Players - Alex Raisbeck

Alex Raisbeck
Birthdate: 26 December 1878
Birthplace: Wallacestone, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Date of death: 12 March 1949
Other clubs: Larkhall Thistle (1894-96), Hibernian (1896-98), Stoke City (loan 1898), Partick Thistle (1909-14)
Bought from: Hibernian
Signed for LFC: £350, 30.04.1898
International debut: 07.04.1900 vs. England
International caps: 8/0 - 06.04.1907
Liverpool debut: 03.09.1898
Last appearance: 30.04.1909
Debut goal: 11.02.1899
Last goal: 12.04.1909
Contract expiry: 11.06.1909
Win ratio: 47.21% W:161 D:63 L:117
Honours: League Championship 1900/01, 1905/06; Second Division 1904/05
League games / goals: 312 / 18
Total games / goals: 341 / 19

Player Profile

Raisbeck was commanding on the pitch and had a military air in the way he carried himself, certainly not out of place as he was one of seven brothers who either became soldiers or footballers. Only a select few in Liverpool's history has commanded so much respect and admiration and he was undoubtedly the club's first superstar. When his family moved to Larkhall they lived in a house facing the "Common" and this allowed him and his brothers to "chase the leather" anytime they had a few minutes to spare. He started out 15 years of age with Larkhall Thistle where he played as outside-right for half a season before a vacancy in the half-back division drafted him into the intermediate line. After a couple of years at Thistle Raisbeck signed for Hibernian on 30 July 1896. His debut for Hibs was in the sixth game of the season in a 2-2 draw with Abercorn on 12 September 1896 at Underwood Park, Paisley. He played nine more games as Hibernian finished second in the league, two points behind Hearts. He made such an impression in his debut season that he was chosen to play left half-back in the inter-League game between Scotland and Ireland.

After 29 games and four goals for Hibs the 19-year-old was loaned to Stoke at the end of the 1897/98 season to participate in the Potters' test matches to retain their status in the First Division. Liverpool later used this loan system to strengthen their team temporarily in test matches with players from Scotland like Robert Neill and Bernard Battles. Raisbeck played all four games and scored one goal as Stoke won two out of four and finished top of their group escaping the dreaded drop into the Second Division. Stoke were interested in signing Raisbeck on a permanent basis, but fate would have it that Tom Watson, Liverpool‘s Secretary, was a guest of the Hibs Chairman when Stoke‘s Secretary failed to keep his appointment with Raisbeck and Hibs. On 30 April 1898 Watson managed to convince the young Scotsman to sign for Liverpool as The Scottish Referee reported on the following Monday: "Late on Saturday night I hear that Tom Watson has signed on Raisbeck for Liverpool. The Mersey committee must have wealth galore, as I understand Raisbeck's terms are £6 weekly all the year round. Tut, tut; more than I make in a minute!" Liverpool had finished mid-table in the First Division, four points above Stoke. Dundee Courier and Argus, in their 3 April 1897 edition, even compared him to Rangers great and Polmont native, Neil Gibson, a superb wing-half often described as the greatest footballer of his generation in Scotland: "Raisbeck of the Hibernians, is a second edition of Neil Gibson, only he is bigger, and can stand more knocking about than the Ranger."

The Athletic News reported on Liverpool‘s capture of Raisbeck and his compatriot, George Allan: "Two more important catches for the Anfield club have been effected, and few will say that Allan of the Celts and Raisbeck, of Stoke-com-Edinburgh Hibs, are not good goods. Raisbeck had a name in Scotland as the best centre half in the country, and for Stoke, where he has shown what he can do. And it has happened as I told our readers a week or two ago, Mr. Editor, in commenting on Liverpool’s strength and weakness. Now with these last additions, they should go on smilingly, and I think for the first time in their history they will find themselves stronger favourites than their neighbours for the big trophies of next season."

Raisbeck always led by example and was chosen captain of the team after two seasons at Liverpool. Despite being 'only' 5'10" (178 cm.) in height his timing and athleticism enabled him to reach the ball before taller opponents. He was an energetic centre-half, a position more similar to a modern day midfielder rather than a defender. He was at the forefront of Liverpool's defence, but also the instigator of Liverpool's attacks possessing an impressive stamina. The scribe in the club programme, after Liverpool's and Everton's cup replay at Goodison Park on 8 February 1905, captured his essence as a player: "Never has Raisbeck shown more wondrous football. He was here, there and everywhere. Now initiating an attack, now breaking up another, and again chasing Sharp when that lithe young man appeared to be all on his own. He dominated the whole field, and was, without question, the one superlative player. I am never inclined to over elaborate praise, but truly, Alec Raisbeck was a giant among pigmies." Raisbeck led Liverpool to their first-ever Football League Division One Championship title in 1901. Incredibly Liverpool were relegated three years later but rebounded straight back into the First Division where Raisbeck lifted the Championship title again in a season that was also "remarkable" for the fact that "Alec Raisbeck has taken off his beloved moustache, and has joined the bare-faced brigade."

