"Liverpool have made three wartime discoveries, players young enough to make the grade once normal times are reached again. This was proved at Anfield yesterday in a Western Regional game packing many thrills and much good football.
The star performer was Liddell, a wing forward, not yet 18. Liddell was secured from Lochgelly Violet, a Dunfermilne junior club, and played at outside-left to give a most promising display, his ball control and sense of positioning being features."
Billy scored his debut goal after only two minutes, the pick of the bunch being Matt Busby's goal (later of Man Utd fame) where he beat four men, passed to Leadbetter, received the ball again, diving headlong to place the ball into the far corner.
Billy went on to play further 15 games, scoring a total of 9 goals in the 1939-40 season. Before he made his Football League debut after World War II on 7th September 1946 he had already made 152 appearances in wartime football for Liverpool where he scored 82 goals.
Certainly if the Second World War hadn't intervened Liddell wouldn't be "only" 11th on Liverpool's list of players who have made most appearances. He could have gone as far as 2nd place, above Ray Clemence and Emlyn Hughes with 665 appearances. But who really knows? He could have got seriously injured, even though it's difficult to imagine such a strong man being vulnerable to injuries. Anyway a food for thought.
(Click on the match report for a bigger image)
"I saw him play many times. And I met him. I was there the day we were relegated to the second division. We lost to Cardiff City. We won a penalty which Billy took and it was saved by their substitute goalie, their full back. In those days there were no official substitutes allowed on the bench, so if the goalie was injured one of the original 11 had to take over. Not only was it a very expensive save for us but Billy rarely missed penalties. He must have been one of the most successful penalty takers of all time for LFC and Scotland. And that was when the ball was heavy leather with big stitches weighing a lot more than it does now."
Seamus on the great Billy Liddell