1984 Milk Cup Final programme
The League/Milk Cup Final of 1984 would be an all Merseyside affair. Everton had been revitalised under former player Howard Kendall and were about embark on the most glorious period in their history. For Liverpool it was the beginning of a new era under Joe Fagan who had replaced the retired Bob Paisley at the start of the season.
However at the start of the 1983/84 season the gap between the two clubs still seemed as wide as ever. In November 1983 Liverpool faced Everton at Anfield in a game shown live on ITV. They won a one sided game 3-0 with goals from Ian Rush, Michael Robinson and Steve Nicol. At Goodison crowds were down to as low as 15,000 and with the club just above the First Division relegation zone, fans were calling for the manager to be sacked. Then things turned in January 1984 when a late equaliser from Adrian Heath at Oxford earned a 1-1 draw and a League/Milk Cup replay. Everton won the return game 4-1 and moved up the table. The team was starting to gel and the signing of striker Andy Gray from Wolves in November 1983 proved to be a masterstroke. He formed a potent partnership with fellow Scot Graeme Sharp and Adrian Heath was also regularly on the scoresheet.
In League/Milk Cup Semi Final in February 1984, Everton beat Aston Villa 2-0 at Goodison and despite a 1-0 defeat in the 2nd leg they reached their first Final since 1977 when they had lost the League Cup to Aston Villa after two replays.
For Liverpool their progress to the League/Milk Cup Final was more of a struggle. They needed replays to overcome Fulham, Birmingham and Sheffield Wednesday. In the Semi Final Walsall earned a shock 2-2 draw at Anfield but Liverpool won the 2nd leg 2-0 thanks to goals from Rush and Whelan to reach the Final 4-2 on aggregate.
The Final would be Liverpool’s fourth in a row. They were favourites to retain the trophy but Everton were confident they could cause an upset. The streets of Liverpool were empty as thousands made the journey down to Wembley by train and coach. The game was a 100,000 sell out and shown live on ITV.
The Final on the 25th March 1984 was the first ever League/Milk Cup Final to take place on a Sunday. It was a wet afternoon but both teams were determined to put on a show for the fans. The team line ups were:
Everton: Southall, Stevens, Bailey, Ratcliffe (C), Mountfield, Reid, Irvine, Sharp, Richardson, Sheedy (Harper)
Liverpool: Grobbelaar, Neal, Kennedy, Lawrenson, Whelan, Hansen, Dalglish, Lee, Rush, Johnston (Robinson), Souness (C)
The game started off at a slow pace as both teams felt each other out. The first real chance fell to Everton when Adrian Heath won a scramble with Grobbelaar and fired towards an empty net. Alan Hansen was covering and the ball seemed to strike his had as he cleared the ball. Everton claims for a penalty were ignored by the referee and linesman. Replays showed that the ball had bounced onto Hansen’s hand from his knee but then he controlled the ball with his left hand. It was a clear penalty that would have been given today under VAR. At the other end Ian Rush went close after a scramble in the box, but Everton continued to make chances. Graeme Sharp’s shot was saved and they should have taken the lead when former Liverpool player Kevin Sheedy burst through but fired straight at Grobbelaar. The game was goal less at half time.
In the second half Souness and Peter Reid battled for control of the midfield and Liverpool began to push forward. Alan Kennedy went close after a long run and only a great save by Southall denied Kenny Dalglish from opening the scoring. Liverpool almost took the lead from a quick corner but Rush fired over from point blank range. Everton were content to sit back and the game finished 0-0. At the start of extra time Michael Robinson replaced Craig Johnston and Liverpool should have gone in front but Southall made an excellent save from Ian Rush’s volley. Ronnie Whelan had a goal disallowed for offside but at the end of extra time neither team could find a breakthrough and the game finished 0-0. After both teams went up to the Royal Box to meet the Queen Mother the players lined up together as the fans sang: “Merseyside, Merseyside”. The Final had been a great occasion that had brought the whole city of Liverpool together. Both teams would have to face each other again in the Replay at Maine Road a few days later.
The teams met at Maine Road home of Manchester City for the Replay the following Wednesday, in front of 52,000 fans. The teams lined up as follows:
Everton: Southall, Stevens, Bailey, Ratcliffe (C), Mountfield, Reid, Irvine (King), Heath, Sharp, Richardson, Harper
Liverpool; Grobbelaar, Neal, Kennedy, Lawrenson, Whelan, Hansen, Dalglish, Lee, Rush, Johnston, Souness (C) substitute: Robinson
Everton began the game brightly and Peter Reid’s shot was well saved by Grobbelaar. Then in the 21st minute Liverpool took the lead. Graeme Souness turned onto Phil Neal’s pass and fired past Southall from 20 yards.
1984 Graeme Souness celebrates scoring in the Milk Cup Final Replay at Maine Road
Liverpool almost doubled their lead but Rush fired over after a Dalglish corner. Everton forced a series of corners and Kevin Richardson’s shot was cleared off the line by Mark Lawrenson. However Liverpool held onto their lead and were 1-0 up at half time. Everton continued to press at the start of the second half with Graeme Sharp a constant threat in the air. Peter Reid went close when he fired across the face of goal but Liverpool defended stubbornly. They almost put the game to bed when Ian Rush ran clear on the break but he was denied by the legs of Southall. Craig Johnston was denied by another fine save by Southall as Everton began to tire. Liverpool used all of their experience to see the game out and held for a 1-0 victory. It was the fourth year in a row they had won the League/Milk Cup and Joe Fagan’s first trophy as Liverpool manager. They would go on to seal their third successive First Division Championship and cap it all by winning the European Cup in Rome, to complete a glorious Treble, the first ever by an English club.
Everton would shrug off their disappointment to win the FA Cup in May beating Watford 2-0 in the Final. The two teams would meet at Wembley again in August for the Charity Shield and this time Everton won 1-0 after a Bruce Grobbelaar own goal.