Victor Hall painted a vivid picture in an article in 1924 called: "Alec Raisbeck, who raised Liverpool's prestige" in the Liverpool Echo 15 years after Alexander left Liverpool to go back to his native Scotland: "What a trier he was! Who that ever saw him play can forget the unmatchable enthusiasm he displayed in the sheer love of the game. He not only put body and dash into individual games he played, but more importantly he helped to create the soul, that inward sacred fire of zeal without which no club can thrive and live. Let us recall his characteristics. Tall, lithe, sinuous, and yet gifted with muscular and physical development beyond the ordinary. Active to a degree, speed either on the turn or in flight, and with niche, at the addition of resourcefulness and judgement that would have been all sufficient in a other player, without those added gifts, methodical in training, painstaking in preparation, genial with his players and considerate with his committee. With a perfect blending of the qualities that to make a really great player!"

"Raisbeck was wholeheartedly a destroyer of attacks when it came from the opposing wing. We have said that he was speed in turn and on the run. We might amplify this and say, that we have never seen in England, a speedier half-back, who could tackle a speedy forward, turn with him, and overtake and tackle him again. There may be and may have been others so gifted. We have not seen them. His judgement was sound, his valour outstanding and, naturally for a half-back, his control and placing of the ball was equally confident. During his playing career at Anfield, he had to meet forwards whose names and records were outstanding in the history of the game, and yet of one of them could it be said that they were the superior or master of Raisbeck's defensive play. His temperament rarely failed him, no matter how vigorous the play he had to meet."

Skipper RaisbeckThe 1908/09 season was Raisbeck's last at Liverpool. He missed four months of the season through injury and Liverpool narrowly escaped relegation to the Second Division. He was still struggling with knee injury and pined for a return to Scotland. When Partick Thistle's representative was in Liverpool to sign his Welsh teammate Maurice Parry, he asked Alex whether he knew of any more quality players and Alex stated his own case and signed up as well. He proudly wore their colours for five seasons. In 1914 Raisbeck managed Hamilton Academical where he was in charge for three seasons before he was hired as director at the club for three and a half years. Raisbeck returned to England and took over as manager of second division Bristol City on 28 December 1921. City were relegated that spring but bounced straight back as third division south champions in the 1922/23 season. That very season manager David Ashworth left League champions Liverpool just before Christmas and Raisbeck was tipped as his successor before Matt McQueen took over in mid-February. Raisbeck had led Bristol City to the Second Division but his team went straight back down again. After finishing third and fourth, Bristol got promoted again to the Second Division in the 1926/27 season with former Liverpool centre-half, Walter Wadsworth, as captain and managed a decent twelfth place. Raisbeck resigned on 29 June 1929 after Bristol City finished twentieth out of 22 teams narrowly escaping relegation. Raisbeck later managed Halifax Town (1930-1936), Chester (1936-1938) and Bath City (1938) before returning to Liverpool in 1939, not as manager as he once hoped to, but as a scout. He served Liverpool until his dying day on 12 March 1949. He was then a resident at Bingley Road, only a ten-minute walk from the ground on Anfield Road. He died in Walton hospital after he had been ill for a few weeks, said to be suffering from an attack of jaundice. Raisbeck's death came as a surprise as he had been expected to recover.

