Saturday, April 2, 2011

Liverpool FC

Liverpool Football Club is an English professional football club from Liverpool, England, and plays in the Premier League. Liverpool has played at Anfield since the club's foundation in 1892 and was admitted to the Football League a year later. England's most successful club of the 20th century and one of the most successful clubs in the history of English football, Liverpool has won a joint-record 18 league titles, seven FA Cups and a record seven League Cups. Liverpool is also the most successful English club in European competition having won five European Cups, the last in 2005, and three UEFA Cups. The club currently rank third in Europe and sixth in the world with the most international titles won. The club's supporters have been involved in two major tragedies. The first was the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985, where charging Liverpool fans caused a wall to collapse, resulting in the death of 39 Juventus supporters. In the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster, 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives in a crush against perimeter fencing. Liverpool has long-standing rivalries with neighbours Everton and with Manchester United. The team's home colours have been entirely red since 1964 when manager Bill Shankly changed them from a red shirt and white shorts. The club's anthem is "You'll Never Walk Alone". Liverpool F.C. was founded following a dispute between the Everton F.C. Committee and John Houlding, club president and owner of the land at Anfield. After eight years at the stadium, Everton relocated to Goodison Park in 1892 and Houlding founded Liverpool F.C. to play at Anfield. Originally named Everton F.C. and Athletic Grounds Ltd (Everton Athletic for short), the club became Liverpool F.C. in June 1892 after The Football Association refused to recognise the club as Everton. In its debut season, the team won the Lancashire League, before joining the Football League Second Division at the start of the 1893–94 season. After finishing in first place, the club was promoted to First Division, which it won in 1901, and again in 1906. Liverpool won back-to-back league championships in 1922 and 1923, but did not win another trophy until the 1946–47 season when the club won the First Division for a fifth time. After losing 1–0 to Burnley F.C. in the club's first FA Cup final in 1914, Liverpool was defeated in the final for a second time in 1950 by Arsenal. The club was relegated to the Second Division in the 1953–54 season.

The famous liver bird first took its perch on the left-hand side of the chest in the 1950 FA Cup Final defeat to Arsenal and is a symbol that has continued to signify the prestige involved with playing for Liverpool FC. The crest was revived for the 1955-56 season, and was appearing out of a white oval with L.F.C. embroided below the liver bird. This version was used until 1969. In 1968 the decision was taken to introduce a more modern version of the club crest. The liver bird was now embroidered directly onto the team's shirts with the removal of the white oval and shields. For seven years this was used in white but from 1976 the emblem was changed to gold and reverting back to white when the club dropped Umbro as their kit supplier and signed a contract with Adidas in 1985. In 1992 the club adopted a new crest to celebrate their centenary. The familiar liver bird remained as the centrepiece but now appeared against a red and white shield. Above the shield is a representation of the Shankly Gates with the title of club's famous anthem, "You'll Never Walk Alone". The twin flames at either side are symbolic of the Hillsborough memorial outside Anfield, where an eternal flame burns in memory of those who died in the disaster. Since 1992 the crest has only undergone some minor changes until it was updated in 1999. The present crest has been relatively unchanged since then when it first appeared on the shirt in just two colours but after 2002 it appeared in full colour. Liverpool's first competitive game was an 8–0 victory in the Lancashire League against Higher Walton. Ian Callaghan holds Liverpool's overall appearance record—he played 857 matches over the course of 19 seasons from 1958 to 1978- and the record for League appearances with 640. Of the current squad, Jamie Carragher has the most appearances; he played his 600th game for the club early in 2010. Liverpool's all-time leading scorer in all competitions is Ian Rush, who scored 346 goals in two spells at the club from 1980 to 1987 and 1988 to 1996, and also holds the record for the most goals in a season with 47 in 1983–84. However Rush could not surpass Roger Hunt's record number of league goals of 245. In the 1961–62 season, Hunt scored 41 goals, which is the club record for league goals in a single season. Gordon Hodgson, the club's third highest scorer with 240 goals, holds the club record of 17 hat tricks. The most goals scored by a player in a single match is five; John Miller, Andy McGuigan, John Evans, Ian Rush and Robbie Fowler have achieved this feat. Fowler also holds the club and Premier League record for the fastest hat trick: he scored three goals in four minutes, 32 seconds against Arsenal in the 1994–95 season. Steven Gerrard is Liverpool's all-time leading goalscorer in European competition with 34 goals. Liverpool's record home attendance is 61,905, for a FA Cup match against Wolves on 2 February 1952. The record modern (all-seated) attendance is 44,983 for a match against Tottenham Hotspur on 14 January 2006. The club's record lowest attendance is 1,000 for a match against Loughborough during the 1895–96 season. Liverpool's biggest victory is 11–0 against Strømsgodset IF in 1974. Liverpool's 10–1 defeat of Rotherham Town in 1896 was the club's largest league win. This margin of victory was matched when Crystal Palace was defeated 9–0 at Anfield in 1989. Liverpool's heaviest defeat, 1–9, came against Birmingham City in 1954. Liverpool's 8–0 win against Beşiktaş J.K. in the Champions League was the largest victory in the competition's history at the time (November 2007).

