Liverpool FC History
The History of Liverpool FC
Liverpool Football Club is one of England's most successful teams, having won an array of trophies, including 19 League Titles and 6 European Cups, since the club was founded in 1892. As well as an extensive trophy cabinet, Liverpool FC is famous for providing spectators with entertaining attacking football and boasts one of the most passionate fan bases in sport.
Do you think you know all there is to know about the history of Liverpool Football Club? From when LFC was founded to modern success, It's time to put your knowledge to the test with our LFC history guide...
1 The Founding Years of Liverpool FC - 1892
So when was LFC founded? The iconic LFC history begins in 1892, a number ingrained in the famous crest. The club's Anfield premises originally belonged to local rivals Everton FC until a dispute resulted in the blue team of Merseyside leaving to form a new ground at Goodison Park. With an empty stadium at hand, local businessman John Houlding decided to create a new football team... Liverpool FC! The rest, as they, is history.
The very first competitive match played by a Liverpool FC team was on September 3, 1892, where Higher Walton was on the end of a very comfortable 8-0 defeat. In the years to come, Liverpool was promoted to the First Division at the first attempt and won their first Football League title in 1901. With more success following on and off the field, including back-to-back titles and an Anfield expansion, the club endured a more than stellar start to life.
2 A Club on the Edge of Greatness in the 1960s
The 1960s can be considered the era where Liverpool truly began to rise from the ashes. Bill Shankly commenced his reign as manager of the club, and it didn't take long for supporters to appreciate his approach and ideals. After seven years away, Liverpool earned a promotion to the First Division in 1964. A few months later, the club introduced their first all red kit with Shankly symbolising the colour as meaning power and danger. It only took Liverpool two years of being in the First Division to win their first title under the leadership of Bill Shankly.
Liverpool Football Club entered their first European Cup competition in 1964, reaching the semi-finals against Inter Milan, who eventually went on to beat Benfica on home turf. Liverpool reached their first European final in 1966 with the Cup Winners' Cup but suffered an extra-time defeat to Borussia Dortmund. The BBC's popular highlights programme Match of the Day broadcasted its first show in 1964 with Liverpool beating Arsenal 3-2 at home. Anfield was again chosen as the venue five years later for the programme's first colour-format broadcast - Liverpool beat West Ham 2-0!
3 The 1970s and 1980s Were Fully of Glory
It's this timeframe that no doubt marks the club's most successful period to date. Heading into the 70s, Bill Shankly's love of the game and his charismatic approach brought a fresh lease of life to the club. Liverpool's first taste of European success came in 1973 with a victory over Borussia Moenchengladbach in the UEFA Cup. Shankly's resignation a year later was met with shock and sadness but ushered in the Bob Paisley era, where success came in many forms. Paisley is regarded as one of the country's most successful football managers, having achieved 6 League Titles, 3 European Cups and 9 domestic trophies.
Paisley oversaw the beginning of Liverpool's dominance in England and Europe and was the only manager to win three European Cups with a single team until Real Madrid's success in recent years. Joe Fagan took over from Paisley in 1983, and while his stint was a short one, he won the treble in his first year and is considered by many to be an underrated hero in the club's history. In 1985, Sir Kenny Dalglish took his hero status to a new level by becoming one of the game's first player managers. Nicknamed 'The King' by the Anfield faithful, Dalglish led the team to further success, including their 18th League Title. Following his shock resignation in the early 90s, Liverpool's reign as the dominant team in England began to slip.
4 Success for LFC Began to Decline in the 1990s
Following the incredible success of the previous era, Liverpool FC's history saw a sharp decline in the 1990s. Club legend Graeme Souness returned to the club to succeed Sir Kenny Dalglish as manager, but his dismal reign only lasted three years. A long-standing member of Liverpool's famous boot room took over in 1994, but Roy Evan's only success came in the form of a League Cup. Gerard Houllier joined as co-manager alongside Evans in 1998 before the Frenchman took over as the sole manager just a few months later.
