Articles

Raisbeck returns home to Scotland - Chapter VII


A banner from 1911 that was used to drape the sides of the Partick Thistle horse-drawn carriage
that took supporters to away matches. It now hangs in the social club at Firhill, Thistle's stadium.

Just once in a while you come across something so important that relates to the history of Liverpool Football Club that it makes your heart race. You can't expect every Red to be as thrilled so all you can do is emphasize its importance. A first-hand account of Liverpool FC's daily life in the club's second decade virtually did not exist and neither a direct quote from the club's first superstar; "the silent man of football"- one Alexander Galloway Raisbeck. 

When searching through the British Newspaper archive in January 2013 I discovered a small announcement in the Dundee Courier on 19 March 1915 of a series of articles by "Alick Raisbeck" that were to be published in the Weekly News. This amounted to gold dust in my estimation and certainly to other Reds who are interested in the formative years of our club and the life of this man, whom I rate so highly that I believe he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Elisha Scott, Billy Liddell, Kenny Dalglish and Steven Gerrard as the outstanding figure at the club in his era.
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Many years of football were starting to take their toll on Raisbeck's body and his mind had wandered "hame" to Scotland after the completion of the 1908-09 season.

LEAVING LIVERPOOL

"Maurice Parry [image right], who had been a great pal of mine at Anfield, was not being retained, and it was while I was doing a good turn for him that I found a berth for myself. Officials from Partick Thistle were in Liverpool in connection with Parry. Knowing Mr George Easton, the secretary, very well I was asked my opinion of Parry. I gave him a good recommendation as I had always liked Maurice’s play, although this wasn’t the opinion of many. When I heard that Partick Thistle were removing from Meadowside to their present home, Firhill, and that the officials were anxious to get together a strong side, I casually remarked to friend Easton that I shouldn’t mind a shift myself. The Partick secretary did not at first believe me, but when he learned that I was serious on the matter he lost no time in getting into touch with the Liverpool officials, with the result that I was transferred soon after the season closed. I regretted leaving Liverpool for I had been particularly happy there. Everyone was so nice that it was impossible to keep from making new friends. I am glad to say that I left Liverpool without having a grievance with anyone, and can return to the shipping port at any time and find everybody as kind as they were in my football days. And that’s saying a lot!

Although I had such a great regard for Liverpool I didn’t stay longer than I could help in the shipping port after putting pen to paper for Partick Thistle. My heart was bent on hame, you see. At the best of times flittings are a nuisance and I was thankful when I could enter my house at Kelvinside without falling over some article of furniture.

Early on in the close season of 1909 I ran up against Director Lindsay, who, it will be remembered, was present when I became a Partick player. I was doing nothing special at the time, I had no where in particular to go and so when asked by Mister Lindsay to go and have a look at their new enclosure I was only too willing to accept his invitation. My first impressions of Firhill I shall never forget them. When I entered what was supposed to be the playing field I could not help but smile and remark to Director Lindsay, “Are we going to play here this August or next?”

You ought to have seen it. One half of the playing field was not so bad. It was kin’ o’ level, but oh! the other half! Tons of rubbish were heaped up here and there and one would have been lucky to find a blade of grass. I tell you I nearly had a fit when I saw what I had come to after the beautiful enclosure of Anfield. And I may just as well tell the truth - I was at the time sorry that I had left Liverpool. That was my first impression but not a lasting one I am pleased to say."


Partick Thistle in the 1909/10 season, Raisbeck's first at the club.

ENGLISH VS. SCOTTISH STYLES

"There is a mighty difference between the game played in England and that on this side of the Tweed. It did not take me long to note the difference either. I was more fortunate than Parry in this respect that I had played before in Scotland, but I was only a lad at the time however. My eleven years with Liverpool made me familiar with the English methods but all the same I soon tumbled to the Scottish game. Parry, however, never struck his game. His last season with Liverpool was his best one and it was on that showing that I gave such a good recommendation to Manager Easton when he made inquiries about him. Parry wasn’t suited to the Scottish game and that explains his rather short stay in Scotland.

I must admit I have a greater liking for the style adopted by English clubs. It may not be so pretty to watch but there is never a dull moment during the whole ninety minutes. Speed is a great asset in English football and no matter how clever a player may be he is not considered to be up to much if he hasn’t the speed. The dash shown by some English clubs is a thing to marvel at.

I don’t want you to think that English clubs do not play a scientific game. They do but the finer touches are perhaps not so noticeable as in Scotland for the simple reason that the movements of English players are carried through more quickly. There is no hanging on to the ball; the player who persists in this soon discovers that this game does not pay.

A blend of English dash and Scottish brains would, to my mind, constitute an ideal side. Why were Newcastle United the best team in England for ten years? Simply because the Newcastle Directorate got together a side which comprised the best English and Scottish talent. They blended well and the officials reaped the benefit for the mint of money expended.

AN INJURY FINISHES HIS PLAYING CAREER

When I commenced season 1913-14 I had little idea that within the short space of twelve months I would finish one career and enter upon a fresh one. Yet this was what happened and no one was more surprised than myself.

Before I gave the Partick Secretary a sample of my penmanship for the fifth time I had come to no definite decision that I was to give up the game at the close of that season. The thought was ever in my mind that I had had a long enough innings and that it was about time I had laid aside for ever the football togs. But, mark you, I was playing almost as well as ever, although my speed was not what it once was. In fact, at the present moment I feel as fit as ever I was; and could go on to the field and take part in a hard ninety minutes’ football.

