"Liverpool have made three wartime discoveries, players young enough to make the grade once normal times are reached again. This was proved at Anfield yesterday in a Western Regional game packing many thrills and much good football.
The star performer was Liddell, a wing forward, not yet 18. Liddell was secured from Lochgelly Violet, a Dunfermilne junior club, and played at outside-left to give a most promising display, his ball control and sense of positioning being features."
Billy scored his debut goal after only two minutes, the pick of the bunch being Matt Busby's goal (later of Man Utd fame) where he beat four men, passed to Leadbetter, received the ball again, diving headlong to place the ball into the far corner.
Billy went on to play further 15 games, scoring a total of 9 goals in the 1939-40 season. Before he made his Football League debut after World War II on 7th September 1946 he had already made 152 appearances in wartime football for Liverpool where he scored 82 goals.
Certainly if the Second World War hadn't intervened Liddell wouldn't be "only" 11th on Liverpool's list of players who have made most appearances. He could have gone as far as 2nd place, above Ray Clemence and Emlyn Hughes with 665 appearances. But who really knows? He could have got seriously injured, even though it's difficult to imagine such a strong man being vulnerable to injuries. Anyway a food for thought.
(Click on the match report for a bigger image)
"What can you say about him? Liverpool have had some good club players, but I think he is the finest in their history. Look at him today. I used to do a bit of running around, but he does a lot more than I ever did. Matthews is a great entertainer, but for me that Liddell man is “It”. He is one of the greatest club men ever to have played football."
Donald MacKinlay - Former Liverpool captain from the 20's in 1955