This programme is from the opening home game of Liverpool’s 1981-82 season against Middlesbrough. The previous season was another successful one for the club with the Reds winning the League Cup for the first time and securing the European Cup for the third time, having beaten Real Madrid thanks to a late winner by full-back Alan Kennedy.
In his programme notes, manager Bob Paisley indicated that, like every season, the primary objective for the club was to qualify for Europe, whether by claiming the League title, finishing in the top four or winning one of the Cups.
He said that the new signings the club had made would make the playing squad even stronger and history would prove him to be spot-on. Goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar joined from Vancouver Whitecaps (with club legend Ray Clemence leaving for Tottenham), as did future Match Of The Day pundit, Mark Lawrenson, despite admitting to being an Everton fan as a kid!
This was the first season of three points for a win and Liverpool had announced that their new away kit would be all-yellow with red stripes but in the opening match at Wolves, the Reds lost 1-0 and in this evening game against Boro, the home side could only draw with Phil Neal levelling up from the spot after the visitors had taken a first-half lead.
The Liverpool Echo report on the match the following day praised the performance of the two new players on their home debuts and lamented the inability of the team to take any of the numerous chances created. Graeme Souness was mentioned for another dominant game in midfield but Man Of The Match was awarded to Phil Neal, not only for his equalising penalty but for his sense of anticipation and accurate use of the ball.
But after this stuttering start which prompted the headline on the backpage of the Echo to read ‘No panic at Anfield’, Paisley’s men would ultimately reclaim the Division One crown they had lost to Aston Villa, when this victory over Tottenham in May 1982, coupled with a 3-1 home defeat for Ipswich Town, earned the Reds the title for the thirteenth time.
Liverpool would also claim the League Cup for the second successive season and would, in fact, go on to lift this trophy for four seasons on the bounce, including in 1984 against Everton, in the first-ever major Final between both Merseyside clubs.
Elsewhere in the First Division, Howard Kendall was given the manager’s job across Stanley Park at Everton, while former Liverpool legend John Toshack had gained promotion as Swansea boss and would take his exciting young side to Anfield the following month, when they drew 2-2, and Emlyn Hughes tried his hand at management for the first time when taking over at Rotherham.
On the transfer front, Joe Jordan joined Liam Brady in Italy and there was speculation that Arsenal would lose David O’Leary and Frank Stapleton to Manchester United – in the end, O’Leary stayed and Stapleton signed for the Red Devils.