In the first of a new series, we look back at classic matches from the past, and to kick off, we go back to St. James’ Park and September 20th 1987 when Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool visited Tyneside to take on Willie McFaul’s Newcastle United in one of those rare things of the time – a live televised First Division game.
Apart from future Magpies boss Dalglish, there were plenty of other connections between the two clubs, not least the returning Peter Beardsley who left Newcastle for Merseyside just a few months earlier for £1.9million.
The England striker was a key element in the rebuilding of the Liverpool team which had finished trophyless in the 1986-87 season. Beardsley joined John Barnes and John Aldridge in an exciting new forward line as the Anfield side swept to the title with ease going unbeaten for the first 29 League games of the season; some of their performances in the 87-88 season were amongst the best ever seen from any Liverpool team.
On this occasion, however, the unlikely Reds hero was utility man Steve Nicol. The Scotland international, who signed from Ayr United in 1981, had firmly established himself in the team and had become an integral part of Dalglish’s success in various positions. He rounded off his hat-trick with a sublime chipped finish in front of the temporary stands at the Leazes End of St. James’ Park.
The home side, who featured the newly arrived Brazilian Mirandinha in their line up, could only reply with a second half Neil McDonald penalty. The crushing defeat left McFaul’s men languishing near the bottom of the table, although they recovered sufficiently to finish the season in a respectable 8th place in Division One.
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