The 1954/55 season started well when we humbled the mighty Doncaster Rovers.
21/08/1954 Doncaster Rovers Home W 3-2 Rowley 3 (61, 86, 89) 49741
But then the Arse fell out of our world.
It was a bad enough shock when we had been relegated to Division 2 last season.
But then came the following games.
23/08/1954 Plymouth Argyle Away L 0-1 25574
28/08/1954 Derby County Away L 2-3 Evans (60), Bimpson (79) 18777
01/09/1954 Plymouth Argyle Home D 3-3 Evans (67), Arnell 2 (81, 88) 32777
04/09/1954 West Ham United Home L 1-2 Payne (76) 37593
06/09/1954 Bristol Rovers Away L 0-3 25574
11/09/1954 Blackburn Rovers Away L 3-4 Evans 2 (5, 25), Liddell (87) 29200
Our Stats now reading Played 7 Won 1 Drawn 1 Lost 5.
The shock of being in Division 2 had now evaporated.
Now we looked like we were heading for Division 3 North.
For my Dad born 11/09/1933 it was possibly the worst 21st birthday present anyone had ever received.
“Roll on Christmas” he must of thought, what he actually said got him a trip to Confession the following morning.
Christmas dinner that year, was a culled hen from the back yard.
New Year celebration, was 2 pints in the Matchworks, Bryant and May in Garston.
(At least the following days Liverpool Echo, cheered the Brodrick household up.
January 1 1955
“The Fantastic Houdini”
50th Aniversary of his Greatest Escape.
Was Harry Houdini a Scouser ?
In March 1904, a Birmingham locksmith had just completed 5 years work completing his “Escape proof” Hand-cuffs. Specifically designed for the great Harry Houdini, Born Ehrich Weiss.
His escape from Liverpool Bridewell (where almost all of us have spent the odd night after being lifted from the streets of Liverpool while looking slightly worse for wear) will almost certainly go down in history. But just for the Liverpudlians born or bred in the next Millenium, here are the facts.
Houdini spent a life time escaping from manacles and chains, chests and water tanks, but his escapes from Gaol remain to this day, his greatest escapes.
His escape from Liverpool Bridewell rank right up there with the best.
He was stripped naked, searched and locked in cell number 1, and secured with 3 pairs of handcuffs. The famous Birmingham cuffs, A special pair brought up from Scotland Yard and finally a local pair selected by the Chief of Police. His clothes were locked in cell number 3. The outer doors were locked and those present waited in the Wardens Office. Within 4 minutes he walked into the Wardens Office, fully clothed and started shaking hands. This was an astonishing achievement on its own, but later when everyone together started examining the cells more was found.
He had despatched the handcuffs within seconds, opened his cell door within a minute. Then he ran down the hall naked and opened cell number 3 and got dressed. With time left he opened every cell door in the block. In cell number 14 he found a drunken Irishman, who thought the devil had finally caught up with him at last. Houdini locked him in cell number 1 where he had started. Then he unlocked the outer door to the reception area and walked into the Wardens Office.
Now you tell me. Is that something this tiresome Blain could achieve ?
1955 saw Liverpool draw Lincoln City in the FA Cup. Some might think, Thank the Lord for small mercies. But, Lincoln were actually higher in Division 2 than Liverpool. And the first game,
R3 08/01/1955 Lincoln City Away D 1-1 Evans (10) 15399 saw Liverpool throw away a first half lead. The replay was even more daunting, for after 90 minutes the score was 0-0.
Thank the Lord time again, for “Long John” Evans, who scored in extra time.
R3 replay 12/01/1955 Lincoln City Home W 1-0 Evans (100) 32179
The draw for the next round came shortly after. GULP !!!
“Oh my Lord, what have we done to upset the great One upstairs” ?
“Number 4” is drawn at home, “Everton”. will play………
“Number 16”………. “Liverpool”
Once again my Father would have to go to Confession for his outburst.
Even my Auntie Queenie had to join him this time.
“Patriarch of the Family” Peter sat down and rolled his 30th roll up of the day.
Liverpool 16th in Div 2, had to play Everton, 5th in Div 1.
Liverpool had only won 3 games out of 9. Everton had only lost twice in the same number.
On the Day of the Game the teams were announced to the 72,000 present.
The Lions of Everton; O’Neill, Moore, Rankin, Farrell, Jones, Lello, Wainwright, Fielding, Potts, Eglington and Hickson.
The Christians from across the park; Rudham, Lambert, Moran, Saunders, Hughes, Twentyman, Jackson, Anderson, Evans, A’Court and Liddell.
The Emperor in control of the Colleseum Mr A. E. Ellis from Halifax.
The Colleseum announcer introduced today’s event in his usual manner.
“Welcome to the Game” a massive roar went up from the assembled masses.
