Scottish keeper, Kenny Campbell, told his life story in the Weekly News in May and June of 1921. He made 142 apperances for Liverpool from 1912-1920. In the first chapter he had just left Scotland for Liverpool.
When I was signed on for four pounds.
Remarkable incident in which Bobbie Parker figures.
The debt I owe to Sam Hardy,
and how I displaced him in the Liverpool team
By Kenneth Campbell
“Kenneth Campbell, the famous goalkeeper for Partick Thistle and Scotland, continues the story of his wonderful football career. In the very front rank among professional players, Campbell, although still quite a young man, yet has had great experience in the highest class of football. Joining Liverpool when a lad, as understudy to the renowned Sam Hardy, the prince of English goalkeepers. Kenneth by brilliant exposition, ultimately succeeded in displacing Hardy, who was transferred to Aston Villa. For several seasons the young and clever Scot was the idol of the Liverpool crowd, and one of the stalwarts of a notable team. A year ago he was chosen to guard Scotia’s goal against England, and shortly afterwards he joined Partick Thistle. This season Campbell has played brilliantly for his club, and against Wales and Ireland.”
I journey south.
From Cambuslang Rangers I proceeded in August, 1911, to Anfield Road as the understudy, and, as it proved, the successor to Sam Hardy, one of the greatest goalkeepers England has ever had. I succeeded one August R. Beeby, who had been reserve to Sam for some time. Beeby was transferred to Manchester City, and when the season began I came at once under fire in the A team.
I must confess I was full of misgivings. My first experience had not been a long one, and I had some doubts as to whether I would be able to justify the step I had taken. I suppose most young lads have this feeling when embarking on the big venture of their lives as full-blown professional football players.
Together in a team photo from 1914-15. Top left to right: Campbell, Pursell and MacKinlay
As I have already mentioned, Donald Mackinlay, who had already established himself at Liverpool, lived practically next door to me at Hallside. I am afraid I leaned very much on Donald in the early days. Indeed, I have to thank him for man kindness. He undertook the role of pater, and but for him my entry to football at Anfield Road would not have been so easy as it was.
There was another new lad from the West booked up for Liverpool at that time. This was Bob Pursell (Robert Pursell), of Queen’s Park. Bob, who hailed from Campbelltown, had quite as unfortunate luck as I had before he was long in Liverpool. Queens’ Park reported that their player had been approached illegally. Bob, I may tell you, was positively innocent of the affair, but it was a great source of worry for him. He and I spent many sleepless nights talking things over. There must have been some ground for the Queen’s Park complaint, for one of the Liverpool Directors was suspended for two years for his share in the transaction, and the club was fined £200.
Well, the day arrived for my going to Merseyside, and I found there were five Scots travelling from Glasgow. Joining Bob and I on the train were Donald Mackinlay, Jock McConnell, of Ayr, and Jimmy Stewart, of Dumbarton.
That train journey was not a pleasant one to me. It was my first time away from home, and although I had plenty of company, I was perhaps, the most miserable human being in the universe. To show how raw I was, when the rest of the boys got settled down a game of cards was suggested. I had to confess that I knew nothing about cards.
A game of solo? No. Twenty-five? No, I didn’t know it. Nap? Know less – and so on until in desperation someone suggested a game of “puggy,” and it being a game of the “snap” order. I was able to take a hand, to my great relief.
And so I landed at Liverpool.
When Bob Pursell (Robert Pursell) and I arrived at Liverpool we were in a very raw state. But for the guidance of Donald Mackinlay we would have fared very badly I am afraid.
It makes me laugh now to think of all the little things that worried us. When we went shopping it was a case of “You ask, Bob.” “No, you ask, Kenny, they’ll understand you better.”
I feel sure the shop attendants had many a quiet smile at us.
At Anfield Road I found myself amongst quite a number of Scots. In addition to the players I have already mentioned there were Ronald Orr, who had arrived from Newcastle; Jock McDonald, a brother to Davie McDonald, the Dundee player; and Sam Gilligan, the Dundonian.
