Joey Ate The Frogs Legs

Date 16th March 1977 - European Cup 3rd round 2nd leg at Anfield
Liverpool 3 [Keegan 2’.Kennedy 59’.Fairclough 84’] - St Etienne 1 [50' Bathenay] - Attendance 55,043

Date 16th March 1977 - European Cup 3rd round 2nd leg at AnfieldLiverpool 3 [Keegan 2’.Kennedy 59’.Fairclough 84’] - St Etienne 1 [50' Bathenay] - Attendance 55,043

"Joey Eats Frog's Legs."

1 Ray Clemence
2 Phil Neal
3 Joey Jones
4 Tommy Smith
5 Ray Kennedy
6 Emlyn Hughes
7 Kevin Keegan
8 Jimmy Case
9 Steve Heighway
10 John Toshack (David Fairclough)
11 Ian Callaghan
Subs not used: Peter McDonnell – Terry McDermott – Dave Johnson – Brian Kettle

St Etienne
1. Ivan Curkovic
2. Gérard Janvion
3. Gérard Farison
4. Alain Merchadier (Hervé Revelli)
5. Christian  Lopez
6. Dominique Bathenay
7. Dominique Rocheteau
8. Jean-Michel Larque
9. Jacques Santini
10. Christian Synaeghel
11. Patrick Revelli

The home game remains for me the best Anfield game EVER?

Up to that point we’d never experienced anything like this… The level of expectancy was immense.

We’d finished work at 15.30 and hopped on a bus to Kirkdale Station and meet the rest of our mates in the Sportsman in Westminster Road [Bootle] after a couple of pints the possibility of us not getting in became too much. We arrived at Anfield just before 17.00 to be met by a huge queue that snaked around the ground, you could see the steam rising from those ahead as the mist swept in from the Irish Sea.  The nerves were really kicking in now even two and a half-hours before kick-off.  A steward reassured everyone around us that we’d get in despite the numbers ahead of us.  Around 17:30 we managed to get in the Kop, the relief was there to see in everyone’s faces that we had been able to get in for the match. We made our way into our usual speck [not quite the middle] just in front of the pillar by it on the Main Stand side. Tonight was going to be something really special, you could sense something was in the air.

The St Etienne support was large in number and was housed in one half of the green and white Annie Road "Allez les Verts - Allez les Verts" they sang.   To be greeted with a thunderous and earth moving response from the Kop "Allez les Rouges - Allez les Rouges" [The Liverpool vocal support at St Etienne had been from the very top drawer of the Kop] This Anfield night surpassed anything else we’d ever heard before, and probably indeed since?  As the teams trotted out, a wall of noise greeted the ears - around and around the stadium it went.  You couldn’t hear yourself think, mind we only had one thing on our minds a Liverpool FC win. As expected, Joey Jones didn't just walk out onto the pitch - he flew out of the tunnel and soon he was legging it up to his adhoring Kop waving both his fists like a madman possessed giving us his famous clenched fist salute. The Kop was a sea of fists as we each snorted back  "O Joey Joey Joey Joey Joey Joey Joey Jones" We bounced and jumped as one in acclaim to our beloved reds.

The Kop was crammed full but this didn’t stop our old mate in once again causing mayhem. In them day’s [Every home game] this old school Red [a bloke in his mid forties] used to just barge his way through the Kop sending many on a downward surge. He used to stand next to us and in time we used to take the Mickey out of each other, he found his speck once again as we mocked him for being late. A huge red banner just behind us read, "Joey Eats Frog's Legs." Everyone applauded the lads who were holding it up, no one knew then the consequences this flag would have in Liverpool history. "You'll Never Walk Alone" boomed out from the Spion Kop one more time as the players lined up for the kick off. A kick off of another sort started in the St Etienne section of the Annie Road as many of the Road End paid back some of the French hospitality afforded to us in the first game. "Hello hello, scousers aggro, scousers aggro, hello hello" sang the Kop in tandem with the assalt on the French. The game kicked off two minutes early to the biggest roar heard in Merseyside for many a year and within two minutes "Mighty Mouse" Kevin Keegan received the ball from a short corner near the Main Stand corner flag. From a sublime angle he crossed the ball over to the far post.  On and on the ball went, I don’t know if their goalie [Curkovic] lost sight of the ball in the floodlights, but somehow it eluded him and ended up in the back of the St Etienne net - Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees cried the majority of those tightly crammed inside Anfield. The place was in uproar, total bedlam pursued as we rocked the Anfield to its very foundations 1-1 on aggregate now - all square. We watched the lads who had climbed onto the roof of the Annie Road and Kemlyn Road celebrate, once we had calmed down. 

