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Liverpool's last league title, 30 years ago today, was framed in perspective and their next one will be too

Steven Beacom


 

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Historic afternoon: Liverpool's jubilant players hail the club's last league title success 30 years ago today

Historic afternoon: Liverpool's jubilant players hail the club's last league title success 30 years ago today

Top prize: John Barnes and Peter Beardsley celebrate

Top prize: John Barnes and Peter Beardsley celebrate

Getty Images

A Liverpool match programme

A Liverpool match programme

Historic afternoon: Liverpool's jubilant players hail the club's last league title success 30 years ago today

Jurgen Klopp, Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk, Mo Salah and the rest of the Liverpool squad should have been celebrating English Premier League title glory by now.

 

Covid-19 changed that. The bigger picture matters most here. Lives lost forever far outweigh any sporting triumph or woe.

Football managers and players know their place. Better than most give them credit for.

If and when Liverpool are given the chance to finish this season and win the club's 19th championship, only time will tell.

Today, it is exactly 30 years since the Reds won their last league title - April 28, 1990 - thanks to a 2-1 home win over QPR and nearest challengers Aston Villa drawing 3-3 against Norwich City.

None of the 37,758 fans inside Anfield that day, myself included, thought Liverpool would be waiting three decades plus to add to their 18 crowns.

In 1990, Liverpool claimed their 10th championship in 15 seasons. They were the dominant force in England. Manchester United, fighting relegation at that stage, had just seven titles to their name.

Times can change on and off the pitch.

To reach Liverpool from Northern Ireland, you travelled by boat on the overnight crossing. It was an endurance test, especially if the weather was unkind. At around 6am on Saturday morning, you'd arrive in deserted docks where the smell would waken you up and sharpen your senses.

Back then I was a teenager. My brother, Neil, a couple of years older.

Briskly, we would walk miles from the decrepit old Docks into Lime Street close to the city centre.

By 10.30am, we would be at our field of dreams, via a bus or taxi shared with other out-of-towners. Hard to believe now, but in those days you queued outside the ground and then paid into the Kop. Around 1.30pm, the turnstiles would open and an excited and expectant crowd would flood in, most, like us, looking for a spot behind the goal for a 3pm Saturday kick-off. Remember them?

That day, under King Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool were supposed to hammer QPR. The visitors threatened to rip up the script when Roy Wegerle scored early on. With Alan McDonald smashing into Liverpool's forwards and his Northern Ireland pal Colin Clarke hitting the bar, it was an uncomfortable opening for the home side.

Before the break, Steve Nicol and John Barnes combined to set up the clinical Ian Rush for an equaliser in front of the swaying Kop. In the second half, a highly questionable Barnes penalty gave Liverpool an advantage they would not relinquish.

With Villa 3-1 up, it looked like Liverpool would have to wait until midweek to clinch the title. Then came a Canaries comeback. Transistor radios - not mobile phones - informed fans that Norwich had levelled, leading to jubilant scenes all around the stadium.

There was relief, joy and raw emotion as You'll Never Walk Alone boomed out with the Liverpool players completing a post-match lap of honour.

The season previous, Liverpool lost the title to Arsenal in the last seconds with Michael Thomas scoring "right at the end". The Hillsborough tragedy the month before put that into perspective.

Here we are again. Klopp's sensational side deserve to be crowned champions. Maybe that will happen. Right now, though, there are more important things in life.

Belfast Telegraph