European Cup memoriesHistory made as Reds munch Gladbach in Rome
It was a glorious tapestry of red and white in Rome.
May 25, 1977. Liverpool’s first appearance in the European Cup final.
An historic night at an historic place. With history to be made.
Reds fans in their thousands descended upon the Eternal City, with stories legion of the weird, wonderful and wearing ways Kopites had made the journey over land, sea and air from Merseyside.
Once there, they draped the Stadio Olimpico in a marvellous gallery of flags and banners in support of Bob Paisley’s team – already champions of England that season – as they attempted to leap over the final hurdle.
“It was the best time in everyone’s lives, it was a fabulous time to be there. You lived and breathed it, we were part of the team – we were the 12th man,” remembered Phil Downey, co-creator of the tapestry’s iconic centrepiece.
Joey Ate The Frogs Legs, Made The Swiss Roll, Now He’s Munching Gladbach.
“The night is warm, the atmosphere is electric and the hills of Rome are alive to the Liverpool sound,” noted commentator Barry Davies in the moments before kick-off against German outfit Borussia Monchengladbach.
Kings of Europe: Rome '77
A couple of hours later, the sounds would be of Liverpool celebrations.
The sides had history, too, the Reds having narrowly won the UEFA Cup in 1973 with a 3-2 aggregate win versus Gladbach over two legs.
In Rome, there would be only one chance – and Paisley’s men did not pass it up.
After Rainer Bonhof had beaten Ray Clemence but clattered the post with a bobbling strike from 25 yards, Terry McDermott glided into space to receive Steve Heighway’s pass at the other end and hook a finish into the corner.
A thunderbolt by Allan Simonsen drew Gladbach level early in the second half as they enjoyed their most ascendant spell of the game.
Liverpool steadied themselves, though, and Tommy Smith’s firm, near-post header from Heighway’s corner kick put one hand on Old Big Ears.
When Kevin Keegan – playing like it was his last game for the club, precisely because it was – was felled in the box by Berti Vogts, the penalty was tucked in by the nerveless Phil Neal and their grasp of the big trophy was total.
“Smile of the season,” Davies declared as Emlyn Hughes lifted the European Cup aloft. “Performance of the season. Trophy of the season.”
Ray Clemence, Phil Neal, Joey Jones, Tommy Smith, Ray Kennedy, Emlyn Hughes, Kevin Keegan, Jimmy Case, Steve Heighway, Ian Callaghan, Terry McDermott.
Route to the final
First round: Liverpool 7-0 (agg) Crusaders
Second round: Liverpool 3-1 (agg) Trabzonspor
Quarter-final: Liverpool 3-2 (agg) Saint-Etienne
Semi-final: Liverpool 6-1 (agg) FC Zurich
European Cup top scorers
Kevin Keegan, Phil Neal – 4
Steve Heighway, David Johnson – 3
Jimmy Case, Terry McDermott – 2
David Fairclough, Ray Kennedy, Tommy Smith, John Toshack – 1