The latter years of the 1990s will be best remembered for the rise of some of Liverpool's best local talent. It didn't take long for two of the club's greatest strikers, Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen, to become favourites among the Anfield faithful. Jamie Carragher made his debut back in 1997, and his grit and passion were long felt at the heart of the defence. Of course, we shouldn't forget Captain Fantastic! Steven Gerrard made his first competitive debut in November 1998 against Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League. The rest, as they say, is history...
5 Mixed Emotions Between 2000 to 2010
What better way to bring in the new millennium than with a treble win! In 2001 Liverpool claimed the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup under the leadership of Gerard Houllier. Towards the end of the year, the manager was taken ill at half-time during a league match against Leeds United, and a heart condition ruled him out of action for several months. Despite the success of the 2000/01 season, Liverpool failed to exceed expectations. Critics largely blamed Houllier's transfer dealings for several poor seasons in the following years. El Hadji Diouf is more well-known for his controversial nature than his footballing ability, while Salif Diao and Bruno Cheyrou failed to make a name for themselves at Anfield.
Houllier's popularity was at an all-time low in 2004, and he was replaced that summer by former Valencia manager Rafael Benitez. In his debut season, the Spaniard will forever be remembered for inspiring one of sporting's most remarkable comebacks in Istanbul to deliver Liverpool's fifth European Cup. Fast forward to the following season, and the success continued with Liverpool beating West Ham United on penalties in a dramatic FA Cup Final match. In 2007 Liverpool went to Athens for another European Cup final, but AC Milan came out victorious to claim their revenge after Istanbul. With the arrival of new American owners, things quickly began to turn sour at Liverpool FC. Tom Hicks and George Gillet soon became despised by the club's supporters for false promises and public spats with Benitez and chief executive Rick Parry. Trophies had dried up since the 2006 FA Cup win, and the manager received his marching orders in the summer of 2010.
6 Hope for a Promising Turnaround - 2010-2015
The next part of our LFC history guide takes us to the 2010s when Fulham manager Roy Hodgson replaced Rafa Benitez, a choice met with disappointment among the LFC supporters. Following a dismal turn of events both on and off the pitch, an intense battle for ownership reached a fever point on October 15, 2010, when Boston-based Fenway Sports Group won the right to take over following a legal challenge at the High Court. Their direct message to the fanbase was clear; to let their actions do the talking, a stark contrast to the previous owners. Hodgson's tenure went from bad to worse, and he was soon replaced within months of FSG taking over. At the beginning of 2011, fan-favourite Sir Kenny Dalglish marked his return to the club, and his first match was against none other than old rival Sir Alex Fergurson of Manchester United. The signs of progress were clear, and Dalglish earned Liverpool their first trophy in six years with a League Cup victory against Cardiff City. This success, however, was short-lived, with the owners deciding that enough progress had not been made in other areas. In a bold move, FSG sacked a club legend in favour of Brendan Rodgers, a young and relatively inexperienced manager belonging to Swansea City.
Thanks to his charismatic personality and commitment to delivering attacking football, it didn't take long for the Ulsterman to sway the Liverpool fans on his side. Rodgers' inaugural season showed steady yet promising signs of improvement, and the January signings of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho proved to be a hit. During the 2013/14 season, we saw Liverpool truly spark under the manager and provide fans with some of the most exciting football the club has seen in years. LFC was leaky at the back, but clinical upfront and the passion of Captain Fantastic Steven Gerrard helped spark a serious title challenge against Manchester City. Ultimately, the deadly combination of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge proved not enough to deliver supporters the trophy they've waited over 20 years for. The departure of Suarez to Barcelona had seemed like a long time coming, but the mouthwatering transfer fee received failed to reap the rewards. The first season without Suarez and the first back in the Champions League was disappointing, concluding with a humiliating 6-1 defeat to Stoke in Gerrard's last match for the reds. It was clear that Liverpool had lost their way under Brendan Rodgers; he was replaced in October 2015 by former Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp, an exciting appointment that was met with massive praise and by the supporters.
