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The Complete Billy Liddell Story (Part 2)

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Now for the bit that I hope everyone wants to read, The Liddell matches.  These are a collection of the Liddell hat-tricks. The basis of these stories was taken from the Echo archives in Picton Library recently. Enjoy.

For those of you who don’t like long stories I’ll provide a synopsis:

Liddell shoots, Liddell scores, Liverpool win and we all live happily ever after.

All true sports fans please read on. I have selected four of Billy Liddell's games in which he scored a hat-trick. You may however find it strange that Billy was not voted man of the match in any of the games. The basis of each game was taken from the Liverpool Echo.

If like me you consider King Kenny to be a legend, carry on till the end of the article for what a member of the LFC staff recently said to me. Billy was truly a ONE-OFF and all who saw him play will testify to that. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did writing it.

Spurs vs Liverpool (1-12-1951)
"Spurs Had The Bark, But Liddell Hat-trick Carried The Bite"

Liverpool side:

Liverpool played an unchanged team against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, although they had their captain, Taylor and Balmer on the sidelines. Spurs played their debutant in Robshaw, who deputised for Nicholson at left half. It was a glorious afternoon just right for football, with a nice nip in the air and the ground looked fairly good for this time of year, even though it was likely to churn up as the game progressed.

Manager Don Welsh was not with the Liverpool party, he was away at another scouting mission in Ireland. The Spurs had a record of scoring in every match with the exception of last Saturday, when they had a blank against Portsmouth. The referee was taking no chances for he started the game with a white ball, although the light looked last lasting out until the end.

As the referee blew for the start of the game it was Liverpool who made the first attack and a Liddell cross nearly saw Ramsey out of the game. The full blooded cross by Liddell was headed over the bar by Ramsey who looked like he didn't know where he was for the next few minutes. The cross had been so ferocious I'm surprised Ramsey managed to stay on his feet. Wandering around the field in a world of his own, the referee was seen to ask him was he alright. Liverpool again went right into the attack, but had a narrow escape when Medley centred and Lambert was fortunate to get his head to the ball just before Duquemen and conceded a corner. Ramsey and Liddell came into a collision and the Scot went down with a head injury.

Ramsey suffered a like blow, but he showed great sportsmanship when he deliberately kicked the ball into touch and so brought the game to a halt. While Liddell received attention, Ramsey again rubbed away the pain of his second head injury. If the game continues in this way, it'll be a surprise if it ends with eleven a side.

The only time thus far that Ditchburn had to handle was when he had to pick up a slow back pass from a colleague. But Liverpool had been awarded a second corner which was wasted when Liddell put a thunderbolt over the bar, only to knock a Spurs fan cold, was Billy trying to reduce the crowd as well as the opposition? The trouble was not cleared and Liverpool advanced again. Payne had gone flying down the wing and only Liddell had kept up with the pace of this speedy winger.

As the ball came across, Liddell had switched inside to the centre forward position and his diving header crashed against the bar, only to be picked up close to the half way line by Paisley. This time Baron made a cute pass to Smith who, with outstretched leg, directed the ball against the upright. The ball came out and Liddell soon had it in the net at the tenth minute. I swear one day when Liddell fires the ball in from this range it will either burst the net or will seriously injure a goalkeeper.

This was a blow to the Spurs, but they immediately set about retrieving matters, and Robshaw should have made fame himself after Ashcroft had pushed the ball out to his feet. The debutant tried to carry away the back of the net, Liddell style, instead of lifting it over the keeper and the ball flew high wide and handsome. The Spurs were playing well in approach, but they seemed to want to walk the ball into the net. Liverpool were not going to allow this to happen and always had a last ditch tackle to save the day.

They should have taken a pattern out of Liverpool’s book, for when Paisley pushed a ball through on the inside of Clarke, Liddell was there at Centre Forward again to crack home another canon round in the 17th minute. This time the goalkeeper was not within close proximity and the net caught another flood blooded shot. This time the referee took a close inspection of the net as it appeared to be ripped off the hooks behind the bar.

The Spurs fans could not believe it, they were the favourites after all. Liverpool were not supposed to come to White Hart Lane and take the game to Spurs. But soon they were heartened when Bailey tried a lob from close range and Hughes had to fall back to clear off the Liverpool goal line. Payne and Liddell nearly broke down the Spurs defence a fourth time for when Payne pushed the ball inside to Liddell, the latter tried to get the ball down into a shooting position, but on this occasion failed. A Liddell hat-trick after 20 minutes minute have been the last straw for the home fans, but on this occasion they survived.

