The first half of this game was a pretty dour time for Liverpool who created little if any chances. Blackburn however could have scored three if not for the valiant efforts of Younger. No matter what was thrown at him he produced quality saves every time. The efforts of Liddell up front were wasted, he had only seen the ball twice in the first half and had little assistance from those around him. A'Court was having his worst game for some time, he was caught half asleep more than once and it nearly cost Liverpool a goal when Stephenson came in from behind him to steel the ball away. Stephenson passed the ball to Dobing on the right wing and his cross landed at Douglas' feet four yards out, but he failed to connect with an open goal in front of him. Best described as "a fresh air shot". There were a few incidents late in this half that roused the crowd to enthusiasm, and Dobing came closest to waking the crowd up from their ten minute snooze by hitting the post late in the half. The Liverpool goal had another amazing escape when Younger saved brilliantly from McLeod at almost point blank range. But the referee did the travelling reds a favour when he blew for half time.
I don't know what was said to both teams at half time, but I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall in either dressing room. The second half exploded from the kick off and FOUR goals were scored in a FOUR minute period. In the 47th minute Murdoch squared the ball and Taylor had it under control, but fiddled so long with it that Liddell nipped in from behind him, took it right of his toe and hooked it into the net from 30 yds. This was a typical Liddell goal, get the ball, shoot and score, little fuss or ado and a fitting reward for his determination and persistence. The keeper just watched as it sailed over his head into the net. The look that Leyland gave to Taylor was priceless. Within two minutes however, Blackburn had struck back. A corner was taken by McLeod, and Douglas and Clayton both went for it as the ball came floating over near the six yard line. As far as I could see it was Douglas who connected and though the ball was headed away by White off the line, the referee decided it had crossed the line before being cleared. If this wasn't bad enough straight from the kick off Stephenson stole the ball off Harrow, ran toward the Liverpool goal and chipped the ball over Younger as he advanced.
Liverpool had to kick off twice within a minute, but this time, Liddell passed to Murdoch, who returned the ball to Liddell. Liddell went passed Vernon with a dropped shoulder, passed the lunging McGrath, hurdled over a desperate tackle by Eckersley, kept the ball under control and thumped it from 25 yds out. Leyland again looked shocked at what he had just seen, but just shook his head and picked the ball out of the net. Liddell's thump had flew past him at the speed of light and in his wake lay four Blackburn players still picking themselves up. The crowd was so silent, you could here a pin drop, no one could believe their eyes, the reds could, we've seen it all before, but this must go down as the hardest hit of Liddell's career. So the score was two all and only 50 minutes had now elapsed.
In the last four minutes the crowd had seen something they had never seen at Ewood Park and are never likely to again. Johnny McIntire once scored four goals against Everton here and never since then has the crowd had four minutes of such concentrated thrills.
Two minutes later Eckersley threw in another desperate tackle on Murdoch which took his legs away, but the referee amazingly waved play on, when it was obvious to all that a penalty was the right decision. From the 60th minute Blackburn where doing all the attacking, and Liverpool defence were under severe pressure. Younger pulled off an astonishing save from Stephenson, which even the striker applauded. But pressure eventually took its toll and Blackburn went back in the lead. McGrath put the ball through to Vernon, Vernon swerved one way and then the other. Found Dobing to his right who scored from just outside the box. For some minutes the Liverpool defence were tested over and over again and couldn't get the ball out of their own half. Blackburn's forwards were given great support by both wing halves and were unlucky not to get another goal. Younger again came to Liverpool's rescue, after stopping a volley from Douglas, he also stopped the rebound from Dobing, a miraculous double save from where I'm sat.
Liddell was struggling up front to get any ball, but he continued to battle for the ball deep in his own half. His dogged persistence paid of finally when he robbed the ball from Woods, running over the half way line he looked up and saw the keeper on the edge of the box, he hit the ball from probably 45 yds out. Sadly it hit the post and came out at the retreating goalkeeper, hitting him on the knees it went for a corner. The sighs of relief around Ewood Park could be heard from outside the ground. Some people laughed, some people stood mouth agog, no one really believed the audacity of the man from Liverpool. From the resulting corner Liddell got his just desserts, he rose well above all the defenders and headed the ball over the keeper. Leyland and all the Blackburn fans had seen enough of Liddell that day, so the referee sent them home with the final whistle.
People will talk about this Liddell hat-trick for some time a right footed hook, a left footed thunderbolt and a deft header. All the thrills came in the second half and Liverpool fought back twice from being down to level terms. Liddell was the hero. He scored one of the best hat-tricks this writer has ever seen and fought like a demon for every ball. It was cut and thrust football and although Blackburn were better in attack, their finishing was not as deadly as the reds. Younger was brilliant throughout the whole 90 minutes in the Liverpool goal and credit should be given for his performance today.
Copyright - Liverpool Echo (Thanks to Wooltonian for the article)
"Some contend it was the very successes enjoyed by the later Liverpool sides of the likes of Souness, Dalglish and Hansen which meant Liddell remained relatively unheralded, although those who watched Liverpool play in the Liddell-pool days have no trouble hailing him. Even those who didn’t see him in the flesh have been bequeathed the views of their fathers. "It is not negotiable," said Stephen Done, the curator of the Liverpool FC museum. "Billy Liddell is the greatest ever Liverpool player. End of discussion."
4th November 2004 - From The Scotsman, the occasion being when a memorial plaque of Billy Liddell was unveiled at Anfield