Liddell's Scotland debut

April 1942

Jack Harkness gives Billy Liddell and Jock Dodds a big hand for their part in Scotland's shock win. But the inspiration, he says, came from the Busby - Shankly victory service.

Hail Caledonia! Once again, a Scottish eleven, with a "doubtful" label on it, has risen magnificently to the occasion and sent the Highland blood surging through Scottish veins! War or no war, this was Hampden! And these white shirts were England. "Welcome to your gory bed - or to victory!" That's how this gallant Scots eleven took the field - and if ever victory was merited this one certainly was.

And wherein did these Scots so excel themselves? Well, right off I say Busby and Shankly. These two more than anyone else turned this ordeal into an ideal. Those devastating side-of-the-foot passes to the man up in front. Each one shrewder than the last.

It was all Scotland for a time, and it looked as if a goal had to come. It did. But at the wrong end. Some teams might have reacted to this shock. Maybe have said: "Ach, they're too good for us" and stopped trying. But not this side.

MAESTRO LIDDELL

Liddell, for instance. Carol Lewis has nothing on the S.F.A. when it comes to discoveries. Ten minutes was sufficient for this boy to play himself into these criticial, hard-beating Hampden hearts. He took the equalizer with a lovely timed header. But it was the way he had in the second goal which put him in the Maestro class.

Liddell did the spadework and Dodds did the finishing for what must be one of the greatest goals Hampden has ever seen. The outstripping of the defence, the quick pass with the "wrong" foot, and then Dodds' glorious first-timer. What a goal!

England had reduced Scots' lead to 4-3 when Shankly struck for Scotland in the 71st minute: "And amongst all these great goals we had probably the strangest national goal ever. Here's a goalkeeper, the hero of his side, losing a goal from 50 yards range. Willie Shankly was the devil in the piece. He placed a beautiful shot goalwards. Out came Marks to collect. Suddenly he stopped. In a twinkling he had the old saying brought home to him - "He who hesitates is lost." The ball bounced on the ground, sailed over his head, and into the empty goal."

Liddell's last international was played on 8th of October 1955. His international record for Scotland reads 28 games and 6 goals. His 9 wartime games and 5 wartime goals are not counted towards his total.

(Click on the match report for a bigger image)

King Billy quote

"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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