7 A Club on the Rise - 2015-2020
In recent years, Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool is displaying some of the best attacking football fans have ever seen, all under the roof of a magnificent new Main Stand. The German has transformed supporters from doubters to believers by taking his team to finals in the League Cup, Europa League and Champions League in such quick succession. The manager's passionate and charismatic approach has delivered incredible scenes on the touchline, and it's no surprise that fans have taken to him. His time at the club so far has welcomed fan-favourite new arrivals like Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Virgil Van Dijk and Andy Robertson, and the rise of local star Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Klopp's third season in charge saw Liverpool return to the crown of European football with a runner-up finish in the Champions League. The team fought hard but was undone by the experience and skill of Real Madrid, who claimed their 13th UCL trophy in Kyiv. Liverpool couldn't linger on this disappointment, however. They returned better and stronger the following season to challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title. An incredible 97 points were not enough to topple Guardiola's men, but greater success was just around the corner.
Following a dramatic comeback against Barcelona on another historic night at Anfield, Liverpool booked their place in a second successive Champions League final in Madrid. An early Mohamed Salah penalty and a late Divock Origi strike were enough to claim the club's sixth Champions League success. After a night filled with celebrations, the team were welcomed home as heroes, with hundreds of thousands lining the street to show their appreciation.
8 The 2019-20 Season Will Be One to Remember
There's no doubt the 2019-20 season will be one to remember forever, for good and bad reasons. After winning their first trophy for the Reds under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool FC didn't have long to blow away the off-season cobwebs and look to put their names in Anfield history even further. After a defeat to Manchester City in the Community Shield, the campaign began with disappointment, but it didn't take long for the next trophy to arrive at Anfield. In weeks, the club earned the UEFA Super Cup after penalty heroics by new signing Adrian against Chelsea FC.
With another trophy under their belt, Liverpool FC was well underway in making this another season to remember. The team racked up win after win in their quest to pip Manchester City to the title, beating several records. It took Manchester United to stop Liverpool's winning run in the league, and it wasn't until February that they suffered their first defeat at the hands of Watford. In December, Liverpool was off to sunny Dubai to compete in the FIFA Club World Cup, a challenge only possible due to winning the Champions League in the previous season. In the final, an extra-time winner from Roberto Firmino was enough to see off Flamengo, awarding Liverpool with their first-ever Club World Cup and their second trophy of the season.
With a new decade underway, the question of Liverpool winning their first league title in 30 years seemed to be more a case of when rather than if. An outstanding lead at the top of the table meant that the only thing which could stop them would be a pandemic crisis. Unfortunately, such a situation happened. With the COVID-19 crisis spiralling out of control across the world, the UK government had no choice but to enforce strict restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus. In the last-16 stages of the Champions League against Atletico Madrid, Liverpool's defeat marked their last game for the unforeseeable future. It was unclear if and when the season would resume with ordinary life on hold, leaving Liverpool FC's title hopes hanging in the balance.
After the COVID-19 enforced hiatus, football returned in June 2020, providing us with much-needed relief from the pandemic's gloomy undertone. While safety protocols spoiled the fun, including no crowds allowed, it was great to have football back on our screens finally. The unusual nature of the pandemic meant that every match was available for TV viewing, even handing BBC their first-ever broadcast of live Premier League football. Liverpool FC returned to action against local rivals Everton, with the match ending in a null draw. The team beat Crystal Palace empathically a few days later, leaving them on the brink of title success.
