"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)
"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