Video Of The Week 2: Match Of The Eighties, 1984/85
With the benefit of hindsight the 1984/85 season and its hideous denouement had been coming, but it wasn’t any less of a surprise when it played out before our very eyes. The safety of football grounds had not been properly addressed in decades and clubs themselves didn’t have either the inclination or the resources to do very much about spectators that they didn’t seem to consider to be much above vermin in the food chain. Meanwhile, crowds had long before started to plummet and trouble at matches had become part of the match day routine for many thousands, whether they wanted to be or not.
Whatever happened on the pitch during the 1984/85 football season was overshadowed by what happened at the end of the season. On the final day of the English league season, a fifteen year old was killed when a wall collapsed after a match at St Andrews between Birmingham City and Leeds United that had been interrupted by fighting, but even this was overshadowed the same day, when a fire at Valley Parade in Bradford killed fifty-six supporters of Bradford City and Lincoln City. Two and a half weeks after this, a further thirty-nine people were killed at the death trap Heysel Stadium in Brussels after a wall collapsed following fighting at the European Cup final. The government talked darkly of identification cards for football supporters. Even greater numbers of people walked away from the game. English clubs were indefinitely banned from European competitions. It felt as if the sky had fallen in.
Yet all of this was a disservice to the players of the era. The Everton team that won the Football League championship and the European Cup Winners Cup were an absolute joy to watch, and just one point separated Liverpool in second place in the table and Manchester United in fourth place, with Tottenham Hotspur sandwiched between them. Manchester United, meanwhile, prevented Everton from doing the double by beating them in the FA Cup final, their first major trophy in eight years. As this is a YouTube video, it’s in four parts and our eternal thanks, as ever, go to the original uploader.