Then & Now: Anfield Annihilation ’86

Rhys Daly 9th November 2018

In the first episode of a new series, Rhys Daly takes a delve into some of the most memorable moments of Fulham history – for better and for worse. Before Fulham take a rather frightful trip to Anfield this weekend, we’ve had a look at a nightmare scenario in the form of a previous trip to Merseyside.

Liverpool 10-0 Fulham

23 September 1986
League Cup 2nd Round, 1st Leg

The system of divisions in world football means you rarely see a mismatch of epic proportion. As a youngster I once captained my school team to a 28-0 defeat, but it’s not often you see professional sides on the end of a 10-0 mauling.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to the Whites at the hands of a rampant Liverpool in ’86.

A customary own goal, solitary strikes by Steve Nicol, John Wark and Ronnie Whelan and an Ian Rush brace were all overshadowed by Steve McMahon who scored FOUR and had the misfortune of missing a penalty, poor bloke.

Division Three side Fulham had progressed to play Division One high-flyers Liverpool courtesy of a 5-1 aggregate victory over Aldershot in the previous round. I can only assume that we were expected to get a hiding, but maybe not to be on the receiving end of Liverpool’s biggest win in domestic competition since 1896.

The Reds had recently won the First Division title and boasted stars such as Mark Lawrenson, Alan Hansen, player-manager Kenny Dalglish and Bruce Grobbelaar. Fulham on the other hand had recently been relegated from the Second Division and (another) player-manager Ray Lewington, had only taken over in the summer.

Lewington’s side had an average age of under 23 and despite having the likes of Dean Coney and Paul Parker at his disposal, it probably wasn’t the ideal day to skip school and sneak on a train up to Liverpool (according to my dad, anyway).

Despite the result, there was a silver lining – the second leg. Liverpool made the trip down to London two weeks later and despite not turning out to be the biggest upset of all time, it did save some face. The game finished 2-3 making the aggregate score 13-2 against the Whites.

The season finished with Liverpool as runners-up in both the First Division and the League Cup. Fulham finished 18th in Division Three as Harry Redknapp’s Bournemouth took the title. On a more positive note, the Whites did welcome the return of all-time top goalscorer Gordon Davies.

32 years later and Fulham have conceded the most goals in the top five European divisions and have lost six of our last eight Premier League games, drawing the other two. Liverpool are currently two points behind leaders Manchester City whilst the Whites deservedly sit rock bottom of the table with just a single point away from home, after wasting a two-goal lead against Brighton.

The prospect of Mo Salah, Bobby Firmino and Sadio Mane in full-flow against the leakiest defence in the country is a rather grim one. Especially considering our back four has been carved apart, at least once, by every opponent we have faced this season.

Last season we were able to pick apart defences for fun, but a lack of team cohesion and vast improvement in quality of opposition has left the players unable to gel and even though two wins would see a considerable jump up the table, the manor of defeats and lack of desire leave little to be optimistic about at this stage of the season.

Unless the scoreline is a repeat of the League Cup trip in ’86, Slaviša Jokanović will know the Southampton game at home the following week is doomsday. If we do lose at Liverpool then anything other than three points against the Saints will likely mark the end of his three-year tenue as Fulham boss.

If the result is a bad one, we can still take solace in knowing could always be worse, unless we concede more than 10 of course, then my only suggestion would be drowning the sorrow in the Lion until next week.

Always hoping, never expecting. Aye.