On the 10th of January 2022, Billy Liddell would have been celebrating his 100th birthday and as the countdown to one of our greatest ever player’s milestone day edges closer – here’s an excerpt from the book written to mark the event: Liddell at One Hundred.
When discussing the greatest ever players to have graced the Anfield turf, the two players that quickly spring to mind for Liverpool fans across generations are ex-skipper Steven Gerrard and the man they called King – Sir Kenny Dalglish.
One name, however, in the eyes of many a former player, including Billy Howard, should be considered at least on a par with the aforementioned legends of the club: “In my view, Billy was the finest player ever to play for LFC from my time watching from 1946/47 until the present day.
“He was the one constant that kept LFC at the forefront of English football all through our lean times in the 1950s. It could be said he was a one-man team.
“It was pleasing to know he was still about the place on matchdays. Men and women of my age group still talk fondly of Billy and his memory will never die.
“Billy was also a JP and he kept a lot of youngsters on the straight and narrow. I remember a mother telling me that her son had been up before Billy at one time, and afterwards Billy would come to his home to see how he was doing and how he could help keep him on the straight and narrow.
“That’s the kind of man he was. If it was a player, a fan, a man in the street, or even an Everton fan, you could not help but admire this man. Not only as a footballer but as a real gentleman. He was a credit to the game”
The former footballer was in the unique position of having been able to appreciate the legendary Scot as a young fan: “My first memory at about five years old was sitting on a crush barrier with my dad facing our left wing as we looked on from the Kop.
“I don’t remember much apart from my dad and other fans talking about him. The view from the Kop was about 20 steps up, which was a great view as we attacked the Kop and watching Billy run down the wing and crossing such inviting balls for our forwards. It was a great view when Billy was taking corners.
“As I got older and could understand the game more, Billy obviously became one of my football heroes. He was so focused on what his role was in the team, a model sportsman who never seemed ruffled, he accepted the laws of the game and was a credit to his profession.
“It always amazed me that he was a part-time player, which his fitness belied. He was always equal to the task.”
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When hearing such kind words shared of Liddell it’s hard not to draw parallels between the ex-Red’s legacy and that of Gerrard’s – both two men who had experienced a taste of silverware, though not nearly enough to match the Godly talent at their disposal.
Much as we may regret that our old No.8 never got the chance to be part of a consistently world-class side as is now available to Jurgen Klopp, we must appreciate the importance of such players – as Howard previously noted – in keeping Liverpool relevant.
All quotes obtained first hand by the author. Billy Liddell at One Hundred is available here.
Liverpool hero would be fourth highest appearance holder and second-top goal scorer EVER, if his wartime goals and games were counted