Most of us look up to heroes and legends, and for many those heroes are star footballers. Imagine what it must be like not only to emulate your hero, but to actually replace him in the team, and go on to overtake his record number of appearances.
Cally's Vital Statistics
Date of Birth: 10-04-1942
Debut : 16th April 1960 v Bristol Rovers (H) Football League Division Two: Won 4-1 Ironically it was in this game that Callaghan replaced his boyhood hero Billy Liddell.
1st team games: 856
1st team goals: 69
Other clubs: Swansea City, Cork Hibernian, Crewe Alexandra
International caps while with Liverpool: 4
Honours with Liverpool: First Division Championship 1963/64, 1965/66, 1972/73, 1975/76, 1976/77, FA Cup 1965 & 1974, Second Division Championship 1961/62, European Cup 1977, UEFA Cup 1973 & 1976, Charity Shield 1964 (shared), 1965 (shared), 1966 & 1974, European Super Cup 1977, Football Writers Player of the Year 1973/74
Liddell Vital Statistics
Date of Birth: 10/01/1921
Debut : 5th January 1946 v Chester City (A) FA Cup: won 2-0 Liverpool signed him from Scottish junior club Lochgelly Violet as a 15 year old amateur in June 1938
1st team games: 537
1st team goals: 229
Other clubs: Lochgelly Violet
International caps while with Liverpool: 28
Here he talks to BBC Radio Merseyside’s John Keith about his hero, the Flying Scotsman Billy Liddell – the archetypal man for all seasons and all positions, whose shining talent on the field in the 1950s saw LFC nicknamed ‘Liddellpool’.
JK Tell us who your hero was and when you first saw him play.
IC I wasn’t a Liverpool or an Everton supporter. I played for my school, St Patrick’s, I used to play Saturday morning and then played for a boy’s club on Saturday afternoons; so I didn’t get much chance to go to games. But when I did, the first game I went to was Liverpool. Straight away I loved the atmosphere – although they were in the second division - and the great Billy Liddell was playing. It was just the anticipation from the fans when Billy got the ball, you know, what’s he going to do with it…It was just amazing. I think from that first time something happened, and I just felt that Billy Liddell was wonderful. Sometime later I went to see Everton – the School of Science – and I sort of swiftly became a Liverpudlian. To me there was no comparison, though deep down I think my dad was an Evertonian….. I was a Billy Liddell fan, a ten year old taking a lot of interest in football.
JK Somebody described him on the left wing as an unstoppable red fire engine. In other words, you couldn’t see anyone else stopping him.
IC I think that’s a good description - he was so strong and he went past people and he had this fantastic ability to cross the ball – and they were heavy balls in those days – but he could cross it from anywhere. Then if he had a shot from 30 yards it was vroooom…. it was just amazing, it really was.
JK He was a star in what was then quite a mediocre side, but he stood out head and shoulders.
"I’ve seen him run into people and go over and pick them up. This is part of the thing that impressed me about Billy Liddell. He was an icon of a man."
IC Liverpool kept missing out on promotion to first division, and even at that stage they used to call it Liddellpool because of the great man.
JK His ability was quite remarkable because a lot of people don’t realise he was a part-time professional – he trained only twice a week – he was an accountant by profession and worked in an office by day. Even Roy of the Rovers didn’t do that, did he?
IC Yes, and to get to be the great player he was at international level, and obviously for Liverpool, he was just an amazing man. It wasn’t until some years later when I met him - and I was a little bit afraid even though by then I had signed professional for Liverpool – I was amazed at how gentle he was and how quietly spoken… he was a great, great man.
JK As a player Liddell played in every out-field department, and he even wanted to go in goal once when the goalkeeper was injured. But Ronnie Moran told him he was too valuable as an out-field player. But he was Mr Versatile personified, wasn’t he?
IC He could possibly been a great goalkeeper as well!
JK He was very loyal to Liverpool – I understand that when the rebel league began in Colombia, which took quite a few top line British players including Charlie Mitten – overtures were made to Billy, at a king’s ransom in those days, and he turned them down. Clearly it was a great gift of loyalty to Liverpool that he stayed, wasn’t it?
IC Yes, I think so. Even after he finished he stayed in Liverpool. I think he fell in love with Liverpool.
JK When the great Bill Shankly arrived at Liverpool, you were a teenage amateur training twice a week.
IC I was just 16, training after work and then getting the bus home… so I was leaving home at about half past seven in the morning and getting back about ten o’clock at night. It was a long day!
JK You were an apprentice in a central heating
Callaghan, Footballer of the Year, 1974
IC I was going to serve my time as a heating engineer…. So I did that as an apprentice through the day and then two nights a week I’d nip down to Melwood and train, and then play in the junior teams on a Saturday.
JK And I think you have a great memory of Bill Shankly going to your parents house to see them about you becoming a professional.
IC That’s right. At that time I was serving my time as a central heating engineer, and at that time it was a big deal having a trade…. Anyway, he said ‘I’m going to come down and see your mum and dad’, and he came down in a big car – it was a Ford Corsair I always remember – and the kids had probably never see a car like that outside the flats. I think my mum and dad took to him straight away. He said how much he was going to look after me, feed me up, he thought I would become a good pro. I think he left an impression with my mum and dad, and he did look after me for the rest of the time while he was at Liverpool until he resigned. I don’t remember going in once to ask for a rise – he just treated me great, he really did.
JK Of course the day dawned in March 1960 when the paths of you and your hero crossed amazingly because Billy was left out of the team and you were brought in by Bill Shankly, and so you actually replaced Billy Liddell. What must that have felt like?
IC Well at the time Billy was playing outside right. And I suppose at the time he was my hero, but I was that sort of young as a 17 year old that I didn’t take it all on board, you know, The Great Billy Liddell. It wasn’t until afterwards that it dawned that I had actually taken over the great Billy Liddell.
JK And knowing Billy he’d have wished you all the best?
IC Oh he did, he was absolutely marvellous. We became, you know, reasonably friendly – because as you say Billy didn’t spend an awful lot of time, he was still doing his accountancy, and he was also a magistrate – but the times he was there he was very, very friendly and helpful. I was just amazed every time I saw him. He was such a big man but so quietly spoken. He wasn’t a chatterbox by any means – when he said something you sat up and listened. He was just a great man to be around, he really was.
JK You were booked only once in your career. Do you think the fact that Billy was your hero inspired you and helped that Corinthian spirit which you definitely showed?
IC Yes, he was a gentle man, and although he was a strong and very physical man on the field he was also a very gentle man on the field. You’d never see him foul, and you’d never see him bad-mouth anybody. I’ve seen him run into people and go over and pick them up. This is part and parcel of the thing that impressed me about Billy Liddell. He was an icon of a man.
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