Super Cup (English Football) - Competition History

Competition History

Merseyside rivals Liverpool and Everton won through to the final, but with both these clubs being involved in a battle for the league championship and both of them also reaching the FA Cup final (as well as Liverpool being involved in the semi-finals of the Football League Cup), fixture congestion became a problem, with Liverpool's semi-final second leg having to be delayed until the final week of the season, two days before the FA Cup final. The English football season had to come to an end immediately following the FA Cup final due to the preparations for the imminent FIFA World Cup in Mexico (which many Everton and Liverpool players were to be involved in), which meant that there was no opportunity for the delayed Super Cup final to be played after the FA Cup final, and that the Super Cup tournament could not be concluded before the 1985–86 season ended. The absence of any conclusion of the Super Cup before the season's end made the competition look even more farcical than before in the eyes of supporters and probably put paid to any possibility of a second Super Cup tournament being organised in the 1986–87 season, although the perceived failure of the inaugural competition and its unpopularity with the clubs made such an eventuality unlikely in any case (had the 1986–87 Super Cup been staged, it would have been contested by Liverpool, Everton, West Ham United, Manchester United, Sheffield Wednesday and Oxford United).

Ultimately the 1985–86 Super Cup final had to be held over until the following season and was finally played in September 1986, by which point the competition had finally attracted some sponsorship. Everton however fielded a virtual reserve team in the two-legged final (although they were in the middle of a genuine injury crisis) and Liverpool won the trophy 7–2 on aggregate. The games are only especially remembered for Ian Rush's impressive haul of five goals for Liverpool over the two games (although these goals are sometimes excluded from his official record-breaking Merseyside derby tally, probably due to them having been scored in a minor competition against what was largely an Everton reserve side) and for Kevin Sheedy's spectacular goal for Everton at Anfield, scored from a long-range free-kick at the Kop end (a feat he would repeat later in the season in a league derby match). Having lost the League and Cup double to Liverpool the previous May, Everton did not seem overly concerned at losing this lesser trophy to their local rivals, nor by the heavy defeat suffered by their makeshift side. In any case, later that season they managed to pip Liverpool to the League Championship.

Legend has it that after the Liverpool players had been presented with the Super Cup trophy and were leaving the field at Goodison Park, Reds striker Ian Rush threw the trophy to an Everton ball boy, and suggested that he keep it and put it in his bedroom. Some sources state that there were in fact two trophies presented, with one being the Football League Super Cup and the other being sponsor Screen Sport's own additional trophy, and that Rush only gave one of these, the Screen Sport trophy, to the ball boy, although accounts differ. Regardless, the incident is perhaps fairly indicative of how the players involved felt about the Super Cup competition and its level of prestige.

The Super Cup was not seen as a success, as it was felt to be a very poor substitute for games against the best sides in Europe in prestigious UEFA competitions, with attendances at the matches generally being poor and with the clubs taking part apparently regarding the tournament as a little more than a pointless addition to the match calendar and a source of fixture congestion. Consequently the Super Cup was abolished after only one season and it has not been held since. The competition is now largely forgotten, even on Merseyside, and to the extent to which it is remembered at all, it is usually as a misguided, if well intentioned attempt by the Football League to offer some consolation to the English clubs deprived of European football after the Heysel tragedy, at a very difficult time for English football.

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