Player profile

Alex Raisbeck

Birthdate: 26 December 1879
Birthplace: Wallacestone, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Other clubs: Larkhall Thistle (1894-96), Hibernian (1896-98), Stoke City (loan 1898), Partick Thistle (1909-14)
Bought from: Hibernian
Signed for LFC: £350, 06.05.1898
International debut: 07.04.1900 vs. England
International caps: 8/0 - 06.04.1907
Liverpool debut: 03.09.1898
Last appearance: 30.04.1909
Debut goal: 11.02.1899
Last goal: 12.04.1909
Contract expiry: 09.08.1909
Win ratio: 47.21% W: 161 D: 63 L: 117
LFC league games/goals: 312 / 18
Total LFC games/goals: 341 / 19

Player profile

Raisbeck was commanding on the pitch and had a military air in the way he carried himself, certainly not out of place as he was one of seven brothers who either became soldiers or footballers. Only a select few in Liverpool's history has commanded so much respect and admiration and he was undoubtedly the club's first superstar. The Scottish international was born in a village called Polmont in the Falkirk council area of central Scotland, 22 miles south of Edinburgh and 32 miles east of Glasgow. When his family moved to Larkhall they lived in a house facing the "Common" and this allowed him and his brothers to "chase the leather" anytime they had a few minutes to spare. He started out 15 years of age with Larkhall Thistle where he played as outside-right for half a season before a vacancy in the half-back division drafted him into the intermediate line. After a couple of years at Thistle Raisbeck signed for Hibernian on 30 July 1896. His debut for Hibs was in the sixth game of the season in a 2-2 draw with Abercorn on 12 September 1896 at Underwood Park, Paisley. He played nine more games as Hibernian finished second in the league, two points behind Hearts. He made such an impression in his debut season that he was chosen to play left half-back in the inter-League game between Scotland and Ireland.

After 29 games and four goals for Hibs the 19-year-old was loaned to Stoke at the end of the 1897/98 season to participate in the Potters' test matches to retain their status in the First Division. Liverpool later used this loan system to strengthen their team temporarily in test matches with players from Scotland like Robert Neill and Bernard Battles. Raisbeck played all four games and scored one goal as Stoke won two out of four and finished top of their group escaping the dreaded drop into the Second Division. Stoke were interested in signing Raisbeck on a permanent basis, but fate would have it that Tom Watson, Liverpool‘s Secretary, was a guest of the Hibs Chairman when Stoke‘s Secretary failed to keep his appointment with Raisbeck and Hibs. On 6 May 1898 Watson managed to convince the young Scotsman to sign for Liverpool who had finished mid-table in the First Division, four points above Stoke. Dundee Courier and Argus, in their 3 April 1897 edition, even compared him to Rangers great and Polmont native, Neil Gibson, a superb wing-half often described as the greatest footballer of his generation in Scotland: "Raisbeck of the Hibernians, is a second edition of Neil Gibson, only he is bigger, and can stand more knocking about than the Ranger."

The Athletic News reported on Liverpool‘s capture of Raisbeck and his compatriot, George Allan: "Two more important catches for the Anfield club have been effected, and few will say that Allan of the Celts and Raisbeck, of Stoke-com-Edinburgh Hibs, are not good goods. Raisbeck had a name in Scotland as the best centre half in the country, and for Stoke, where he has shown what he can do. And it has happened as I told our readers a week or two ago, Mr. Editor, in commenting on Liverpool’s strength and weakness. Now with these last additions, they should go on smilingly, and I think for the first time in their history they will find themselves stronger favourites than their neighbours for the big trophies of next season."


