BY STEVE MITCHELL
LIVERPOOL CROWNED CHAMPIONS AFTER EMPHATIC WIN OVER VILLA:
The worst kept secret in football was finally revealed on Tuesday night when Liverpool were crowned First Division champions, following a 3-0 win over Aston Villa at a packed out Anfield. It was also an emotional night for manager Bob Paisley, who was celebrating 40 years at the Merseyside club.
Tuesdayâ€™s win displayed all the qualities that have made the Reds the best team in England by a country mile, the only surprise is that it took until the third last match of the campaign to clinch the championship and credit must go to both West Bromwich Albion and Nottingham Forest, who have kept the title race going when it looked as though it would be done and dusted by Easter.
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For the record, Alan Kennedy and Kenny Dalglish had the champagne corks popping by half-time, Terry McDermott putting the icing on the cake in the second period as The Kop saluted their heroes, refusing to go home until Paisley had appeared on the pitch. The boss explained after the game that this was, â€œThe finest, most sustained and consistent of the seven championships that he has been involved with, having been at Anfield since the late 30â€™sâ€.
He continued by claiming that; â€œThis is the playersâ€™ night of glory, they won the championship, let them take the glory.â€ A fitting tribute from one of the most decent human beings ever associated with the game.
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The 1970s have been a halcyon period for Liverpool; four championships and never finishing out of the top two since 1973; they have already smashed their record points tally for a season and they still have two games to play, away at Middlesbrough and Leeds United. This squad looks set to create an all-time defensive record and an all-time goals difference record â€“ an astonishing achievement.
When Liverpool were eliminated from the European Cup by Nottingham Forest, the side that had also taken their domestic crown, many observers thought that a permanent shift in power was on the cards. As the players celebrated this latest triumph, the fans sang; â€œForest, youâ€™re not champions anymore.â€ This was a memorable night on Merseyside and the way this Liverpool team has performed, there should be many more to come.
Liverpool: Clemence, Neal, Thompson, Hansen, Kennedy (A), Case, McDermott, Souness, Kennedy (R), Dalglish, Johnson, Sub; Heighway
Aston Villa: Rimmer, Gidman, Gregory, McNaught, Gibson, Swain, Cowans, Mortimer, Cropley (Linton 56 mins), Evans, Deehan.
Referee: N.J. Ashley
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP:
West Bromwich Albion and Nottingham Forest will fight it out for runners-up spot, after both picked up important wins this week. Albion are currently one point ahead of the dethroned champions, but have played a game more.
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Ally Brown was on target at The Hawthorns on Tuesday, as Albion saw off Southampton whilst Forest eased to a 3-1 win against Manchester City at the City Ground; Garry Birtles, Ian Bowyer and Tony Woodcock got the home sideâ€™s goals and they even scored the visitors consolation, thanks to an own-goal from Larry Lloyd.
West Brom travel to Villa Park tomorrow, before heading to the capital on Monday to face Tottenham Hotspur. Forest meanwhile, go to Leeds on Tuesday before the two teams face each other in the final game of the season at the City Ground on May 18.
Manchester United warmed up for Saturdayâ€™s FA Cup Final with a 3-2 home win over Wolves on Monday. Steve Coppell (2) and Andy Ritchie were on target for Dave Sextonâ€™s side, John Richards and an own-goal from United keeper Gary Bailey, making it a nervous finale at Old Trafford.
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Two of the three relegated sides, Queens Park Rangers and Birmingham City, met at Loftus Road in front of just over 9,000 spectators. The visitors ran out 3-1 winners thanks to goals from Alan Buckley (2) and Trevor Dark; Glenn Roeder grabbing Rangersâ€™ consolation.
Finally, Tottenham Hotspur beat Bolton Wanderers 3-1 at Burnden Park thanks to goals from Mark Falco, James Holmes and an own-goal from Trotters defender Sam Allardyce. Frank Worthington got the home sideâ€™s consolation.
MONDAY MAY 7:
Manchester United 3-2 Wolves (Ritchie, Coppell 2; Bailey o.g, Richards)
Q.P.R. 1-3 Birmingham City (Roeder; Buckley 2, Dark)
TUESDAY MAY 8:
Bolton Wanderers 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur (Worthington; Falco, Allardyce o.g, Holmes)
Liverpool 3-0 Aston Villa (Kennedy A, Dalglish, McDermott)
W.B.A 1-0 Southampton (Brown A) (FULL MATCH PROGRAME BELOW)
WEDNESDAY MAY 9:
Nottingham Forest 3-1 Manchester City (Birtles, Bowyer, Woodcock; Lloyd o.g)
League Division One table after close of play on 10 May 1979
|2||West Bromwich Albion||39||23||11||5||71||33||38||57|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||41||6||13||22||45||69||-24||25|
FRIDAY MAY 11:
Aston Villa v W.B.A
Middlesbrough v Liverpool
Q.P.R v Ipswich Town
SATURDAY MAY 12:
FA CUP FINAL:
Arsenal v Manchester United (at Wembley)
FOLLOW THE WHOLE 1978-79 SEASON IN THE ENGLISH FIRST DIVISION WITH STEVE MITCHELL HERE ON THE FOOTBALL PINK. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @barafundler
PROGRAMMES COURTESY OF MILES MCCLAGAN https://www.flickr.com/photos/114058793@N05/sets