Liverpool were covering well and did not mind giving a corner or two away, rather than anything more expensive. Tottenham could and did, pull out some nice football when making their attacks, but were inclined to make a pass too many in their anxiety to make sure. Burgess came along with a weak shot, which did not trouble Ashcroft whatsoever. Jackson had been well looked after by Withers and Burgess, but most of the play had been either in the centre or on the Liverpool left wing. Or put another way, wherever Billy chose to ply his trade.

The Anfielders won another corner, and when Ditchburn edged the ball away, Withers just beat Jackson for possession. Spurs had escaped again, so far this game was looking very one sided when it came to finishing. Ashcroft then only nipped in just at the right moment, for a Bennett centre to Duquemen, a split second reaction save in fact. The football all round had been excellent.

Liverpool’s methods were more straightforward. Get the ball shoot. Get the ball score. The Spurs were being too clever, and such tactics against a Liverpool defence had little chance of succeeding. Ditchburn saved a corner by sprinting along his line and then throwing himself at the ball, and when Liddell tried another shot, he slewed the ball well wide. Duquemen had a shot saved but there was complete confidence in the Liverpool defence. Burgess was injured in trying to head a goal in another instance.

Liddell deceived the Spurs defence into the belief that he would run through and shoot, instead of which he nicely slipped the ball out to Payne. He lifted it over to Jackson, who was not quick enough to take advantage. Liddell was himself the only one who could keep pace with Payne. Payne was flying on the right wing today, but when there was a colleague immediately behind him waiting for the pass, he decided to go alone. He eventually got the ball over, but Ditchburn saved easily on the approach of half time.

Liverpool really need a player of Liddell’s pace to play at centre forward when Payne is in these moods, but then we would have to find someone of Liddell’s pace to play wide left. Liverpool went into the dressing room two goals to the good. The half time team talk will probably be done by Taylor, Liverpool’s Captain today. Perhaps he should have a few words with Liddell, if he hadn't missed a couple of chances, Liverpool would be FOUR UP and this game would be over.

Liverpool’s football was just as good as that of the Spurs, but there was more bite to their finish and Ditchburn early in the second half had to take a back pass from Clarke to relieve a dangerous situation. Robshaw with a forty yard lob, forced Ashcroft to tip the ball over the bar, as Hughes fouled Duquemen just outside the box. From the free kick Jones managed to kick off the goal line and it looked to have gone safe.

The danger was still there however, for Bennett to scoop the ball into the net at the 50th minute. Liverpool hotly disputed the goal for Jones seemed to appeal that the ball had gone out for a corner, before Bennett made his shot. The referee went to his linesman, but the goal stood. For the next few minutes Liverpool seemed to be affected by the goal and the Spurs were hot on the attack, being fired on by their goal. Jackson should have gone through after he had beaten his man, but his indecision in front of goal cost him dearly.

The excitement at this stage was intense, and when the Anfielders were urged on by a neat Baron pass, Liddell should have reaped the benefits of his hat-trick only to be robbed by the upright. It was cut and thrust and when Medley sent a long centre soaring across the Liverpool goal, there was great danger to Ashcroft’s goal but the ball went dead.

Spurs are noted for their recovery power, and they brought it off again when Walters scored the equaliser in the 60th minute. Medley provided the centre which enabled the outside right to get in close. The Spurs were rampant now and the Liverpool defence were right on the rack. Ashcroft had a lucky escape when Duquemen and he got mixed up on the ground and the Liverpool keeper was fortunate to find the ball coming back to him.

Liverpool hit back through their left wing and Liddell pulled out a long shot which went sizzling only inches over the bar. Liverpool had got over the shock and were now sounding out the strength of the Spurs defence. Liddell was here there and everywhere, and he was in the right spot for Barons push through and the Scot was just about to unleash the full power of his left foot, when he was brought down from behind by Ramsey in the 70th minute. The travelling fans were unison in their screams "Penalty" and the ref had to agree. This was no time for a home town decision, it was a clear penalty as was testified by Ramsey’s reaction.

Liddell took the kick himself and recorded his hat-trick with a shot that Ditchburn could only watch go speeding into the net, at the pace of a bullet. He could have dived and tried to save the shot, but chose to stand still and avoid any injury. At this point you must ask yourself the question, would you get in the way of a Liddell penalty? No, I thought not, therefore you cannot blame the Spurs keeper for his actions or lack of them.

Liverpool were on the pounce again, but there was a tense minute when Hughes whipped the ball from under Ashcroft’s nose and went on to complete the clearance. The referee gave a corner to Liverpool and from Liddell’s in swinging corner it was only Ditchburn’s diving effort that stopped Payne from scoring Liverpool’s next. This was certainly the most exciting game of this season so far, it had everything. Meaty tackles, Speed and flare down all wings, Five goals and still both teams were trying for victory.