Raisbeck said that he enjoyed playing against Everton the most; his duels with Blues' Sandy Young were legendary. When a survey was conducted among Liverpool supporters in 1939 to name the most famous players Liverpool had ever had in their ranks Raisbeck, who had left the club three decades earlier, came second behind the incredibly popular Elisha Scott, the Scot clearly having made a lasting impression thirty years after he left Liverpool. Raisbeck is a member of Liverpool's Official Hall of Fame and certainly deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Dalglish, Liddell and Gerrard.
Appearances per season
Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 312 28 0 0 1 341
1898-1899 32 6 0 0 0 38
1899-1900 32 4 0 0 0 36
1900-1901 31 2 0 0 0 33
1901-1902 26 3 0 0 0 29
1902-1903 27 1 0 0 0 28
1903-1904 30 1 0 0 0 31
1904-1905 33 2 0 0 0 35
1905-1906 36 4 0 0 1 41
1906-1907 27 1 0 0 0 28
1907-1908 23 3 0 0 0 26
1908-1909 15 1 0 0 0 16
A more detailed look at the player's appearances
Apps Minutes Opponent
24 2160 Everton
19 1710 Blackburn Rovers
17 1530 Sheffield United
17 1530 Newcastle United
16 1440 Bury
16 1440 Stoke City
16 1440 Sunderland
16 1440 Notts County
15 1350 WBA
15 1350 Aston Villa
14 1260 Sheffield Wednesday
13 1170 Nottingham Forest
13 1170 Bolton Wanderers
13 1170 Derby
13 1170 Manchester City
12 1080 Wolves
10 900 Birmingham City
10 900 Preston North End
10 900 Middlesbrough
8 720 Manchester United
5 450 Burnley
5 450 Grimsby Town
4 360 Glossop North End
4 360 Leicester City
4 360 Bradford City
4 360 Bristol City
3 270 Barnsley
3 270 Arsenal
2 180 Chesterfield
2 180 Burton United
2 180 Port Vale
2 180 Doncaster Rovers
2 180 Southampton
2 180 Chelsea
2 180 Brighton & Hove Albion
2 180 Lincoln City
2 180 Gainsborough Trinity
1 90 Corinthians
1 90 Blackpool
1 90 Norwich City
1 90 West Ham United
Total Venue
168 Away
168 Home
5 Neutral
Total Competition
312 League
28 FA Cup
1 Sheriff of London Charity Shield
Total W D L Win % Manager
341 161 63 117 47.2% Tom Watson
Goals per season
Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 18 1 0 0 0 19
1898-1899 1 1 0 0 0 2
1899-1900 3 0 0 0 0 3
1900-1901 1 0 0 0 0 1
1901-1902 0 0 0 0 0 0
1902-1903 1 0 0 0 0 1
1903-1904 1 0 0 0 0 1
1904-1905 2 0 0 0 0 2
1905-1906 1 0 0 0 0 1
1906-1907 4 0 0 0 0 4
1907-1908 2 0 0 0 0 2
1908-1909 2 0 0 0 0 2
A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring
Milestone Appearances
# Date Against Stadium Competition
1 03.09.1898 The Wednesday Anfield League
50 11.11.1899 Newcastle United St James' Park League
100 09.03.1901 Wolves Anfield League
150 27.12.1902 Bury Gigg Lane League
200 24.09.1904 Lincoln City Sincil Bank League
250 30.12.1905 Woolwich Arsenal Anfield League
300 14.09.1907 Blackburn Rovers Anfield League
Milestone Goals
# Minute Date Against Stadium Competition
1 50 11.02.1899 Newcastle United Anfield FA Cup
Related Articles
Is Raisbeck better suited as full back?

From the Lancashire Evening Post on 6 January, 1900.

Raisbeck's testimonial

Partick Thistle faced an International XI for Raisbeck's benefit. Published on 6 January 1914.

1896-1899: A new exciting era at Liverpool

Liverpool FC wear red for the first time. The most successful manager in the country takes over and brings his magic touch to the 'Reds' bringing them tantalizingly close to a league and cup double.

Alex Raisbeck - Liverpool's first superstar

Victor Hall painted a vivid picture of "Alexander the great" in the Liverpool Echo 15 years after he had left Liverpool.

1899-1901: Liverpool champions for the first time!

Liverpool won the league in the 1900-01 season. We give you unique insight into the local papers' reports and celebration of this glorious feat!

Liverpool at last

Daily Telegraph match report on West Bromwich Albion - Liverpool on 29.04.1901.

1901-1906: A rise from 2nd division to the title!

In 1904 Liverpool had been relegated to 2nd division only three years after winning the title for the first time. Liverpool were on their way to an amazing success!

Cox and Raisbeck back at Anfield

From the Liverpool Echo on 20 March 1911.

Related Quotes

"A man of Raisbeck's proportions, style and carriage would rivet attention anywhere. He was a picture at five feet nine inches and fully 12 and a half stone; a fine and beautifully balanced figure."

Liverpool Echo's Bee on Alex Raisbeck

Alex Raisbeck biography in Everton match programme 1938
Alex Raisbeck biography in Everton match programme 1938
Alex Raisbeck who raised Liverpool's prestige - Victor Hall in 1924
Alex Raisbeck who raised Liverpool's prestige - Victor Hall in 1924
Biography from 1 September 1904 - Courtesy of the Everton Collection Charitable Trust
Biography from 1 September 1904 - Courtesy of the Everton Collection Charitable Trust
Good old Liverpool champions - 4 May 1901
Good old Liverpool champions - 4 May 1901
Other Clubs
Club Season Club rank League apps League goals Total apps Total goals
Larkhall Thistle 1894-1896 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Hibernian 1896-1897 Scotland Division 1 9 0 9 0
Hibernian 1897-1898 Scotland Division 1 16 2 16 2
Stoke City 1897-1898 England First Division 4 0 8 0
Partick Thistle 1909-1910 Scotland Division 1 22 2 25 2
Partick Thistle 1910-1911 Scotland Division 1 29 2 31 2
Partick Thistle 1911-1912 Scotland Division 1 27 3 29 3
Partick Thistle 1912-1913 Scotland Division 1 23 0 24 0
Partick Thistle 1913-1914 Scotland Division 1 12 0 12 0
Total 142 9 154 9