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On This Day In History 16th March Part 2
Monday, 16th Mar 2020 10:19

In part 2 of today's look back at what happened on this day in history, we look back at what many would consider one of the greatest game ever played at the Dell, at a time when Saints were arguably the best team in the country.

Friday 16th March 1984 was a date that might not initially trigger anything in anyone's minds ( It didn't trigger anything in mine otherwise this would be part 1) but for those following Saints at the time it was perhaps the start of a short period when we showed we were the best team in the country.

The visit of top of the table Liverpool was always something that Saints fans looked forward to, for some reason it was always a cracking game at the Dell and this one was televised on the BBC on Friday evening so it was witnessed by the entire nation in those pre Sky days when there were only four channels.

Officially there were only 19,698 in attendance, but there was barely an empty space in the ground and the official capacity was several thousand more, this was certainly one of those days when you felt the club was less than honest with the attendance and with clubs then getting compensation for live games shown based on attendance you can see why.

The previous year when Saints were mid table and the following year over 23,000 watched this fixture, so why it would be far from a sell out is uncertain and it didn't look empty.

This was just about the best ever team that Saints ever had, the line up being

Peter Shilton,
Mick Mills, Reuben Agboola, Nick Holmes, Mark Wright, Mark Dennis
Steve Williams, Dave Armstrong
Danny Wallace, Steve Moran, Frank Worthington.
Sub. David Puckett.

I say best team, it perhaps wasn't the best line up, but Lawrie McMenemy had fused a system that played five at the back, with Nick Holmes running the back line and marshalling Reuben Agboola who did the man marking and Mark Wright who won the aerial battles, it relied on the full backs supporting the midfield and overlapping and it worked.

This was the first ever live TV game from the Dell and the home crowd were not to be disappointed as Saints took on and beat a LIverpool side who would go on to not only win the title, but the European Cup, they also won the League cup.

The game burst into life on the cusp of half time, the goal epitomised how Saints played at the time, Mark Wright got the ball and found Frank Worthington, he hit a 40 yard pass to Mark Dennis on the overlap, his first cross was blocked but his second was right in the mixer at the far post and there was Wright again to nod it back and Danny Wallace executed the perfect scissors kick to put Saints ahead.

The second half was tense, but you could see Saints were in no mood to let this one go, we would end the season with only Liverpool and QPR conceding less goals and in the latter's case that was only by one, in those days we were firstly hard to beat because we were hard to score against and secondly hard to contain in attack.

As the game neared it's end it was perhaps one of the best atmosphere's ever at the Dell, no one was sitting quietly and the thump of feet on the wooden floors of the upper East and West Stand's as even the usually more sedate supporters in those areas roared chorus after chorus of Oh When The Saints Go Marching In out with gusto.

The home fans were rewarded when the game was put beyond doubt in the 85th minute, it was another Mark Dennis overlap and another cross, this one found Wallace directly who dived ahead of a Liverpool defender to head home and sent the crowd wild.

The fans streaming from the ground 10 minutes later knew they had seen a great performance and a night that went down in history, at this moment we were truly the best team in England, a great end to the season almost proved it, but Liverpool hung on to pip us into second place as we lost the next two games before going on a great run.

On this night though all that was needed was to hot foot it back to the Painted Wagon pub to celebrate the result in fine style although sadly back in those days all the pubs shut at 11pm and most of the after hours clubs etc required you to have smart clothing, definately no jeans and trainers.

Photo: Action Images

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ThereIn76 added 20:36 - Mar 17
I was in the Milton under the family centre, we were indeed Packed in like sardines, the days when Steve Williams was the best midfielder in Division One - I wouldn’t have swapped him for Bryan Robson or Graeme Souness. (BTW Souey didn’t play in this match). An injury-hit team had had a bad run in November if memory serves - otherwise we’d have been champions.

Great little series Nick, keep them coming.

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