If there were any suggestions, the ‘Toxteth Terror’ could be a one-season wonder, they were indeed stuck in his first Anfield appearance in the following campaign when he wrote Liverpool history. by scoring the club’s fastest treble.
It would also set a Premier League record until a future Liverpool striker shattered it to pieces by taking a full minute of record time a year before moving to Anfield himself.
The summer of 1994 was unusual at Anfield.
The previous season had reinforced feelings that Liverpool had entered a period of significant decline, a miserable campaign where manager Graeme Souness was sacked after another humiliating cup outing for another lower league side, with the club’s eighth place finish. the lowest since their return. on the first flight under Bill Shankly in 1962.
Additionally, the iconic Spion Kop – the world’s largest football terrace – had been demolished after the last home game of the previous season against Norwich City to make way for an all-seater grandstand as new legislation was put in place. place after the Hillsborough disaster five years ago. earlier dictated it must.
The emergence of young local talent such as Fowler alongside Steve McManaman, Rob Jones and Jamie Redknapp has at least given hope that clearer days are looming, with Roy Evans – the last of the legendary “Bootroom Boys” – having took over. and tasked with blending those old school values with what was required for the modern era in what was only the third season of the Premier League.
After a difficult preseason which saw Evans ban senior players Mark Wright and Julian Dicks to train with the reservists after an embarrassing 4-1 friendly loss at Bolton Wanderers, Liverpool could not have started the new campaign better of the league.
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Handed over a tough away game at the newly promoted Crystal Palace, the Reds roared with a three-goal halftime lead thanks to a Jan Molby penalty and strikes from Steve McManaman and effervescent Fowler.
Chris Armstrong struck out a goal for the hosts, but another McManaman goal with a brace from Ian Rush saw Evans and his men return north with a 6-1 win in the sack.
Although Liverpool are heavily linked with a decision by Republic of Ireland defender Phil Babb who shone at the Summer World Cup in the United States, the Reds had yet to make a summer buy. and, as Babb would eventually sign with Wimbledon defender John Scales to help bolster Liverpool’s rearguard, the Anfield loyalists came together again in L4 eight days after Palace’s victory with a slight feeling apprehension.
The visiting Gunners had won the European Cup Winners’ Cup against Parma last May and were still the Arsenal of George Graham and the stellar full-back led by Tony Adams who had been a dominant force in English football during of the last half-decade.
There was also the unknown of what a three-sided Anfield would look like and feel like.
The new ‘Kop stand’ was only ready at this early stage in its construction to accommodate a few hundred Liverpool fans in its front rows and would not be fully completed until the new year.
As it turned out, Kop season ticket holders who had been temporarily moved to the end of Anfield Road while the new stand was under construction had the best view of the house as they witnessed the one of the most incredible passages of the famous old game. stadium has seen before or since.
Arsenal had been the opponents the previous October when Robbie Fowler made his first start at Anfield with the youngster unable to take two presentable chances in a goalless draw.
The extent of the young striker’s development in less than a year was laid bare as he tore through one of the league’s most impenetrable defenses in under five minutes midway through the first half.
He grabbed the opening goal in the 26th minute, reacting fastest after the ball fell to him on the edge of the penalty area when Jamie Redknapp’s right-wing free kick was only cleared half to rifle Liverpool in front.
Less than two minutes later he had added a second, calmly placing a left-footed shot away from David Seaman after a McManaman run had him pushed to the edge of the penalty area.
With Anfield in turmoil, he performed an astonishing hat trick moments later when John Barnes sent him away from the Arsenal defense, shocked by the shell.
David Seaman rushed to narrow the angle and blocked his initial effort but, with the ball passing them both towards goal, Fowler caught it just in time and, deftly switching the ball from left foot to right. , pushed him home from left to right. the narrowest angles to send the crowd home wild with fun.
It was the fastest hat-trick in Liverpool history and considered the third-fastest all-time in the English top flight, although still a long way from Jimmy Scarth’s record of two and a half minutes for Gillingham in 1952.
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Fittingly, such a seismic passage of the game turned out to be the only game-highlighting action of the game with Liverpool’s 3-0 win setting them and Fowler ready for what was a season of real progression with the young striker finishing with 31 goals. in all competitions and a League Cup winner’s medal.
Fowler’s triple feat will last as a Premier League record for another 22 years until Sadio Mane takes over a minute and a half playing for Southampton a year before joining Liverpool in the summer of 2016.
The Senegal striker took just 2 minutes and 56 seconds to win his match point when the Saints beat Aston Villa 6-1 on May 16, 2015 to set a new record that is sure to be very difficult for anyone to dominate.
Interviewing Mane for the Mirror years later before the 2019 Champions League final, Fowler jokingly berated the Senegal striker for “stealing the one thing I’m famous for” and asked what it was like to beat his record.
A typically modest Mane praised Fowler for his legendary Liverpool status and when asked if he thought his new treble record would ever be broken he simply replied: ‘I’m too shy to say, sorry to have beat your record! “