Liverpool Football Club – the most successful club in England with the most passionate fans worldwide. The club has won eighteen League titles, seven FA Cups and a record eight League Cups. Liverpool has won more European titles than any other English club, having won five European Cups, three UEFA Cups and three UEFA Super Cups.
Liverpool was founded in 1892 and joined the Football League the following year. The club has played atAnfield since its formation. The most successful period in Liverpool’s history was the 1970s and ’80s whenBill Shankly and Bob Paisley led the club to eleven league titles and seven European trophies.
The club’s supporters have been involved in two major tragedies. The first was the Heysel Stadium disasterin 1985 in which charging Liverpool fans caused a wall to collapse, killing 39 Juventus supporters and resulting in Liverpool being banned from European club competitions for 6 years. In the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives in a crush against perimeter fencing.
Liverpool has long-standing rivalries with neighbours Everton and Manchester United. The team changed from red shirts and white shorts to an all-red home strip in 1964. The club’s anthem is “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.
Liverpool F.C. was founded following a dispute between the Everton committee and John Houlding, club president and owner of the land at Anfield. After eight years at the stadium, Everton relocated to Goodison Park in 1892 and Houlding founded Liverpool F.C. to play at Anfield. Originally named “Everton F.C. and Athletic Grounds Ltd” (Everton Athletic for short), the club became Liverpool F.C. in March 1892 and gained official recognition three months later, after the Football Association refused to recognise the club as Everton. The team won the Lancashire League in its début season, and joined the Football League Second Division at the start of the 1893–94 season. After finishing in first place the club was promoted to the First Division, which it won in 1901 and again in 1906.
Liverpool reached its first FA Cup Final in 1914, losing 1–0 to Burnley It won consecutive League championships in 1922 and 1923, but did not win another trophy until the 1946–47 season, when the club won the First Division for a fifth time. Liverpool suffered its second Cup Final defeat in 1950, playing against Arsenal. The club was relegated to the Second Division in the 1953–54 season. Soon after Liverpool lost 2–1 to non-league Worcester City in the 1958–59 FA Cup, Bill Shankly was appointed manager. Upon his arrival he released 24 players and converted a boot storage room at Anfield into a room where the coaches could discuss strategy; here, Shankly and other “Boot Room” members Joe Fagan, Reuben Bennett, and Bob Paisley began reshaping the team.
The club was promoted back into the First Division in 1962 and won it in 1964, for the first time in 17 years. In 1965, the club won its first FA Cup. In 1966, the club won the First Division but lost to Borussia Dortmund in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final. Liverpool won both the League and the UEFA Cup during the 1972–73 season, and the FA Cup again a year later. Shankly retired soon afterwards and was replaced by his assistant, Bob Paisley. In 1976, Paisley’s second season as manager, the club won another League and UEFA Cup double. The following season, the club retained the League title and won the European Cup for the first time, but it lost in the 1977 FA Cup Final. Liverpool retained the European Cup in 1978 and regained the First Division title in 1979. During Paisley’s nine seasons as manager Liverpool won 21 trophies, including three European Cups, a UEFA Cup, six League titles and three consecutive League Cups; the only domestic trophy to elude him was the FA Cup.
Paisley retired in 1983 and was replaced by his assistant, Joe Fagan. Liverpool won the League, League Cup and European Cup in Fagan’s first season, becoming the first English side to win three trophies in a season. Liverpool reached the European Cup final again in 1985, against Juventus at the Heysel Stadium. Before kick-off, Liverpool fans breached a fence which separated the two groups of supporters, and charged the Juventus fans. The resulting weight of people caused a retaining wall to collapse, killing 39 fans, mostly Italians. The incident became known as the Heysel Stadium disaster. The match was played in spite of protests by both managers, and Liverpool lost 1–0 to Juventus. As a result of the tragedy, English clubs were banned from participating in European competition for five years; Liverpool received a ten-year ban, which was later reduced to six years. Fourteen Liverpool fans received convictions for involuntary manslaughter.
Liverpool was involved in the closest finish to a league season during the 1988–89 season. Liverpool finished equal with Arsenal on both points and goal difference, but lost the title on total goals scored when Arsenal scored the final goal in the last minute of the season.
