25 Mar 2009

Bravehearts of the Kop - How Scotland made Liverpool FC into a "bastion of invincibility"

Liverpool FC has been blessed with the impressive contributions of many nationalities down the years, but the impact of Scottish players and managerial staff is arguably unequalled at Anfield.

Quite simply, without Scottish influence, Liverpool FC would never have become the wildly successful world class club it is today.

In fact, take away the Scottish inspiration from the club and Liverpool would in all probability be…Everton! And what could be worse than that?!

The Scottish influence on Liverpool began decades before proud Scot Bill Shankly revolutionized the club. In 1892, self-made Irish businessman John McKenna was appointed manager of the club and immediately drafted 13 Scottish professionals into the team.

The impact was immediate: Liverpool won the Lancashire League in their first season, and were elected to the Football League Second Division for the 1893–94 season. Liverpool’s Scottish all-stars ended the season unbeaten as Second Division Champions, and were promoted to the First Division, the highest level of English football at that time.

Over the years, more and more Scottish players arrived at Anfield, including the likes of club legend Billy Liddell, who many people still believe is the greatest player to ever turn out for the club; Bill Dunlop, who won two league titles with the club; Tommy Lawrence, who had over 300 games between the sticks; and Willie Fagan, who played with Bill Shankly at Preston prior to moving to Liverpool.

Then, in 1959, the most important moment in Liverpool footballing history arrived: Scottish genius Bill Shankly signed on as Liverpool Manager. The impact Shankly had on shaping the philosophy and winning mentality of Liverpool cannot be overstated, and it is no exaggeration to state that Shankly is the most important figure in Liverpool FC history.

The Scottish players just kept on coming, with the likes defensive giant Ron Yeats; goal-scoring legend Ian St John; powerful striker Bobby Graham and ex Rangers player Willie Stevenson becoming important components of Shanks' resurgent team and helping the club to win a plethora of trophies.

After Bob Paisley took over at the helm, the roll-call of Scottish greats continued with the arrival a triumvirate of true Liverpool legends: Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen and Graeme Souness – three players who were instrumental in Liverpool’s domestic and European domination of the 70s and 80s.

During the exciting tenure of Dalglish, Hansen and Souness, Liverpool amassed an incredible 26 trophies, including 9 league titles and 3 European Cups. No other period in Liverpool history was this successful, and it is doubtful if the same success will ever be replicated again, in England or indeed anywhere in the world.

Given the incomparable impact of Scottish players and Managers on the Liverpool’s outstanding success, it is perhaps ironic that the club’s decline at the came at the hands of one of its most inspirational figures - Scotsman Graeme Souness.

The rot was arguably already setting in under the stewardship of King Kenny, but Souness, with his poor signings (Paul Stewart anyone?) and exclusion of quality players like Peter Beardsley, was instrumental in the club’s downward spiral at the beginning of the 1990s.

Sadly, Scottish influence has waned at Anfield, with only Gary McAllister and Dominic Matteo making a significant impact at Liverpool in the last 15 years.

This is a real shame given the fact Liverpool’s history is built on the shoulders of Scottish players and their grit, skill, determination and excellent leadership and motivational ability.

But who knows what the future holds? Perhaps King Kenny will return to Anfield at some point? Maybe Steve Nicol will manager the club one day?

As long as it's not Souness returning...!


  1. Don't forget Sir Matt Busby. He captained the club for several years before taking the position of manager for a struggling outfit along the East Lancs Road.

  2. Indeed, yes - good point. The Mancs will never admit it but Matt Busby's schooling in the Liverpool way of doing things is the reason he was so successful at Old Trafford :-)

  3. King Kenny back at the helm.
    Charlie Adam on side.
    Danny Wilson looking promising.

    On top of that there's Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson (the North East is nearly Scotland, they're dour, gruff and brilliant!)

    The times they are a'changing!