IT’S a date etched in the memory of former Liverpool striker David Fairclough. Carrow Road was the setting on February 9 1980 for one of the greatest afternoons of his Anfield career.

Fairclough marked his first start for nearly five months with a clinical hat-trick as the Reds won a 5-3 thriller with Norwich City.

The Match of the Day cameras were there to capture his glory and it was a vital victory as Bob Paisley’s men went on to win the title by two points.

“It’s a day I remember very well for a number of reasons,” Fairclough said.

“It was my only hat-trick for Liverpool apart from pre-season games and I’ll never forget the date – February 9 – as my son was born on the same day seven years later.

“Before the match Bob had told us their keeper had a weakness to his right. I put the first one there with my left foot and my second was similar after a great dribble from the back by Alan Hansen. The third was a tap-in from Kenny Dalglish’s cross.

“I think times were hard at Norwich as they were that tight they didn’t give me the real match ball. They gave me another one which definitely wasn’t the real thing as over time it just crumbled.”

Fairclough should have been the centre of attention that day but his thunder was stolen by Norwich striker Justin Fashanu.

Shortly after Fairclough had completed his hat-trick to make it 3-2, Fashanu equalised with a breathtaking curling volley from the edge of the box which flew past Ray Clemence and into the top corner.

Late strikes from Dalglish and Jimmy Case ensured the Reds departed with maximum points but Fashanu’s effort was later crowned Goal of the Season.

“It was a big moment for me,” Fairclough said.

“I got interviewed on Match of the Day after that hat-trick but of course Fashanu’s goal is what people remember that game for. It was an amazing strike.

“I was on such a high but I soon came back down to earth. Despite my performance that day I was back on the bench the following Tuesday for the League Cup tie against Nottingham Forest.

“Bob just said that was how he wanted to play it. He was very matter of fact and didn’t do a lot of sentiment. It was a hard one to take but I scored after coming off the bench.”

Fairclough scored 55 goals in 154 appearances for the Reds before leaving Anfield in 1983.

He had spells abroad with Toronto Blizzard and Lucerne before returning to English football to sign for Norwich City in 1985. His stay in Norfolk was shortlived.

“When I came back from Switzerland there was only a short period left in the season,” he said.

“I went to Norwich and the plan was to play half a dozen games and try to keep them up but it didn’t work out.

“Ken Brown was the manager but after Norwich won the League Cup I don’t think they won another game. They ended up getting relegated and I only made two appearances before moving on to Oldham.”

Fairclough will have a close eye on today’s battle between two of his old clubs at Carrow Road.

The 55-year-old insists Dalglish’s side must use the clash with the Canaries and the home game with Fulham on Tuesday to regain momentum ahead of next Saturday’s FA Cup final with Chelsea.

“It’s vital we get some confidence back and go to Wembley on the back of a couple of wins,” he said.

“Last Sunday’s game against West Brom was disappointing and it was a game we should never have lost.

“Going to Norwich was always going to be tricky and it looks even trickier now. I don’t know how Kenny will approach it with the final only a week away.

“I’m sure he will have one eye on that but we can’t afford to slip any further in the league.”

Whatever happens at Wembley next weekend, Fairclough insists Cup glory can’t make up for the Reds’ failure to deliver in the Premier League this season.

The ex-frontman refuses to accept that the glut of chances which have been spurned by Dalglish’s men are the result of misfortune.

“We all want to win the FA Cup and it will be a great day out for the fans,” he added.

“But the bottom line is we want to be in the Champions League and competing to win the Premier League.

“When you see how much Chelsea are going to make from reaching the final in Munich you realise that’s where we need to be.

“It’s been a disastrous season in terms of the league. It's been unbelievable. I don’t think there’s ever been a year when the club has had such a poor return at Anfield.

“It’s okay saying the performances in general have been good but you can’t afford to just have part of the picture. You need the whole package and you need to be able to finish off your chances.

“The strikers haven’t scored enough but it’s not just down to them. Liverpool teams of yesteryear got goals from everywhere – the midfielders and defenders chipped in. Just look at the records of full-backs like Phil Neal and Alan Kennedy. These days that doesn’t seem to happen.

“We just haven’t got enough goals this season. It’s not bad luck, it’s gone on too long for it to be that. You can’t make excuses when you’ve scored 40 less goals than the top teams above you.”