For a start I was a little overawed at my surroundings. Those of my readers who have gone from junior ranks into senior can well understand how I felt when I first entered the pavilion at Anfield.
Campbell with old firends on the golf course. (left to right): Waddell, Montgomorie and former teammate at Liverpool; Thomas Fairfoul.
But I was soon at ease, and entered on my duties as goalkeeper to the “Reds’” reserve team, playing in the Central League.
Strange to say, it was some time before I saw Sam Hardy, the man whom fate had destined I was to succeed. It was like this. Sam lived at Chesterfield, in Derbyshire, and as this town was a long way off from Liverpool, the international goalkeeper only travelled west when Liverpool played at home.
And, of course, when the first time were at home the reserves were playing away.
I was very anxious to see Hardy, and it was a delight to me when, there being a week-day match between Liverpool and Bolton Wanderers at Bolton, our Directors took the whole of the reserve eleven to the Lancashire town to see the match.
It was my first experience of real Lancashire at Burnden Park, and I have never forgotten it. I had heard the Bolton team being called the “Trotters,” and I was not long in getting to know why.
Everything being strange to me, I took special note of the crowd, and it was with no inconsiderable amusement that I watched a fellow parading amongst the spectators with a pail. Into this pail he would dip, bring out something which he would split with a knife and spread with mustard, after which he handed he handed it over to a purchaser, who gnawed at it with evident relish. I discovered that the succulent repast was a pig’s foot – “trotters!”
Introduced to Hardy.
Of course, I was introduced to Sam Hardy. He greeted me very kindly, like the splendid fellow he is. “Glad to meet you, young ‘un,’ he said: “hope you like Liverpool, and I wish you all success.”
I was proud to meet the man I had heard so much about, and there should be no need to tell you that it was on him I focused my eyes during the whole of that game at Bolton.
What a great player he is, was my impression. I watched him carefully, and am not ashamed to own that I learned thoroughly one or two things which have been helpful to me in my career.
I noticed, for instance, that there was no gallery play with Sam. He had an unerring eye, and if a ball was going past the upright he made no wild grab at nothing. He simply stood still and watched it go by with the tail of his optic. The same when a high ball came in. Sam didn’t make a jump upwards and catch the bar, as is the fashion of many goalkeepers. An upward glance told him the flight of the ball, and he stood as unconcerned as though the ball had been in midfield. To me his intuition seemed extraordinary. He seemed to place himself right in the spot where a shot was to come in, and by so doing was able to clear his lines with the least possible fuss.
Frankly, my ideas of goalkeeping underwent a change, and, although I had a fairly respectable reputation as a ‘keeper at that time, my own feelings were that I was but a tyro.
My first big game.
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.
During these two seasons in the reserves I was quite happy to understudy the “Reds’” goalkeeper, and it came as a bit of a shock when Sam parted with the club.
As I have indicated, Sam lived at Chesterfield, a town in the north of Derbyshire, and a good bit away from Liverpool. Well, the club wanted Sam to come to Liverpool for his training, and this he refused to do. Matter got a bit strained, and ultimately he and Harrop (Jim Harrop) were transferred to Aston Villa. To Liverpool people there was a bit of a mystery about this, for rumour had it that a very small transfer fee was paid over for the two players.
In view of the fact that Hardy represented his country many times after going to the Birmingham club and still retains his place in the Villa team, it does seem strange, even yet, that he was allowed to leave Anfield. His waygoing, however, gave me another step up the ladder, and needless to say, I was delighted at the opportunity given me, for I had fairly settled down to Liverpool life.
Next week I’ll tell you of a strange rumour about a deal between Everton and Liverpool in which I figured.
Copyright - The Weekly News, 14-05-1921 and 21-05-1921 - Transcribed by Kjell Hanssen
Thanks to The Partick Thistle History Archive
for finding these press articles