If you’ve followed the English Premier League long enough to remember when it was called the First Division, then you would definitely remember this great moment in soccer history.
It was already an anticipated match considering it was the final week of the 1988-89 season. And by uncanny coincidence, the two teams vying for the league title were playing each other. You’re probably not surprised to learn that one of the teams was Arsenal (since I am their number one fan!) and the other was Liverpool.
Only six weeks earlier, the Hillsborough tragedy occurred at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England, during the semi-finals of the FA Cup. Somehow Liverpool persevered, won that semi-final, and went on to win the FA Cup.
Coming off the high of an FA Cup victory only one week earlier, for this match, the Reds were playing at home and had an advantage in goal differential. This title race was so close, said to be one of the tightest for almost 100 years, that in order for Arsenal to be named Champions, they had to win by at least two goals.
I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that despite being considered the underdogs, Arsenal pulled out a 2 – 0 win over Liverpool and in dramatic fashion. A last minute, injury time goal was scored by midfielder Michael Thomas, which gave the Gunners their Ninth First Division championship, while denying Liverpool their second Double. After wiping off the looks on their dumbfounded faces, the match concluded with a standing ovation from Anfield.
Jason Cowley, a writer for The Guardian, recalled that special game in an article he wrote in 2009. In it he said “This match is considered to be one of the most dramatic conclusions to a league season in the history of the English game. It is also regarded as a renaissance in English football and the moment where people started to see the untapped commercial potential of live football on television. “
Unless we watched this match live, I don’t think we can appreciate the energy of the crowd sitting on their edge of their seats with every touch of the ball. But at least we have this video to get a feel for that emotional game that made history.