Dalglish cited the Hillsborough disaster and its repercussions as the reason for his resignation in 1991; he was replaced by former player Graeme Souness. Under his leadership Liverpool won the 1992 FA Cup Final. Souness was replaced by Roy Evans, and Liverpool went on to win the 1995 Football League Cup Final. Gérard Houllier was appointed co-manager in the 1998–99 season and became the sole manager in November 1998 after Evans resigned. In 2001, Houllier’s second full season in charge, Liverpool won a “Treble”: the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup. Houllier underwent major heart surgery during the 2001–02 season and Liverpool finished second in the League, behind Arsenal.
Houllier was replaced by Rafael Benítez at the end of the 2003–04 season. Despite finishing fifth in Benítez’s first season, Liverpool won the 2004–05 UEFA Champions League, beating A.C. Milan 3–2 in a penalty shootout after the match ended with a score of 3–3. The following season, Liverpool finished third in the Premier League and won the 2006 FA Cup Final, beating West Ham United in a penalty shootout after the match finished on 3–3. American businessmen George Gillett and Tom Hicks became the owners of the club during the 2006–07 season, in a deal which valued the club and its outstanding debts at £218.9 million. The club reached the 2007 UEFA Champions League Final against Milan, as it had in 2005, but this time Liverpool lost 2–1. During the 2008–09 season Liverpool achieved 86 points, its highest Premier League points total, and finished as runners up to Manchester United.
In the 2009–10 season, Liverpool finished seventh in the Premier League and failed to qualify for the Champions League. Benítez subsequently left by mutual consent and was replaced by Fulham manager Roy Hodgson. At the start of the 2010–11 season Liverpool was on the verge of bankruptcy and the club’s creditors asked the High Court to allow the sale of the club, overruling the wishes of Hicks and Gillett. John W. Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox and of New England Sports Ventures, bid successfully for the club and took ownership in October 2010. Poor results during the start of that season led to Hodgson leaving the club by mutual consent and former manager Kenny Dalglish taking over. After finishing in 8th position in the 2011–12 season, the worst league finish in 18 years, Dalglish was sacked. He was replaced by Brendan Rodgers.
Liverpool is one of the best supported clubs in the world, with one of the highest average home attendances in Europe.The club states that its worldwide fan base includes more than 200 officially recognised branches of the Association of International Branches (AIB) in at least 30 countries – now called ‘Official Liverpool Supporters Clubs‘. The club takes advantage of this support through its worldwide summer tours. Liverpool fans often refer to themselves as Kopites, a reference to the fans who once stood, and now sit, on the Kop at Anfield. In 2008 a group of fans decided to form a splinter club, A.F.C. Liverpool, to play matches for fans who had been priced out of watching Premier League football.
The song “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, originally from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel and later recorded by Liverpool musicians Gerry & The Pacemakers, is the club’s anthem and has been sung by the Anfield crowd since the early 1960s. It has since gained popularity among fans of other clubs around the world. The song’s title adorns the top of the Shankly Gates, which were unveiled on 2 August 1982 in memory of former manager Bill Shankly. The “You’ll Never Walk Alone” portion of the Shankly Gates is also reproduced on the club’s crest.
The club’s supporters have been involved in two stadium disasters. The first was the 1985 Heysel Stadium disaster, in which 39 Juventus supporters were killed. They were confined to a corner by Liverpool fans who had charged in their direction; the weight of the cornered fans caused a wall to collapse. UEFA laid the blame for the incident solely on the Liverpool supporters, and banned all English clubs from European competition for five years. Liverpool was banned for an additional year, preventing it from participating in the 1990–91 European Cup, even though it won the League in 1990.Twenty-seven fans were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and were extradited to Belgium in 1987 to face trial. In 1989, after a five-month trial in Belgium, 14 Liverpool fans were given three-year sentences for involuntary manslaughter; half of the terms were suspended.
The second disaster took place during an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield, on 15 April 1989. Ninety-six Liverpool fans died as a consequence of overcrowding at the Leppings Lane end, in what became known as the Hillsborough disaster. In the following days The Sun newspaper published an article entitled “The Truth”, in which it claimed that Liverpool fans had robbed and urinated on the dead and had attacked the police. Subsequent investigations proved the allegations false, leading to a boycott of the newspaper by Liverpool fans across the city and elsewhere; many still refuse to buy The Sun more than 20 years later. Many support organisations were set up in the wake of the disaster, such as the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, which represents bereaved families, survivors and supporters in their efforts to secure justice.