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Tribute plan for Anfield legend Ron Yeats

THE great Bill Shankly was a man of his word and on signing defender Ron Yeats from Dundee United the Reds boss promised three things – he delivered on all.

Not only did the man from Glenbuck, Ayrshire insist the signing of Yeats and striker Ian St John would bring First Division football back to Anfield and the first FA Cup at the club, but also to find a then 23-year-old Yeats the finest home in Merseyside.

“When he signed me I was married with a kid and Shanks said he would find me a lovely house in Liverpool. But when I arrived he put me up in the worst hotel in Liverpool, I could not believe it. He said he was working on it and after a month he found me one in Maghull - he kept his word”, recalls Yeats. Club captain for 10 years, Yeats steered the Reds out of the Second Division in his first season at the club and instantly became a hero on the Kop. Further success under the leadership of the 6’3” star from Aberdeen arrived as he became the first man from Anfield to hoist the FA Cup over his head.

Fittingly for a player, legend and true gentleman of the game, Yeats has now been rewarded with a special tribute night in his name being on May 22 at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool. In aid of raising funds to buy a Sunshine coach for disadvantaged children, the Variety Club event will be a timely reminder, if ever one was needed, of the impact the Scot continues to have on Liverpool, albeit now as a fan from the stands. “It was a bit of a surprise I must admit to be told I was having a night in my name, usually these things come in threes, I was made an honoury scouser last week which was really nice I must admit.” said Yeats. “I go to every home game, I get nervous, too nervous for away games. I could not believe the Arsenal game on Tuesday night, I know we are scoring goals but we are leaving ourselves very vulnerable at the back - I do not know what is best. “When we were 2-1 up against Arsenal or even 2-0 up at Chelsea the other night, we had to make sure we were tight at the back but we were still going up the flanks and pushing the ball on. I think if I went over the half-way line with the ball Shanks would have a noose round my neck saying ‘get back here’. Chelsea now who have come into the reckoning. But I would hope we can win it, we are scoring for fun but letting them in as well.

“I am surprised the lad Martin Skrtel is not in there, he is a defender I like, a no nonsense defender who does not go past the half way line unless for a corner. I do like Daniel Agger, but I am not sure about him as a centre half, he is possibly better as a full-back. He likes to go up and have a go at goal - it is just not Liverpool. “Jamie Carragher is a wonderful player, he is really whole hearted and if he makes a mistake then it is a genuine one. He reads the game very well and I used to have to rely on my reading of the game because I was not the fastest of centre halves.”

On his retirement from the game, Yeats took on a scouting role for the Reds and famously discovered Sami Hyypia, so when Yeats passes judgement on back four affairs at the club these days, people rightly take note.

 Still in love with the club as much as he was on the day he was mobbed by fans that April day in 1961 when the club celebrated promotion to the promised land of Division One, Yeats continues to feel the agony and ecstasy of the Reds’ fortunes.

He said: “I don’t watch anyone bar Liverpool, I’m not a great lover of watching now. I switch off when we have a corner against us, I’m so nervous, I kick and head every ball.”

“My proudest moment? Well there have been two of them. Being the captain that took the club out of the second division after eight years was a very, very proud moment. We won the league by eight or nine points that season and to follow that by being the first captain of Liverpool to lift the FA Cup is something I am very proud of. I do not go round with the medals on my chest, it is just there for me to say.

“I missed being the first captain to lift a European trophy for Liverpool however. The second leg of the semi-final against Inter Milan was the saddest day of my life, if we had gone through we would have played Benfica in the final and we would have fancied our chances. Ian St John scored a great goal when we beat them 3-1 in one of the best games ever played at Anfield.”

Copyright - Liverpool Echo

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