Worthington Cup Final - Shankly and His Successors Change Success-Rate; Liverpool Have Always Held the Upper Hand over the Blues, Whose 9-1 Win in December 1954 Remains the Anfield Club's Record Defeat, Writes Brian Halford

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Byline: Brian Halford

Birmingham City and Liverpool are among English football's oldest acquaintances, having first met 108 years ago.

Way back in the 1893-94 season, Blues provided the opposition for only the Merseyside club's fourth game after their elevation to the Football League.

Few natives of Merseyside populated the Liverpool squad in those formative days. There was, in fact, a massive Scottish presence - all 11 members of the Reds' team that lined up for their inaugural Football League game at Anfield, against Lincoln City, were Scottish and eight were 'Macs!'

MacLiverpool completed the double over Blues in that first season - 3-1 at Anfield in September and 4-3 at Muntz Street the following month - and have held the upper hand in duels between the clubs ever since. Of 98 league and cup meetings, Liverpool have won 52 to Blues' 26 with 20 draws.

The success-rate between the clubs was equally divided for the first half of the century. The statistics then started to lean heavily Liverpool's way during the 1970s and 1980s, when Bill Shankly and his successors built the Anfield club into English football's dominant force. Blues have had their moments down the years, though, and the cold winter's afternoon of December 11 1954, supplied the most sensational.

Liverpool arrived at St Andrew's, having not lost in the previous nine matches between the clubs, but were still coming to terms with life in the Second Division following relegation from the First, where they had resided proudly for 47 seasons.

Approaching Christmas, both clubs had their eyes firmly fixed on promotion. Blues had been impressive all season at St Andrew's, having lost only one of nine games there. They had just trounced Port Vale 7-2, thanks mainly to Peter Murphy's hat-trick.

Liverpool arrived with a team of some quality, including Geoff Twentyman and Laurie Hughes in the half-back line and Scottish international Billy Liddell up front, but Blues stormed into them from the first kick. It took only 48 seconds for Jackie Lane to open the scoring and further goals followed at regular intervals.

Eddie Brown scored after 11 and 16 minutes and, although Liddell pulled it back to 3-1, Gordon Astall reinstated the three-goal advantage before half-time. …