Former Luton defender Kirk Stephens recalls the time he went in goal in front of the Anfield Kop

Ex-Hatter on taking the gloves at Liverpool

Sunday, 31st May 2020, 9:59 am
Updated Sunday, 31st May 2020, 10:02 am
Kirk Stephens takes his place in goal for the Hatters at Anfield

Going in goal in front of the Kop is a nervy proposition for even the most experienced of keepers, but for Hatters right back Kirk Stephens, he simply revelled in it.

For the defender did just that back in September 1982 when Town’s regular number one Jake Findlay went down injured in the first half of a Division One encounter as the Hatters were holding Liverpool to a 1-1 draw, Brian Stein on target.

With Findlay unable to continue, Stephens took over between the posts, becoming an instant favourite with the Reds fans packed into the famous terrace behind him.

He collected an early corner to further boost his stock, but then couldn’t stop Ian Rush making it 2-1 after coming rushing out of his goal.

Stephens' stint between the posts was ultimately a brief one, making way for Mal Donaghy and returning to his right back role at the interval as manager David Pleat swapped things around, with Hatters then moving 3-2 in front, David Moss with a glorious lobbed finish and Stein on target once more.

Craig Johnston levelled the scores in what was a thrilling contest, finishing 3-3, but speaking to the Luton News about the game, Stephens said: “Jake ripped some muscles in his ribs and the physio came on, couldn’t treat it, so he ripped his shirt.

“When we stood round Jake, we all said ‘who’s going to go in goal?’

"And I said ‘Nobby (Brian Horton), I was the one fooling around going in goal in training, I’ll go in goal for a bit if you like.’

“We were looking around for guidance off the line as we were not getting anything from the bench.

“Then we realised we hadn’t got a spare goalkeeper's shirt.

"So if you see I’m standing there in a Liverpool shirt and I’m in front of the Kop, with the Kop chanting ‘there’s only one Shakin Stevens.’

“I turned round to the Kop and did a crucifix on my chest, prayed to them and I won them over straight away.

“I was a bit nervous, but a minute later, they get a corner and I go to the near post and I catch it, the roar from the Liverpool supporters, it was fantastic.

"I catch it, hold the ball to my chest, turn round and with one arm hold the ball and the other arm I bend the elbow and clench my first, shout 'yes' and of course they love it don’t they.

“Then they put Rush through, I’ve come probably too far out and he slammed a goal past me.

“We’ve got in at half time and Pleaty (David Pleat) decided he wanted to put Mal in goal, who was bigger than me.

“We drew 3-3 but Bob Paisley (Liverpool boss) in the papers that night and in the following day, he paid massive tribute and said 'Luton Town came to Anfield and gave us a lesson in football.'

“ I’ve got the clipping somehow at home still, so that was terrific.

"Away from home, 3-3 at Anfield is no disgrace and we did play well too."