Toasting the anniversary of the day Portsmouth fans famously outsung Liverpool's Kop at Anfield

It is often referred to as the night Pompey fans outsung the Liverpool Kop.

Wednesday, 28th October 2020, 11:30 am

And today marks the 40th anniversary of that Anfield encounter with the Division One championships which remains etched in Fratton folklore.

Frank Burrows’ Third Division side lost the League Cup fourth round fixture 4-1, a scoreline flattered by two Liverpool goals in the final 10 minutes.

Yet it was off the pitch which drew the admiration of Liverpool followers.

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Initially handed a 6,500 allocation, eventually Pompey numbers were around 12,500 for the midweek trip on October 28, 1980.

Allotted the Anfield Road end and parts of the Kemlyn Road stand, famously the Blues players were greeted with a memorable ticker-tape reception as they entered the pitch.

And despite defeat, many of those present still proudly recall the Pompey faithful outsinging their hosts in a 32,021 crowd.

Alan Rogers, a boyhood Liverpool fan, lined up on the Blues’ left wing that evening and it was his cross which was turned home by Alan Kennedy for an own goal in the 4-1 defeat.

Around 12,500 Pompey fans were at Anfield for Pompey's League Cup encounter 40 years ago today

Speaking to Played Up Pompey in 2015, the Hall of Famer recalled: ‘Anfield was one of only two occasions I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I ran onto the pitch.

‘The other was at Newcastle United in October 1983 when they beat us 4-2 in Division Two and went on to win promotion that season with Kevin Keegan, Peter Beardsley and Chris Waddle in the side. The atmosphere was phenomenal.

‘This was Liverpool, though, a club who had been my favourite team ever since the 1965 FA Cup final when they beat Leeds United and then went on to become even stronger. I loved them.

‘That night in 1980 with Pompey, I can honestly say as a team we weren’t intimidated by Liverpool, we quite enjoyed it because we were the underdogs and not expected to do much against a team undefeated at home for almost three years.

Revisiting Mike Neasom's match report of Pompey's famous League Cup trip to Anfield on October 28, 1980

‘There was that ticker tape reception as well, they reckon 12,000 Pompey fans were there in a crowd of 32,021.

‘At Anfield, when leaving the dressing room you go down some steps and then scale some other steps to come onto the pitch - then it hit us. The Anfield Road end on the left was a sea of blue and white ticker tape.

‘There was ticker tape in the Liverpool end as well but it wasn’t as good!

‘We were actually the better side on the evening, though, we outplayed them, we outperformed them.

‘When we equalised and made it 1-1 it struck me ‘We’ve got a chance here’. Then they regained the lead through David Johnson 60 seconds later and added two more in the final 10 minutes.

‘At that point we were chasing the game and then they caught us on the sucker punch, the third was clearly an offside goal from Johnson, blatantly offside, and the final scoreline of 4-1 was so unjust.

‘I actually played quite well that night, I was up against Phil Neal and a handful for him, crossing the ball which Alan Kennedy turned it into his own net for equaliser in the 36th minute.

‘Steve Davey fed me down the left and I took on Neal on the outside and passed it across, it went through Ray Clemence and Alan Hansen – and Kennedy came in at the far post trying to turn it around for a corner but instead put it into his own net.

‘I celebrated and Derek Showers, who would have been close to Kennedy at the time, was trying to claim the goal but clearly it wasn’t!’

Goalkeeper Peter Mellor was that evening beaten by Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness and a double from David Johnson.

The former Fulham man featured in 53 of Pompey’s 54 fixtures during that 1980-81 campaign, restricting deputy Alan Knight to just one outing.

Remembering the Anfield occasion in Played Up Pompey Too, Mellor said: ‘We lost 4-1, but the atmosphere was fantastic.

‘Atmosphere is such a big part in the enjoyment of the game, it can lift your performance.

‘The right backing from supporters takes you to another level, even though they are not your fans. That night we reportedly had 12,000 followers and it was absolutely wonderful.

‘I played at Anfield a few times in my career and the funny part from a goalkeeping point of view is whenever you jogged towards the Kop during the warm-up they applauded.

‘Yet the moment you set foot inside the 18-yard box they booed for all they were worth as you continued towards the goal line! They still do it to goalkeepers to this day.’

That season would also mark Mick Tait’s first at Fratton Park following his arrival from Hull in May 1980.

He would remain with the Blues for seven campaigns, winning two promotions, yet that Anfield night retains a ‘special’ place.

Tait told Played Up Pompey Three: ‘The result flattered Liverpool a little, yet they were quality and always going to score given the opportunities.

‘I still have a photograph of my arms in the air and the ball in Liverpool’s net. It looks like I scored, but it was an Alan Kennedy own goal!

‘Along with that incredible ticker-tape reception from our fans, it was a special night.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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