Raisbeck always led by example and was chosen captain of the team after only one season at Liverpool. Despite being 'only' 5'10" (178 cm.) in height his timing and athleticism enabled him to reach the ball before taller opponents. He was an energetic centre-half, a position more similar to a modern day midfielder rather than a defender. He was at the forefront of Liverpool's defence, but also the instigator of Liverpool's attacks possessing an impressive stamina. The scribe in the club programme, after Liverpool's and Everton's cup replay at Goodison Park on 8 February 1905, captured his essence as a player: "Never has Raisbeck shown more wondrous football. He was here, there and everywhere. Now initiating an attack, now breaking up another, and again chasing Sharp when that lithe young man appeared to be all on his own. He dominated the whole field, and was, without question, the one superlative player. I am never inclined to over elaborate praise, but truly, Alec Raisbeck was a giant among pigmies." Raisbeck led Liverpool to their first-ever Football League Division One Championship title in 1901. Incredibly Liverpool were relegated three years later but rebounded straight back into the First Division where Raisbeck lifted the Championship title again in a season that was also "remarkable" for the fact that "Alec Raisbeck has taken off his beloved moustache, and has joined the bare-faced brigade."

Victor Hall painted a vivid picture in an article in 1924 called: "Alec Raisbeck, who raised Liverpool's prestige" in the Liverpool Echo 15 years after Alexander left Liverpool to go back to his native Scotland: "What a trier he was! Who that ever saw him play can forget the unmatchable enthusiasm he displayed in the sheer love of the game. He not only put body and dash into individual games he played, but more importantly he helped to create the soul, that inward sacred fire of zeal without which no club can thrive and live. Let us recall his characteristics. Tall, lithe, sinuous, and yet gifted with muscular and physical development beyond the ordinary. Active to a degree, speed either on the turn or in flight, and with niche, at the addition of resourcefulness and judgement that would have been all sufficient in a other player, without those added gifts, methodical in training, painstaking in preparation, genial with his players and considerate with his committee. With a perfect blending of the qualities that to make a really great player!"

"Raisbeck was wholeheartedly a destroyer of attacks when it came from the opposing wing. We have said that he was speed in turn and on the run. We might amplify this and say, that we have never seen in England, a speedier half-back, who could tackle a speedy forward, turn with him, and overtake and tackle him again. There may be and may have been others so gifted. We have not seen them. His judgement was sound, his valour outstanding and, naturally for a half-back, his control and placing of the ball was equally confident. During his playing career at Anfield, he had to meet forwards whose names and records were outstanding in the history of the game, and yet of one of them could it be said that they were the superior or master of Raisbeck's defensive play. His temperament rarely failed him, no matter how vigorous the play he had to meet."

Skipper RaisbeckThe 1908/09 season was Raisbeck's last at Liverpool. He missed four months of the season through injury and Liverpool narrowly escaped relegation to the Second Division. He was still struggling with knee injury and pined for a return to Scotland. When Partick Thistle's representative was in Liverpool to sign his Welsh teammate Maurice Parry, he asked Alex whether he knew of any more quality players and Alex stated his own case and signed up as well. He proudly wore their colours for five seasons. In 1914 Raisbeck managed Hamilton Academical where he was in charge for three seasons before he was hired as director at the club for three and a half years. Raisbeck returned to England and took over as manager of second division Bristol City on 28 December 1921. City were relegated that spring 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 had led Bristol City to the Second Division but his team went straight back down again. After finishing third and fourth, Bristol got promoted again to the Second Division in the 1926/27 season with former Liverpool centre-half, Walter Wadsworth, as captain and managed a decent twelfth place. Raisbeck resigned on 29 June 1929 after Bristol City finished twentieth out of 22 teams narrowly escaping relegation. 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 scout. He served Liverpool until his dying day on 12 March 1949.

Raisbeck said that he enjoyed playing against Everton the most; his duels with Blues' Sandy Young were legendary. When a survey was conducted among Liverpool supporters in 1939 to name the most famous players Liverpool had ever had in their ranks Raisbeck, who had left the club three decades earlier, came second behind the incredibly popular Elisha Scott, the Scot clearly having made a lasting impression thirty years after he left Liverpool. Raisbeck is a member of Liverpool's Official Hall of Fame and certainly deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Dalglish, Liddell and Gerrard.

