Exclusive – Michael Thomas describes Arsenal’s “Once in a lifetime” win at Anfield in 89

Many of us older Arsenal fans will remember the last game of the season in 1988/89 as our most exciting finish to a season ever, as the Gunners had to go to the reigning Champions Liverpool’s Anfield fortress needing to win by two clear goals to win the title not even on goal difference, but on goals scored, and Liverpool hadn’t lost by two goals or more at Anfield for three years.

Alan Smith put us ahead early on and we all had our hearts in our mouths as the clock ticked down, closer and closer to the 90 minute mark, when up popped Michael Thomas to give us the win and the title, before he got swamped under ectatic celebrating team-mates.

This is how Michael Thomas described it to JustArsenal: “Before the game the boys were buzzing.

“Obviously we knew that they were on a rampage and we were coming to the hardest ground in the country to get a result, but we were optimistic.

“We had a real tight knit group and we were very aware that we not only had to beat them, but we had to beat them by 2. The team had enormous belief, but of course we understood the magnitude of the task we faced.

“When the first goal went in the adrenaline and lift we got was absolutely crazy. If we didn’t believe before that, we definitely did then. Once the second went in we knew we had done something very special that night.

“It was a feeling that comes around once a lifetime, if that. Not only were we champions, but the way we made it happen was incredible. The players were buzzing!”

I have made a habit of watching the highlights at least once a year, as it was a very special memory for me too, an incredible night. You can watch it too by clicking on this link.


Tags Michael Thomas


  1. What a wonderful night that was – I watched it on the TV and met my daughter in the pub afterwards.
    It was full of Gooners just being over the moon and I find it impossible to describe the feeling properly.

    I still class the win at WHL under Bertie Mee as the ultimate Arsenal achievement though, with 89 and AW’s doubles all very close seconds.

    I met Mr Thomas at The Arsenal tube station one time and, just like Paul Davies, he was such a genuine guy – such a shame that today’s players seem out of touch to the fans.

    1. If Ken, you’re referring to ‘71 at Spurs, my Dad refused to take me as he thought it might get a bit too rowdy for a 14 year old

      1. Not at tube stations Sue, but I did eat my lunch at the next table to Bob NcNab at the British Home Stores in Wood Green High Street!!!

        Asked him for his autograph, but didn’t have a pen or paper – he laughed it off, but I felt such a plonker.

        Another time, I met Tony Adams and Ray Parlour at Highbury and asked if they would mind posing with me – Tony gladly obliged and I was so excited, I completely forgot about Ray and all I keep seeing is Ray’s look of complete bewilderment as I walked away – Rodney wasn’t the first plonker, I can tell you that 🤣😂🤣😂

        SueP, yes that was the game and I still have the programme, alongside the FA cup final one against Liverpool… such wonderful memories and Phil/Jon Fox /Kenny Rolfe (to name a few) have even more vivid memories.
        I refused to take my eldest daughter to the spud games during the awful fighting period, despite having s/tickets and she still moans about it to this day – bloody women❤️😊

        1. 😂😂😂 that’s brilliant, Ken – that really did make me laugh out loud!! Poor Ray!! Haha!!
          Lucky sod, Ken, I’ve only ever seen Sol at the Emirates, took a photo of my son with him….. and in public, the only footballer I’ve come across is Razor bloody Ruddock at Thorpe Park… he’d just come off the ride I was going to queue for and looked green, so I took a wide berth 😂

          1. I had a pint in the upper west stand bar with Ray Parlour after a couple of games back in the day. He used to pop round after games to see his mates. I met Arsene Wenger at the Sky TV awards and had a very long chat in the after show bar with Charlie Nicholas and Jimmy Nail.
            Living in London Colney it wasn’t uncommon to see players in the village and I saw Eduardo in Sainsbury’s, he was shopping with his wife and was on crutches with his leg in a massive plaster after that horrible leg break, I wished him well. Lauren used the same barber as me but I never saw him. One particular player was regularly seen in the drive through McD’s close to the training ground but my lips are sealed!

            1. Wow, lucky you too, Declan!! Sky TV awards – how did that come about, if you don’t mind me asking? Bet that was great meeting Arsene!
              Oh you can’t do that to me – I wanna know who loves a mcmuffin 😂😂
              Do you see many celebs now? Not just footballers….

              1. I was a guest of a sponsor so just in the live audience and as I was going in, Kenny Dalglish was in front of me and Arsene Wenger in front of him. I had pen and program in hand and said “excuse me Mr Dalglish”, he turned round and went to take the pen but I said, “sorry, it’s Mr Wenger I want” and duly got the prof’s autograph.
                Can’t possibly divulge the McD lover but he’s not there now.
                Hardly see anyone these days but my dad lives in Borehamwood, home of Elstree Studios and it’s quite common to see celebs in the town especially actors from East Enders.

        2. Dad was adamant ☹️
          However, my dear mother let me have her cup final ticket (she looked after my younger brother at home). I never expected to go and Charlie George scoring still gives me goosebumps whenever I watch old tv footage

          My parents collected the little corner triangles on the programs and sent them off once we’d made it to the final never believing that they would be lucky and get tickets.

  2. It is always good to remember such occasions which can act as an inspiration to our current players. That was the time when Liverpool was very dominant and thus beating them at their Anfield home seemed almost unimaginable! To beat them by two goals was not something any person in his right mind could have betted on. When Arsenal achieved the seemingly impossible task everyone was swept off their seats! This seemingly ancient story should serve as a form of inspiration to our current players. With focus, hard work and determination there is no impossible task!

  3. For some daft reason we had decided to have friends in for a meal, one of whom is a dyed in the wool Spuds fan so I couldn’t exactly watch it in the way that I wanted. It was on in the background. Needless to say he was fuming and I was ecstatic. The tension was just incredible especially as Thomas’s goal went in with seconds to spare.
    We weren’t used to live footie on TV much in those days either.

  4. My greatest night as an Arsenal supporter. I only managed to watch the last 20 minutes or so on ITV having listened to the radio on my drive back to Wiltshire from Harrogate. The best 20 minutes of football I have ever witnessed which could have been the worst but for Michael Thomas. If we can inject that kind of team spirit into the current side, top 4 would be a doddle!

  5. I was out with a then girlfriend and we watched the first half in a not so football mad pub for some reason but quickly moved onto our local Gooner pub at half time. What a second half it was and when Thomas scored everyone went absolutely ballistic. There was so much beer thrown in the air it was raining down from the ceiling for ages. A great night!
    I was at White Hart Lane when we beat spurs to win the league part of the 71 double when Ray Kennedy scored the winner. I was standing on the shelf with loads of spurs fans around us which made the victory even sweeter.
    It’s funny that both Ray Kennedy and Michael Thomas ended up playing for Liverpool.

  6. It was one of those nights that deserves to be commemorated every so often. The game itself was a masterclass by GG and the team. An incredible result and the way it was achieved was things of dreams and Roy of the Rovers (yes i know some wont have a clue.). GG did some wonderful things for this club, a double, a cup double, our first win in the cup winners cup but winning away at Anfield in the last minutes of the season, to win the league was special. Just because of everything that surrounded it.

  7. Can’t quite decide which game gives me the most satisfaction, the 70-71 win at Spurs which I was at and as an 18 yr old who worked with a load of Spurs fans was great to go into work the next day, with a headache I may add !! or that great win at Anfield, which I couldn’t get to , seeing all the scousers at the end deflated, I remember McMahon going around holding 1 finger up saying just one minute, yeh Steve one minute for us to score the winner.

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