“Today for your enjoyment, we are proud to present, The slaughter of the innocent”
Goodison Park looked more Gay(+) and colourful than it had done for a long time. Half and hour before kick off the terraces were packed and it was only the Snobs in the stands who had not taken their seats. But even these seats were taken up well before kick off.
When the teams entered the arena together in conformity with the traditional “derby” idea, the ground looked full to capacity. But, the queue of ticket holders outside, was very reminiscent of a bread queue in wartime, stretching round the corner and out of sight.
The spectators were in very good humour and everyone seemed to be involved in the banter known as “bitter baiting or pig sticking” with those in the rival camp.
The display of rosettes, coloured favours, and gaily bedecked headgear was greater than any witnessed since the semi final of 1950.
Hughes won the toss as Liverpool captain and chose to defend the Gladys Street end.
Booooooooo ! Screamed the Blues (Lions)
Hooooraaaah ! Screamed the Reds (Christians)
The Lions first attack brought no blood.
That cannot be said about the Christians. Saunders slipped the ball to Evans. Evans passed the ball wide to Liddell, with no way forward, he sought and received support from Jackson. Sadly his effort to bring A’Court into the game was over hit.
A wrongly awarded free (Clawing) kick to Everton saw one of the Christians in the wall hit the floor and bent double. The rebound collected by Farrell was despatched to the crowd.
A great HOOF by O’Neill landed deep in the Liverpool end of the arena, and a misjudgement of timing by Lambert, saw Eglington coming close to drawing first blood.
In all, the first five minutes went to Everton on a split decision. Blue voted Blue, Red voted Red. But the assembled masses were aware these events are not decided in the first few forays, they would be decided by last man stood.
Liddell and Jones had now encountered four times. Jones was definitely ahead, three clawings down the leg, to one bit of pure genius, that made Jones start looking for a thorn in his paw.
Pott’s and Fielding then took turns in giving the ball to the crowd.
With the regularity of this event we assume they wanted the crowd to check it was still inflated properly.
On the next move Farrell’s poorly judged back pass to Jones saw O’neill having to move sharpish as Evans was sniffing around the box. As O’neill collected the ball Evans reminded him that he was on the pitch with an ever so gentle kick in the guts. (All’s fair in love and war).
The Evertonians behind the goal, howled their derision.
They howled their derision again when Hughes sent one out the ground when Hickson looked the better man. Discretion of course being better part of valour.
So far on balance now, the game had seen many a strong and meaty challenge, with both sides going into the tackle with intense determination. Nowadays known as sending the boot in, though with scrupulous fairness and gentlemanly conduct shown in handshaking after each tackle.
As the 15th minute passed this did not look like the bloodfest many thought it would be.
Everton had certainly shot more than Liverpool, but Rudham must have been thinking of nipping across the road for a pint at half time due to lack of involvement.
There were more roars coming from the terraced Lions than those on the park.
Then came the biggest roar of them all.
Lambert totally upended Eglington in the box.
The Screaming and spit, coming from the Gladys Street end, could have deafened and drowned the pigeon behind the goal.
Mr Ellis from Halifax however was right on the spot and there could be no arguing with the referee or his ability.
Nice one Archie Lad, thank god specksavers is 50 years in the future.
Three minutes later in the 18th minute Everton were proved right in doubling up on Liddell. Their decision to single out Liddell as the man to be most feared was proven correct.
When Rudham quickly released Lambert, he pushed the ball up to Saunders who in turn found Jackson. Jackson 20 yards into the Everton half saw Liddell sprinting through the middle and without control, quickly fired across to Liddell.
Liddell controlled the ball, rode a challenge and dribbled his way passed Jones and pushed it slightly forward to his left foot, commonly known in Liverpudlian circles as the “thunderbolt”. From a slightly angled position Billy pulled the trigger. There was a familiar deep gulp of air taken in the travelling Kopites. The sound of Leather hitting leather was louder than usual and could be heard in the pub opposite.
The sound of 30,000 Reds screaming GOAL ! Could be heard at the Pier Head.
The bouncing on the terraces of the Red clad teddies from Dingle, Toxteth and Garston was more than likely felt in Birkenhead.
The Reds in the crowd were still jumping, hugging and celebrating to notice that direct from the kick off Fielding had a great chance, but once again gave it to the crowd for ball examination.
What they did see with every blue in the ground was the charge by Jackson into the back of Eglington which brought him crashing down to earth. On the Screaming and Spitometer scale, it was definitely a two-pigeon killer. Sadly the resulting free kick saw Hughes head into the Gladys Street for them to inspect the ball. The unproductive corner saw a recheck by the same fans.
If only there had been someone as fast as Liddell supporting him up front Liverpool could have been 2 up.
With no one in the box, he was left with no other option but to shoot, after he had made Lello look like Lilo Lil, but the acute angle gave him little hope.
