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[an error occurred while processing this directive] Wednesday, 4 July, 2001, 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK
Billy Liddell - a footballing gent
Liddell starred in a Liverpool side which often struggled
Liddell starred in a Liverpool side which often struggled
Football historian Bob Crampsey looks back at the one-club career of the late Billy Liddell who died aged 79 on Tuesday.

Billy Liddell was not only a great football player, he was also a great man.

He was a very clever person - he was an accountant throughout his career at Liverpool.

He also did a great deal of youth club work and he eventually became bursar at Liverpool University.

Liddell was an icon in the sense that John Greig is an icon at Rangers and Billy McNeill is at Celtic, because he played for Liverpool for 22 years - that is unlikely to be repeated.

He was without question one of the greatest-ever Liverpool players, despite the fact that he did not play in a great Liverpool team.

Liddell's club goalscoring record is tremendous - he averaged about a goal every two games
  Bob Crampsey
He did win a championship medal and an FA Cup finalists medal with them, but in the early 1950s Liverpool lost their way a bit.

But he was a tremendous player with a great sense of club loyalty, and Scots were held in very high regard at that time.

The club were often referred to as "Liddellpool" and at one stage there was a danger Liverpool would become a one-man band.

I saw him play for Liverpool when I was in the forces and they were a run-of the mill Second Division side.

No-one gave them a second glance at that stage, but Liddell always stood out.

It's always been interesting to me that his scoring record in international games was never that good - six goals in 28 games.

International competition

But his club record is tremendous - he averaged about a goal every two games.

I think that was partly because, latterly, Liverpool played him through the middle whereas for Scotland he tended always to be at outside-left.

His period of international football is quite remarkable too if you take into account war-time games.

He was first capped in 1942 and last capped in 1956 - that's a long time to be an international.

Liddell made his international debut as a total unknown in 1942 because he had never played senior football up here.

He only won 28 caps and that was largely because of the war.

Bill Shankly became Liddell's manager
Bill Shankly became Liddell's manager
You have to say also that there was a good bit of competition around - Lawrie Reilly of Hibernian started as an outside-left and Willie Ormond was a very good outside-left.

Even folk like Willie Fernie, who was not a natural outside-left, could play there and sometimes did.

The Scotland side he played in was a rather good one - they had a good record at Wembley.

Although Liddell did not play in all of these games, we avoided defeat in the first four matches after the war - two wins and two draws.

We had been hammered by England time and again during the war, but in his first game we won 5-4 and Liddell got one of the goals.

One of the other goals was scored by Bill Shankly who later became Liddell's manager at Liverpool.

Although Shankly is the better-known, many Liverpool fans held Liddell in similarly high regard.

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See also:

03 Jul 01 |  Scotland
Liverpool legend Liddell dies
02 Jul 01 |  Liverpool
Fagan - the silent success
02 Jul 01 |  Liverpool
Lawro pays tribute to Fagan
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