Liverpool History: The Flip of the Coin

Never Forget Where You’ve Come From

   On June 1st 2019, Liverpool lifted their 6th European Cup.  It was a momentous occasion and made us the third most successful clubs in the world!  But where did it all begin?   

The Introduction to Europe

  In 1964, Shankly led the team to their first top flight championship in seventeen years. This gave Liverpool a ticket into Europe.  Back in those days only the league champions could compete in the the European Cup.   It would be the club’s first appearance on the Continental stage and the beginning of an illustrious history. Although it would end without silverware, it wasn’t devoid of excitement. 

    Liverpool were pitted against Icelandic champs KR Reykjavik in the first round of the tournament.  Despite winning their league, the viking descendants were no match for the Red army.  KR were beaten 5-0 in the first leg and 6-1 in the second as Shankly’s men advanced. 

The Quarters 

   A few months later and LFC were in the quarter-finals.  This round would be against the West German Giants, Cologne (now Koln FC).  After a 0-0 away draw in the first leg, the Anfield match had to be abandoned due to a freak blizzard.  The stadium was already packed so the fans helped themselves to an on-field snowball fight.  It got even more chaotic when fans trying to leave early were not privy to the voucher announcement for the rescheduled match.  

    As fate would have it, the rematch also ended 0-0. Because penalty shoot-outs were not a part of the game in those days, UEFA sent the teams to a neutral ground to settle the tie. Rotterdam was the site chosen and, much to everyone’s amusement,  the teams battled to a 2-2 tie.

It WILL Be Decided

  The ref, Belgium’s Robert Schault, had devised a plan for such an event.  From his back pocket he pulled out a round piece of wood he carved and painted himself.  He called the two captains to the center and showed them both sides, one side red for Liverpool, one side white for Cologne.  He flipped the wooden coin in the air, the teams held their breath, and it landed in the mud…. ON ITS SIDE! 

   Brushing off a few chuckles, Schault wiped the mud off the disc and flipped it again.  This time it landed on Red.  Liverpool were victorious and celebrated their advance into the semi finals.  In fashion with the unorthodox manner of the tie, fans were left on their own to figure the conclusion.   No announcement was made in the stands as to the proceedings.  It soon became clear that Liverpool had won, because Cologne made their way to the dressing rooms. 

    After the game, Tommy Lawrence, the Reds ‘keeper at the time, was quoted with saying, “It was like the gods were telling us that we’d never get a result. One game snowed off, three draws and now this. It was unbelievable.”   Liverpool would go on to lose to the eventual European Champions Internazionale 4-3 on aggregate in the semi finals.  Despite bowing out empty-handed in Europe, the season would end in lifting silverware as Shankly’s men went on to win the FA Cup that season.   Regardless, no one would forget the crazy saga that was the European quarter final of 1965.