Tributes

"What can you say about him? Liverpool have had some good club players, but I think he is the finest in their history. Look at him today. I used to do a bit of running around, but he does a lot more than I ever did. Matthews is a great entertainer, but for me that Liddell man is “It”. He is one of the greatest club men ever to have played football.”

Donald MacKinlay - Former Liverpool captain from the 20's in 1955.

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"Billy was so strong. His head and neck was all in one. This is my impression of him; I can remember him with two defenders hanging off him. He was so strong. With both feet, left or right, on the wing or centre-forward. He could play anywhere. Brilliant player."

Gerry Byrne - Liverpool 1953-1969 - Quote from LFChistory's exclusive interview with Gerry in 2008.

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"Billy was my idol when I was at school and it was fantastic to take over from him. I had so much respect for him. Great man - It's very hard to compare decades, but in the 50s, they used to call them Liddellpool. He was a god in Liverpool. I took over from him on the wing and he finished playing not long after that.

Billy Liddell was incredible. When I went to my first professional football match it was Liverpool. When Billy got the ball the anticipation from the crowd was just huge. What is he going to do with it? Is he going to shoot from 30 yards or take it past people? He was wonderful. Billy played with a heavy ball on the heavy pitches. The way he used to kick the ball, wow! He was so strong!

Later I worked for the Littlewoods Pools Company Spot the ball and Billy was on the panel. Billy was the chairman and I actually took over as chairman from Billy. I got to know him and he was a really quiet and a really nice man. Terrific. He is one of those of the people who will always be remembered in Liverpool like Shankly and Paisley."

Ian Callaghan - Liverpool 1960-1978 - Quote from LFChistory's exclusive interview with Ian in 2008.

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"Liddell was some player... He had everything. He was fast, powerful, shot with either foot and his headers were like blasts from a gun. On top of all that he was as hard as granite. What a player! He was so strong – and he took a nineteen-inch collar shirt!"

Bill Shankly - Liverpool 1959-1974

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"He once went over the wall when he was stationed with the RAF in Manchester during the war so he could play in a football match. And when he was in Canada he went under an assumed name, Bill Tanner, to play. He was just standing on the sidelines watching this match involving a team of Scottish ex-pats called Toronto Scottish. Billy told them he was Scottish, although he didn't tell them he played for Liverpool, and they asked him if he would like a game the next day. He turned up and came on as a substitute. Within 10 minutes he'd scored two goals and the other team were asking him if he wanted a rest. He really was football mad!"

Phyllis, Billy Liddell's wife of 55 years

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"Most defenders knew who was windy amongst the opposition attack but Billy never chickened out. He was big, strong, speedy and he played it hard but fair. He put his heart and soul into the game. He was a great competitor. He wasn't a Matthews or a Finney. He was direct, no frills. Even when you had taken the ball from him he'd have another bite at you."

Harry Johnston - Blackpool 1934-1955 and England full-back 1946-1953.

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"Billy Liddell has dominated the post-war stage of the Liverpool Football Club. At times he has seemed to be Liverpool. Already he is becoming more than a name - he's on his way to being a legend. A legend of electrifying runs, full-blooded shooting plus superlative sportsmanship. In all the years I've watched, I've never seen him intentionally foul an opponent, pettishly kick the ball away or do anything that was even the slightest questionable. He was the complete footballer, but he was something more; he is a man of great integrity who has endeared himself to us all. If I were as good a sportsman as Billy Liddell, I'd be proud. You're a better man than I am - Billy Liddell!"

John Moores, chairman of Everton FC, on 21st of September 1960 on the eve of Liddell's testimonial.

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"Billy was a great club player, so brave and such a strong runner. He did not know what fear was. He could go down the line, cut inside and give the ball a fearsome crack. I used to get into a bit of trouble when I ran into Bill in front of the Kop at Anfield. But what did those fans want me to do, get out of his way?"

Joe Mercer - Everton and Arsenal 1932-1955

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"Scotland have had few greater players. He could conjure goals out of nothing."

Billy Wright - England captain and Wolves legend

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"I always knew I was in for a hectic afternoon when I was marking Billy. The only way to try to hold him was to beat him to possession of the ball. Once he had it, he was difficult to stop."

