Player profile

Tommy Lawrence

Tommy Lawrence

Birthdate: 14 May 1940
Birthplace: Dailly, Scotland
Other clubs: Warrington Town (1957), Tranmere Rovers (1971-74), Chorley (1974-75)
Bought from: Warrington Town
Signed for LFC: 30.10.1957
International debut: 09.06.1963 vs. Republic of Ireland
International caps: 3/0 - 03.05.1969
Liverpool debut: 27.10.1962
Last appearance: 26.04.1971
Contract expiry: 10.11.1971
Win ratio: 51.28% W:200 D:98 L:92
Honours: League Championship 1963/64, 1965/66; FA Cup 1965
LFC league games/goals: 306 / 0
Total LFC games/goals: 390 / 0

Player profile

Strong, brave and consistent, Lawrence was a fearless goalkeeper, even if he was affectionately dubbed "The Flying Pig" by supporters who felt he was carrying a bit too much weight! Lawrence quit working in the Rylands wire factory in Warrington and the local amateur team and signed professional forms at Liverpool on 30 October 1957, a few months after his seventeenth birthday. Lawrence had been at Anfield for five years, when he got his opportunity in Liverpool's first season in the top-flight for eight years. Jim Furnell got injured 13 games into the 1962/63 season and Lawrence grabbed his chance with both hands. He typically didn't let go of the shirt for the next eight years. Ray Clemence had to wait over two years to get the number 1 shirt off him. Lawrence only missed four League matches in six seasons as Liverpool won the first division championship twice plus the FA Cup for the first time in the club’s history. Lawrence's captain at Liverpool, Ron Yeats, told LFChistory.net a priceless story about the 'keeper he played with for nine years. "Tommy Lawrence was frightened to death of Shanks. He was just a young boy. He had been there since he was 16-year-old. I’ll always remember we were playing Arsenal and we were winning 1-0 with 20 minutes to go and I thought, ‘What a good win this will be at Arsenal.’ Joe Baker hit the ball from 25 yards. I am not joking, but he stubbed his toe first and then hit the ball. It trickled by me and I went ‘It’s yours, Tommy!' Tommy was on the line and opened his legs and the bloody ball went right through him. I couldn’t believe it. They put the pressure on us for the last five minutes, but we held out. I am thinking to myself all this time, ‘When we get into that dressing room I am going to get into the bath before Shanks comes in the door.’ Little did I know that the ten players I was playing with thought the same thing. When the final whistle went... if we had sprinted that much during the game we would have won it easily. Everybody was trying to hurry into the dressing room but it wasn’t quick enough. The door opened and in came Shanks. His face was blue and I am thinking, ‘Here it goes.’ He went: ‘Where is he?’ I didn’t realise but big Tommy Lawrence was behind me. I was three inches bigger than him and didn’t know where he was. His finger went up and he said, ‘I am here, boss.’ ‘Where?’ ‘I am here, boss.’ He said, ‘Before you say anything, boss, I want to apologize to you and the lads. I should have never opened my legs to that ball.’ Shankly went, ‘it’s not your fault. It’s your f****** mother who should have never opened her legs.’"  

Bill Shankly was reluctant to break up the team that had brought so much success to the club in the middle of the 1960’s but a humiliating FA Cup quarter-final defeat to second division Watford proved to be Lawrence’s penultimate appearance in the Liverpool first team. Clemence, who had made his League debut at Nottingham Forest at the end of January 1970, was picked for the next League match after the cup exit. Lawrence knew that he would have to move to get first-team football again and made the short trip across the river Mersey at the age of 31 to join Tranmere Rovers, shortly to be joined by his old Liverpool skipper Ron Yeats. Lawrence added 80 Football League appearances to his total before moving on to non-league Chorley as player-coach. Twelve months later he returned to the Rylands wire factory in Warrington as a quality controller until his retirement.

The stockily-built Scotsman was the first sweeper-keeper as Lawrence explains. "Shankly said: 'Right Tommy, you're not playing on the six yard line. When the ball's on the halfway line, you've got to be on the 18-yard line. If the ball shoots through, you've got to be out to kick it - a sort of stopper," Lawrence said. "At first I was frightened to death. We did it at Melwood a few times, then we tried at Anfield. Well, I'm standing there and the Kop is giving me some stick. 'Get back on your line!', they're all yelling. No goalkeeper did that in those days. I thought 'Oh my God'. But it worked. I'd come out and do like they do today. You didn't get sent off in those days either. So I used to bring them down. If they pushed it past me, I'd just hit them."

