Consolidation then Bill's first title
"Consolidation but tears in the street"
The start of the 62/63 season opened on the 1st August 1962, with Liverpool playing Everton in Condor Close, Garston L19. The line ups included:
Snot-Nosed Blues - Gary West, Paul Labone, Mark Vernon, Martin Morrisey and the tricky Ian Three-Dicks
The Tricky Reds - Ann Lawrence, Wooly Hunt, Elizabeth Yeats, Angela St John and my fave Lynn Milne.
We had won the toss and decided to kick down hill. For all the effort put in Liverpool found themselves 3-0 down after the first half. Ann Lawrence had proved a right disappointment in goal to be honest.
When the second half started things went from bad to worse and the final score was 7-0 to the Snot nosed blues. At a post match conference “little Wooly” had explained to the press that losing Elizabeth Yeats at half time (called in for her tea) was a critical turning point in the game. But he had drawn their attention to how proud he was of the effort and workrate of the reduced team (no subs allowed at this time). Meanwhile over at Anfield .....
The 1962/63 season had started badly for the Reds and Shanks put the defeats down to Liverpool showing too much respect for the so called “elite” of Division 1. Shanks was gonna have to start using a bit of psychology, for which he had become famous. The so called elite was about to be brought down to earth with a massive bump. Shankly explained that we should have no fear of teams such as The Drury Lane Fan Dancers, The Southern Softies, and The Playboys (Spurs, Arsenal & The Hammers respectively). It was at this time that Bill used another piece of genius.
He used to phone our main rivals manager Don Revie of Leeds to tell him how brilliant each and every one of his Reds side were, one by one and when Revie tried to get a word in like “Bremner” Bill cut him off before the second word saying “aye, not a bad player”. Revie must have got off the phone wondering how Leeds ever won a game with such a mediocre bunch of fairies. The psychology began to work, and the results began to improve.
Then came the game that all Reds had waited for since 1954 (The Derby) against Everton at Goodison. The blue noses were awarded a bent penalty in the first half which was converted by Vernon. But before half time a superb piece of individual brilliance by Lewis gave the “Tricky Reds” the equaliser that was justified. A total fluke by the turncoat Morrisey made the score 2-1 to them and the score remained that way until the 90th minute had come and gone. Time was up and the ref was about to blow, when Alan A’Court sent in one last cross. Up went West, up rose Labone (I ain't too sure why cos it was a low cross) but the cross was thumped home by Hunt. The “G” in GOAL started at 4.45, but it was 4.50 by the time the “L” got out. The crowd went wild, well at least the Red bit did.
The rest of the season quite frankly was a disappointment, but we did reach the semi final of the FA Cup, where we were beaten by our bogey team, Leicester, who were really all rubbish apart from an up and coming young goalkeeper called Banks (he might make it some day).
"EE-AYE-ADDIO we won the League"
The summer of 1963 saw big moves in the transfer market. Ian Three-Dicks had been transferred to Speke Road Gardens and Martin Morrisey had come down with rickets (a just illness for a turncoat). Elizabeth Yeats had also shown her true colours by crossing the park to become Elizabeth Treble-cock. Better news for the Tricky Reds though Elizabeth had been replaced by Neil Powney from Island Road for the princely sum of 1 Jubilee, an Arrow bar and a Match Programme (transfer record at the time) and had become Neil Lawler. Lynn Milne (still me fave) had had medical problems throughout the summer, don’t quote me, but I think she was growing a second bum on her chest. We won the toss for the second year running and decided to kick toward the Home Guard.
Neil Lawler proved to be the stuff that dreams are made of, he kicked Paul Labone early in the game and his Mum had took him off to avoid further injury (typical whinging blue nose). From that moment in the game everything went our way, Lawler scored the opener and Wooly Hunt had bagged a brace either side of half time to make it 3-0. But the best was yet to come, just before the full time whistle Lynn Milne (my fave remember) scored a screamer from all of three feet and the goal celebrations that followed made “muffin the mule” look tame. Little Wooly was filling his boots (a proper kiss, on the lips too) but the elations soon turned to anger when Lawler wanted to congratulate Milne. Little Wooly had to put his foot down, this wasn’t the way we celebrated. Lawler was transfer listed the following morning, never to be seen again. Meanwhile over at Anfield …….
Prior to the end of the 62/63 season Shanks had made two crucial signings. A Scot who was playing in a Digereedoo band in Kangaroo land (Willie Stevenson) and our first ever “Real Twisty-Turny” (Peter Thompson). The nickname “The Tricky Reds” was now here to stay. Shankly now had a team which could “Do the Business” and never one to be modest, he decided to announce the fact to all who would listen that “This would be our year” he told the press “I think we are equal or better than all the teams in Division 1 and if we continue to think that way, we will be the best”.
