Dickie Felton

I write about music and football

Transistor radios glued to ears, John Barnes shifting through the gears and our 18th league title just 90 minutes away. 
MC Hammer was in the charts with U Can’t Touch This. And in keeping with the ethos of the song, Liverpool confidently held the destiny of the league in their own hands.  
The season climax took place on Saturday 28 April 1990 with ninth-placed QPR the visitors to Anfield. 
The Reds had three games to win England’s top prize but Aston Villa were hot on their heels. 
If Liverpool could beat the Hoops of Shepherd’s Bush and second-placed Villa failed to beat Norwich, Kenny Dalglish’s men would be crowned champions. 
I was a spotty 16-year-old that bright sunny day. Bursting into heaven in my Stone Roses inspired baggy jeans, I swaggered up Walton Breck Road in anticipation of glory.
My right fist kept tight hold on my £65 Spion Kop season ticket. 
Back then Manchester had the tunes but Merseyside had the titles. The Kop kings were still on their perch while Manchester sides slugged it out for 13th position. 
These were exhilarating days for teenage me: travelling across the country watching my football heroes and paying pennies for the privilege: United away £4, Derby County at the old Baseball Ground for a fiver.  
We knew we had a great team, but were prone to shock defeats.
Three weeks earlier a defensive horror show cost us the FA Cup semi-final against Crystal Palace. 
I got on the old stone terrace early on the day of destiny. I wanted a good view of brilliant Barnes, ruthless Ian Rush and a new boy - the explosive, yet unpredictable Israeli striker Ronny Rosenthal.  
Pre-match I devoured the Anfield Review. In his programme notes Kenny Dalglish conceded: “This season we have made it hard work for ourselves, on occasion, while our rivals have failed to make the most of their chances.” 
As the game kicked off all eyes were on the fields of Anfield Road, while ears were angled to proceedings 100 miles away at Villa Park.
I made a beeline for a fellow Kopite a few steps to my right who had transistor tuned to ear.  
It’s with some folly that a supporter should bring a radio onto The Kop. Given the deafening atmosphere and swaying mass of bodies, you’d be hard pushed to hold the device steady enough to decipher scores from elsewhere. 
You’d get hassled all game for score updates. And there’d be the occasional irreverent curveball from a random voice: “I don’t suppose you know how Rotherham are faring at Chester?” 
Liverpool were under the cosh early on.
We were taken aback by how good QPR were. Captained by Ray Wilkins, the visitors had quality across the park including David Seaman in goal and pacy defender Paul Parker. 
The tension mounted when Rangers took the lead thanks to a tap-in by Roy Wegerle 
It was with joy and a massive amount of relief, when Rushie popped up to equalise before half-time following a lovely move involving Barnes and Stevie Nicol. The Welshman celebrated right in front of me.  
The second half was played out with much rumour and speculation about Villa’s progress. Wireless operator next to me struggled for reception and lost patience with constant demands for updates. 
Suddenly Nicol was up-ended and a penalty awarded. I’m just thankful that VAR was not a thing in 1990 - as the challenge looked outside the box. Footballer of the Year Barnes slotted home from 12-yards to put us into the lead.  
As the game drifted to a close pockets of shouts and cheers emanated across the ground. Rumours of a late Norwich equaliser at Villa. Then we all broke into the chant: “Champions! Champions! Champions!”
At the final whistle we hugged and burst into You’ll Never Walk Alone.
The team embarked on a lap of honour which seemed premature as radio man said Villa were still playing. 
I’m not sure how many of the 37758 present truly believed we were champions until the Football Pink newspaper landed in nearby pubs later that evening. 
There was no trophy presentation that day. The only physical prize handed out was a microwave oven - won by a fan courtesy of club sponsors Candy.  

This story first appeared in the i newspaper 28 April 2020.

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