The wait is over. The pain is over. After 11,016 days. The wait has been long for Liverpool supporters all over the world to see their beloved club get crowned as champions of England. 11,016 days roughly sums up to 30 years and 2 months, but if you ask any Liverpool fan, they'll say it has been an eternity.
With a win against Crystal Palace on Wednesday, Liverpool just needed two points to mathematically secure the title. Either that or Manchester City, 23 points behind the league leaders, had to drop points against Chelsea. They did, as Chelsea beat last years' champions 2-1 and Liverpool won the Premier League.
On August 28, 1990, Liverpool last won the title, under the tutelage of club legend Sir Kenny Dalglish when they beat Queens Park Rangers 2-1 at Anfield. Fending off a challenge from Aston Villa and their city rivals Everton, Liverpool had secured their 18th League title.
Martyn Hartley, a lifelong Liverpool fan and a season-ticket holder from Southport, which is around 44 minutes from Anfield, remembers the scenes of that day vividly. "I was 11 at that time and my mum promised to take me to a game and she picked the one against QPR. She paid 5 times the normal rate to get a ticket in the Kop. When the Villa result came through, the Kop was in full flow."
The victory in 1990 holds a special place in every Liverpool supporter's heart. For a city that was ravaged through the 1980s due to various socio-political reasons, and the Hillsborough disaster just a year back, football was their only source of joy. The two Merseyside clubs between them won nine league titles, two European Cups, a Cup Winners' Cup, three FA Cups and three League Cups across that decade.
"I want to build a team that's invincible, so that they have to send a team from bloody Mars to beat us", Bill Shankly famously said. And Liverpool football club became the bastion of invincibility till the late 80s. Between the 1972-73 and 1990-91 season, Liverpool failed to finish first or second in the league just once. But as the year 1991 rang in, things changed. Dalglish retired and domestic league success continued to evade the Reds.
"Initially we thought it would carry on. Then in 1991 Kenny retired, the Premier League was formed, and we sort of fell away. An oldish squad wasn't replaced and we fell behind over clubs", says Hartley.
It was also during this time when Alex Ferguson became Manchester United manager and famously said, "My greatest challenge was knocking Liverpool right off their f**** perch." Sir Alex Ferguson delivered on his promise as Manchester United surpassed Liverpool to become the most successful club in England with 20 titles to their name.
It's not that the Reds never came close to win the title. They were on the verge of successfully defending their title the next year but failed as Arsenal won the league. Since then four managers have taken them close to league glory in the past 30 years. Houllier (2001-02), Rafael Benitez (2008-09), Brendan Rodgers (2013-14), and Jurgen Klopp (2018-19).
Rupa Vyas, a lifelong Liverpool supporter from Wales, grew up listening to stories about the likes of King Kenny and Phil Thompsons from her father, who is also a Liverpool fan. She bore witness to the heartbreaks from [in] the 21st century. "I have blocked out the memories from the 2008-09 season because my brother is a Manchester United fan," she said. But the near-miss under Rodgers was a harder pill to swallow she added.
Last season was especially difficult for the Liverpool fans as they came agonisingly close to the trophy, only to miss out by a point. But the phenomenal journey that they started last season, helped them lift their sixth European title on their way. There was no stopping the Liverpool juggernaut since then, this season they've beaten every team they've faced, broken records after records. Watford did stop them from being the Invincibles but that didn't matter for the title race, as they had already created a gargantuan gap between them and second-placed Manchester City by then.
The pandemic and the lockdown did bring an instance of uncertainty but that's all in the past now as they got their hands on their 19th title. "I have no words. It's unbelievable," Jurgen Klopp told Sky Sports in an interview after the Chelsea win. "It's much more than I thought to become champions with this outstanding club. It's an incredible achievement for my players."
The man who had vowed to turn Liverpool from doubters to believers when he took charge in 2015 also paid tribute to club legends Like Sir Kenny Dalglish and Steven Gerrard. A teary-eyed Klopp said, "Knowing how much Kenny supported us, it is for you. He waited for 30 years and it is for Stevie (Gerrard). The boys admire you all and it's easy for me to motivate the team because of our great history."
He was also quick to pay tribute to the Reds faithful and urged them to stay home. However, despite Klopp's plea, the city came out to celebrate the momentous occasion and partied the night away in the street around Anfield.
What a team.. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/E9Dqz09RGR
— Sir Vivian Richards (@ivivianrichards) June 25, 2020
I only came down for breakfast...!!! @LFC pic.twitter.com/uJbbj9acFU — Andy Robertson (@andrewrobertso5) June 26, 2020
The Liverpool players too were captured celebrating Chelsea's triumph over Manchester City and a host of former players also took to social media to congratulate the new Kings of England. Celebrities like Sir Vivian Richards, LeBron James also conveyed their best wishes to the Mighty Reds.
All in all, after 30 years, Liverpool supporters can say it loud and sing it proud: Liverpool Football Club - Champions of England. And it's maddening to realise that it was the Crystal Palace and Chelsea games that decided the title for them.