Appearances per season

SeasonLeagueFALCEuropeOtherTotal
Totals31228001341
1898-1899 32600038
1899-1900 32400036
1900-1901 31200033
1901-1902 26300029
1902-1903 27100028
1903-1904 30100031
1904-1905 33200035
1905-1906 36400141
1906-1907 27100028
1907-1908 23300026
1908-1909 15100016

A more detailed look at the player's appearances

TotalOpponent
24Everton
19Blackburn Rovers
17Sheffield United
17Newcastle United
16Bury
16Stoke City
16Sunderland
16Notts County
15WBA
15Aston Villa
14Sheffield Wednesday
13Nottingham Forest
13Bolton Wanderers
13Derby
13Manchester City
12Wolves
10Birmingham City
10Preston North End
10Middlesbrough
8Manchester United
5Burnley
5Grimsby Town
4Glossop North End
4Leicester City
4Bradford City
4Bristol City
3Barnsley
3Arsenal
2Chesterfield
2Burton United
2Port Vale
2Doncaster Rovers
2Southampton
2Chelsea
2Brighton & Hove Albion
2Lincoln City
2Gainsborough Trinity
1Corinthians
1Blackpool
1Norwich City
1West Ham United

Goals per season

SeasonLeagueFALCEuropeOtherTotal
Totals18100019
1898-1899 110002
1899-1900 300003
1900-1901 100001
1901-1902 000000
1902-1903 100001
1903-1904 100001
1904-1905 200002
1905-1906 100001
1906-1907 400004
1907-1908 200002
1908-1909 200002

A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring

TotalCompetition
18League
1FA Cup
TotalOpen play/Penalty
15Open play
4Penalty

Wartime Appearances / Goals

SeasonAppearancesGoals
No records to display.

Stats note

Milestone Appearances

#DateAgainstStadiumCompetition
103.09.1898The WednesdayAnfieldLeague
5011.11.1899Newcastle UnitedSt James' ParkLeague
10009.03.1901WolvesAnfieldLeague
15027.12.1902BuryGigg LaneLeague
20024.09.1904Lincoln CitySincil BankLeague
25030.12.1905Woolwich ArsenalAnfieldLeague
30014.09.1907Blackburn RoversAnfieldLeague

Milestone Goals

#MinuteDateAgainstStadiumCompetition
15011.02.1899Newcastle UnitedAnfieldFA Cup

Related Articles

Is Raisbeck better suited as full back?

From the Lancashire Evening Post on 6 January, 1900.More

Raisbeck's testimonial

Partick Thistle faced an International XI on 4 January 1914.More

1896-1899: A new exciting era at Liverpool

Liverpool FC wear red for the first time. The most successful manager in the country takes over and brings his magic touch to the 'Reds' bringing them tantalizingly close to a league and cup double.More

Alex Raisbeck - Liverpool's first superstar

Victor Hall painted a vivid picture of "Alexander the great" in the Liverpool Echo 15 years after he had left Liverpool.More

1899-1901: Liverpool champions for the first time!

Liverpool won the league in the 1900-01 season. We give you unique insight into the local papers' reports and celebration of this glorious feat!More

Liverpool at last

Daily Telegraph match report on West Bromwich Albion - Liverpool on 29.04.1901.More

1901-1906: A rise from 2nd division to the title!

In 1904 Liverpool had been relegated to 2nd division only three years after winning the title for the first time. Liverpool were on their way to an amazing success!More

Cox and Raisbeck back at Anfield

From the Liverpool Echo on 20 March 1911.More

Related Quotes

"A man of Raisbeck's proportions, style and carriage would rivet attention anywhere. He was a picture at five feet nine inches and fully 12 and a half stone; a fine and beautifully balanced figure."

Liverpool Echo's Bee on Alex Raisbeck

The player was in the squad the following season

SeasonShirt #Position
1898-1899 * Defender
1899-1900 * Defender
1900-1901 * Defender
1901-1902 * Defender
1902-1903 * Defender
1903-1904 * Defender
1904-1905 * Defender
1905-1906 * Defender
1906-1907 * Defender
1907-1908 * Defender
1908-1909 * Defender
* Note, Since the 1993-94 season players have been allocated a fixed number.

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