This week’s Video Of The Week continues a series of the Danny Baker hosted BBC series “Match Of The Eighties”. This week, the BBC flexes its archive muscles for the 1981/82 season. It was – and this seems difficult to believe, even now – the first season of three points for a win in the Football League. It was also a season that saw one of the most remarkable come-backs in the history of English football. Liverpool had a disastrous start to the season and were in tenth place in the table at Christmas before going on an oustanding run throughout the second half of the season and grabbing the title from Ipswich Town on the last day of the season.
Liverpool’s season was overshadowed by the death of Bill Shankly in October 1981. His death was marked by a minute’s silence prior their league match against Swansea City, whose arrival in the First Division under the managership of John Toshack was something of an event in itself. Swansea briefly topped the table and finished the season in sixth place in the First Division. Meanwhile, the writing was on the wall for a financial crisis within the game. Middlesbrough, Wolverhampton Wanderers were all flirting with bankruptcy (in the days before the relative safety net of the CVA) and radical changes that would go on to change the face of English football forever – shirt sponsorship, clubs floating on the stockmarket and the live broadcasting of league matches – were just around the corner.
Regular readers will already know what to expect from this series. It’s not heavyweight intellectual material, but the BBC picks its archive material carefully, with the mournful “This Time” accompanying England’s stilted and convoluted journey to the finals and the decline of Arsenal also taking centre-stage along with Terry Venables in his best second hand car dealer’s mode, pushing the merits of Queens Park Rangers’ Omniturf pitch. As this video was uploaded to YouTube, it comes in four handy segments – our thanks, of course, to the original uploader.