IF you’re of sufficient age but are struggling to recall this game it’s generally known as the ‘tear gas game.’ Yes, the Liverpool v Manchester United game that escalated to chemical warfare.
The two FA Cup games of 1985, recently covered here as part of ‘The Rivals’ show are generally considered to be the roughest encounters between the two teams, but this one – a year later – stepped it up a notch.
As the United players alighted their coach in the Main Stand car park someone set off a canister in front of Clayton Blackmore. Ron Atkinson ran through the car park, down the corridors and onto the pitch such was his distress, but the rest of the United squad were unharmed. The only injured were 22 people, mostly kids — predominantly Liverpool fans, so that backfired. They were allowed into the United dressing room to clean their eyes.
The game itself was pretty drab and tame. A few months earlier we’d knocked them out of the League Cup through ‘that’ Jan Molby goal and many thought this would be a similar encounter. The Match of the Day team turned up to witness the encounter and Ray Clemence chose to wear the most extraordinary coat.
Seriously, Ray, this may have been 31 years ago but why dress like a Harlem pimp?
Colin Gibson scored the opener when Bruce Grobbelaar spilled his initial shot at The Kop end, only to see it cancelled out by an archetypal John Wark strike (struck two inches from the line). Wark was only on the pitch because Paul Walsh ruptured his ligaments after half an hour. He would never be the same player for Liverpool.
The result didn’t do anyone any favours. United stayed second on goal difference to Everton, while we sat two points behind in third place. Everton still had to come to Anfield, though, and we wouldn’t dream of letting a centre-back score a pea-roller from 25 yards or anything stupid like that.
As for United, it was more frustrating for them as they’d won their first 10 league games and were already crowned champions by elements of the media. All this despite a forward line which often featured top football expert Alan Brazil of all people. It would be another nine months before Atkinson was replaced by Alex Ferguson.
Liverpool wins over United were rare then and both games ended in 1-1 draws. We’d beat them one day, though. One day.
Liverpool: Grobbelaar, Lawrenson, Hansen, Gillespie, Beglin, Whelan, Molby, Lee, Johnston, Walsh (Wark), Rush
Manchester United: Turner, Gidman, Albiston, Whiteside, McGrath, Moran, Sivebæk, Gibson, Hughes, Gibson, Olsen (Stapleton)