"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)
"On the 65th minute, Jackson laid the foundations of the goal with a cross field pass to A'Court. The winger ran in, squared the ball to Anderson, who looked up and found LIDDELL stood menacingly on the penalty spot ........, BANG, WHOOOOSH, I swear blind I didn't see the ball going in, all I saw was it rebounding off the goal stanchion, it came out at the speed of a bullet, what speed must have it been going on the way in? Until someone comes up with a way to measure the speed of shots, we can only call it "Liddell Pace". No one can hit a ball harder than Billy, its like comparing the speed of a spin bowler with that of a pace bowler. Fulham once again complained to the referee about the goal. We will never know why, it will probably go down as a complaint because Billy hit the ball too hard, or at least that's what the Kop will say."
From Liverpool Echo's match report on Liverpool – Fulham on 18th September 1954