February. Liverpool stood in sixth place, while West Ham were two points behind in eighth. Robbie Fowler gave Liverpool the lead midway through the first half, until a penalty from Frank Lampard pulled West Ham level two minutes later. Just ahead of half time, Michael Owen put Liverpool back in front, before substitute Marc Keller equalised sixteen minutes from time to earn the Hammers a 2-2 draw.
In 1999/2000, the first meeting between the two sides occurred in late October 1999. After ten games West Ham stood eleventh in the Premiership one place above Liverpool and with a game in hand. A goal for Titi Camera two minutes before half time gave Liverpool a 1-0 victory. Liverpool’s trip to the Boleyn Ground for the return fixture came exactly one month later and would be the final fixture between the two sides of the twentieth century. Liverpool had moved up to fifth and six points off of league leaders Man United. West Ham in contrast stood tenth. A goal for Trevor Sinclair one minute ahead of half time gave West Ham a 1-0 win.
The first meeting between the two sides of the new Millennium occurred ten months later in mid-September 2000 at the Boleyn Ground. After five games, the Hammers stood rock bottom of the Premiership without a victory. Liverpool on the other hand stood fourth with three wins out of five. Steven Gerrard gave Liverpool the lead on twelve minutes. However a second half penalty for Paolo Di Canio earned a 1-1 draw for West Ham.
The return fixture for 2000/01 at Anfield came in early February. Liverpool stood fourth, but eighteen points off of leaders Man United. West Ham meanwhile were thirteenth. Goals for Vladimir Smicer and two for Robbie Fowler gave Liverpool a 3-0 victory.
Liverpool finished the 2000/01 season in third place, but also with a treble of Cup wins, with the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup. West Ham in contrast finished fifteenth. Over the summer of 2001, West Ham fired Harry Redknapp, who was replaced by Glenn Roeder. As will be seen tomorrow in Part four, this eventually led to a brief decline for West Ham, but also further notable meetings with Liverpool, including an incredible FA Cup Final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.