"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)
"It's great to hear so much support for a true gentleman. From my point of view he was not only a football legend, but a caring grandfather. All of your wonderful stories really do paint the picture of the selfless man my grandfather was. We would travel to Liverpool every new year to see my grandparents and Billy would always take us out to Aigburth vale or Sefton park for a kick around with the ball. When I think back i realise that he always let me and my brother win, and we weren't as good as we thought we were!!
Sadly I was far to young to see him play, but have marvelled at his skill and presence on video, and heard many stories from the man himself. I was deeply touched by the number of fans who came to show their love of this great man at his funeral, and thank you all for keeping his legend alive."
A tribute from Billy's grandson, Andy Liddell