Liverpool had now got the measure of the opposition in this game and it wasn't long before Payne had another chance. Smith had an even better chance when Ditchburn was out of his goal, but headed wide. Liverpool were playing Spurs off the park at this stage with cute and clever football, but Spurs defended stubbornly. A final shot from Liddell just before the end saw Ditchburn diving the wrong way and still managing to save a goal, when it came off his foot. The tricky Reds were now in full flow, lead by the maestro Liddell. Not only had Ramsey given up trying to stop him so had Spurs. The referee finally put Spurs out of their misery and blew up for full time.

A grand victory, well and truly won against a side that went into the game as red hot favourites. Liverpool not only proved to be their equals in the craft of football, but proved much more deadly in front of goal. Liddell had had another brilliant game, but it was the whole team that had grafted for this victory.

Ok, Liddell scored a hat-trick, but there's nothing new about that, this victory was won as much in the defence as it was up front. And this writer has no doubts that Liddell will win his fair share of Man of the Match awards this season without adding this one.

Man of the Match : Ashcroft

Liverpool vs Fulham (18-12-1954)
"Billy Liddell Puts League Leaders Fulham On The Spot"

Liverpool side:

Liverpool go into this game second from bottom, while Fulham sit proudly at the top. But Liverpool started against the league leaders in the typical aggressive fashion which has characterised them in most of their home matches this season. Jackson had put a centre against the upright in the first minute. Liddell had knocked all the wind out of Chenhall who had decided to stand in the way of goal and block a shot with his stomach, not the wisest of choices.

Saunders and Evans also had shots that struck defenders, Liverpool were apparently trying to knock the wind out of the opposition, by knocking them over like ten pins. Liddell had also missed the target, unfortunately for someone in the crowd. If Liddell keeps on like this, we'll need more St Johns ambulance men at Anfield.

Saunders showed coolness and from his pass through Hill's legs Liverpool got away with McNulty tearing down the wing to try a long shot which Chenhall headed out for a corner. Liverpool were getting to the ball just that split second quicker than the opposition, which enabled them to maintain the initiative. Brice was fortunate to find himself with a second chance of clearing after he had unsuccessfully tried to stop Liddell and a moment later he passed back to keeper Elliot rather than take any risks.

We had not seen much of the vaunted Fulham attack, though when Stevens switched play quickly with a long cross pass Mitten gave us a glimpse of what to expect when he let fly with a first-timer only inches over the bar. Liverpool’s defence also had a narrow squeak, when Jezzard shot and Ashcroft was on the ground. Ashcroft stuck out a foot to deflect the ball and McNulty completed the clearance, by hoofing the ball over 50yds up the pitch.

Liverpool served up an entrancing bout of combination passing, which took the ball from one end to the other, with at least six Liverpool players helping only to see Liddell's bullet header go flying over the bar by inches. When the ball came out of the crowd the referee’s attention was drawn to some defect in the ball. Seemingly Billy had burst the ball with his head, so the ref had to call for a new ball.

I know I have written many things over the years watching football, but never have I seen a ball burst with the power of a header. Liddell was known for bursting balls with both his right and left feet, but with his head? I guess that’s just another bit of footballing history from Liddell that will eventually have people in the future doubting the power of this man.

Liddell missed a great chance only minutes later when Elliot's pass went straight to Liddell, as the Liverpool leader stood on the edge of the penalty area, facing the dead centre of the goal. Liddell was taken completely by surprise and he fluffed his shot, another first - usually it hit the net, a defender, the keeper or some unexpectant fan in the crowd, but to fluff it was a shock. Even the crowd laughed, it was such a rare event. Deep down they knew just like me, that Billy would get another chance at sometime in this game and that would be that.

In the 14th minute it was Liddell that was the victim of an atrocious tackle, but he stayed on his feet, then after rounding Brice, he also dribbled round Hill and then Elliot. He was faced by an open goal when the keeper decided to make no effort to get to the ball and brought Billy crashing to the dirt. In typical fashion, Billy just picked himself up, dusted himself down and slammed the penalty past the hapless Elliot. For some unknown reason the Fulham players then decided to surround the referee to complain about the award of a penalty. They must have been of the opinion that fouls on Liddell do not count? A total mystery to this writer.

McNulty, Hughes and Lock were doing sound work in the Liverpool defence. When Fulham did come down both flanks, both backs were showing greater speed and smarter tackling than in any games at Anfield this season and were backed up at all times by Hughes. Saunders was also using the ball extremely well when in possession. Three times in quick succession Saunders nipped in to foil attacks with well judged interceptions and tackles.