Dundee was my unlucky club. During my five seasons with Partick I received many disappointments when opposed to the Jute Men. I believe I was only once on the winning side against Dundee and we met on well over a dozen occasions. It was while playing Dundee in the League that I received the injury which finished my career as a player. It didn’t look as if it would turn out to be serious but it is often the simple-looking injuries which cause so much trouble."


"I thought little of the knock I received on my hench-bone although I was pained for the moment. I was not forced to leave the field and felt no ill effects until I was in the dressing-room at the finish. I was not satisfied that all was well and asked the club doctor to examine me. He told me that the injury was only slight but it could develop into appendicitis. I wasn’t barred from playing. I think I played in half-a-dozen games before I was forced to give up the game for the time being and undergo an operation.

While I was playing I felt little the worse although at times I suffered much pain, especially on the days following a match. I could walk about and run a little but when I made an effort to reach anything with my leg a bug lump would appear on the injured limb only to disappear when I took matters easy.

I grew a bit uneasy at this swelling and was far from satisfied that I was doing the right thing in playing. As I was living out of Glasgow it was not always convenient for me to see the club doctor so he advised me to consult my own physician in Larkhall. I was advised by him to consult a professor.

When I called on the professor he told me that I might play for twenty years without doing myself any injury but if I received a knock on the injured part it might prove dangerous. He advised me to undergo an operation and I wasted little time after receiving his advice. It was afternoon when I called at his consulting rooms and I was in bed in McAlpine’s Home in Glasgow that same evening by eight o’clock after marking the journey from Larkhall. I was operated on the following morning, which happened to be Christmas Day. It was certainly the strangest Christmas I have ever spent. It was a wise course I was advised to take for my health has improved ever so much since."


Partick Thistle in 1913/14 - Raisbeck's last season at Firhill

"While I was in the nursing home I received my benefit. The date was settled when I signed on at the beginning of the season and although most of the arrangements were made, the Partick management did a lot to make the benefit a success in my absence. The side which opposed the Thistle was a sponsored one and as this entailed a good deal of work the Firhill management deserve every credit, for they spared no effort and saw that everything was up to concert pitch.

RAISBECK TAKES HIS LAST BENEFIT
 

Although the weather was anything but favourable - the ground was covered in snow - I had every reason to feel proud at the manner in which the football public turned out. It was very good of the players and officials of the other clubs to do so much for me without receiving a halfpenny for their trouble. My old friend, the late Tom Watson, came from Liverpool at his own expense along with “Parky” [image on the right] and before the match paid me a visit at the nursing home. Their presence did much to cheer me up. Old Tom was just the sort to put new life into anyone who was the least bit depressed.  

It was not until I was in the nursing home that I fully realised how many good and true football friends I had. I did not get much chance to feel lonely for I had visitors almost every day of the week.

I played very little after my operation. The games I did take part in were only friendlies. I was hardly robust enough to take part in the more strenuous League games and I don’t suppose the Thistle officials dared to risk me. Before the season ended I had fully made up my mind to quit the game but I had little idea of what I was to do next. They say that all good comes to those who wait but I had little or no waiting. Before the last day of the season I found myself in a new role and it was indeed a stroke of luck that I came to secure what was to be my future occupation."



Partick Thistle's skipper

MANAGEMENT WITH HAMILTON ACCIES
 
"As most of you will know I live at Larkhall and while with the Thistle I made the journey to Glasgow every morning. Quite a number of officials and players used to travel in the same train and it was on a very rare occasion that I had to make the journey alone. A frequent traveller was a Hamilton official. About the end of March, 1914 I met this official in the train and in the course of our conversation - we always talked of football affairs - he mentioned to me that the Accies had decided to employ a paid Secretary and Manager.

After talking about this position I asked more as a joke than anything else “How dae ye think I wid dae?” “Man, Alick,” said the Hamilton official, “I believe you would just be the man for us. Why do you not send in your application?”

I thought the matter over after leaving my friend and decided to have a “shot” at the Hamilton managership. I did not see any harm in making application, although I must admit I had little hope of proving successful.

However, I was; and I cannot say I have any regrets. The Hamilton officials did everything to assist me in my new work. I always had a sneaking regard for the Accies. It was the club nearest to my native heath and this made me strive all the harder to be a success. I’m liking the work and if I’m half successful in my new venture as I was as a player there will be no one better pleased than Alick Raisbeck."



From the Sunday Post on 29 October 1950 - CLICK TO ENLARGE

Raisbeck wrote these articles for the Weekly News in 1915 when he had been manager for one season at Hamilton. He served as a manager and director at Hamilton for over six years before returning to England to take over as manager of second division Bristol City on 28 December 1921. City were relegated but bounced straight back as third division south champions in the 1922/23 season. That very season manager David Ashworth left League champions Liverpool just before Christmas and Raisbeck was tipped as his successor before Matt McQueen took over in mid-February. Raisbeck resigned on 29 June 1929 after Bristol City finished twentieth out of 22 teams narrowly escaping relegation from Second Division. Raisbeck later managed Halifax Town (1930-1936), Chester (1936-1938) and Bath City (1938) before returning to Liverpool in 1939, not as manager as he once hoped to, but as a scout. Alick passed away on 12 March 1949.

Written by Arnie ([email protected]) - Copyright LFChistory.net - Many thanks to Stuthejag at the Partick Thistle History Archive for the team images and the cartoon.
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