Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur, 1982
On the 15th May 1982, Liverpool clinched another Football League title, their fifth in seven seasons, with a win over Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield. It had taken a phenomenal run in the second half of the season for them to reclaim the title from Aston Villa, confirming their status as the First Division’s dominant team of the era. A 3-1 home defeat to Manchester City on Boxing Day 1981 had left them languishing in 12th place, nine points behind surprise league leaders Swansea City. They took 63 points out of a possible 75 (in the first season of three points for a win) from their last 25 games. In the end, this victory secured a four-point lead over second-placed Ipswich Town, led by Bobby Robson.
1981-82 was the first League Championship for six Liverpool players: Bruce Grobbelaar, Craig Johnston, Mark Lawrenson, Sammy Lee, Ian Rush and Ronnie Whelan. England full-back Phil Neal picked up his fifth League Championship medal, on his way to a record eight by the end of his career at Anfield, in addition to four European Cups. Neal symbolised the consistency and continuity of Liverpool’s greatest era; between October 24, 1976 and September 23, 1983 he didn’t miss a single game in a run of 417 consecutive appearances.
Unsurprisingly, manager Bob Paisley was voted Manager of the Year for 1981-82, his fifth such accolade in seven years. Born in Hetton-le-Hole, County Durham, in 1919, Paisley joined Liverpool as a player in 1939 from amateur side Bishop Auckland, and remained at the club for 44 years. After serving with distinction in the Second World War, he was part of the League Championship-winning team in 1947 and moved into the backroom staff at the end of his playing career in 1954, assisting Bill Shankly during Liverpool’s resurgence from the late 1950s.
Between succeeding Shankly in July 1974 and his retirement at the end of the 1982-83 season, Paisley became British football’s most successful manager. The 20 major trophies he won in those nine years included six League Championships (the first manager to achieve that total) and three European Cups, paving the way for Liverpool’s dominance of the 1980s. Though the FA Cup eluded him, only once did the club finish lower than runners-up in the First Division during his tenure. He was succeeded by another long-serving member of Anfield’s ‘Boot Room’, Joe Fagan. Paisley died in 1996. His legendary predecessor Shankly had died at the start of this season, on the 29th September 1981.
Liverpool’s opponents at Anfield were Tottenham Hotspur, with former Liverpool favourite Ray Clemence in goal, and Glenn Hoddle demonstrating his ability with a spectacular long-range strike in front of the Kop. The final scoreline was a repeat of the 1982 League Cup Final between the teams at Wembley, which Liverpool won in extra-time after a late equaliser from Ronnie Whelan. Spurs had the consolation of going on to win their second consecutive FA Cup against QPR later that month. The Final went to a replay, Hoddle scoring for Spurs in both games, including the winning penalty. Also at the end of May 1982, Aston Villa gained a consolation for losing their League title by lifting the European Cup in Rotterdam. When Peter Withe scored Villa’s winner against Bayern Munich, it was the sixth year in a row that English clubs had become Champions of Europe.