From a quick throw in, Robson "toe-ended" the ball across the Liverpool goal and Ashcroft must have breathed a sigh of relief, when Jezzard hooked it over the bar from less than two feet from the goal line. Ashcroft must also have been thankful when a pile-driver from Robson struck Lock. Fulham at this stage of the game looked worthy League leaders and had Liverpool under severe pressure. So much so that Liddell for some minutes in this period of the game, had been playing a deeper centre forward game than usual, in the style of Hidegkuti, lying well behind his colleagues and pushing the ball through for either A'Court or Evans to run on to.

This made Brice's task very puzzling, he was not used to Billy playing this type of game, and although A'Court was showing great speed, his finishing was not equal to the task. Not even Billy could create chances simple enough for the others to finish, soon he would have to revert to his latest position of sole Liverpool "STRIKER".

The most encouraging feature about the first half had been the splendid play of the Liverpool defence in which none had done better than Saunders. The way in which each tried to help the other, was shown when Fulham who had been slightly on top for some minutes, were literally crowded out by seven or eight Liverpool men who had solidly packed the vicinity of the penalty spot, Liddell included. Was it time to see Billy take on a more defensive strategy? You could be hung in the Kop for even thinking it.

Ashcroft became a very busy keeper in the final minutes of the first half making several saves, notably from Haynes and Robson. This looked like the best defence Liverpool had had for some time, solid in every position, and prepared to work together in nullifying any chances that came along. On the approach of half time there was a comedy of errors in the Fulham defence, where a clearance from Chenhall hit Anderson and rebounded like a rocket to hit the foot of the post, only for Elliot to stand in total disbelief his side hadn't gone two down. One Nil to the Redmen would have to suffice the crowd this day.

Liverpool started the second half in amazing fashion. Liddell dribbled his way around three Fulham players when he reached Chenhall, who decided to put an end to this run. Enough was enough he must have thought and with an almighty kick put Liddell on the floor. Intentions were set early. Stop Liddell and we have a chance, let him run rings around us and we will get hammered. So Fulham had set their stall out, what did Liverpool have in mind. By the looks on Liddell's face when he stood up, we were going to be even more determined to win this game. On the next attack Liddell "nutmegged" Chenhall and shot just wide.

Liverpool returned straight back on the attack and Fulham had an even narrower escape when Evans dived full stretch to meet a Jackson centre and head it against the upright. Saunders also had a try and a good one too, and Liverpool kicking into the Kop end were once again on top. A'Court this time dribbled his way through the Fulham defence and tested Elliot with a screaming twenty yarder but the keeper was up to his task.

Fulham were still giving glimpses of their attacking game, which has seen them score 25 goals in the first eight matches of this season. Haynes looked very tricky and the whole forward line looked dangerous when it got going, moving with precision and balance. McNulty had to receive some attention after one incident that stopped Jezzard from scoring.

The game was now opening up and spaces where being found by both teams. A'Court received the ANFIELD ROAR, for a brilliant run of over 50yds, in which he beat four opponents only to shoot wide. Straight from this Fulham came up field and Ashcroft was extremely lucky to save from Haynes. Then it was Liddell's turn, he roasted three players in his own half before out-pacing the back two, only to be brought down again, this time by Hill. They were certainly sharing the fouls on Liddell out.

Then came another Fulham attack this time Mitten coming close. After Fulham had been playing in a manner which made the Liverpool supporters uneasy, Liverpool struck again and went further ahead. On the 65th minute, Jackson laid the foundations of the goal with a cross field pass to A'Court. The winger ran in, squared the ball to Anderson, who looked up and found Liddell stood menacingly on the penalty spot …… BANG, WHOOOOSH, I swear blind I didn't see the ball going in, all I saw was it rebounding off the goal stanchion, it came out at the speed of a bullet, what speed must have it been going on the way in? Until someone comes up with a way to measure the speed of shots, we can only call it "Liddell Pace". No one can hit a ball harder than Billy, its like comparing the speed of a spin bowler with that of a pace bowler.

Fulham once again complained to the referee about the goal. We will never know why, it will probably go down as a complaint because Billy hit the ball too hard, or at least that’s what the Kop will say. The referee just waved them away, in a gesture for them to get on with it. That’s exactly what they did, straight from the kick-off they went down field and Robson gave Ashcroft little chance with the Fulham mans well placed shot.

Little interruption at this point.

For those who cannot imagine the times we are talking about, just think of this. Robson the goal scorer was none other than Bobby Robson, the current manager of Newcastle. The Ramsey in the first match was Sir Alf Ramsey, England manager for the 1966 World Cup win. There you go, back to the game.

