I’ve been to many games over the years, seen many triumphs and many outstanding displays. But none of them compare to ‘the greatest performance, ever’.
April 1988. Liverpool were in full swing under Kenny Dalglish. We’d only lost two matches in the league so far and were about to play our third game of the month with title rivals Nottingham Forest, after having beaten them in the FA Cup semi final at Hillsborough four days previously.
I got to the ground early, as you had to in those days to guarantee a place on the Kop, and took my place in the queue that snaked down Walton Breck Road, at least five men deep. We were still buzzing from our FA Cup victory and plans were already being made for the trip to Wembley next month. Wimbledon were to be our opponents, after overcoming Luton Town in the ‘easier’ semi.
Forest could still win the league if they beat us on our own turf. Brian Clough’s side were trying to recreate the form that earned them minor success at the start of the 80’s but Liverpool were still top of the pile in England and would have dominated Europe had it not been for the ban after the Heysel tragedy.
From the first kick of the game it was clear that we were not about to settle for a draw. Peter Beardsley, John Aldridge and John Barnes were firing on all cylinders as Liverpool went out to prove who the champions were.
Full of confidence, every move paid off, every shimmy by Barnes fooled the defender, every dummy from Beardsley sent the opposition the wrong way, every one-two left Cloughie’s men watching in amazement.
The Kop bounced around to the sounds of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, ‘Poor Scouser Tommy’ and the Dambusters theme as the goals went in. Five in all, as Liverpool put on a performance worthy of champions.
We left the ground sharpish, knowing that the highlights of the game would be on telly that night, giving us yet another chance to relive the magic. I remember sitting on the top deck of the bus back into town with my mate, arguing over the best goal and the man of the match.
I got home with 10 minutes to spare. Caught the goals on telly and some of the best moments, although there were so many it would have been impossible to cram them into the ten minute slot.
At the end of the game Sir Tom Finney gave an interview. After watching ninety minutes of bliss he declared, as all 40,000 people in Anfield that night must agree, that it was “the greatest performance ever”.