A brilliant chapter in the history of Liverpool Football Club began 45 years ago this week in July 1974.
Bob Paisley stepped up to be the Reds’ manager after the retirement of Anfield legend Bill Shankly.
Paisley would go on to win the highest accolades in the game – including six First Division titles and three glorious European Cups.
But it was not all plain sailing for the master tactician of the Boot Room – particularly in a tough first season, including the most infamous Charity Shield match of all time.
The season ended on a knife-edge too with Liverpool losing the league championship by just two points to Derby County.
Finishing second deeply hurt Paisley and he vowed never to let it happen again. He made good his promise the very next season as Liverpool won both the league title and the UEFA Cup.
Today Past Life remembers those early Paisley years with the help of some powerful images from the Liverpool Echo archive.
Many were surprised when Shankly decided to resign in July 1974, straight after Liverpool took Newcastle apart 3-0 in the FA Cup Final.
He was keen on Paisley, his deputy of 15 years, taking over the reins. Continuity was critical.
A former player and physiotherapist at the club before turning to coaching, Paisley was described as the ‘perfect Number Two’. He was never a threat to Shankly but always offered wise counsel.
Ironically, the honour of leading Liverpool out on the first match of Paisley’s reign – the FA Charity Shield match – went to Shankly. It was a final tribute to the great man.
Liverpool’s opponents on the day were Leeds United. It was their first match under their colourful new manager Brian Clough.
The Charity Shield was supposed to be a good-natured curtain-raiser to the season, honourably contested by the FA Cup winners and league champions.
But no-one told that to pugnacious Leeds captain Billy Bremner or equally driven Reds’ forward Kevin Keegan.
The fierce rivalry between the two teams quickly turned what should have been a showpiece game into a niggly affair.
Leeds midfielder Johnny Giles punched Keegan but escaped punishment after the Liverpool player asked the referee to be lenient.
Giles then lunged two-footed at Keegan, whose outraged reaction caused Bremner to become involved. Incensed, Keegan punched Bremner and the Leeds man fought back.
Both were sent off – the first time anyone had been ordered from the field in a Charity Shield match.
After the match, Bremner went to the Red’s dressing room to apologise to Keegan, but caught the full fury of the Liverpool player’s father who’d come to check on his son.
Both players were fined £500. Keegan was suspended for three games and Bremner for eight. In spite of it all, it was said that Bremner, Giles and Keegan remained good friends.
The game ended in a 1-1 draw, but Liverpool triumphed 6-5 in the penalty shoot-out.
After the Wembley drama, the new season started well. Early wins included a 3-0 away victory against Chelsea at the end of August and a 5-2 thrashing of Spurs in the next game at Anfield.
But January saw a 2-0 defeat by Derby County at the Baseball Ground which was to prove critical. Derby won the league with 53 points while Liverpool were second with 51.
The ending of the next season was a close-run thing too. Liverpool took the title on the final day with three late goals against Wolves, who were leading 1-0 with 14 minutes to go.
The Reds finished on 60 points, one point ahead of Queen’s Park Rangers.
For good measure, Liverpool won the UEFA cup too, beating Brugge 4-3 on aggregate.
Paisley was starting to make his mark.