Alf Ramsey - Manager of England's 1966 World Cup winning team and player at Southampton, Tottenham and for England  

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"We went to Birmingham, had a pre match meal of boiled potatoes, chicken and rice pudding. It was the middle of winter, the pitch was frozen, it was hard underneath and wet on top. In those days, there were no rubber boots, so they came out with plimsolls on. They were five up in a quarter of an hour. We could not keep our feet! We lost another four in the second half and Billy Liddell’s one goal was the best of the ten! He cut through the middle and lambasted it right into the top corner of the net past the English goalkeeper Gill Merrick.

He was a very well balanced player, how he kept his balance I don’t know, he was playing centre forward, which is another reason I was able to get in the team, because he was switched from the left wing where he was scoring six goals a season, to up front where he was getting 20-30 goals every year. It was Liddellpool in those days, and while he was doing that, I was getting more experience on the wing."

Alan A'Court - Liverpool 1952-1964 (asked by LFChistory.net on the rather dubious claim to fame of being part of the side that recorded the heaviest loss in Liverpool’s history, a 9-1 defeat to Birmingham)

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"When I signed, you had your picture taken with Billy Liddell. Everyone who joined the club did that. It was the great moment of shaking hands with Billy and having your picture taken with him. I've still got the photograph."

Tommy Lawrence - Liverpool 1957-1971

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"We were playing Preston at Deepdale and got a free kick just outside the box. Billy was aiming to hit it with his right foot when the wind rolled the ball away. He just let it run and hit it with his left and it went in like a rocket. He was fast, courageous and very strong. When we got to Newcastle one day, I popped into their dressing room to say hello to my old team-mates. Newcastle had a very good full-back in Bobby Cowell, who said to me: "Albert, how do I play against Billy Liddell?" I replied: "I 'll say one thing, if Billy picks up the ball and you're not close to him when he does, you're dead!"

Albert Stubbins - Liverpool 1946-1953

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"Aside from being a magnificent player, one of the great things about him was he was a giant of a man too. Though he always made you queue for his autograph, he always stayed to sign every single one. Everyone respected him. He would tell us that if there was any pushing and shoving he wouldn't sign any and we all lined up in an orderly fashion. Then, and it didn't matter how long it took, he would sign every single one with a proper signature, not just some quick scribble.

He was a great figurehead for Liverpool Football Club in an era when you didn't really have stars as such, but he was a very moderate and humble man. I was lucky enough to meet and get to know Billy quite well in later years. He was the exception to the rule that says you should never meet your heroes and was a truly great man."

Roy Evans - Liverpool 1964-1998

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"Bill was so strong it was unbelievable. You couldn't shake him off the ball. It didn't matter where he was playing, though I suppose his best position was outside-left. He could go round you, or past you, or even straight through you sometimes!"

Bob Paisley - Liverpool 1939-1983 / 1985-1987

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"Billy Liddell was a giant of a man and match winner on his own right. Very strong person." 

Laurie Hughes - Liverpool 1943-1960

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"Bill was aggressive. He took opponents on and had the shooting power to finish things off. There wasn't a weakness in Billy's game. He was as strong as a bull on the ball. Defenders found him a real handful, but always respected him."

Matt Busby - Liverpool 1936-1939 and Manchester United manager 1945-1969

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"Billy was never afraid to have a crack at goal. So many of his goals were vital ones, equalisers and winners. He never knew he was beaten."

Roger Hunt - Liverpool 1958-1969

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"My early days were actually spent in Buckingham street, Everton, in a flat over a coal yard. Everton! What a thought. The boy Smith was happy to get an early transfer out of that district at the age of five. We moved to 9 Lambet Road. Once again, it was only a stone’s throw from the two football stadiums. You could certainly hear every roar and chant in my house as the Kop army paid homage to one super hero in particular, an individual who I idolised and who I would eventually have the honour and privilege to call a teammate. The legendary Billy Liddell. I was a Catholic. Who idolised King Billy Liddell. But the religion was football and the only thing that mattered was supporting your team through thick and thin."

