As it’s Champions League (or as I still call it, European Cup) semi-final week I thought it was worth remembering a very special European game from the 1976/77 season. Liverpool fans of a certain age will always fondly recall the quarter final second leg on 16th March 1977. Our opponents that night were St Etienne from France. Seems like it was only yesterday. We lost the first leg over in France 1-0 and not many pundits gave us much chance in the second leg. Anfield was packed to the rafters and the game projected David Fairclough into Liverpool folklore. As a result of his contribution in this game and subsequent appearances coming off the bench, he earned the nickname “Super Sub”.
David Fairclough was English football’s original ‘super sub’. He was renowned for scoring memorable coming off the bench. The nickname is one that Fairclough didn’t exactly relish but I’d imagine he has learned to live with it over the years. A small price to pay maybe when he reflects on the trophies he won.
He was on the bench for the second leg against St Etienne.
In those days St Etienne were a class act. St Etienne, who had been runners-up the previous year to Bayern Munich, boasted a star-studded line-up of experienced internationals. These included the likes of the classy Dominique Rocheteau. Although clearly the underdogs, Liverpool were given hope when Kevin Keegan levelled the tie on aggregate after just two minutes.
However, another one of those French superstars, Dominique Bathenay, spectacularly drew St Etienne level with a precious away goal on 51 minutes. This strike meant that Liverpool needed to score twice more without reply to ensure passage through to the semi-finals.
Time Ticking By
With time passing by, the odds of Liverpool achieving such a revival happening were looking slim. However, Ray Kennedy’s 59th-minute strike levelled the tie at 2-2. As the clock continued to tick by Bob Paisley decided to replace John Toshack with David Fairclough on 74 minutes. With fresh legs on for the last quarter of an hour, the change worked. On 84 minutes, David Fairclough broke through the middle to fire Liverpool through.
Cue mayhem and bedlam in the Fields of Anfield Road. Only to be matched by the scenes at the final whistle. Cue the beginning of David Fairclough earning the title of Super Sub.
Below is a very short video of the events that night. All Liverpool fans will know that this night is one of the many special nights we have enjoyed. In a strange way it even overshadowed the semi final itself. Here’s a question for you, who did we beat in the semi final? If you don’t know or can’t remember and to save you looking it up, we beat FC Zurich from Switzerland, 6-1 on aggregate.
Was This David Fairclough’s Best Goal?
You may think that this was David Fairclough’s best goal for Liverpool. Not so apparently. That title is reserved for his spectacular winning goal against Everton in 1976. Again he came on as a substitute. Fairclough beat six Everton defenders before firing past goalkeeper Dai Davies to win the Merseyside derby. Again, cue mayhem.
What A Great Goal
Just look at this for a goal….
His eagerness to win the ball back on the halfway line would certainly impress a certain Mr Klopp. Less than three minutes to go and a winning goal at the Kop end in a Merseyside derby. Not only a winning goal though. A spectacular, individual effort that would grace any stadium, any occasion.
Super Sub Label
As a result of these exploits he earned his super sub label. Yet despite his reputation as a super sub, David Fairclough’s 61 appearances as a substitute were eclipsed by his 92 Liverpool starts. In all Fairclough played 154 games for Liverpool, scoring 55 goals. He left Liverpool to join Swiss club Lucerne in 1983. This was the first of a batch of clubs at home and abroad. He also went on to play for Toronto Blizzard (Canada), Norwich, Oldham, Beveren (Belgium), Rochdale, Tranmere, Wigan, Knowsley (amateur).
A true Liverpool legend indeed. And a great ambassador for the club. Nowadays he can be seen as a pundit on the LFC TV channel.
I managed to record a short video of him last Saturday being interviewed in Paisley Square before the game against Stoke. It was strange in a way that the St Etienne game or goal wasn’t even mentioned.
Here’s a snippet of the interview……
Let’s all enjoy the game tomorrow night but most of all let’s hope all our fans are safe.
In conclusion let’s do it for Sean Cox. Get well soon Sean. YNWA, JFT96!!!