Pushed to the final day by Manchester United at the end of the previous season, the defending champions Liverpool had started the 1980/81 season with a degree, just a degree, of uncertainty. Comfortable home wins against West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City had given the optimistic plenty of hope that they could life the Football League Championship, but in a defeat at Leicester City and underwhelming draws against Birmingham City and Coventry City were to be seen the seeds of an uncharacteristically uncertain season from a team that would soon be making a habit of sweeping all before it. In the European Cup, nerves were settled after a 1-1 draw in the first leg against the Finnish club Oulu Palloseura with a 10-1 win in the second match at Anfield.
In an era during which attendances fluctuated considerably more than they do nowadays, in the space of just a few days in October Liverpool demonstrated just how extreme this could be. On Wednesday the seventh of October Liverpool beat Middlesbrough at Anfield in front of a crowd of just 28,204 people. The following Saturday, however, a crowd of 48,084 people turned out for the match against Ipswich Town. Under the managership of Bobby Robson, the Suffolk club had started their league season with seven wins and two draws from their first nine matches, opening up – in era during which only two points were awarded for a win – a three point lead at the top of the table. Liverpool, meanwhile, were in second place in the table. The BBC’s other featured First Division match of the weekend came from Filbert Street, where Leicester City were at home against a Coventry City wearing their now-infamous brown away strip.
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