Author Topic: Ken Berry  (Read 16690 times)

Offline Metallinick

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Ken Berry
« on: September 7, 2017, 07:27:33 am »
Hi All,

The History Board wont let me start a new topic so putting this here for now. One of my best mates' grandad played for Liverpool as a junior and my mate sat down and chatted to him about his time at Liverpool (and life). Some great stories here about Shankly and Liverpool from back i the days of the World War and latter.

A couple of months back I asked if anyone would care to hear about my Granddads time with the club, I got a pretty positive response so decided to sit with him and find out all the details. Below is a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

It has always been something of a family joke about Granddad’s nostalgic mindset and his love for telling stories, especially about his days as an apprentice in Scotland, or his days as an engineer at Sea.

After “interviewing” him for the better of two hours and listening to him reminisce about his days with Liverpool FC, I understand why.

Born on the 7th of July 1932, he grew up on Hornsey Road in Anfield proper. It was a great place for a young boy to grow, he remembers, playing Football on the streets with friends more often than not using a tin can in place of an actual ball.

No one was rich enough to own an actual ball at the time, so we made do with what we could. That and playing with the leather ball was tantamount to suicide. One of those balls when hit hard enough would knock the smaller kids out cold if they were brave enough to try and head it. We never played on teams, it was everyone vs everyone. I remember one day we were lucky to have found an old leather ball, we were silly enough to be playing in the rain. Someone put in a cross that one of the bigger kids went in to header, he was out cold before he hit the ground.”

When war time came around he remembers it feeling “like a game”. Sitting on top of the air raid shelters with friends he recites the story of his Mum up a story ladder while 8 months pregnant with his brother putting sand on an incendiary bomb that hadn’t gone off, one of the neighbourhood mothers yelling “Mrs. Berry ya bitch, get down. You’ll burn his whistle off and have to raise it a girl”.

No TV in those days of course so Saturday afternoons were spent at the kids Matinee with Friends, Arthur Worthington, Ronnie Hogarth Dom McConchie and Ian Stewart. Flash Gordon being a regular performance.

It wasn’t until the age of 14 when he started at St Margaret’s that he decided to sign up for Football.

The inevitable question comes around, “How did you get involved with Liverpool?”

It was 1949 and he had started working for Babco and Wilcox, after joining they decided to start a work place football team.

We had a couple of very talented Irishman that had immigrated, one was a fantastic dead ball specialist. Andy Black, could bend it better than Beckham. We also had Sean Brady, played a couple of times for Northern Island. All in all it was a very strong team and we ended up winning the league in our first season. We played Shell in the end of season Cup Final, they were top of the first division while we’d just won the third. Big crowd around 14,000 had shown up. We got absolutely smashed. Won 1-0. The only time I took a breath was when we scored. Not protection for Keepers in those days you see.

Strikers walking passed and punching the ball out if you weren’t holding it securely, regular elbows in the ribs and having to bounce the ball every 3 steps in the driving rain was a nightmare.
“Joe Mercer was the guest speaker after the match, I believe he was playing for Arsenal at the time. He awarded me Man of The Match”

A week later a letter arrived in the post. It was from Everton FC asking him to attend a trial. His father read the letter “You attend that and you’re out of the family”. Granddad didn’t bother replying.

Shortly thereafter a second letter arrived, this one from Liverpool. Again asking him attend a trial match. This one for the B team vs Tranmere Rovers.

This one I went to, I had a pretty good game. They offered me a contract and I signed on as an amateur. I played most of my games for the A and B teams, a couple for the reserves. Unfortunately nothing for the first team, too much talent ahead of me at the time. Closest I ever got was when Sid Low was injured in an accident on the way to the ground. I had played for the B team at Anfield that day and Charlie Ascroft, the A team game had an away game. They weren’t sure he would make it to the ground in time so I was pencilled in to start against Huddersfield if he Charlie couldn’t get back. It was the first time I ever felt like ‘the man’. I was still 17 and the crowd was around 60,000. I felt 10 feet tall walking off after warm ups, fans asking if I was “the new young keeper, can I have your autograph”. The Huddersfield keeper, Herod, told me during warm ups they wouldn’t give me any trouble. I wasn’t sure whether to believe him or if it was mental mind games. In the end, it never mattered. Charlie made it back in time and he ended up playing.”

A story I heard many times growing up was when the reserves played the Nigerian National team at Anfield.

First time they’d sent a national team abroad. We were losing 2-0 at half time, they were running rings around us. Bare feet too. But it started raining during the break and they were forced to put boots on. We ended up doing them 6-2, they couldn’t play in boots.

“My last game for the club came in the Liverpool Cup, after the match I informed Jimmy McInnes and Tom Busche that I was leaving, they were fairly disappointed as they were in the process of having a contract written up for me. Unfortunately the money at the time wasn’t what it is today and I had taken up the offer of an engineering apprenticeship in Scotland with Babco and Wilcox, they pay for someone of my age at the time was too good to turn down. Not to mention the opportunities the job itself provided. I moved to Scotland shortly after and took up residence at Brediland House on Loundales Road in Paisley. Beautiful great big mansion, elegant and well cared for.

“First day on the job and the engineering apprentice superintendent approached and asked how many games I had played for Liverpool. From there I signed on Kilsyth Rangers, just out of Glasgow. Pay wasn’t bad, got 2000 pounds for signing on, all in Scottish bank notes. Was paid 5 pound a game, further 3 pounds for a win and 2 for a draw. Towards the end of the season I tore the achillies and was forced out for 8 weeks. After which I advised the club I wasn’t returning the next season, the 2 hour travel time for training was a killer.

“We ended up starting a summer league team at Babco, we had 28,000 employees so obviously had the numbers for a strong side. We had a former Scottish international at the company, whom even at 55 was still a fantastic keeper so I ended up at CF. A Scout from Renfrew Juniors was in attendance at most games, he recognised me from my time at Liverpool and asking me to sign on for the club. Much better location than Kilsyth so I joined.

“It was while at Renfrew that I meet Shankly. I was on the bus back the club rooms after a match and a stranger sat next to me, I didn’t recognize him at first he was still with Grimsby.”

“Well lad, what are you doing when you finish your time at the end of the year”

“Heading to sea”

“How would you like to come play for me instead. You don’t want to go to Sea. We finished 3rd this season, should have been 1st but our keeper wasn’t any good. He was only average and I don’t want players below above average. Sea is a waste of time, football is better than anything.”

“He gave me a card and 3 contact numbers for him. He was a very charismatic man. It felt like his heart and soul was devoted to Football. Scots are football mad in general, but Shankly felt on a whole other level.

“I didn’t end up taking the offer obviously as the money offered at seas was still superior.”

It was at sea that Granddad meet his future wife. From there they moved to New Zealand where granddad had a very successful club career in Wellington. He showed me all the newspaper clippings and articles about his games, seems like every weekend he was the main talking point. I’ve included a few of the better kept articles and pictures.

In 1974 Granddad return to Liverpool for a holiday. He went through Anfield and was on the pitch talking with Ronnie Moran and John Toshack when Shankly comes bounding at the tunnel.
Moran: “Boss, come over here, got someone I’d like you to meet”

“No need Ronnie, I remember this man very well. He refused to play for me 23 years ago. How was sea lad, worth the trip? Ronnie, you know how we started getting Ray (Clemence) to twist in the air and use other arm for further reach? This is the man I took it from, I watched him Scotland and brought it back with me. Well Ken if you’d stayed at Liverpool rather than going to sea they might have blamed you for the drop down to the 2nd division, but personally I think you might have been the difference that kept them up.”

Personally, I think it was this interaction with Shankly that made my Granddad realize he probably could have made it quite successfully as a professional, and at the one of the worlds biggest clubs too. It wouldn’t surprise me if this single conversation was the reason for my grandfather’s nostalgic take on life.

Anyway, that’s my Granddads story on his time with Liverpool. I knew some of the story of myself but always thought the reason he never made the next step was because the club didn’t offer a contract, I never knew it was him that made the decision to leave the club. I understand now why he stares off when telling his stories, thinking about what might have been.

Edit//Go to the above reddit link and leave a comment for my mate. Pretty sure he's love to hear any feedback/comments about this story.

Offline gazzam1963

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Re: Ken Berry
« Reply #1 on: September 7, 2017, 09:11:50 pm »
Nice story , I lived in the next road to hornsey road just a stones throw from the ground , 2000 pounds seems a huge signing on fee for any team in the early 50s you sure it wasn't 200 as an average  house then was about 2000

Offline Metallinick

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Re: Ken Berry
« Reply #2 on: September 8, 2017, 03:35:43 am »
Nice story , I lived in the next road to hornsey road just a stones throw from the ground , 2000 pounds seems a huge signing on fee for any team in the early 50s you sure it wasn't 200 as an average  house then was about 2000

Not sure mate.....I'll ask my friend ad get back to you. Agree though, its a pretty cool story I thought. Cheers for having a read though.

Offline the 92A

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Re: Ken Berry
« Reply #3 on: January 8, 2018, 12:27:41 pm »
Missed this great read and thanks for posting
Still Dreaming of a Harry Quinn