Thursday, 25th June 2020, will live long in the memory of Liverpool fans everywhere. After Manchester City lost to Chelsea, Liverpool FC was officially crowned Premier League champions, delivering the club's first title in 30 years. The team celebrated their victory in style at the Formby Hall Golf Resort & Spa, having watched the match as a group. While COVID-19 restrictions were still in force, this didn't stop thousands of supporters from flocking to the stadium to chant, set off flares and fireworks, and party all night long. The club had to wait another month for their final home game to lift the trophy. While no crowds were allowed into the stadium, the Premier League ensured that Liverpool could mark the occasion in extravagant fashion while adhering to safety protocols. Jordan Henderson took to the steps of the famous Kop, and after his trademark Hendo Shuffle, he lifted the Premier League trophy high to end a long wait.
This is a season that no one will ever forget.
9 How Liverpool Football Club's Home Has Changed over the Years
Anfield Stadium may be remembered as the home of Liverpool Football Club, but it was once the ground of local rivals Everton FC for eight years! Had there not been a dispute over rent, Liverpool FC may never have been formed. The first LFC match at the famous ground was a 7-1 home win in a friendly against Rotherham Town. Only 200 spectators were in attendance, but this significantly increased to 5,000 for the club's first Football League match in 1893 against Lincoln City.
The stadium has changed in several ways over the years. One of the first significant developments occurred in 1895, with a new stand capable of holding 3,000 spectators. It was designed to feature a distinct red and white gable and resembled the main stand at St James' Park, home to Newcastle United. The Anfield Road stand was created in 1903, followed by the iconic Spion Kop three years later. The Kop has since become an iconic stand among the footballing community and represents the very best of passion among supporters. Outside the Spion Kop is a topmast belonging to the SS Great Eastern, an iron sailing steamship - it remains there as a flagpole after first being installed back in 1928! The stadium's first floodlights were installed for £12,000 in 1957, and the iconic Shankly Gates were introduced in 1982. Following the tragic Hillsborough disaster, grounds across the country were required to be converted to all-seater stadiums. As a result of this, the Kemlyn Road stand was transformed into a double-decker layout comprising 11,000 seats and executive boxes and function suites. The Kop remained single tier, keeping one of its most iconic features, but was rebuilt with a reduced capacity of 12,390. A bronze statue dedicated to Bill Shankly and a Hillsborough memorial were soon added to the outer grounds of the stadium.
In recent times, various owners have tried to pursue plans for increasing capacity and improving facilities. Plans for a new stadium surfaced as early as 2002, but after several failed designs and millions spent and the economic collapse in 2008, the plans never materialised. After their takeover in 2010, new American owners Fenway Sports Group led a thorough planning and consultation process, culminating in choosing an Anfield expansion as the preferred option. Work began in 2014 to expand the Main Stand, adding 8,5000 seats, including additional executive boxes and hospitality seats. The £115m construction project worked around Liverpool FC's football schedule and ultimately brought the capacity up to 54,732, making it one of the largest football stadiums in the country. The first match under the expanded Main Stand saw Liverpool beat Leicester City 4-1 in a Premier League match in September 2016.
What lies next for Anfield Stadium? The magnificent Main Stand expansion may have significantly improved capacity, but there's always room to add more space for supporters. Work is well underway on an expansion to the Anfield Road Stand, which will introduce 7,000 new seats, increasing the stadium's capacity to 61,000. The new stand is expected to be ready by the start of the 2023/24 season. We certainly cannot wear to see and hear thousands more fans cheering on the Reds!
Fancy exploring the home of Liverpool FC in person? Hop on our Liverpool FC bus tour and get up close and personal with Anfield Stadium!
10 A Complete List of Liverpool Football Club's Managers
Liverpool FC has had 21 full-time managers since the club was formed over 125 years ago, but do you know their names? We have rounded up a complete list of the managers to have led the club during its history and their achievements.