Anfield was built in 1884 on land adjacent to Stanley Park, the ground was originally used by Everton before they moved to Goodison Park after a dispute over a rent with the owner of the ground John Houlding. Left with an empty ground Houlding founded Liverpool in 1892 and the club have played at Anfield since then. The capacity of the stadium at the time was 20,000, although only 100 spectators attended Liverpool's first match at Anfield. In 1906, the banked stand at one end of the ground was formally renamed the Spion Kop after a hill in Natal. The hill was the site of the Battle of Spion Kop in the Second Boer War, where over 300 men of the Lancashire Regiment died, many of whom were from Liverpool. At its peak, the stand could hold 28,000 spectators, and was one of the largest single tier stands in the world. Many stadia in England had stands named after the Spion Kop, but Anfield's was the largest Kop in the country at the time; it was able to hold more supporters than some entire football grounds. Anfield could hold over 60,000 supporters at its peak, and had a capacity of 55,000 until the 1990s. The Taylor Report and Premier League regulations obliged Liverpool to convert Anfield to an all-seater stadium in time for the 1993–94 season, thus reducing the capacity to 45,276. The findings of the Taylor Report precipitated the redevelopment of the Kemlyn Road Stand. The stand was rebuilt in 1992, coinciding with the centenary of the club and is now known as the Centenary Stand. An extra tier was added to the Anfield Road end in 1998, which increased the capacity of the ground further, though the stand encountered problems upon opening. A series of support poles and stanchions were inserted to give extra stability to the top tier of the stand after movement of the tier was reported at the start of the 1999–2000 season. Due to the restrictions of expanding the capacity at Anfield, Liverpool announced plans to move a new stadium at Stanley Park in May 2002. Planning permission was granted in July 2004, and in September 2006, Liverpool City Council agreed to grant Liverpool a 999-year lease of the land on the proposed site. Following the takeover of the club in February 2007 by George Gillett and Tom Hicks, the proposed stadium was redesigned. In November 2007, the new design was approved by the Council, and preparation of the site started in June 2008, with HKS, Inc. contracted to build the stadium. Construction of the stadium was halted in May 2008, as Gillett and Hicks had trouble financing the £300 million needed for the development. New England Sports Ventures, who purchased the club on 15 October 2010, are evaluating the possibility of drastically refurbishing Anfield against building a new stadium.

During the 2009–10 season, Liverpool had the fourth-highest average League attendance for an English club: 44,392, which is 94.4% of available capacity. Liverpool fans often refer to themselves as "Kopites", which is a reference to the fans who once stood, and now sit, on the Kop at Anfield. In 2008, a group of fans decided to form a splinter club, A.F.C. Liverpool, the club was set up to provide a match-going experience for fans who had been priced out of watching Premier League football. The song "You'll Never Walk Alone", originally from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel and later recorded by Liverpool musicians Gerry & The Pacemakers, is the club's anthem, and has been sung by the Anfield crowd since the early 1960s. It has since gained popularity among fans of other clubs around the world. The song's title adorns the top of the Shankly Gates, which were unveiled on 2 August 1982 in memory of the former manager Bill Shankly. The "You'll Never Walk Alone" portion of the Shankly Gates is also reproduced on the club's crest. The club's supporters have been involved in two stadium disasters. The first was the 1985 Heysel Stadium disaster, in which 39 Juventus fans were killed. They were penned into a corner by Liverpool fans who had charged in their direction; the sheer number of fans cornered caused a wall to collapse. UEFA laid the blame for the incident solely on the fans of Liverpool, and banned all English clubs from European competition for five years. 27 fans were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, they were extradited to Belgium to face trial in 1987. In 1989, after a 5-month trial in Belgium, fourteen Liverpool fans were given three year sentences for involuntary manslaughter, although half of the terms were suspended. The second was during an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield on 15 April 1989. 96 Liverpool fans died due to overcrowding in the Leppings Lane End, in what became known as the Hillsborough disaster. The Sun newspaper published an article entitled "The Truth", in which it claimed that Liverpool fans had robbed and urinated on the dead and had attacked the police. Subsequent investigations proved the allegations to be false, and this led to a city-wide boycott of the newspaper. Many organisations were set up as a result of the disaster, such as the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, which represents bereaved families, survivors and supporters in their efforts to secure justice. Liverpool's longest-established rivalry is with fellow Merseyside team Everton, against whom the club contest the Merseyside derby. This stems from Liverpool's formation and the dispute with Everton officials and the then owners of Anfield. Religious differences have been cited as a cause of division, although both teams stem from a Methodist origin, which undermines the notion of a Catholic–Protestant split. The Merseyside derby is usually a sell-out fixture. It is one of the few local derbies that does not enforce fan segregation, as a result it was known as the "friendly derby". Since the mid 1980s, the rivalry has intensified on and off the field, and since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, the Merseyside derby has had more players sent off than any other Premier League game, thus has been referred to as "The most ill-disciplined and explosive fixture in the Premier League". Liverpool has a rivalry with Manchester United. The rivalry is viewed as a manifestation of the cities' competition during industrial times, when they competed for supremacy of the north-west; Liverpool was considered the world's pre-eminent port, while Manchester was famous for its textile industry. The rivalry between the clubs intensified from the 1960s onwards. In 1968, Manchester United became the first English team to win the European Cup, their achievement would soon be eclipsed by Liverpool who won four European Cups during the 1970s and 80s. Then in the 1990s Manchester United started to dominate English football making the rivalry all the more intense. The rivalry is so intense that the last player to be transferred between the two clubs was Phil Chisnall in 1964, when he moved to Liverpool from Manchester United.

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