At Melwood Shanks had built the infamous “Sweat Box” where players would hone there fitness and strength and “No team would have the same endurance as this Liverpool side” and it proved to be true on many an occasion in the coming season. Now the bad bit, the season started atrociously and after three consecutive home defeats Shanks was in trouble. He had heard that there was a board meeting in progress, so he marched up the stairs, opened the doors, looked down the table where all the directors sat and announced ……
“I can assure you Gentlemen, that we will win a game at Anfield this season” he said before turning around and walking out of the room, closing the door behind him. Whatever the directors were going to speak about that day was now a total mystery to all present, they must have been totally gob smacked, cos the story told, is that they all got up and went their own way. The next game was a home game against Wolves midweek. Shanks got all his players together and after discussion, he realised the problem was the players nerves and anxiety about playing in front of the Kop.
It's not documented what Shanks actually said that evening to all his players, but it must have been a “pearler” cos Liverpool went out and stuffed Wolves 6-0. Two weeks later we absolutely “Trounced” the blue noses 2-1 with a rare brace from Ian Callaghan, one of which was a screamer even Billy Liddell would have been proud of. (There got him in). Then followed 8 wins out of 9 games. Whatever did Bill say at that meeting?
It was the Christmas of 1963 where the Kop first started singing Beatles music. The atmosphere in the ground on Boxing Day needed to be seen to be believed, you could cut it with a knife, football grounds had never seen anything like it before or since (see the famous Panarama documentary for evidence). Christmas 1963 was a very special time for all who went to the “Hallowed Halls of Anfield” and two 6-1 results against Stoke and Sheffield proved to be excellent stocking fillers that year. Then came the time of year when all should show their FAITH.
Easter had arrived, on “Good Friday” 1964 when all “Good Catholics” were at mass, Sir Roger had bagged a hat-trick against The Drury Lane Fan Dancers. I always wondered how many “Good Catholics” took holy communion in North London that day? More that most would be my guess cos on the way home (Saturday) we popped into Leicester and put another two past them (two games in two days back then). Sunday as all “Good Catholics” will tell you is the Lords day, a day of rest, so Liverpool put their feet up.
When the Lord rose on the third day (Easter Monday) so did Ian St John with a brace and Alf Arrowsmith also chipped in and scored to put yet another three past The Drury Lane Fan Dancers, but this time at Anfield. 3 games in 4 days, 8 goals in 3 games. The Easter prayers had paid up trumps this year or did it have more to do with the new Messiah closer to home? Whatever it was, only days later we humped three past Man U, even with the talents of Best, Charlton & Law, but still the best was yet to come ……
On the 18th April 1964 Liverpool played the Southern Softies and walloped them 5-0 and the title was ours!!
The team: Lawrence, Byrne, Moran, Milne, Yeats, Stevenson, Callaghan, Hunt, St John, Arrowsmith & Thompson
While everyone was heaping praise on Shanks, he called them to a halt. “And these were the last words he said” to coin another phrase. “We are a working class team, playing for working class people, we have no room here for fancy footballers, just workers who have faith and will respond to the demands I lay down”.
Mighty powerful words Bill, you convinced me mate, I now, was prepared to believe every word that Bill said. The world was round like a football yer know. Not flat like all them past geniuses told us. The only pity that day was that we had to parade around the ground with a cardboard cut-out of the trophy. You see, the bitter blue noses across the park had refused to hand the trophy over. And you wonder why us oldies call them "bitter and twisted"?
FAITH & PRAYERS are the watchwords from this episode, how much faith have you got in our great team? And when was the last time you prayed for a victory?
"The only time Chris Lawler was injured was when Tommy Smith 'did' him in a five-a-side match at Melwood. We had just got the pitch levelled and Tommy, who was younger than Chris, caught him with the sole of his boot. Chris' ankle went up like a balloon, but he was only out of action for ten days. It was around this time we were due to play Anderlecht and one day we were playing a five-a-side game and Chris, still injured was watching. The boys called Chris 'Silent Knight' because he had so little to say for himself. My team in the five-a-side was claiming a goal and I said, 'Just hold on. Chris, you were watching.' 'Yes', he said. 'Speak up, Chris,' I said, 'I can't hear you. Did you think that was a goal, Chris?' 'No, he said.' 'Good God, Chris,' I said, 'this is the first time I've heard you speak to me and you tell me a bloody lie!'"
Bill Shankly telling the famous Chris Lawler story