“When I heard the team I said two prayers. One of thanks to the Scots for leaving me out, and one on behalf of Adam Little who had taken my place. I knew then we’d do well to get away with less than five goals against.” So said Bill Shankly referring to the selection of the England team to face Scotland at Maine Road in October 1943. You can read the story of this incredible game here:
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This weekend marks the latest in the series of games between one of the Manchester clubs and a Liverpool team. Today (9 April 2022) relegation worried Everton face United and tomorrow League Champions and leaders City take on second placed Liverpool at the Etihad. Much will be made of the Manchester-Liverpool rivalry and it is true that the two cities have been rivals for over 150 years (it certainly predates the building of the Ship Canal!) BUT the football clubs have not always been rivals. In fact Utd and Liverpool have been close over the decades at times while the on-the-pitch rivalry between City and Liverpool was extremely strong in the late 60s and 70s.
The strength of the two conurbations’ footballing rivalries came during the late 1960s but intensified in the late 70s. Prior to this one-off seasons may have seen grudge matches or significant games between clubs from the cities but nothing more than that. In fact for many, many years Manchester United and Liverpool, for example, were extremely close. They once put forward a suggestion to the Football League that all home teams should wear red and away teams white – the rest of football soon got wise to the plan!
There was also the time when United and Liverpool ‘fixed’ a game of football. It’s a long story (amazingly United’s solicitor was part of the ‘neutral’ investigating committee!) and can be read here:
The rivalry between the footballing clubs developed in the 60s and there were many significant games between all the clubs in the two cities with several prominent matches (there were significant grudge matches between Everton and City for example in the 60s and at one point Liverpool’s Bill Shankly told the media that City were Liverpool’s biggest rival!).
Back in 1995 I interviewed former Manchester City boss John Bond at his home. The interview lasted about two hours and here’s a brief snippet from that interview where Bond talks about beating Liverpool on Boxing Day 1981.
The Blues won 3-1 (Bond, Hartford & Reeves) then two days later (Bond says it’s the next day in this clip but it was 28th December) City defeated Wolves 2-1 at Maine Rd. John discusses a brilliant goal from Trevor Francis. City went top of the League after the Wolves victory.
Stick with the clip because it ends with Bond’s views on how Liverpool used to react to wins and defeats. I’d best not comment – have a listen:
I’ve covered one particularly bitter moment in the City-Liverpool rivalry from the 80s that concerns John Bond here: