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Jimmy Case - Wreaking havoc

Photo for LFChistory.net - Arnie

"Case as a young teenager was quite small for his age. His credentials, however, were established locally when during a football game between the Garston Church Choir and the Allerton Scouts he gave the goalkeeper of the choir a hefty kick when the score was 23-22, with coats as goalposts. Jimmy established his reputation as a winner, if not a bad loser. Even though Jimmy's team lost, his legend was born."

Jimmy Case signed for Liverpool on 1st of May 1973 and made his debut two years later in a 3-1 win against Queen's Park Rangers at Anfield in the last league game of the season. Liverpool finished second to Brian Clough's Derby. From December onwards in the following season Case was a regular in the side, playing 39 games when the League was won and culminating in a UEFA Cup win vs FC Bruges over two legs.

Case was the key player in the first leg vs Bruges when he came on as a substitute at half-time for John Toshack when Liverpool were 2-0 down at half-time. Case explains Toshack's substitution in a post-match interview: "It wasn't that Tosh was playing badly, but manager Bob Paisley and the coaches felt something had to be changed, the pattern had to be altered. The Kop and the supporters were magnificent that night. Throats must have been red-raw with cheering. But you know what? I believe those fans liked to see us with our backs to the wall because they knew we could win." Ray Kennedy scored in the 59th minute and Case equalized two minutes later after a Ray Kennedy shot had struck the post: "I thought for a split second that the shot was going in, but suddenly the ball rebounded and was coming my way. It could have hit my thigh and run out of play, but I jumped instinctively and side-footed the ball into the net." Kevin Keegan scored Liverpool's winning goal from the penalty spot only a couple of minutes after Case's equalizer. Three Liverpool goals in five minutes in a European final reminiscent of Istanbul.

Case was in and out of side in the 1976-77 season but became a firm fixture in the first eleven in the second part of the season when key league games were played and trophies were won. He scored two goals in the 3-0 win vs FC Zurich in the European Cup semi final's 2nd leg and was in the starting line-up when Liverpool won their first European Cup in Rome. The League was won for the 2nd year running. Case was a first-team regular for the next three seasons adding a European cup medal to his trophy cabinet as well as two League winners' medals. His last appearance for Liverpool was as an 86th minute substitute in the European Cup final in Paris where Liverpool won Real Madrid 1-0, which was Case's third European cup win.

LFChistory jumped at the opportunity of interviewing Case courtesy of Retro Reds. Case had a glittering 6-year-career at Liverpool, but the three-time European champion started playing regular football in humble surroundings.

I was actually playing for a dockers' club when I was 16 years of age [Blue Union in Garston]. Just after that at 17 years I started playing for a non-league side, which was South Liverpool. Same club that John Aldridge come from as well. As I was playing there I was scouted by Tom Saunders and John Bennison, who were on the scouting staff at the time. They saw me play and asked me to go for a two week trial at Liverpool. I took two weeks off work because I was an apprentice electrician as well. Basically I did a two week trial when everybody goes on holiday. I took two weeks of full-time training at Anfield and at the end of the two weeks they asked me to sign full-time, but I actually turned them down because I had done two years of my electrician's apprenticeship which is a four year term and I wanted to continue that which in the end I did. Liverpool took over my semi-professional contract at South Liverpool and I did that for two years until I was twenty, signed full-time pro and by the time I was just short of 21 years of age that's when I made my debut.

Jimmy Case congratulated on scoring his first-ever goal for Liverpool
in a 3-2 win over Spurs on 23 August 1975

Did you always score so many goals before you joined Liverpool?

Even though I was small when I was a young boy I always had a decent hard shot from distance. Even when I was 8-years-old I was asked to take the goal-kicks because nobody could kick it that far.

46 goals for Liverpool is an impressive statistic for a midfielder.

That's what it amounts to, but when you look at that team you are talking about Terry McDemott scoring goals, Ray Kennedy and Graeme Souness... all midfielders. I scored quite a few goals in Europe. A hat-trick against Slask Wroclaw. Others like in the European Cup semi-final vs Borussia Moenchengladbach and in the Bruges game in the final of UEFA. The emphasis was on Toshack and Keegan. If they paid a lot of attention to them there should be a more scope for other players. That's where I come into it and was able to get up front. It wasn't that I missed that many, it was just the chance of getting into the box and taking them.

Ray Wilkins feels the full force of Jimmy Case's tackling
in the FA Cup final between Brighton and Man Utd

Bryan Robson asked who was the dirtiest opponent he had ever faced: "I won't say he was dirty but certainly the hardest opponent was Jimmy Case. He could certainly look after himself. He was very clever about it as well."

The ball is there to be won. It stems back to where you go to school. An 8-year-old is told by his sportmaster. 'If you hold back, you're the one who will get hurt.' I took them words on board, and let's put it this way, I never held back. Later on in life you get a reputation that you go into for 50-50, full blooded every day. After that you don't really need to get in, you just go towards it and if it's 50-50, he'll back off. Then you just take it anyway. You do learn them type of things. There are other things where some people try to take you on. You've got to be wary of them and sort them out.

I used to fight all the time with David Speedie and Dennis Wise. Wisey was funny because if you were both on the floor after a challenge. I was still getting up and he was already standing up. He goes to get you up like that and then he will pinch you like that (pinches me in the side very hard). I know all about that ones. As he pinched me like that I looked at him like that. I never moved (stares at me menacingly) and he knows he's gonna get it as soon as he... It's as simple as that.

Did you grab a pie while you were playing at Anfield?

Looking for a piece of pie...The pie, yeah! I was born and bred here. The Kemlyn Road stand is quite close to the pitch, but in them days it was right on top of it before the stand got changed. I'd be standing out there was a bit of a lull in the game, someone got injured or something like that. You can hear people when the game stop. This fella behind me says 'Hello, Jimmy.' I went, 'Alright, mate.' He had this pie and goes, 'Do you wanna bite?' I had a little bite, gave it back and just carried on playing. It was just an interaction with the fans if you like.

You described yourself once as as a bread and butter player.

I was just so pleased just to be able to get into the side. I knew that it meant everything to me coming through the ranks and playing with the likes of Ian Callaghan, Tommy Smith and Kevin Keegan. A lot of the players they were better than you. You do your job the way you do it and if it satifies the manager and the trainer Joe Fagan then you warrant a place in the side. So you listen to them and carry out their instructions and that's basically what I did. You get the ball and you're looking to play the gifted players in like Kenny Dalglish or Kevin Keegan. Souness was gifted in his passing ability and Ray Kennedy on the far side, Heighway... You just get in there yourself, score when you can and help out.

You lost your place in 1981 to Sammy Lee when you were 26-years-old and had a bit of a reputation as a trouble-maker.

Me and Ray Kennedy got arrested by the police. We'd just played Everton that day. The club took us away a couple of nights in Wales or Blackpool or a place like that. We let our hair down a bit and that's exactly what we did. The club in them days didn't like that type of things. They thought I was a bit of a bad lad. These days if you get breathalyzed... like Jan Molby terrorised the Wirral one time didn't he with four police cars after him, but he was still at the club. I am not the only number eight at Liverpool to get arrested, put it that way. Steven Gerrard was the other one.

They were looking to get Mark Lawrenson in and that's where I got asked to make weight, but I didn't know it was a make weight at the time. I didn't want to go anyway, to be honest, but when you're asked twice, 'Do you want to speak to another team?', it's another thing. Even though Sammy Lee is a really good friend of mine, I reckon I would have given a good go for the position, put it that way.

Click on the image below to read the article from The Times on Case's and Kennedy's arrest.

Click on image to read the article from The TimesRay Kennedy once said of his friendship with Case: "Fines, court appearances, jail... we were bad for each other. We had a bit of fun, but we did it at the right time. At hotels, when we asked for the room key, the receptionist would dive under the desk and say: ‘Not you two!’ Everyone has a pal, but Jim and I went deeper than that. If something went wrong, one of us sorted it out. It was a good friendship."

You and Ray Kennedy were a dangerous duo and have a long-lasting friendship.

In them days if I'd walked through that door then, within not even a minute, 30 seconds, Ray would probably walk behind me. That's the way we were, wherever we went, when we were abroad as a team or travelling.

Ray has been suffering from Parkinson's for years. Do you keep in touch on a regular basis?

I spoke to Ray a little while ago. He's still the same, he'll never change. He won't get better, but hopefully he doesn't get worse quickly. On the phone it all depends on how you catch him. He has half an hour spells and then he has to take medicine. If he is tired you can't understand what he is saying. You might phone up and get a good response, but next time you won't. Then you have to ring him up again, but then he doesn't answer because he's probably having a sleep.

You played for Brighton from 1981 to 1985 and eliminated Liverpool out of the FA Cup.

We beat Liverpool in the FA Cup. I come to the edge of the box, the ball was just there and I let fly. It just clipped Ronnie Whelan's shoulder and went over Bruce Grobbelaar and that was the winner 2-1 against Liverpool for Brighton in the FA Cup at Anfield. That in itself was a bit of a strange feeling. I got asked by the TV people, 'Jimmy, do you realise that you just knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup and it was Bob Paisley's last chance to win the FA Cup as he was retiring?' I said, 'Well, I haven't won it.' That's all I said to them. He wouldn't lose any sleep if we would have lost, so that's the way it goes. You play for the club you're signed to. [Brighton faced Man. Utd in the final] We got beat in the second game. We drew in the first game. We were the underdogs. That's life, ain't 'it?

You made 200+ appearances for Southampton. Your manager, Chris Nicholl, said about you: "If the game is a language, then Jimmy is undoubtedly a professor." What did he mean by that? 

Chris Nicholl took over as manager at Southampton when Lawrie McMenemy left the club. It was in my twilight years. I joined the club when I was about 31 and I played for six seasons and captained the side and hardly missed a game for them. I played nearly the same amount of games for them as I did for Liverpool. What he means is that... when you're in the central midfield you organize and get people into position because at that stage the team was full of youngsters. There was Jason Dodd, Francis Benali, they were the full-backs. Rodney Wallace and Danny Wallace and then you had Barry Horne, Andy Townsend, Alan Shearer and Matt Le Tissier. I looked after them and that was my job and that was probably what he probably meant by that. You know the moods of games, you need to tighten up the midfield or you let them go as you're on top of the game and then you call them back in.

Ray Kennedy and Jimmy Case during a signing for Retro Reds

You played until you were 41 and a half. You were naturally very fit.

I never looked after myself. You used to drink like a fish. When I trained I trained hard and drank when we were allowed to drink with the lads. Always enjoyed myself. I used to eat and still do eat whatever I want to eat. I've never had a problem that way.

You had fantastic highlights in Europe for Liverpool

- The 1977 European Cup final

I know I gave the ball away to Allan Simonsen for their goal. Normally I would just turn and knock the ball to Phil [Neal] without even looking and on that occasion he had already set off and that's where Allan Simonsen cheating a little bit and sitting in his position. He should have gone with Phil. I got him the European Player of the year through that pass.

- The 1976 UEFA Cup final 1st leg - Liverpool were 2-0 down vs Bruges at Anfield.

I came on at half-time and turned it around. John Toshack got taken off and I come on and changed the game. You're supposed to prepare the player to go unto the pitch. I thought I'm gonna get a big speech, 'Do this, do that.' They said, 'Go on and cause fucking havoc.' So that's what I did. And that were the exact words out of Joe Fagan and Ronnie Moran.

Interview by Arnie (editor@lfchistory.net) - Copyright - LFChistory.net

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