Three hat-tricks in a row
The footballing headlines in November 1946 belonged solely to one man as Liverpool inside forward Jack Balmer earned himself a place in the history books with a remarkable and unprecedented goalscoring achievement.
On November 23 he hit a hat-trick in a 4-2 home win over Arsenal and in doing so became the first player ever to score three times or more in three consecutive games, in the same season.
The nephew of Walter and Tom Balmer, Everton full backs at the turn of the century, Jack joined the club as an amateur in May 1935, turned professional four months later, and replaced the legendary Gordon Hodgson when making his Reds debut.
He established himself in Liverpool's first team during the late 1930's but the outbreak of War stunted his progress. When League Football resumed in August 1946 Balmer was considered a veteran of the side but his balding head disguised the fact that he had only just turned 30.
Unfortunately, Balmer could never claim to be a firm favourite among Liverpudlians, that honour going to the more flamboyant Billy Liddell or Albert Stubbins. And despite being a native of the city, his middle class upbringing earmarked him as a predictable target of the mainly working class Anfield crowd, especially when the Reds were enduring a lean spell.
He was not the first, and would by no means be the last, homegrown talent to suffer the wrath of the Kop and to his credit he never let it affect his game.
In the scoring stakes Balmer had begun the 1946/47 season modestly, with five goals in 13 games, and shared the title of Liverpool's leading goalscorer with Liddell.
With Liverpool enjoying the post-war attendance boom as much as any other club 50,000 were in attendance the day Balmer burst into the most phenomenal goalscoring form of his career.
Portsmouth, then considered to be one of the biggest clubs in the land, were the visitors to Anfield on November 9 but Balmer single-handedly saw them off with an impressive three goal blast, although some dissenting voice could still be heard - claiming he should have had five!
A week later he went one better and became the first Liverpool player since Fred Howe in 1935 to score four goals in a game. His four coming in a 4-1 victory over FA Cup holders Derby County at the Baseball Ground.
The Reds vice-captain was in the midst of a unique purple patch. On the morning of that match he even won three times in a row at billiards at the team hotel in Buxton! Balmer, it seemed, could do no wrong.
Seven in goals in two games was a notable achievement in itself. Now he now stood on the verge of footballing immortality if he could bag yet another treble in the Reds next game.
Not since Dixie Dean scored his 60 goals in 1927/28 had the goalscoring exploits of one man caused so much interest. Dixie was in fact the last player to score three hat-tricks in a row, hitting a treble in each of the final two games of his record breaking season and then another on the opening day of the following campaign.
No player had managed the feat in the same season and all eyes, and ears, were on Anfield on Saturday 23 November 1946. Arsenal provided the opposition, as they had done at Goodison on the occasion Dixie scored his momentous 60th goal, and an equally memorable afternoon was anticipated.
Balmer did not disappoint. He scored his first from the penalty spot after 15 minutes and although the Londoners went in at the interval 2-1 to the good, the record seeking inside forward was determined to claim his moment of fame.
On 61 minutes he plundered an equaliser and seven minutes later 'the biggest cheer Anfield has ever known' (as reported in that night's Football Echo) greeted the completion of his third successive hat-trick and his 10th goal in three games - during which time no other Liverpool player had scored.
Not since the successive title triumphs of the early twenties had Liverpool fans had such reason to celebrate and the fickle Anfield crowd rose as one to acclaim the hero of the hour.
Albert Stubbins completed the scoring, bringing an end to Balmer's hot scoring streak, but the biggest cheers were reserved for the hat-trick of hat-trick hero's.
In the remaining six years he spent on the Anfield playing staff Jack Balmer never did score another hat-trick. He died aged 68 on Christmas Day 1984, but his record has yet to be broken.
How Jack Balmer achieved his remarkable hat-trick of hat-trick's
November 9, 1946 v Portsmouth (h)
1. 30 mins: Cyril Done is brought down in the area by Reid and Balmer converts from the penalty spot to open the scoring.
2. 70 mins: Balmer doubles Liverpool's advantage with a first time volley following a cross from Harry Eastham.
3. 81 mins: The scoring is completed as Balmer receives a pass and, quick as a flash, hits the back of the net with a shot across goal.
November 16, 1946 v Derby County (a)
4. 43 mins: Balmer weaves through the Derby defence before flicking the ball past the keeper.
5. 47 mins: Balmer beats three defenders, moves to his right and hits a lovely angled shot into the net.
6. 49 mins: Collecting a pass from Billy Liddell, Balmer takes the ball forward and finishes clinically.
7. 60 mins: Balmer latches on to a through a ball from Eastham and lobs the advancing keeper.
November 23, 1946 v Arsenal (h)
8. 15 mins: Balmer opens the scoring via the penalty spot with a low shot.
9. 61 mins: From 15-yards out Balmer crashes a shot into the roof of the net.
10. 68 mins: A run by Eastham produces a chance for Balmer who finishes from a tight angle.
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