By TTT Subscriber Tony Mc.
Oh how I love the first Liverpool home game of the new season! The excitement, the anticipation, the tingling nerves, the thrill of seeing any new signings “live” in front of the Anfield crowd for the first time! It has been the same for me for 52 seasons spanning seven decades, from 1967/68 to 2019/20. The 2020/21 season opener against Leeds, with no crowd, was a sad exception. The first home game of the 2021/22 season against Burnley will hopefully be back to normal (or as near to normal as it can be in these Covid troubled times) and there will even be the added frisson of excitement waiting to see if the season ticket uploaded to my mobile ‘phone actually interacts with the stadium’s NFC technology.
Out of all those season openers, one that stands out for me more than most was on 14th August 1971, at home to Nottingham Forest in the old English First Division. Liverpool were an improving team. In the previous season, we had finished 5th, lost to the double winners Arsenal in the FA Cup Final after beating Everton in the semi-final, and had a great run in the old Inter City Fairs Cup (forerunner to the forerunner to the Europa League) before losing 1-0 over two legs in the semi final to eventual winners Leeds United (yes, they used to be quite good – they beat Juventus in the final!)
Bill Shankly’s rebuilding of the team was taking shape with Ray Clemence, Alec Lindsay and Larry Lloyd forming a formidable defence with stalwarts Chris Lawler and Tommy Smith; Ian Callaghan and Emlyn Hughes had been joined in midfield by Brian Hall; and new boys Steve Heighway and John Toshack formed a decent but not prolific attack with Alun Evans. Locally born youngsters like Roy Evans, Phil Thompson, John McLaughlin and Phil Boersma were in reserve. It was possibly the youngest first team squad in the club’s history with an average age of around 24.
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