Instead of inspiring the Reds onto greater things this seemed to gel the St Etienne players together and they began to ask questions about the Reds defence. The French Champions had gained the initiative and began attacking in waves – the crowd where getting a bit nervy as Ray Clemence saved shot after shot. "Liverpool – Liverpool - Liverpool" urged the Kop as the Reds began to attack the French. The half-time whistle blew [not that you could hear it] and the players ran off for a breather and some advice and encouragement from Bob and the backroom boys.  Ivan Curkovic ran out onto the Anfield pitch and towards the Spion Kop, he received a hero’s welcome as everybody clapped him into the Kop goal. We watched the St Etienne players follow him into there half – they seemed to be in awe of the Kop – it was that special at times.

Very early in the 2nd half Dominique Barthenay let fly from about 30 yards dipping shot straight past an airborne Ray Clemence the ball flew into the back of the Annie Road net  - an away goal  - and what a cracking goal too?  The St Etienne supporters turned their part of the Annie into a sea of Green and White as they erupted in acknowledgement to the wonder goal "Allez les Verts - Allez les Verts. " echoed from the French.  Our hearts sank, we needed two goals from somewhere, the silent Spion Kop awoke from its enforced slumber "Come on you Reds!" - "Come on you Reds!" - "Come on you Reds!" it cried time and time again.  This prompted the whole of the ground to get behind the Reds and I mean every Liverpool supporter, not just the Kop! We continued to attack the St Etienne goal wave after wave until then in the 59th minute Big John Toshack flicked on an Ian Callaghan cross which fell to the feet of Ray Kennedy who drilled the ball into the back of the Spion Kop goal Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees 2-1 on the night for us, but we still needed one more goal. The atmosphere was amazing, incredible, deafening, the noise just bounced around and around Anfield itself.  The Kop, no the whole ground itself was just a cauldron of red and white hot noise, everybody screaming the team on and on, the veins in everybody’s heads stood out as we screamed our way for the last half an hour. Cometh the hour cometh the man – On 70 minutes super Sub David Fairclough [The Bionic Carrot] was introduced to the crowd as a weary John Toshack came off to a tumultuous reception.  The French also took this opportunity to replace Hervé Revelli for Merchadier [he'd had his nose smashed halfway across his face by an earlier flailing Toshack arm in an aerial challenge.] On and on the Red attacks continued, St Etienne as a man stood and rebuffed each attack after attack.     

Fairclough celebrates vs. St Etienne

With six minutes remaining it looked like we were going out of the European Cup… then… A simple ball was played to the feet of Ray Kennedy, who turned and played an exquisite ball between two French defenders and Dave Fairclough. The ball just fell right for the oncoming Fairclough who chested it down as he continued to outrun the two French defenders.  He took the ball on for a step or two before very calmly sliding the ball past the advancing Curkovic – on and on the ball rolled goal wards - I’m certain the Kop sucked the ball into the net.

In celebration of that goal David Fairclough jumped higher into the air than any other player I have ever seen in all the years I have been following not just the Reds, but football itself.

A volcano hit Anfield that night, the biggest volcano I ever saw? Everyone was jumping up and down "We've done it -We've done it" The arl snarler next to me was embraced like a long lost lover, up and down the whole of the ground bounced. "Liverpool are magic - "Liverpool are magic na na na na na na na na" reverberated from every mouth in every stand soon followed by “Oh when the Reds - go marching in”  The Anfield foundations rocked to their very core as "You'll Never Walk Alone" was belted out by everybody, the whole crowd was a sea of Red and White, we’d never seen or heard anything like this before.  St Etienne had nothing left, an almighty roar greeted the final whistle and the Reds and the famous "Twelfth man" had beaten the best team in Europe. The Liverpool players walked up to the Spion Kop in the pouring rain to receive the applause they duly deserved.  "Tell me mar me mar, I don’t want no tea, no tea were going to Italy tell me mar me mar" filled the air hours after the match had finished, as we celebrated the most unbelievable game ever witnessed – we knew at that moment that our destiny was calling us.

Copyright - Robbie Ashcroft

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