Key Game: Liverpool FC 2 Southampton 0

OF ALL the great players in Liverpool FC's history, the name of Kevin Lewis does not stand out.

But the young striker scored two of the most important goals in the club's history when he took the suspended Ian St John's place and netted twice against Southampton in 1962 to clinch the Reds' promotion back to the first division under Bill Shankly.

The season had started fantastically well as Bill Shankly brought in Ron Yeats - his legendary colossus - and St John. The two Scots galvanised the players around them with Roger Hunt also showing the skill that would make him a World Cup winner in a few short years.

Ten of the first 11 games were won, with Shankly keeping the nucleus of the winning team together throughout the season with just the odd change here and there, such as Gerry Byrne moving to right back from the left.

With six games to go, Liverpool knew that a draw against Southampton at Anfield would mean promotion - but victory would mean the league title. It was hardly a foregone conclusion however, with the Saints on a four-game winning run against the Reds

Writing in the Liverpool Echo before the game, Leslie Edwards urged the team to go for the victory.

"If they win the championship as everyone hopes, that will put the finishing touch to a season which has been a triumph almost from the start."

Michael Charters added it was a shame Ian St John would not be playing, but added: "His deputy is Kevin Lewis, who has mainly been at outside right for his first team appearances, but manager Bill Shankly preferred the experience of this Ellesmere Port lad for such a vital game.

"Young centre forward Alf Arrowsmith is off form at present, and the crisp shooting of Lewis should mean St John's absence will not have too marked an effect on the forward line."

He added: "This could be a famous day at Anfield - they day they have all been waiting for."

How right he was, with Liverpool roaring out of the blocks against their opponents from the south coast when an Alan A'Court cross hit the post.

They were not to be denied however and on 19 minutes went in front.

Michael Charters said: "What a scrambled effort it was. From a free kick by Moran, Hunt prodded the ball forward and it bounced off Knapp to Lewis, who had his back to goal. Lewis's first shot on the turn came off Knapp again, and Lewis had a second try, the ball going into the net off the upright."

Just 10 minutes later, Lewis struck again. Following a goalmouth scramble at the Liverpool end, the ball was moved down the right wing to Ian Callaghan. His cross was headed back across goal by Roger Hunt only for Southampton goalkeeper Godfrey to push it away.

However, there was Lewis to place a header into the goal.

Although the pitch was muddy, Liverpool continued to create chances, with Hunt and Byrne going close and Lewis just failing to reach a cross from Callaghan.

However the two-goal lead and the weather meant the game became scrappy, with further chances at a premium, although lewis lead the line with distinction throughout.

The final whistle brought celebrations on the pitch and in the stajnds - they had done it!

Writing after the game, Michael Charters said: "The skies wept, the atmosphere was grey and dismal, but it was still a glorious unforgettable day at Anfield on Saturday."

Although the players headed down the tunnel, ceaseless chants of 'We Want The Reds' brought them back again for a lap of honour.

"Immediately the crowd swarmed onto the pitch. Yeats and St John were submerged under the back-slapping, kissing, wildly enthusiastic mob. The rest of the team, from the top step leading to the pitch, took one look and disappeared back," said Charters.

He added: "A final thought on the season from Mr Shankly. He said: 'We won the championship in the first month when we were fitter competitively than our rivals. We beat Sunderland and Newcastle twice in that spell and we never looked back.'

"So it's first division ahead and Liverpool have the spirit and confidence to make their mark there too."

Michael Charters could not have known how prophetic his words would be over the following decades.

Copyright - Liverpool Echo

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