Liddell, Anderson and Jackson worked the ball back down the kop end and when Evans got on the end of the final delivery it was goal bound, only to see Elliot tip the ball over his bar with an amazing save. From the corner, Lawler headed off the line from a powerful header from Liddell, but the ball didn't burst on this occasion, instead it fell to A'Court who centred the ball for Evans the inside left to head home. 3-1 to the Mighty Reds.

Liddell had been subject to some terrible tackles in this game and was now hobbling quite badly on the left. They may have slowed him down, but they never stopped him, yet another cross was met by Evans and again Elliot made a great save. A through ball by Liddell also saw A’Court going close, but again at the cost of yet another kick as Liddell released the ball. The crowd were getting angry now, every time Billy got the ball, he was being given the same treatment, by whoever was closest.

Elliot made yet another brilliant save from an Evans header again. Evans could well have had a second half hat-trick of headers now. Then on another run (well hobble) from Liddell, he passed two players and just got in the box, when down he went. In the crowded area it was difficult to see who had brought Billy down, but the ref made it quite clear that it was for an elbowing offence. Once again the Man of Granite, just stood up, brushed himself down and struck the ball home. No fuss, no picking a spot, no deft side foot, it just hit the roof of the net while the keeper stood motionless.

Walking back to the half way line shaking hands I think Liddell had had enough of this game, the ref had seen enough, the fans had seen enough, so the referee put the game into the annals of history, by blowing the final whistle. OK, yet another Liddell hat-trick and Billy had enough bruises for a boxer in a title fight, but this victory again was a team victory. This was Liverpool's best display of the season so far, though the score by no means did justice to Fulham. Liverpool played with a spirit and understanding and all did well, Saunders, A'Court, Liddell and Evans especially. Once again Liverpool proved they are able to raise their game, when the task seems hardest. And this game was won in defence as much as it was in attack

Man of the Match : Saunders

Liverpool vs Nottingham Forest (17-12-1955)
"Melia Shines In A Seven-Goal Thriller"

Liverpool side:

Liverpool made a late change as Payne was unfit through a heavy cold. His place at outside right was taken by Anderson who cracked a bone in his leg against Plymouth Argyle on 1st October and was making his first senior appearance since that date. The crowd was very thin at the start, being barely 20,000.

Melia making his senior debut, was early in the picture with three good quality passes. The second of which finally produced a shooting chance for Liddell, whose effort cannoned outside for a unproductive corner. Good work by Anderson provided a half chance for Evans, who just failed to make proper contact, so that Nicholson was not tested. Liddell went to ground, when Thomas bundled into him, and for a minute or so looked rather dazed. It was while the centre was recovering himself that Melia fastened onto a loose ball and slipped it through the middle, for Evans to lob it into the roof of the net to give Liverpool the lead at the 6th minute.

Forest, who were attacking the Kop goal in the first half, almost got on level terms when Underwood could do no more than palm across from the right down to the feet of Alexander, whose first time shot from 10yds missed the untenanted net and ended up amongst the crowd. Twice Forest were pulled up for offside and then Evans fell into a similar trap when A'Court tried to send him through. A sliced clearance by Molyneux saw Barrett and Higham dart away, and the position looked ominous until Hughes nipped in with a smart interception. Moran conceded a corner rather than take any chances.

The game was stopped for a minute, while Liddell and McKinlay received attention following a bumping of heads after the pair of them had gone up in the centre circle to meet a goal kick by Underwood. Visions of the Fulham game all over again, twice the opposition had tried to put Liddell out of the game by so called accidental clashes of heads. For Goodness sake referee, get a grip, these are no accidents, they are deliberate head butts in an attempt to take Liverpool's best player out.

Play was resumed with a free kick to Liverpool, following with a lovely pass by Liddell provided a heading chance for Evans. The latter tried to steer the ball out of Nicholson's reach but the Forest keeper got to it, though the ball squirmed out of his hands, he did manage to recover it before it a few inches before it crossed the goal line. Imlach was putting in some good approach work for the Forest, but when he had a chance of testing Underwood he shot yards wide. Forest were on top for a few minutes, and the Liverpool defence did not get the ball away with conviction. At last however Twentyman brought the ball out of a ruck of players and set the Reds attack going in a move which eventually produced a corner on the left, following which Melia shot strongly a yard wide.

An indirect free kick in the penalty area for obstruction produced a few seconds of hectic pressure by Forest which ended when a powerful drive by Imlach struck Morar to rob the Forest winger of what would probably have been a goal. Almost immediately after this escape Liverpool broke away and A'Court and Liddell in turn tested Nicholson. Two more offside decisions against Forest prevented Underwood being called upon, and then came a free kick to Liverpool for a foul by Thomas on Liddell. Once again opposition seemed to be taking turn to kick the big man.