Appearances per season

Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 306 42 6 33 3 390
1962-1963 29 6 0 0 0 35
1963-1964 40 5 0 0 0 45
1964-1965 41 8 0 9 1 59
1965-1966 42 1 0 9 1 53
1966-1967 41 4 0 5 1 51
1967-1968 42 9 2 6 0 59
1968-1969 42 4 2 2 0 50
1969-1970 28 5 2 2 0 37
1970-1971 1 0 0 0 0 1
1971-1972 0 0 0 0 0 0

A more detailed look at the player's appearances

Total Opponent
20 Leicester City
20 WBA
19 Burnley
18 Arsenal
18 Tottenham
17 Manchester United
16 Everton
15 Sheffield Wednesday
15 Chelsea
14 Stoke City
14 West Ham United
14 Nottingham Forest
12 Fulham
12 Leeds United
12 Sheffield United
11 Sunderland
11 Aston Villa
10 Manchester City
9 Blackpool
9 Newcastle United
8 Wolves
7 Blackburn Rovers
7 Southampton
7 Coventry City
6 Bolton Wanderers
6 Birmingham City
6 Ipswich Town
4 Watford
3 Cologne
3 Petrolul Ploiesti
2 Vitoria Setubal
2 Inter Milan
2 Juventus
2 Northampton Town
2 Standard Liege
2 Honved
2 Celtic
2 Malmo
2 Ajax
2 TSV Munich
2 Ferencvaros
2 Bournemouth
2 QPR
2 Athletic Bilbao
2 Port Vale
2 Anderlecht
2 KR Reykjavík
2 Stockport County
2 Leyton Orient
2 Walsall
2 Derby
1 Swansea City
1 Wrexham
1 Doncaster Rovers
1 Crystal Palace
1 Borussia Dortmund
Total Started/substitutions
390 Started
15 On the bench
0 Substitute
0 Substituted
Total Competition
306 League
42 FA Cup
14 European Cup
10 European Fairs Cup
9 European Cup Winners Cup
6 League Cup
3 Charity Shield

Milestone Appearances

# Date Against Stadium Competition
1 27.10.1962 WBA The Hawthorns League
50 16.11.1963 Fulham Anfield League
100 14.11.1964 Nottingham Forest Anfield League
150 29.09.1965 Juventus Stadio Communale Europe
200 10.09.1966 Sheffield Wednesday Anfield League
250 09.09.1967 Chelsea Anfield League
300 04.05.1968 Leeds United Elland Road League
350 28.04.1969 Leeds United Anfield League

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Related Quotes

"Shankly said: 'Right Tommy, you're not playing on the six yard line. When the ball's on the halfway line, you've got to be on the 18-yard line. If the ball shoots through, you've got to be out to kick it - a sort of stopper.'

At first I was frightened to death. We did it at Melwood a few times, then we tried at Anfield. Well, I'm standing there and the Kop is giving me some stick. 'Get back on your line!', they're all yelling. No goalkeeper did that in those days. I thought 'Oh my God'. But it worked. I'd come out and do like they do today. You didn't get sent off in those days either. So I used to bring them down. If they pushed it past me, I'd just hit them."

Liverpool keeper Tommy Lawrence recalling the good old days in the Matchday magazine

"He was a wonderful man and we got on very well. He was the best one-on-one keeper around, how he dealt with those situations was an education ad he was the first “sweeper-keeper”. It was frustrating, but I was playing in an excellent reserve side that had won the Central League six out of seven years."

Clemence on waiting for a place in the first team because of Tommy Lawrence

Other Clubs

Club Season Club rank League apps League goals Total apps Total goals
Warrington Town 1957 Mid Cheshire League N/A N/A N/A N/A
Tranmere Rovers 1971-1972 England Third Division 35 0 42 0
Tranmere Rovers 1972-1973 England Third Division 37 0 40 0
Tranmere Rovers 1973-1974 England Third Division 8 0 12 0
Chorley 1974-1975 Cheshire County League N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total 80 0 94 0
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