Football League Division 1, 5/85
Team: Coton, Gibbs, Rostron, Taylor, Terry, McClelland, Barnes, Jackett, West, Porter, Callaghan
Scorers: West, o.g., Barnes
Report by Tim Brennen
This was a breathtaking game, matching Watford against Liverpool, who, while having lost the League Championship to Everton, had reached the European Cup Final. The game had a brilliant atmosphere: it was played on the Friday night after the FA Cup Final. Watford were relaxed, and Liverpool were getting keyed up for the match in Brussels the following Wednesday against Juventus.
Watford's was a classic Graham Taylor team: from the unrivalled skill of John Barnes to the bludgeon of Colin West, there was full-blooded commitment and a desire to win. Not for them the shoulder-shrugging of a Harry Willis or a Gerard Lavin, Jamie Moralee, Lee Nogan, etc.
Similarly, although the match was effectively meaningless for Watford, there was no end-of-term feel to it. Watford tore into them and pulled the Liverpool defence to bits. West got a delicate touch to a free kick (sounds unlikely, I know) to put us 1-0 up and then as Barnes and Callaghan started swinging in the crosses, Jim Beglin got so confused he volleyed one straight into the bottom corner: 2-0 up away at Anfield at half-time! Things looked good.
The inevitable pressure ensued, I'm sure Coton played a blinder, and we held out for a while. Then Rostron and Whelan shoulder-charged each other and they both crashed to the ground. At other grounds refs wave play on but at Anfield this constitutes a penalty, for the home team at least. 1-2. And then Rush and Dalglish began to turn it on in their gruesomely awesome way. 3-2. With time running out we got a free-kick outside the box at the Kop end. A long wall and Grobbelaar in goal couldn't stop Barnes curling it in. 3-3: unbelievable scenes!
But then Ian Rush did what he has always done, turned on a sixpence in the six yard box, 4-3. An incredible match, not least because the defeat was not bitter, an exceedingly rare occurrence. It was fantastic football from Watford, in the only period (so far) in the club's history that it held its own with the best in England and Europe.
These memories are even more poignant considering what happened the following Wednesday in Brussels...