Object of the Week: Alan Hansen’s Liverpool shirt

Alan Hansen is one of the greatest centre-halves of his generation. During his time at Liverpool, the Scot won eight First Division championships, three League Cups, three European Cups, a UEFA Super Cup – as well as two FA Cups.

This is the famous story of the FA Cup that got away, told through one of the objects in our collection.

Dominating the decade

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Under the guidance of Bob Paisley and then Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool had become the dominant force in English football throughout the eighties. They had won four championships and two European Cups in the space of six years, but in 1987, they only added the one-off Football League Super Cup to their trophy cabinet.

Dalglish refreshed the squad, bringing in record signing Peter Beardsley to play alongside Ian Rush’s replacement, John Aldridge. The former netted 18 times in his debut campaign: the latter would finish the season as First Division top scorer. At the back, Hansen’s experience proved invaluable, playing all but one league game in their march to the title.

The 1988 FA Cup

The captain was ever-present throughout the FA Cup campaign, starting with a goalless draw at Stoke City and incorporating wins over Aston Villa, Everton, Manchester City and Nottingham Forest.

With a record 17th title secured, attention turned to the Wembley final against Bobby Gould’s unfancied Wimbledon side. The Dons were relative newcomers to the top flight of English football, and were not expected to challenge Dalglish’s highly successful team of international stars.

As expected, Liverpool created the lion’s share of the chances, but Wimbledon broke the deadlock in the 37th minute. Hansen could only look on from the six yard box as Lawrie Sanchez outjumped left-back Gary Ablett, glancing Dennis Wise’s delivery over Bruce Grobbelaar into the top corner.

The Reds continued to ratchet up the pressure, and looked set to restore parity on the hour mark when a charging Aldridge was brought down in the box by Clive Goodyear.

Aldridge dusted himself down to take the spot kick, but goalkeeper Dave Beasant produced a flying save to his left to deny the centre-forward. In doing so, Beasant became the first player to save a penalty in Wembley FA Cup Final history.

Try as they might, Liverpool could not overturn the deficit. At the final whistle, commentator John Motson remarked, “The Crazy Gang have beaten the Culture Club”, alluding to the perception of the two sides and their differing styles of play.

This is the shirt worn by Alan Hansen during that 1988 final, manufactured by Adidas and featuring their iconic Crown Paints sponsor. It proved to be Hansen’s penultimate FA Cup Final appearance: he returned to Wembley the following year, skippering the Reds to a 3-2 extra-time triumph over Merseyside rivals Everton.

Alan lifted the First Division trophy one more time before hanging up his boots, winning 25 trophies over the course of his illustrious Liverpool career.