- William Edward Barclay & John McKenna (1892-1896) - 2x Second Divisions
- Tom Watson (1896-1915) - 2x First Division & 1x Second Division
- George Patterson (1915-1919 & 1928-1936) - 0 Trophies
- David Ashworth (1919-1923) - 1x First Division
- Matt McQueen (1923-1928) - 1x First Division
- George Kay (1936-1951) - 1x First Division
- Don Welsh (1951-1956) - 0 Trophies
- Phil Taylor (1956-1959) - 0 Trophies
- Bill Shankly (1959-1974) - 3x First Divisions, 1x Second Division, 2x FA Cups, 4x Charity Shields & 1x UEFA Cup
- Bob Paisley (1974-1983) - 6x First Divisions, 3x League Cups, 6x Charity Shields, 3x European Cups, 1x UEFA Cup & 1 Super Cup
- Joe Fagan (1983-1985) - 1x First Division, 1x League Cup & 1x European Cup
- Kenny Dalglish (1985-1991) - 3 First Divisions, 2 FA Cups & 4x Charity Shields
- Ronnie Moran (caretaker, 1991) - 0 Trophies
- Graeme Souness (1991-1994) - 1x FA Cup
- Roy Evans (1994-1998) - 1x League Cup
- Gerard Houllier (1998-2004) - 1x FA Cup, 2x League Cups, 1x Charity Shield & 1x UEFA Cup
- Rafael Benitez (2005-2010) - 1x FA Cup, 1x Charity Shield, 1x European Cup & 1x Super Cup
- Roy Hodgson (2010-2011) - 0 Trophies
- Brendan Rodgers (2012-2015) - 0 Trophies
- Jurgen Klopp (2015-present) - 1x European Cup, 1x UEFA Super Cup, 1x FIFA Club World Cup, 1x Premer League, 1x League Cup & 1x FA Cup
11 Famous Quotes From Former Managers and Players
Those associated with Liverpool FC have never been shy at letting the world know their thoughts. Here are some of the best quotes that former players and managers have expressed over the years.
- "Liverpool without European football is like a banquet without wine." - Roy Evans
- "My idea was to build Liverpool into a bastion of invincibility. Had Napoleon had that idea he would have conquered the bloody world. I wanted Liverpool to be untouchable. My idea was to build Liverpool up and up until eventually everyone would have to submit and give in." - Bill Shankly
- The most important relationship at a football club is not between the manager and the chairman, but the players and the fans." - John Toshack
- "I just wanted to jump into the stand and start celebrating with those wonderful fans." - Steven Gerrard
- "The only thing I fear is missing an open goal in front of the Kop. I would die if that were to happen. When they start singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' my eyes start to water. There have been times when I've actually been crying while I've been playing" - Kevin Keegan
- "It's best being a striker. If you miss five then score the winner, you're a hero. The goalkeeper can play a blinder, then let one in… and he's a villain." - Ian Rush
- "If Shankly was the Anfield foreman, Paisley was the brickie, ready to build an empire with his own hands." - Tommy Smith
- "There is no one anywhere in the world at any stage who is any bigger or any better than this football club." - Sir Kenny Dalglish
- "Before, I said that they were maybe the best supporters in England. Now maybe they are the best supporters in Europe." - Rafael Benitez
- "I'm just one of the people who stands on the kop. They think the same as I do, and I think the same as they do. It's a kind of marriage of people who like each other." - Bill Shankly
- "Sometimes I feel I’m hardly wanted in this Liverpool team. If I get two or three saves to make I’ve had a busy day." - Ray Clemence
- "Liverpool are magic. Everton are tragic." - Emlyn Hughes
- "If you're in the penalty area and don't know what to do with the ball, put it in the net and we'll discuss the options later." - Bob Paisley
- "We might be the little chihuahua that runs in between the legs of the horses." - Brendan Rodgers
- "Who’s bigger than Liverpool?" - Jamie Carragher
- "Liverpool wouldn't be the club it is today without Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley and the players who played there. When I first went there it was a typical Second Division ground, and look at it now!" - Ian Callaghan
- "We have to change, from doubters to believers—now." - Jurgen Klopp