For almost two seasons I played reserve to Sam Hardy, and, but for a slight difference between Sam and the club, I might have been in the reserves during the whole of my connection with Liverpool. Once when the Chesterfield man had an injured hand I got a chance of playing in the first team. That was against Blackburn Rovers. As was only natural, I felt a bit overawed with my position. As I stepped out on the field I had a sort of a sinking feeling somewhere in the region of my stomach, and where I knew the faces of the crowd should be I could only see one great blur.
I think I was impressed with the names of the men in the opposition team. I had heard of the doings of Blackburn, and names such as Latheron, Chapman, and Crompton were big things to me. Out I went, however, determined to do my best, and during the few minutes’ kicking in before the start I regained my composure somewhat. You can scarcely imagine the relief I felt when some of our boys said as we trooped out, “Come on, Kenny, and we’ll give you a few hot ones to hold.” Just a few shots sent in, and I got my hands to them, and felt all right.
I just forgot how that game ended, but I know that I got credit for a great save which was entirely undeserved. I had been getting very little to do for some time, when a breakaway let the Rovers’ forwards within reach of me: Chapman sent in shot from pretty close range, and more by instinct than anything else, I raised my hands. The balls struck them, and I grabbed it, and cleared. The crowd cheered, and I was O.K. after that. My confidence was restored, and I made no mistakes for the rest of the game.
Sam Hardy tells me off.
At least, so I thought until after the match, when Hardy came up to congratulate me on my play. I thought it the best compliment I could have paid to me when the great goalie offered me words of praise. And I knew he meant it. Sam was sincere. But after he had patted me on the back with one hand, he gave me a “skelp in the lug,” with the other, so to speak. “Kenny, my boy,” he said, “you’ve got a mighty bad habit of running out of your goal. You’ll never be a great goalkeeper if you don’t discard that habit. I don’t say never do it, but when a ‘keeper makes up his mind to leave his goal he must be sure he is to get the ball. Remember it’s a gambler’s chance you take when you are out. You are risking all, and if you are not sure of getting the ball, don’t come out.” He apologised for speaking to me like this, but I can tell you I have good reason to be thankful for that advice, which ever since I have tried to act upon.
Copyright - The Daily News - Transcribed by Kjell Hanssen