Tommy Smith - Liverpool 1960-1978

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"He was a one club man whose loyalty was tremendous. He was our best player for many years and literally carried the team through those Second Division years. The roar that went up at Anfield when he scored was incredible. When we're talking about truly great players like Liddell, for me, he is up there with the likes of Kenny Dalglish. If Steven Gerrard continues to score 20 goals a season for a few more years I will put him in that category, too."

Eric Doig - Liverpool FC historian and author of Essential Liverpool  

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"There will never be another like him."

Thomas Valentine Williams - Liverpool chairman 1956-1964

** READERS OF THE TELEGRAPH POSTED THEIR VIEWS ON LIDDELL IN MAY 2006 **

"Reference to Alan Hansen's assertion (May 15) that Kenny Dalglish was the best player ever to pull on a Liverpool shirt, and that Steven Gerrard could supersede him. His comments, obviously, apply only to the modern era. I have regularly watched football at Anfield and Goodison Park since 1938 and, in my opinion, the greatest Liverpool player was the incomparable Billy Liddell, who played in the old leather boots and with the heavy leather ball. Liddell was a wonderful sporting player, extremely fast, fearless, with a rocket shot in both feet and a terrific header of the ball. A truly great 'one club' player - and I was privileged to have watched him throughout his career."

Ray Terry

"After four years at Liverpool University I was a social worker in the city, during which time one of my elderly clients was full of praise for her nephew Billy, who was a great help to her. Among her photographs was one of him in a football shirt. One day in the office I was told that a Mr Liddell wished to see me. In the interview room we discussed what we could do to help his aunt, and he then left.

I was then swamped by all the men in the admin section who wanted to know how I came to have Billy Liddell to see me. I remember saying that yes, he was Mr Liddell, so what? They could not believe that I did not know I had been face-to-face with the Liverpool hero." 

Hilary Barnes

"I saw Billy Liddell play at Anfield with Stanley Matthews on the other side. Both produced breathtaking performances; both teased the other's defence and both delivered constantly inch-perfect corners. One moment of Liddell's magic came when he was standing outside his opponents' penalty area. A lazy ball bounced towards him and from a standing position, he headed the ball. It went like a rocket, hit the crossbar with the goalkeeper well beaten and rebounded (first bounce) outside the area. If you ally this to his shooting power and speed, his determination and sporting conduct, it is ill advised to say a modern player is better without qualification."

Newby Jones

"May I echo the opinion that the incomparable Billy Liddell was Liverpool's best ever player. I, too, was a long-time Liddell fan and my greatest memory was of him scoring from a free-kick by the simple manner of kicking the ball so hard that the ball and the goalkeeper ended up in the back of the net - a feat I would challenge any present day player to emulate. Incidentally, his pay enabled him to buy a sweet shop in Anfield Road, an establishment I frequently visited, as a post-playing investment."

Alan Heal

"I never had the pleasure of seeing Billy Liddell play, but had one very happy encounter with him that demonstrated what a considerate and sporting gentleman he was. It was, I believe, in 1965, when I competed in the 100 yards at The British Universities Championships, held in Liverpool and organised by Liverpool University. Billy Liddell was employed both by Liverpool FC, based at Anfield, and by Liverpool University.

I pulled a hamstring in the 100 yards, and was immediately approached by Billy, who asked if it would be helpful if he were to take me to Anfield for treatment. Liverpool FC were in the forefront of investment in medical solutions for their players and, at that time, were (I believe) one of only two UK institutions that had acquired a Faradism Machine. (The machine stimulated blood-flow and hence muscle regeneration by causing muscle contractions).

Billy personally took me to Anfield, and his friendly and much-welcomed gesture significantly assisted in my recovery."

Andrew Ronay

King Billy quote

"My anxious state of mind was not improved when a letter from home told me my folks had had an extremely narrow escape from death. Gas from a fractured main in the street outside had seeped into our house at night and my parents and three younger brothers had only been saved when a neighbour awoke and raised the alarm on smelling the gas."

Billy Liddell got worrying news from home in Scotland just after he had joined Liverpool

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