In the days before penalty shoot-outs there were replays and coin tosses, with Liverpool benefiting from one of these 57 years ago today.
Liverpool faced Cologne in a second round European Cup replay at the Stadion Feyenoord and following three draws and even a postponement, the sides still couldn’t be separated.
Ian St John and Roger Hunt had put Bill Shankly’s side two ahead but then came a comeback and the scoreline returned to 2-2 and, even after extra-time, there was no way to find a winner on the pitch.
The decided rules by the competition organisers at the time was that if three games of football couldn’t find a winner, the game would be settled by a coin toss and so captains Ron Yeats and Wolfgang Overath joined referee Robert Schaut in the centre-circle.
You can only imagine the tension on the toss as the three-game epic was set to be decided by a coin and both teams gathered round to watch the moment, which went anything but smoothly.
As per our skipper on the day (via the club website): “I got in first to the referee and said ‘I’ll have tails’. Lucky for me the referee said, ‘OK. Liverpool tails, Cologne heads.’
“Up it went and it stuck in a divot. I said to the referee, ‘Ref, you’re going to have to retoss the coin’. And he went ‘You’re right, Mr Yeats.’
“I thought the German captain was going to hit him. He was going berserk because it was falling over on the heads. He picked it up, up it went again, and came down tails.
“We were coming off and who is standing there but Bill Shankly. I was first off the pitch and he went ‘Well done, big man. I am proud of you. What did you pick?’
“I said ‘I picked tails, boss’. I was waiting for the adulation but he just went ‘I would have picked tails myself’ and walked away.”
The game was so famous it inspired a lyric in a well-known chant:
‘It’s Wembley on the first of May – haroo, haroo,
It’s Leeds United labour day – haroo, haroo,
We’ll be there to cheer Bill Shankly’s side,
And bring the cup to Merseyside,
And we’ll all get blind drunk when Liverpool win the cup.
And if it’s a draw you’ll hear us moan,
Lets use the coin that beat Cologne,
And we’ll all get blind drunk when Liverpool win the cup…’
It’s sure to be a day that will be forever remembered in our illustrious history but thankfully we’ll never have to see a game decided by a coin toss again!
You can watch the full game (the coin toss comes at 2:08:57) via paulo almandroz on YouTube: