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#SHANKLY100 Forgotten Heroes Part 7 - Ian St. John

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--- Quote from: stjohn65 on June 16, 2009, 09:35:56 pm ---just a reference to my forum name.. i'll get me coat.

--- End quote ---

;D No bother mate.

i haven't forgotten him, mind you don't ask me what happened two hours ago     :)

The Saint's name may not have been forgotten, but his exploits have, so thanks to Sarge for reminding us of one of the key members of Shankly's original 'spine'.

Shanks was his biggest fan and saw something in St John that others missed:

'Yes, the first time I saw Ian St. John I thought "here is the perfect middleweight". There is no better, more thrilling weight to fight or play football at. Middleweights are almost invariably fast and strong, full of skill and balance. They usually punch their weight...and in football you find that they are usually the sharper, the quicker men.

St. John has always been the classic example of a good marriage of strength, skill and speed. When I signed him from Motherwell in 1961, I said to my directors; "This is not just the greatest centre forward in these islands. He is the only one. He's streets ahead of anybody."

He was too. We couldn't give Motherwell their 37,000 quickly enough. You could be so sure that this boy was going to be something really special.'

Derek Hodgson wrote in 'The Liverpool Football Book' of 1970:

'There is, it is true, a profusion of images as you trace St. John's progress from a striker of reflex and instinct to a midfield man of courage and precision. But the scenes are all crowded. Because it has always been in the tight, closed situations that Ian St. John has excelled, his chest puffed like that of a speeding woodcock, his body rigid for the strain of inevitable collision. He explains his startling gift for interception thus:

"Sometimes you can look hard at a guy and, from his eyes, you can tell what he is going to do. So, if you read the signs right, you are running on to a free ball, you have turned a defensive situation into an attacking one. These things come with experience. It is all a question of studying the game closely, remembering what certain players do in certain situations. I suppose instinct also come into it."

Hodgson again:

'Most Liverpool fans will settle with instantly-revived ecstacy on the seconds of extra time in the 1965 Cup Final when St. John thrust himself with new venom on the failing defence of Leeds United....

... others will seize on another brilliantly headed goal...which knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup in 1964...and recall, too, that in the same game Ron Yeats was dismissed and St. John for the first time suggested the possibilities of a new role in midfield. St. John was shuffled back into the half-back line....and in those tense moments he proved that there was more to him than a huge heart and hair-trigger reflexes.

But for the pure, unshaded Ian St. have to look back to a December night in the Belgian coal-mining town of Liege in 1965. Two weeks earlier Standard Liege had gone down 3-1 to Liverpool at Anfield but in the manner of inflicting bruises they had come off much the better.

Bill Shankly recalls bitterly: 'They kicked everything at Anfield. I just could not believe it. Some of their tackles made you blink. It was so bad, in fact, that some of the big Brussels papers warned Liege before the second leg. They told their own men to pack it up. But, if they read their own papers befor
 the second leg, it didn't show once the game started. They were even worse. They came in with everything.'

The stadium at Liege, ringed by slag heaps, is an intimidating place. The crowd hug the touchline...and that night the players of Standard also made it a dangerous place, a theatre of action in which only the bravest could attempt to play anything like their normal game.

St. John played brilliantly....and Liverpool, incredibly, won 2-1. St. John killed the tie with a run of staggering courage, a persistent, dogged runthrough scything tackles and desperate men. His centre allowed Roger Hunt a comfortable goal.

Shankly still rhapsodises:  'He must have been badly fouled at least three times....and once he was bundled over the touch line. But nothing could have stopped him. He said to himself "I'm going past these men" and he did. He made me proud that night.'

Redsnappa thanks for that.

Always remember seeing pictures of that volley he scored against Leeds in the '65 FA Cup Final. Legend.


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