Liverpool v Bayern Munich European Cup semi Final 1981.
As we, and all the other English clubs, are sitting at home this weekend watching the Germans invade Wembley for the Champions League final perhaps it’s an opportune moment to remember another classic “Red’s in Europe” tie – our game in 1981 against one of this Saturday’s Champions league final participants, Bayern Munich
For me Bayern Munich were the foreign team, in the early to mid seventies They had a certain coolness, and a ruthless efficiency about them Franz Beckenbaar personified the former whilst Gerd Muller “der Bomber” the latter. Muller scored 365 goals in 427 league games with Bayern Munich and 68 goals in 62 games for West Germany, no one can argue with that? Beckenbaar was simply an awesome player and my admiration increased when my parents bought me my first pair of screw in football studs “Adidas Beckenbaar” with the lime green stripes. Of course you would immediately take out the plastic studs and replace them with metal ones!
In this period Bayern won the European Cup three times in row (1974, 1975 and 1976) they also had a cool stadium, the old Olympic Stadium (Olympiastadion) in Munich and a kit – red Adidas compared to our red Umbro! I was desperate for us to play them but, apart from a Fairs Cup tie in the early seventies we kept avoiding them until the 1981 European Cup semi final.
By then Beckenbaar and Muller had gone however, they now had Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and, from the old guard, Paul Breitner. On the way to the semi final we had overcome Oulu Palloseura, Aberdeen, CSKA Sofia in the earlier rounds That’s six games to get to the semi finals which is now the amount you play now to get out of the Champions League group stages more if you’ve had to play in a qualifying round!
My only memory of these games was the 10-1 hammering of Oulu at Anfield, in which Graeme Souness and Terry McDermott both got hat tricks, and the Aberdeen tie at their place. McDermott scored the only goal of this game with a lob cum chip over the keeper from a very tight angle. My other memory is that my mate’s dad, who was working in Bootle at the time, had his car stolen the day before that match. The police eventually recovered the abandoned vehicle – in Aberdeen!
The first leg, at Anfield, was in many ways a warm up to second leg at the Olympiastadion in Munich. Bayern Munich managed a 0-0 draw at Anfield. Reports at the time attached great significance to absence of Graeme Souness which hindered our penetration and allowed Bayern to push up more. I guess for many reds the writing was well and truly on the wall. How would Liverpool be able to get the result in Munich, had we missed our chance? Then, before a ball had been kicked, the Germans well and truly shot themselves in the foot!
Sport is littered with instances of arrogance from individuals or teams assuming that all they need to do is to turn up to get a result. This is fair enough if this is kept “within house” however it can stray into troubled waters when you leak it and allow it to wind up the opposition. In this case Bayern Munich did just that I guess they fell into the fatal trap of not treating us with respect? After the first leg Breitner described our tactics as “unintelligent” and “lacking imagination”. It seemed that the German club as whole assumed progress to the final in Paris was a given, they even handed out leaflets giving directions to the Parcs Princes, the final venue. Bob Paisley had a problems with injures to Phil Thompson and Alan Kennedy, however surely this was all he needed to galvanise his team, this sort of behaviour should have been motivation enough?
On The Liverpool Echo website there’s an interview with Richard Money who, in for Alan Kennedy played in that game. He said
“I have never been in a dressing room that was more determined to get a result than that one. It was quite something to see people like Alan Hansen, Graeme Souness and Ray Kennedy so fired up. Nor do I think that anyone in that dressing room in Munich had any doubt we were going to get the result we needed.”
At the time Kenny Dalglish was central to the fortunes of the team. Ever pragmatic the Germans set about him right from the start causing him to be substituted after an only few minutes because of an injured ankle. I guess the Germans felt smug that they had “taken out” one of key players however again they had messed up because it was his withdrawal that had a decisive influence on the game…. enter, off the bench, Howard Gayle.
No doubt when the Germans prepared for this match they probably thought Liverpool would adopt their usual patient “away in Europe” tactics keeping the ball and biding their time for an opening. However, they didn’t reckon with Howard Gayle who did exactly the opposition by tearing into them. They just couldn’t handle his direct approach which involved running at them with the ball at full pelt. In the end they just resorted to desperate measures i.e. kicking and fouling. In one instance there was clear penalty David Johnson put Gayle through on goal with along ball and he was felled by a Dremmler “tackle”. The challenge went right across his legs with the ball no where, in today’s game it would have been a sure fire penalty however then the referee remained unmoved.
Understandably all this “attention” got to Gaye and he was later booked for retaliation. Eventually, after an hour or so, Bob Paisley decided to take him off – “subbing the sub” and bring on Jimmy Case. The reasoning at the time was that we didn’t want Gayle to be sent off however others, including Gayle I think, saw it as a lack of confidence in the player’s ability to kept his cool under provocation?
Eventually, Ray Kennedy edged us into the lead picking up Johnson’s cross on the edge of the area, chesting it down and, on the half volley, firing it hard, low and straight past Junghans in the Bayern goal. Bayern, via Rummenigge, did equalise however it was to late. Because of the away goals rule Bayern needed another to progress and simply ran out of time giving us an unlikely and memorable victory
Above all the game will be remembered for Gayle’s contribution which was significant. Beside the fact he was a subbed sub perhaps it is more remembered as he became the first black player to play for Liverpool and that he was a local lad, born in Toxteth and at, 19 years of age, showed no nervousness as went for the opposition?
The following Saturday Gayle started for us at Spurs and scored his only first team goal for us in a 1-1 draw. Bayern would have to wait twenty five years before they won the European Cup but Liverpool went on from Munich to the final in Paris to secure their third when Alan Kennedy struck late to get the only goal of the game. Howard Gayle was also there, on the bench, and therefore received a winners medal as a none playing substitute.
Semi Final 1st Leg – April 11th 1981
Liverpool 0 Bayern Munich 0
Liverpool: Clemence, Neal, A.Kennedy, Thompson, R.Kennedy, Hansen, Dalglish, Lee, Rush, McDermott (Heighway 46), Case Subs:: Ogrizovic, Irwin, Money, Whelan
Bayern Munich: Junghans, Augenthaler, Horsmann, Weiner, Breitner, Dremmler, Dürnberger, Kraus, Niedermayer, Hoeness, Rummenigge
Att : 44,543
Semi Final 2nd Leg – April 22nd 1981
Bayern Munich 1 Liverpool 1
0-1 R Kennedy (83), 1-1 Rummenigge (88)
Liverpool: Clemence, Neal, Money, Irwin, R.Kennedy, Hansen, Dalglish (Gayle 9, Case 70), Lee, Johnson, McDermott, Souness Subs: Ogrizovic, Rush, Cohen
Bayern Munich: Junghans, Augenthaler, Horsmann, Weiner, Breitner, Dremmler, Dürnberger, Kraus, Del’Haye, Hoeness, Rummenigge