It is no surprise that I recall my first visit to a League football match. I was taken by Uncle JPD on 17th March 1956 during Don Welsh’s last season as Liverpool manager. GB had already declared himself as an Everton supporter and I was more than happy to enjoy this adult treat, going alone with Uncle JPD to a real football match. He even bought me a programme which I kept for many years. And I much preferred the colour red to Everton’s blue.

Billy Liddell

Liverpool were still a Second Division team in those days and the first match I saw was against Swansea Town. Liverpool beat the visitors 4-1. My hero Billy Liddell scored one of the goals inside the first two minutes, winger Joe Dickson bagged his final two reds goals in that match and Eric Anderson scored the fourth two minutes from the final whistle. Hard luck on anyone who arrived late or left early. The squad for that match was –

1 Dave Underwood Goalkeeper

2 John Molyneux Left back

3 Ronnie Moran Right back

4 Roy Saunders Left half

5 Dick White Centre half

6 Geoff Twentyman Right half

7 Brian Jackson Outside left

8 Eric Anderson Inside left

9 Billy Liddell Centre forward

10 Joe Dickson Inside right

11 Alan A’ Court Outside right

Knowing now how short-sighted I must have been at the time I wonder how much of the match I actually saw. But the atmosphere of the 48,217 crowd was as thrilling an experience as one could hope for at the age of six.

Billy Liddell’s sons – the twins – went to Ryebank and were in the year below me.  It was great to see one’s hero drive up to the school gates and pick them up from school.

Phil Taylor’s three years as Liverpool manager began shortly after but I think it was about 1959 or 1960 before I went again to Anfield – the start of the Bill Shankly era. Liverpool were still in the second division but not for long. By the end of his fifteen year reign they were one of the top clubs in Europe.

Roger Hunt

Another of my most memorable early games came during Shankly’s last season in Division Two and again Swansea were the victims. This time the score at Anfield was 5-0 and by then I had spectacles to help me to see what was going on. All the goals came in the second half with my other hero – Roger Hunt – scoring a hat-trick after Jimmy Melia had scored the first two. Liverpool won promotion to the First Divison (later re-named the Premiership) that year and have never been out of top flight football since then but I can always point out that I began supporting them in the days when they were a second division team. I’m not a fair-weather friend.

In those days one would have been ashamed if one could not recite the team sheet faster than one’s times tables. The squad that day was –

1 Bert Slater Goalkeeper

2 Dick White Left back

3 Gerry Byrne Right back

4 Gordon Milne Left half

5 Ron Yeats Centre half

6 Tommy Leishman Right half

7 Ian Callaghan Outside left

8 Roger Hunt Inside left

9 Ian St John Centre forward

10 Jimmy Melia Inside right

11 Alan A’ Court Outside right

I have been to many other memorable matches over the years but those were two of the best from my early years.

(Roger Hunt was to go on and be part of the 1966 England World Cup winning squad and with regard to the controversial goal in the final Geoff Hurst always commented “Would Roger have turned away from the goal celebrating if it hadn’t been over the line.  Never – he would have followed it up and made it his own.”)

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