Tribute to Larry Lloyd: One of Shankly’s favourites and a man who would ‘kick his grandmother for a fiver’

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To a certain generation of Liverpool fans, they may not even know the name of Larry Lloyd but for many he was a key cog in a transitional Anfield team.

It seems remarkable to even state that Bill Shankly once went six seasons without winning a trophy for the Reds and Lloyd was part of his final team that was about to become Bob Paisley’s juggernaut.

Given the unenviable task of trying to replace Ron Yeats at the heart of defence, it was the generation of a fearless a tough-tackling centre-back and these were qualities that the Bristol-born enforcer certainly possessed.

Not the quickest or the most technically gifted, chief scout Geoff Twentyman was impressed with the sheer dominance and leadership of the towering defender and pushed for a deal with Bristol Rovers to be completed.

Speaking to his new signing, the legendary Scottish manager stated: “Larry, I have come to the conclusion that you would kick your grandmother for a fiver!”

The response of: “I would actually kick her for half of that!”, showed everyone what the new man was all about.

Appearances were tough to come by in a maiden 1969/70 campaign but starting in the final six games showed everyone what the future was set to hold.

The following year saw Lloyd become a mainstay and he missed just two league fixtures, in a year where a fifth-placed finish in the First Division and Alun Evans’ tally of 15 goals being a club high – showed that the Reds were far from their impermeable former selves.

The 1971 FA Cup final was a chance for redemption but Charlie George’s extra-time winner left Liverpool fans and players broken, until Shankly stood on the steps of St. George’s Hall and picked the red half of the city back up.

Failing to win the Charity Shield set up another season of disappointment but the Reds were recharged and launched an unlikely assault on the First Division title, once again.

A third-placed finish didn’t tell the full story and after a final day of the season where victory over Arsenal would have ended in league success a dubious disallowed goal meant the game ended 0-0 and Derby claimed the ultimate prize.

The mental fortitude to recover from FA Cup and First Division upset in successive seasons was forged in Larry Lloyd, who played in every single one of the 66 competitive fixtures that were to greet Liverpool in the 1972/73 campaign.

It was a year when the ghosts of past failures were gone and it was the familiar foe of Arsenal who were this time beaten to the title, whilst the Bristolian defender scored in the first leg of a UEFA Cup final over Monchengladbach.

Lifting two pieces of silverware and playing every possible game showed how important the enforcer at the back was to this new era of Liverpool, with Bill Shankly creating his second great team.

It looked like the start of the story and not one that was entering a close for Lloyd, with the new era continuing with him at the heart of the defence but a disastrously timed thigh injury under a manager who hated players missing games – spelled the end.

The emergence of Peter Cormack, Phil Thompson and Emlyn Hughes meant there was no place for the 25-year-old as he neared a return for full fitness and a swift transfer to Coventry City for a huge fee showed it felt like the right move for everyone.

Whilst the Reds went on to dominate domestically and on the continent, Lloyd would soon be part of Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest and battles against Liverpool were as famous as his time on Merseyside.

Having the rather unique pleasure of playing under and winning trophies for Shankly and Clough, similar levels of success in Europe and England meant that Lloyd’s decision to leave our club was not one he had too much regret over.

His reception on returns to Anfield weren’t always the most favourable but this was as much born out of a rivalry with Forest as it was accusations of being a traitor.

But looking back on his career as a Red, few can argue that the defender had ever given anything but his utmost for his team in 218 appearances.

News of his passing at the age of 75 is something that will be met with great sadness from many of our supporters but does allow us all to reflect on the career of a man who gave his very best for a team on the brink of brilliance.

RIP Larry Lloyd

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