You would be mistaken in thinking the rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United was only something that has existed in recent times. Obviously there was considerable hype as United equalled and then overtook Liverpool's previous record of 18 League titles, something the Merseyside club and its fans had cherished. And to lose it to your biggest rivals was something which was especially hard to palate. Liverpool fans, in turn counter by continually taunting United over the five European Cups they have won to United's three. This is the latest sequel to a rivalry which began in 1894 when the two teams met for the first time in a game as important as any which have subsequently taken place - and there have been some massive ones. It was a 'Test Match' which was to determine the status of both clubs. United, then Newton Heath had finished bottom of the First Division while Liverpool were champions of the Second Division having gone through the whole campaign unbeaten. Test Matches, which were more like today's play offs, were introduced when the Football League was expanded to two divisions.
They featured the bottom three clubs in the top flight playing the top three in the second tier. Liverpool won the initial meeting 2-0 to gain promotion whilst Newton Heath were relegated. It was only the briefest stay, however, as the Merseysiders were immediately relegated as the two teams met for the first time in a League fixture in 1895. Those first two League matches, played within three weeks of one another, also underlined how unpredictable the form book was, something which has invariably still been the case more than a century later. Liverpool won the first League meeting 7-1 which still to this day remains the record margin of victory between the two teams. In the return three weeks later, Newton Heath were no-hopers yet pulled off a 5-2 win.
Mark Metcalf is a well-known and prolific sports writer with a speciality in pre-first world war football. He has written widely as a journalist, and is the author of many football books for Amberley. He lives in West Yorkshire. Tony Bugby is a sports journalist and has been a fan of the Latics for over forty years. He covered the club as a journalist for the Oldham Chronicle, and is currently the club's website editor. He lives in Oldham. Leslie Millman has the finest collection of Man U memorabilia in private hands.