Great Scots! The Caledonian Men Who Won Liverpool Titles
The story of the continuing link between Scotland and Liverpool Football Club.
Scotland Captain Robertson
It’s a measure of the character Andy Robertson possesses that he robustly challenges anyone who dares call him ‘lucky’.
The term has followed the Scotland captain around in part due to a somewhat meteoric rise from square sausage for breakfast in Scotland’s lower leagues to square go’s with Leo Messi in the Champions League.
‘I don’t think that I’m a Queen’s Park player that got lucky’ he told the BBC ahead of picking up his first European Cup winners medal with Liverpool. ‘I loved my journey. I love the route I took to professional football, but there’s no easy way. Nobody has had it easy and I’ve just had to put 100% work into everything I’ve done’.
‘Robbo’ as his teammates affectionally call him, hasn’t looked back since pulling on the famous red jersey and swaggering into Anfield.
And as Liverpool claimed their first English top division league title in 30 years in June last year, Robertson continued an astonishing tradition of a Scots presence whenever the club win a league trophy.
It is a remarkable connection between the club and Scotland that goes back to the turn of the twentieth century.
This all started when the club won their first league titles in 1901 and 1906, skippered by Alex Raisbeck.
Raisbeck, known as ‘Alexander the Great’ was considered Liverpool’s first superstar and captained his national team on five occasions. Born in Falkirk, (interestingly, the promiscuous centre-back fathered 14 children) he represented Liverpool no fewer than 341 times.
Liverpool wouldn’t win the top division in England for another 16 years. When they did in 1922 and 1923, it was another Scot steering things on the pitch.
Donald Mackinlay is a member of the club’s hall of fame having spent two decades with the reds. He was captain for six seasons notching 34 goals.
Mackinlay was joined in the Scots contingent by Jock McNab and Frank Mitchell.
A further 24 years would pass before Liverpool would claim their fifth title. But the 1946/47 team was legendry.
That season was the first to feature a full football programme since the war had broken out in 1939. This squad was also notable as it featured a young Bob Paisley. He would go on to do great things for the club as manager.
But that post-war dressing room was brimming with Scots accents with no fewer than seven players representing the small nation north of the River Tweed.
The Magnificent Seven Scots
The Birth of Dominance
The most iconic figure in the history of Liverpool Football Club. That’s how the club’s own website describes Bill Shankly.
He’s the man most Kopites credit for laying the foundations for the sustained periods of domination the club would enjoy throughout the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.
Born in Glenbuck, Ayrshire, Shankly worked in the local coal mines. He instilled the life lessons he learned down the pit into the teams he built at Liverpool.
Upon his arrival in December 1959, the club sat in the Second Division. Within four years they were England’s top dogs again.
Shankly brought with him a rake of Scots including Ian St John and Ron Yeats, the man Shankly described as a ‘mountain’.
When receiving his Lifetime Achievement Award in May 2015, Yeats told the adoring ensemble of people at Liverpool’s Echo Arena: “I was captain for 10 years for such a great team. I’ve appreciated every minute of my time with the club. It gives me great joy to be able to say, ‘I was one of you’.”
Liverpool FC Reds Legend Ron Yeats pic.twitter.com/iKv7YbmCke — Superb Footy Pics (@SuperbFootyPics) June 26, 2020
Shankly remained in charge for 15 years, 783 games (407 won), three league trophies, two FA Cups (including the clubs first), one UEFA Cup and three Charity Shields.
During this era, Scots included goalkeeper Tommy Lawrence, Willie Stevenson and Peter Cormack who collected two winners medals (more about him later).
Former defender Bob Paisley had the unenviable task of succeeding legend Shankly in the Liverpool hot seat.
The new man took Liverpool to the next level, enjoying further domestic success as well as winning them their first of six Europen Cups.
This again was achieved with the help of Scotsmen.
Alan Hansen arrived on Merseyside from little known Partick Thistle for around £100,000 in 1977. He would retire 14 years later having won an epic eight titles with the reds.
Those eight championships can only be bettered by countryman Kenny Dalglish (also signed in ’77) who is widely considered as Liverpool’s greatest ever player.
The Three Scots
Graeme Souness followed Hansen and ‘King Kenny’ in 1978 and can boast an impressive five league titles before leaving for Sampdoria in 1984.
These three names thrown in with Bill Shankly’s are perhaps the most famous Scottish men associated with Liverpool.
Others Scots Winners
But many others were there whenever the league trophy resided at Anfield. Steve Nicol, John Wark, Gary Gillespie and Kevin MacDonald were league winner’s with the club during the ’80s.
18 league titles had been achieved. 13 of them since 1964. And all of them with the help of a Scotsman.
And then the glory stopped. It was no more. The club had to sit with gritted teeth as biggest rivals Manchester United, managed by another great Scot, not only caught their league trophy haul but eventually overtook it.
The ‘Other’ Title
Now, some might argue that this fascinating quirk between Liverpool, Scotland and league titles has one hole in it.
The 1976/77 league winning team.
League Winning Appearances
Peter Cormack, the man from Edinburgh, won the league twice, the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup.
Technically, Cormack did play his final game for the reds in December 1975 against Manchester City. That day he broke down with cartilage issues that ended his season and his Liverpool career. Despite trying to battle his way back from injury and back into the team, he left the club to join Bristol City in 1976 after finding himself in the reserves.
He didn’t receive a league medal when the team he left went on to collect the title, but he was around the club at the start of that season.
With Liverpool’s attempt to retain the title this season seemingly faltering, it remains to be seen whether Robertson will join the Scots of the past in securing multiple titles.
But like Hansen was with Phil Thompson (and Mark Lawrenson) Souness was with Terry McDermott and Dalglish was with Ian Rush, Scotland and Liverpool are a formidable partnership that breeds success.
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