When will referee's begin to realise what is going on, when this tactic is being used against Liddell? The kick had to be taken twice and the second time, Forest were lucky to escape when Whare stuck out a foot to save almost on the line and Liddell followed by heading just wide. On the next attack, Liddell not only won a corner, but swung across an out swinger that Evans got his head to, while being brought down. No penalty was the decision, he was hurt but resumed without attention by which time Liddell had taken another corner, which Melia headed wide.

Melia got a round of applause for a beautiful body swerve which had Birkett going the wrong way and he then put across a long dropping shot which was only inches above the bar. Liverpool on the next attack received another corner which Liddell headed, but the danger was cleared by the Forest defence up field. When the ball ran through to Small his ferocious shot took a deflection off Higham which brought a tremendous save from Underwood. The best concerted move for some time, orchestrated between Anderson, Melia, Liddell and A'Court, saw the ball travel the full length of the pitch. A beautiful pass and move strategy, regrettably it ended with a tame shot that didn't trouble Nicholson. And so the first half was over with Liverpool leading Forest 1-0.

Spurred on by the famous KOP ROAR, which was at its full-throated best, Liverpool hammered at the Forest defence and eventually the pressure paid off. The scorer of the second goal was Melia, the build up play was done by Twentyman and A'Court; A'Courts cross was headed on by Evans and was netted by the debutant Melia from 12yds out. The coolness and confidence shown by Melia in taking his opportunity belied his youthfulness. Then only minutes later the floodgates opened. Anderson won the ball from Thomas on the right, slipped it through to Liddell who from 35 yds gave the keeper little chance. I'm convinced the keeper took off as it left the boot of Liddell, but he still could not get close before it hit the back of the net.

Six minutes had gone in the second half and the game had undergone a complete change and Forest could consider themselves hard done by after their first half performance; they didn't deserve to be three goals down. Liverpool had taken their chances and that was the deciding factor.

A collision between Higham and Underwood meant that the Liverpool keeper needed attention before continuing and he looked groggy for some time after. He was not so dazed however that he couldn't come to Liverpool’s rescue with a fine save from Imlach, a thunderous drive that he managed to put over the bar. Two minutes later the crowd howled it's disapproval at an offside decision against Liverpool, which saw Liddell crossing the halfway line, but still got flagged by the linesman.

From the free kick the ball was pumped into the Liverpool area in amongst a melee of players and it was difficult to see who booted the ball in the net, but Barrett had stuck out a boot and in it flew. But the referee's whistle disallowed the goal. I don't know what the referee had seen but it clearly upset Barrett and the other Forest players so much so for the next few minutes Forest began to hammer at the Liverpool defence. Barrett in particular was showing a steely determination and was rewarded in the next two minutes with two goals. The first was a penalty when Moran had been adjudged to handle the ball, incorrectly in my opinion, and the second was a deft lob after good work from Small down the left.

This Forest team were no quitters, they had come from three down to 3-2 and were still pushing for a equaliser. Forest were now taking the game to Liverpool and the defence needed assistance from their forwards, both Liddell and Evans were playing deeper to try and assist. But the pressure seemed relentless until Melia took the ball away from Higham and ran the length of the pitch only to be fouled on the edge of the box. Thomas clearly knew where he was on the pitch before bringing down Melia and tackles of a premeditated nature like this should be stamped out of the game. Without the tackle Melia would have scored, one more yard and it would have been a penalty. No justice was had when the free kick taken by Melia sailed over the bar. As the light faded both sides fought grimly to win the game, Forest showing a determination that had to be praised.

Ten minutes from the end Evans broke for Liverpool, down the centre of the pitch, his shot was only parried by Nicholson and Liddell "chipped" in from an acute angle. Not known for his deftness, it was a delight to see Billy get his second goal, the crowd looked amused as they were used to thunderbolts from the big Scot. But his dogged determination in the second half inspired Liverpool. Two minutes from time the crowd seen the nasty side of Forest and the tackles became x-rated. A tackle on A'Court is the worst I've seen this season.

From the free kick Liddell hit the keeper with a pile driver and it went over the bar off the keepers outstretched arm. Little did we know at the time but it had fractured Nicholson’s right arm. From the resulting A'Court corner Liddell headed home his third and Liverpool's FIFTH, and with only a minute left the game was over. Liddell had inspired Liverpool to victory in a spell in the game when Forest turned nasty and it was good to see sportsmanship triumph over what can only be described as "Filth". The highlights of the game were the display of the debutant Melia and Liddell’s brilliant second half hat-trick.

