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Football League Super Cup

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Title: Football League Super Cup  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 1985–86 in English football, 1984 Football League Cup Final, 1986 FA Cup Final, 1989 FA Cup Final, 1977 FA Charity Shield
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Football League Super Cup

The Football League Super Cup (known under its sponsored name as the ScreenSport Super Cup) was a one-off Football League and was intended as some form of financial and sporting compensation for the English clubs which had qualified for European competition in the previous season but had been banned from entering European tournaments by UEFA following the Heysel Stadium disaster. With the ban set to last into the foreseeable future, England's clubs stood to lose a great deal of revenue, and would also have fewer opportunities to win silverware, so the Super Cup was established in order to hopefully generate at least some of this lost income, as well as offering additional competition for them.

The Football League's original intention was to hold the Super Cup annually for the duration of the UEFA ban on English clubs (which ultimately turned out to be five years) but the competition was largely seen as a poor substitute for the glamour of European tournaments and offered nothing different to the two domestic knockout comps that already existed, the FA Cup and League Cup. Consequently, it generated minimal interest from the clubs involved. With the competition's final postponed until the beginning of the following season due to fixture congestion, the Super Cup was ultimately abolished after only one tournament had been held.

Interest in the competition was so low that the Football League initially failed to attract any form of sponsorship for it. Cable TV sports channel Screensport agreed to sponsor the tournament's final in September 1986.

Ironically, Martin Edwards, the Chairman of Manchester United, wrote in his programme notes for United's opening group match against Everton that he hoped that the Super Cup would "only last for one season", meaning that he hoped that the UEFA ban on English clubs would only last for that long. The cup's demise was indeed swift, but that had nothing to do with any relaxation of the ban, which eventually lasted until 1990. As some indication of how the clubs felt about the ignominy of the situation, Howard Kendall recalls that, prior to his Everton side's group match at Norwich City, he sent his team out with the following team-talk: "What a waste of time this is – out you go."


  • Format 1
  • Competition history 2
  • Similar competitions 3
  • Results 4
    • Group phase 4.1
      • Group 1 4.1.1
      • Group 2 4.1.2
    • Semi-finals 4.2
      • First leg 4.2.1
      • Second leg 4.2.2
    • Final 4.3
      • First leg 4.3.1
      • Second leg 4.3.2
  • Top goalscorers 5
  • External links 6


The six clubs invited to participate, and the European competitions they would have qualified for, were:

To create a sufficient number of games, the teams played each other home and away in two groups of three teams, with three points awarded for a win and one point for a draw, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the semi-finals. Both the semi-finals and the final were to be held over two legs, home and away, which was perhaps another factor which may have contributed to the competition's failure to attract much interest from the clubs participating, as the tournament did not offer the prospect of a day out at Wembley for the finalists.

Competition history

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.

Similar competitions

The Full Members Cup, another Football League cup competition also launched in 1985 for similar reasons (to create additional competition, revenue and opportunity for silverware for English clubs, as well as a final at Wembley Stadium), fared marginally better and ran until 1992. The majority of leading sides opted not to enter this competition.

A similar competition to the Super Cup, the Mercantile Credit Centenary Trophy was played in the early weeks of 1988–89 to celebrate the league's 100th birthday between the top eight Football League teams from the previous season. The competition, played over three rounds on a knock-out basis, was won by Arsenal.


Group phase

Key to colours in group tables
Top two places advance to the semi-finals

Group 1

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
Everton 4 3 0 1 6 3 +3 9
Norwich City 4 1 2 1 3 3 0 5
Manchester United 4 0 2 2 4 7 −3 2
18 September 1985
Manchester United 2–4 Everton
2 October 1985
Everton 1–0 Norwich City
23 October 1985
Norwich City 1–0 Everton
6 November 1985
Manchester United 1–1 Norwich City
4 December 1985
Everton 1–0 Manchester United
11 December 1985
Norwich City 1–1 Manchester United

Group 2

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
Liverpool 4 3 1 0 8 2 +6 10
Tottenham Hotspur 4 2 0 2 5 7 −2 6
Southampton 4 0 1 3 4 8 −4 1
17 September 1985
Liverpool 2–1 Southampton
2 October 1985
Tottenham Hotspur 2–1 Southampton
22 October 1985
Southampton 1–1 Liverpool
3 December 1985
Liverpool 2–0 Tottenham Hotspur
17 December 1985
Southampton 1–3 Tottenham Hotspur
14 January 1986
Tottenham Hotspur 0–3 Liverpool


First leg

5 February 1986
Norwich City 1–1 Liverpool
Drinkell Dalglish
Carrow Road, Norwich
Attendance: 15,313

5 February 1986
Tottenham Hotspur 0–0 Everton
White Hart Lane, London
Attendance: 7,548

Second leg

Everton won 3–1 on aggregate

Liverpool won 4–2 on aggregate


First leg

16 September 1986
Liverpool 3–1 Everton
Rush  6'65'
McMahon  56'
Sheedy  40'
Anfield, Liverpool
Attendance: 20,660
GK 1 Mike Hooper
RB 2 Barry Venison
LB 3 Jim Beglin
CB 4 Mark Lawrenson
LM 5 Ronnie Whelan
CB 6 Gary Gillespie
SS 7 Kenny Dalglish
RM 8 Steve Nicol
CF 9 Ian Rush
CM 10 Kevin MacDonald
CM 11 Steve McMahon
MF 12 John Wark
MF 14 Jan Mølby
Kenny Dalglish
GK 1 Bobby Mimms
RB 2 Peter Billing
LB 3 Paul Power
CB 4 Kevin Ratcliffe (c)
CB 5 Ian Marshall
CM 6 Kevin Langley
RM 7 Neil Adams
ST 8 Paul Wilkinson
ST 9 Graeme Sharp
CM 10 Trevor Steven
LM 11 Kevin Sheedy
MF Warren Aspinall
Howard Kendall

Second leg

30 September 1986
Everton 1–4 Liverpool
Sharp  30' Report
Rush  10'27'84'
Nicol  62'
Goodison Park, Liverpool
Attendance: 26,068
GK 1 Bobby Mimms
RB 2 Peter Billing
LB 3 Paul Power
CB 4 Kevin Ratcliffe (c)
CB 5 Derek Mountfield
CM 6 Trevor Steven
RM 7 Neil Adams
CM 8 Adrian Heath
ST 9 Graeme Sharp
ST 10 Paul Wilkinson
LM 11 Kevin Sheedy
MF Warren Aspinall
DF Neil Pointon
Howard Kendall
GK 1 Bruce Grobbelaar
RB 2 Gary Gillespie
LB 3 Jim Beglin
CB 4 Mark Lawrenson
LM 5 Ronnie Whelan
CB 6 Alan Hansen (c)
SS 7 John Wark
RM 8 Steve Nicol
CF 9 Ian Rush
CM 10 Jan Mølby
CM 11 Steve McMahon
FW 12 Paul Walsh
DF 14 Barry Venison
Kenny Dalglish

Liverpool won 7–2 on aggregate

Top goalscorers

Player Club Goals
Ian Rush Liverpool 7
Mark Falco Tottenham Hotspur 4
Graeme Sharp Everton 3
Kevin Sheedy Everton 3

External links

  • The story of the Super Cup
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