5 minutes later Hickson’s first shot on target hit the net, sadly… for the blues it was ruled offside and to be fair to the Gladys Street fans there was very little protest. Only reaching 1 on the dead pigeon sipping scale.
Just before the half hour mark the Christians went two up.
Liddell went passed Lilo Lil again and then skipped passed the flying claws of Rankin.
His cross ball saw Evans and Anderson go for the same ball, but Evans “fresh-air” shot luckily found Anderson, who slipped the ball to A’Court running in from the left. From eight yards A’Court made no mistake.
Ranger in the Echo reported “I can see myself having to sit in a sack cloth and ashes, if Liverpool win this, for having the temerity to suggest Liverpool would be like lambs to the slaughter”.
Two minutes later Liddell made a mistake !
(Sorry just let me check that again)
Two minutes later Liddell made a mistake ??
(Second and third check)
Bugger me ! I’ve read it now four times and it’s correct.
Ok lets continue, and assume either the typesetter in the Echo was pissed, or THE LEGEND actually made a mistake.
Two minutes later Liddell made a mistake….. He slipped in the mud and lost his feet.
(Ah that explains it then. The quagmire known to all Blues as the Hallowed turf, was in fact a mud bath)
At this point the Christians were making the Lions look tame. (ah that’s better)
And then the moment all Reds were dreading and all the Blues were praying for.
Potts scored from Eglington’s cross. But wait.
The linesman on the near side had his flag up. To be fair the Liverpool defence made no claims. The Red fans to be fair had also accepted the setback.
The Gladys Street to be fair to them, broke the record and deafened and drowned three pigeons.
At Half time Liverpool went off to a storm of cheers from all sections of the ground.
Everton were clapped off by the loyal.
The referee was knee deep in spit and slightly deaf in his left ear.
The Half time score
Everton 2, Liverpool 2 (But none of their goals counted, so after review)
Everton 0, Liverpool 2.
Half time review.
Hickson had tried his very best to put some punch into the Everton front, but Hughes had a counter to every play in the book Hickson had.
Whereas Jones and Lilo Lil had no answers to the questions posed by King Billy.
Six minutes into the second half Hughes received a terrible blow and was injured too badly to carry on in his role.
The change of tactics saw Hughes play up front, Liddell move to left half and Twentyman cover at centre.
With the new formation our main threat Liddell had moved into defence and our best defender Hughes was hobbling around up front. This did not bode well.
But on the 57th minute Long John Evans scored Liverpool’s 3rd. A fantastic shot by Jackson could only be blocked by O’Niell and Long John (not Silver) popped in the easiest of chances.
The athletic Potts treated us all to an overhead cycle kick which narrowly cleared the bar shortly after, But the final word was saved for Long John who struck Gold not Silver.
On the 75th minute, Liverpool were awarded a free kick when Hickson clearly fouled Saunders, for which in sportsmanlike fashion Hickson made a quick gesture of remorse. The Reds broke down the right and a beautiful centre by Jackson was met with a bullet-like header from Long John Evans.
Full time Score
Everton NIL, Liverpool 4
After Match review.
Everton could not handle Liddell in the First half and when they thought it was a blessing to see him retire to defence. They did not give John Evans the same respect.
They would have done better had they heeded the game after my fathers 21st Birthday.
At Anfield on the Wednesday following Liverpool beat Bristol Rovers 5-3.
LONG JOHN EVANS SCORED ALL FIVE !!!!!
Headlines in the Liverpool Echo.
“Liddell Blasts Everton Out”
“18th Minute Goal Starts Reds On Warpath”
“Liverpool Players Mobbed at final whistle”
R4 29/01/1955 Everton Away W 4-0 Liddell (18), A'Court (29), Evans 2 (57, 75) 72000
The rest as they say is written in History.
One of the Greatest Victories in LFC History.
Funny it coincided with our worst ever. We finished 11th in Division 2 that year.
Our Worst ever position, then and ever since.
This is not to mourn the great man, more to celebrate the Legends Life. A life that truly inspired and gave hope to Liverpool fans during the days "Down amongst the dead men"
"It's great to hear so much support for a true gentleman. From my point of view he was not only a football legend, but a caring grandfather. All of your wonderful stories really do paint the picture of the selfless man my grandfather was. We would travel to Liverpool every new year to see my grandparents and Billy would always take us out to Aigburth vale or Sefton park for a kick around with the ball. When I think back i realise that he always let me and my brother win, and we weren't as good as we thought we were!!
Sadly I was far to young to see him play, but have marvelled at his skill and presence on video, and heard many stories from the man himself. I was deeply touched by the number of fans who came to show their love of this great man at his funeral, and thank you all for keeping his legend alive."
A tribute from Billy's grandson, Andy Liddell