Man of the Match : Melia

Blackburn vs Liverpool (22-2-1958)
"Four Goals In Four Minutes At Ewood Park"

Liverpool side:

The first half of this game was a pretty dour time for Liverpool who created little if any chances. Blackburn however could have scored three if not for the valiant efforts of Younger. No matter what was thrown at him he produced quality saves every time. The efforts of Liddell up front were wasted, he had only seen the ball twice in the first half and had little assistance from those around him.

A'Court was having his worst game for some time, he was caught half asleep more than once and it nearly cost Liverpool a goal when Stephenson came in from behind him to steel the ball away. Stephenson passed the ball to Dobing on the right wing and his cross landed at Douglas's feet four yards out, but he failed to connect with an open goal in front of him. Best described as "a fresh air shot".

There were a few incidents late in this half that roused the crowd to enthusiasm, and Dobing came closest to waking the crowd up from their ten minute snooze by hitting the post late in the half. The Liverpool goal had another amazing escape when Younger saved brilliantly from McLeod at almost point blank range. But the referee did the travelling reds a favour when he blew for half time.

I don’t know what was said to both teams at half time, but I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall in either dressing room. The second half exploded from the kick off and FOUR goals were scored in a FOUR minute period. In the 47th minute Murdoch squared the ball and Taylor had it under control, but fiddled so long with it that Liddell nipped in from behind him, took it right of his toe and hooked it into the net from 30 yds. This was a typical Liddell goal, get the ball, shoot and score, little fuss or ado and a fitting reward for his determination and persistence. The keeper just watched as it sailed over his head into the net. The look that Leyland gave to Taylor was priceless. Within two minutes however, Blackburn had struck back.

A corner was taken by McLeod, and Douglas and Clayton both went for it as the ball came floating over near the six yard line. As far as I could see it was Douglas who connected and though the ball was headed away by White off the line, the referee decided it had crossed the line before being cleared. If this wasn't bad enough straight from the kick off Stephenson stole the ball off Harrow, ran toward the Liverpool goal and chipped the ball over Younger as he advanced.

Liverpool had to kick off twice within a minute, but this time, Liddell passed to Murdoch, who returned the ball to Liddell. Liddell went passed Vernon with a dropped shoulder, passed the lunging McGrath, hurdled over a desperate tackle by Eckersley, kept the ball under control and thumped it from 25 yds out. Leyland again looked shocked at what he had just seen, but just shook his head and picked the ball out of the net. Liddell's thump had flew past him at the speed of light and in his wake lay four Blackburn players still picking themselves up. The crowd was so silent, you could here a pin drop, no one could believe their eyes. The Reds could, we've seen it all before, but this must go down as the hardest hit of Liddell's career.

So the score was two all and only 50 minutes had now elapsed. In the last four minutes the crowd had seen something they had never seen at Ewood Park and are never likely to again. Johnny McIntire once scored four goals against Everton here and never since then has the crowd had four minutes of such concentrated thrills. Two minutes later Eckersley threw in another desperate tackle on Murdoch which took his legs away, but the referee amazingly waved play on, when it was obvious to all that a penalty was the right decision.

From the 60th minute Blackburn where doing all the attacking, and Liverpool defence were under severe pressure. Younger pulled off an astonishing save from Stephenson, which even the striker applauded. But pressure eventually took its toll and Blackburn went back in the lead. McGrath put the ball through to Vernon, Vernon swerved one way and then the other, found Dobing to his right who scored from just outside the box.

For some minutes the Liverpool defence were tested over and over again and couldn't get the ball out of their own half. Blackburn’s forwards were given great support by both wing halves and were unlucky not to get another goal. Younger again came to Liverpool's rescue, after stopping a volley from Douglas, he also stopped the rebound from Dobing, a miraculous double save from where I'm sat.

Liddell was struggling up front to get any ball, but he continued to drop deeper battle for the ball in his own half. His dogged persistence paid of finally when he robbed the ball from Woods, running over the half way line he looked up and saw the keeper on the edge of the box, he hit the ball from probably 45 yds out. Sadly it hit the post and came out at the retreating goalkeeper, hitting him on the knees it went for a corner. The sighs of relief around Ewood Park could be heard from outside the ground. Some people laughed, some people stood mouth agog, no one really believed the audacity of the man from Liverpool. From the resulting corner Liddell got his just desserts, he rose well above all the defenders and headed the ball over the keeper.

