At last... a Liddell piece of history - Liverpool Echo Article

Dave Prentice from the Liverpool Echo was kind enough to have a chat with me over the phone and produce this article online and in print, here it is in full:

Life and times of one of Liverpool's Three Kings brought to book in new biography

Eight hundred and forty footballers have represented Liverpool Football Club.

But three stand out above all the rest.

Dalglish, Gerrard and Liddell - Liverpool's Three Kings.

Numerous books have been written about the life and career of Kenny Dalglish - including at least three from his own hand, My Liverpool Home, My Autobiography and Kenny Dalglish: My Life.

READ MORE: The Football Library Radio Show: Peter Kenny Jones - First and Second Half

Even more have been penned about Steven Gerrard - with at least four autobiographical volumes, My Story, My Autobiography, My Liverpool Story and My Captains' Book.

But until this month there have been just two celebrating the life and achievements of Billy Liddell, the last of which was published almost 20 years ago.

Liverpool fan, historian and writer Peter Kenny Jones has redressed that balance with his warm and exhaustively researched 'Billy Liddell at 100: A Family Portrait.'

Peter graduated with an MA in history almost 60 years after the legendary Liddell last kicked a ball for the Reds.

But his links with - and motivation for, devoting his first book to the club's first modern superstar, are unique.

"My dad's sister, my Auntie, is good mates with Billy Liddell's sister, Rena," he explained.

"They both did Scottish dancing together - and with Billy, so that family connection is what started it.

"It's his 100th birthday in January and the time was right."

Liddell's status as one of Liverpool's greatest ever players is unarguable.

Ian Callaghan, himself an Anfield idol, said: "Great man - He was a god in Liverpool." While Bill Shankly once declared: "Liddell was some player... He had everything. He was fast, powerful, shot with either foot and his headers were like blasts from a gun. On top of all that he was as hard as granite. What a player! He was so strong – and he took a nineteen-inch collar shirt!"

Those testimonies are already in the public domain. But Peter turned detective, reaching out to - and in his own words stalking! - as many people as possible to unearth unheard of views on the legendary Liddell.

"I knocked on Jamie Carragher's door and handed his missus a letter and he called me a few days later," he said.

"I managed to find Ian Callaghan's address and posted him a letter and he replied.

"I spoke to Gordon Wallace, Gordon Milne, Johnny Morrissey, Jimmy Melia, Keith Burkinshaw, George Scott, Alex South and Alan Banks.

"Alan Hansen was another one I stalked and I knocked on his door and his missus let me in!

"Not all are household names. Some only played a handful of games. But Billy played with 120 players in his career, only 10 are alive today and only six are well enough to speak. To be able to get to speak to people and keep that legacy alive was brilliant."

It's quite a legacy. Such was Liddell's influence on the club that Liverpool was commonly referred to as 'Liddellpool' in the years before Bill Shankly arrived as manager.

He signed a professional contract in 1939, but the outbreak of war meant he had to wait almost seven years to make his Liverpool debut. Yet he still managed 534 appearances and scored 228 goals in a near 23-year career at the club.

"He was there for such a long time," added Peter. "He arrived as a 16 year old but had to wait to make his debut at 24.

"He was club top scorer in seven out of nine seasons - from the wing - in the days before you had Mo Salah and Sadio Mane doing that kind of thing.

"And no-one had a bad word to say about him. There is literally not one bad story, Everyone loved him. He was great at football and so dedicated off the pitch. After his career ended he did his accountancy, went on to work at Liverpool Uni and became a Justice of the Peace,

"He played at the age of 38, which made him the oldest post war player, and only stood down because Bill Shankly needed to trim the wage bill otherwise he would have carried on because he was so fit and so dedicated."

Liddell at One Hundred: A Family Portrait of a Liverpool Icon will be hitting the shelves on November 8.

You can pre-order now:

Or the book will be available on Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith and many other vendors.

If you enjoyed this and would like to view more of my work, please subscribe to receive email notifications when a new article comes out.

Peter Kenny Jones


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