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THE ARMCHAIR SPORTSMAN - Interview with Cowdenbeath FC

Peter has just finished writing his first book about former Liverpool and Scotland forward Billy Liddell. Billy was born in Townhill in 1922 and supported Dunfermline as a boy. His cousins supported Cowdenbeath and they all used to watch Dunfermline and Cowdenbeath on alternative weekends. Tom Ogilvie, CFC's honorary secretary, is Billy' s cousin and was a big help to Peter with the book. I knew that Billy used to bring Tam down to Anfield get him programmes and autographs from all the many game, he played for Scotland The book is titled: Billy Liddell at One Hundred: A Family Portrait of Liverpool Icon and is due for release on the 8th of November. It is available to pre-order now on Amazon, Waterstones WH Smith etc., and via Peter's website where he has organised pre-order bundles where you can get some programmes an autograph book and signed copies, see The book coincides with what have been Billy Liddell's 100th birthday. Peter has been able to collaborate with ex-players, including Jamie Carragher, AIan Hansen, Ian Callaghan (who succeeded Billy in the Liverpool team after he retired), Doug Cowie (at 96 the oldest living Scottish international player) and several others as well as family members, friends, and family to help paint the full picture of Liddell's remarkable life on and off the pitch. Billy's wife Phyllis is still in Liverpool as is his sister Rena. William Beveridge Liddell came from mining stock. He began to build his legend when playing in the School team at Townhill. Townhill won the Dick Cup, the trophy played for by all the West Fife Schools in 1935 and 1936. Then Billy went to Dunfermline High School one of those daft 'rugger only' types of establishment. Billy played for the High School rugby side but still earned two caps at football for Scotland schools. Billy went junior with Lochgelly Violet and then in 1938, he signed for Liverpool as an amateur and became professional in 1939 on a weekly wage of £3. Negotiations between his parents and the club guaranteed that Liverpool could permit Liddell to continue his studies, be housed in suitable accommodation and be employed part-time as an accountant at a company in the club's city. In time he brought his whole family down to live in Liverpool. He then served in the RAF during the War and was capped 8 times by Scotland in wartime internationals. He was an integral part of a side that took Liverpool to the summit as the first post-war champions Then in 1950 he inspired the Reds to their first Wembley FA Cup final, but he was subjected to some rough treatment as Arsenal went on to win 2-0. Then he was offered £2,000 to go and play in Colombia but elected to stay at Anfield. His loyalty was remarkable as Liverpool had gone into a decline. Often it seemed they were a one man team and newspapers christened them Liddellpool. In 1954, Liverpool were relegated to the Second Division. Billy was a winger but to centre forward in 1955/56 and notched no less than 33 goals. He wasn't a shrinking violet on the pitch but he was never booked during his career and was appointed captain of Liverpool. He played on until August 1960 by which time he had made a club record of 537 appearances. He was awarded a testimonial, and a crowd of almost 40,000 turned up to honour a player who was much loved on the Kop.

Billy was a great churchman and became a JP in the city. Liverpool fans brought before him used to wear a red Liverpool shirt to curry favour - it did them no good as Billy was always an honest straight shooter Billy gained his first official cap vs. Wales in 1946. He was Scotland's first choice left winger for many years. He helped Scotland win the Home International Championship in 1951 and scored in a 3-2 win over England at Wembley. He luckily missed out on the 1954 World Cup debacle and the 7-2 defeat from England in 1955. That latter defeat prompted his recall from the wilderness of the 2nd Division. He scored vs. Portugal and Yugoslavia plus showed his class in a match versus the great Hungarian side. He Also gained two extra caps by playing for a Great Britain XI against the Rest of Europe in both 1947 and 1955. Only Stanley Matthews was similarly selected for both matches. Billy overall scored 8 goals in 29 games for Scotland. Billy passed away in 2001 and in November 2008 he was admitted to SFA Hall of Fame. In 2010, Townhill renamed its sports complex in his honour and completed a memorial garden, with cairn, not far from Billy's boyhood home.

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 @PeterKennyJones


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