Leyland and all the Blackburn fans had seen enough of Liddell that day, so the referee sent them home with the final whistle. People will talk about this Liddell hat-trick for some time; a right footed hook, a left footed thunderbolt and a deft header. All the thrills came in the second half and Liverpool fought back twice from being down to level terms. Liddell was the hero. He scored one of the best hat-tricks this writer has ever seen and fought like a demon for every ball. It was cut and thrust football and although Blackburn were better in attack, their finishing was not as deadly as the Reds. Younger was brilliant throughout the whole 90 minutes in the Liverpool goal and credit should be given for his performance today.

Man of the Match : Younger

Legendary figures in the game of football are few and far between, some stories about Liddell are hard to prove as they are not documented, unlike those above. But if you believe even half of the stories about Liddell passed down through the ages by word of mouth, the man should have been canonised let alone knighted for what he did for Liverpool. He was never knighted, but he was "Footballer of the Year" in 1959 while playing second division football, not a thing that had ever happened before or likely to again.

Stories in my possession about Liddell that I could not find evidence of include:

A shot from the half way line, that hit the back of the net down the Kop End, which had the fans ducking. A shot that hit the bar from 30yds out that rebounded as far as the half way line. A headed goal from 45 yards. Breaking a keeper’s arm from a penalty. Knocking a centre half unconscious with a free kick. Being kicked by everyone in the oppositions side and still played the whole 90 minutes.

Some people say Liddell was made of granite. Perhaps when the club do reward the man with a statue, they will consider having it made of the stuff. My recent trip to Lochgelly on the way to the Aberdeen friendly proved fruitless. Not only is there nothing to celebrate the great man, the Library had never heard of him, and the Town hall thought I'd lost me marbles travelling up from Norfolk in search of a memorial. It’s time to put the record straight. When it comes to legendary players LIDDELL is the only one.

At a recent visit to the Liverpool Academy I had the pleasure of talking to a member of staff who still swears that Liddell was better than any that preceded him and that has followed him. I nominated King Kenny, my lifetime hero, he just laughed and said "Not even close son". If that's true, I for one am very sad I never saw him play at his peak.

There are various websites where you can sign a petition today for Billy to get his overdue Statue, please do so.

"Give it to BILLY"

How do you end a story about a legend? With a tear in your eye obviously.

Comment from a family member : Andy Liddell
It's great to hear so much support for a true gentleman.

From my point of view he was not only a football legend, but a caring grandfather. All of your wonderful stories really do paint the picture of the selfless man my grandfather was. We would travel to Liverpool every New Year to see my grandparents and Billy would always take us out to Aigburth Vale or Sefton Park for a kick around with the ball.

When I think back I realise that he always let me and my brother win, and we weren't as good as we thought we were!!

Sadly I was far to young to see him play, but have marvelled at his skill and presence on video, and heard many stories from the man himself. Including how he lost his teeth!! I still support Liverpool wholeheartedly, even though I live in Middlesbrough (which causes some problems).

I was deeply touched by the number of fans who came to show their love of this great man at his funeral, and thank you all for keeping his legend alive. I sincerely hope that Billy gets his statue, as a lasting reminder of one of Liverpool’s true greats.

If you have enjoyed reading this story, please consider donating a nominal amount to any of the following charities:

Hillsborough Justice Campaign, for the 96.
Alzheimer’s Disease charities, in memory of Billy Liddell and Bob Paisley.
Parkinson’s Disease, for Ray Kennedy and other sufferers.

© Wooltonian 2004


--- Quote from: Andy G on February 25, 2006, 06:10:39 am ---Truly the most enjoyable read in ages.  I have also been blessed with a father who raves about Billy and I have sent this article to him.  I advised him to get the kleenex before he starts to read.

Can't wait for part 2

--- End quote ---

These peices was wriiten over four years ago now and published together on RAWK over two years ago.
As you can see from the number of responses on parts 1 & 2, they were published at a time when fans were more interested in who would replace Mr Houllier.

Mr Mojo Risin':
i knew it was a tough sport in the 50's, but Liddell got a fair bit of attention from other teams,didnt he :o
and bursting a ball with your HEAD :o :o :o

Red in Korea:
Fantastic read, thanks for that.

I remember as an 11 year old going to the League Cup Final with my Dad when he suddently grabbed the match program I was holding, left me where I was and ran over to an old man who looked about 60. Like a child, my Dad shoved the program under the old man's nose and asked him for his autograph. It was Billy Liddell of course. Never seen my Dad like that before! Dalglish was my hero, byt my Dad always said "Dalglish was a puddin' compared to Liddell"!

Does anyone else remember the FA Cup match at Anfield against Man City, in the dying seconds of the game Billy hit one from 20-25 yards out and hit the back of the net. Crowd went wild but the ref dissallowed the goal saying he had whistled for full time before the ball hit the net.


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