Matches To Remember: No. 10 Liverpool, Highbury, September 1984
A change of pace this morning, a look back to the past in an occasional series that will intersperse the international breaks to come. A brief post on a match – not decisive in a League Title or a Cup Final, they are covered in enough detail elsewhere. These are games that for whatever reason have stayed in the ACLF memory.
To kick off, a visit of Liverpool to Highbury in September 1984, a win that took Arsenal to the top of the table. This one, more than anything, was particularly enjoyable as at the time the part of the West Country in which I was living had a large Liverpool supporting contingent. How luxurious the journey home was as the post-match gloating kicked in. Hard to believe that £20 in those days was enough to get me to the game, a terrace ticket, a programme with enough to be fed and watered. Not hard to believe that the train fare took around half of that!
It was, I think, the first season of the Jumbotron screens at Highbury or their predecessors at least, although now I type it, I wonder if I am twelve months too early. The North Bank tea bar had been, ahem, modernised that summer. An antiquated concept now, the food has little improved. But if we so chose to do, we could walk in and have a beer on terraces. The beer has little improved as well.
Unfortunately, Brian Talbot’s brace which were decisive, have eluded efforts to be tracked down on the interweb. Anyone who has links to them, please pass them on for they were a couple of crackers.
Tony Woodcock’s has turned up, 1’15 into this video. It’s worth watch for that and a rare sighting of Vladimir Petrovic in an Arsenal shirt. The Premier League era would have loved him.
Looking back, little has changed in English football. As now, several teams could win the title. As then, many will drop away before a dominant side emerges. Liverpool were the predecessors of Manchester United, seemingly set to reign. Murkier waters laid ahead with the Heysel Tragedy nine months away.
This was a typical Arsenal team. Hard working with a smattering of flair and seemingly destined for silverware. Like many Arsenal teams before and after, they flattered to deceive. Despite topping the league, they faltered as the season’s ran from Autumn through to Spring. Ten defeats in 22 games seems vaguely familiar. Even without a ban on English teams, Arsenal would have pushed qualifying for the UEFA Cup the following season. A 2-2 draw on the final day of the season meant that the team dropped from 5th to 7th.
Cup runs promised much and delivered even less. Oxford ended any interest in the League Cup with a 3-2 win at The Manor Ground. As a stadium, it left much to be desired. Indeed, calling it a stadium is an insult to the word but that is another story. The FA Cup? One of the upsets that Arsenal were on the wrong end of. York City. Arsenal fans helped to clear the pitch, we were thankful as it was a long way to go in deep midwinter.
Steve Williams conceded a penalty that Keith Houchen converted. It added £500k to Williams’ transfer fee and an embarassing start to his Arsenal career. Still, Houchen made up for it by scoring for Coventry in the 1987 Cup win over Tottenham.