They are now officially on the number they could never have imagined. Liverpool became England’s 18th champion on April 28, 1990 and today marks the 30th anniversary of that victory.
It really was a different era, and to fully appreciate it, all you have to do is look back at the events surrounding that particular weekend, when Madonna topped the charts with Vogue.
There was no fanfare, everything at Anfield was just routine. Sportsmail reprises the scene of the unobtrusive title …
The Liverpool players celebrate on the field after winning their 18th league title in 1990
Ronnie Moran, manager Kenny Dalglish and Roy Evans, are pictured with the trophy days later
There is one thing you can say unambiguously and it is ‘it would never happen now’. Without Sky Sports or major television contracts, Liverpool started against Queens Park Rangers at 3pm on Saturday afternoon – exactly the same time as nearest rivals Aston Villa, which Norwich hosted.
Imagine that now? When a title race is at stake, those looking for the biggest prize usually play on a Sunday afternoon or Monday night; there are endless television shows, debates and broadloom news and features. The punditry can now be anticipated just like games.
However, in April 1990 it was very different. Liverpool fans unable to come to the stadium tuned in to Radio Merseyside or Radio City for live coverage; television updates were limited to short bulletins in the stands.
Football did not have the great appeal it now has and its reputation was heavily scrutinized after a number of disturbing incidents.
Captain Alan Hansen celebrates on the field after a 2-1 win over QPR 30 years ago today
Ronnie Rosenthal (left), Ian Rush, Ronnie Whelan, Hansen and Barnes milk the celebrations
Goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar and defender Glenn Hysen pose with the Division One trophy
For Liverpool, the scars were deep as they had lost 96 of their fans in Hillsborough 12 months earlier. The consequences of the tragedy can still be felt today.
Of course, things started to change culturally, but that afternoon Anfield was anything but full. A crowd of 37,758 was at the stadium.
Liverpool needed four runs from their last three games and, given that they had been so productive in collecting titles, no briefs were considered.
To understand how dominant Liverpool had been, take a look at the five years Kenny Dalglish was in charge.
Double winners in 1986, they remained blank in 1987, but should have done the Double in 1988 (lost the FA Cup final to Wimbledon) and 1989 (lost the league in the last minute to Arsenal).
The 1989-1990 season was formed and could have ended with another Double, but for a surprising semi-final defeat by Crystal Palace.
It would be wrong to say that Liverpool was brilliant that season, but they had already held the title race from afar and had only lost one of their previous 20 games prior to QPR’s visit.
Barnes was Liverpool’s excellent player in 1989-90 and scored the decisive penalty kick
Welsh striker Rush fights for the ball during the game that sealed Liverpool’s last league title
“Do you know why we were always in control?” Ronnie Whelan asked. “It was no secret. We had the best players and the best manager. ‘
An important moment in the game with Aston Villa came on April 18 when John Barnes scored an equalizer against Arsenal with four minutes to go. It was the last major hurdle leading up and escaping with a point meant they wouldn’t get caught.
“It was just a matter of winning the games that mattered,” Jan Molby recalls struggling with injuries that season. “It was all routine.
“We doubled over Everton, beating Manchester United at Old Trafford and taking four points at Arsenal. Once we signed in Highbury, we knew we won. ‘
The main players
Barnes was the campaign’s outstanding player, winning the PFA and FWA awards. It was his third year at Merseyside and he was adored for the beauty he performed with; his close control, his speed, skill and strength meant that he was almost unstoppable in full shout.
As people marvel at Mohamed Salah now, it is important to point out that Barnes did what the Egyptian does in the present 30 years ago.
He defined the big games and big occasions and scored winning goals against Arsenal and Manchester United, among others.
He finished the campaign with 28 goals, two ahead of Ian Rush, but the man who initiated Liverpool to cross the line was Ronny Rosenthal.
Israeli Rosenthal arrived in March 1990, scoring seven goals in eight games for Liverpool
He came on loan in March 1990, an unrecognized figure from Standard Liège, but he scored seven goals in eight games towards the finish.
Under that flurry was a perfect hat-trick against Charlton Athletic at Selhurst Park and Rosenthal became a cult figure with supporters.
However, the irony of all this for the Israeli was that he never received a medal. The criterion in 1990 was that you have to play 14 times to be recognized.
Although Liverpool was left early on a goal by Roy Wegerle, they eased through the gears.
Rush equalized just before half-time, then Barnes – who else – converted a penalty to The Anfield Road End after Steve Nicol made a mistake.
“That might be the championship,” suspected Martin Tyler, who then worked for ITV.
He was right. Liverpool’s game ended four minutes before Villa and Norwich, but the wait wasn’t painful.
Eventually confirmation came and that meant the club’s 10th championship in 15 years, a distance Real Madrid could only match in Europe.
Barnes celebrates with Peter Beardsley after Liverpool received the trophy on May 1, 1990
This team has never been able to prove itself on the continent, since they imposed a five-year ban on the shameful episode of Heysel in 1985.
How they would have fought against AC Milan by Arrigo Sacchi, for example, can only be discussed.
However, they were miles away from the opposition domestically, which explains why the celebrations were so unremarkable. They received their trophy – which was triumphantly performed by Alan Hansen – the following Tuesday, after a 1-0 win against Derby County.
To clarify the waiting context, Jordan Henderson – the current Liverpool skipper – would not be born in six weeks.
“I have wonderful memories of winning trophies,” recalled Whelan, 1990’s team captain.
“But if I had known that when I walked the trophy around Anfield, it would be the last time I did it, I would have enjoyed the lap every second.”
Whelan would not be the only one who has such thoughts. The waiting continues. Who knows when it will end.