Moving on from discussing about the Welsh players that have played for Manchester United and Manchester City, Y Ddraig writer Neil Jones will now look at the impact that Welsh players have had on the 2 Merseyside clubs: Liverpool and Everton. The history of these clubs is littered with triumphs and successes and many Welsh players have played a part in this. In this article, I will be concentrating on Liverpool. Whilst in the 2nd article I will be looking at Everton and creating a combined Welsh Merseyside XI. The city of Liverpool and Wales have a long history together with some considering Liverpool the capital of North Wales, with many national Eisteddfodau being held in the city such as in 1884, 1900 and 1929.
Liverpool Football Club was formed in 1892 and joined the Football League the year after. It was founded after a dispute between Everton FC’s committee and John Houlding, the club president and owner of the land at Anfield. But it would be 8 years before a Welshman made an appearance for the club. That honour went to Maurice Parry, who arrived at the club in 1900 from the short-lived club Brighton United FC after previously having played for Newtown, Long Eaton Rangers, Leicester Fosse (who became Leicester City in 1919) and Loughborough. This was all before he arrived at Liverpool at the club at the age of 22. In his first season at Liverpool, the club would go on to win the First Division Championship, but Parry did not play enough matches to qualify for a medal. He would rectify this in 1904/05 when Liverpool won the Second Division title and in 1905/06 when they won the First Division title. Over the next three years, Parry would struggle to hold on to his place in the midfield and decided to leave in 1909 for Partick Thistle in Scotland. Parry would make over 200 appearances in his 9 years at Anfield. Parry would continue to have an interesting career once he retired from football. Taking up a coaching position in South Africa before returning to his hometown club Oswestry Town. Parry later served in the First World War, but was known to have been badly gassed in the conflict. After a spell in management with Rotherham County in the 1920’s, Parry would go to Europe and become a coach at esteemed clubs such as FC Barcelona in 1924, Eintracht Frankfurt in 1925/26 and FC Koln. He would come back to Liverpool as a coach until 1933 and would pass away 2 years later on the 24th of March 1935 at the age of 57. (Image from: http://www.lfchistory.net/Images/Profiles/player_parry_maurice.jpg)
Richard “Dickie” Morris – a teammate of Parry for 3 years from 1902 to 1905. Before arriving at Liverpool, Morris served with the South Wales Borderers in the Second Boer War in 1900 and returned in 1902 to play for his home town club Newtown FC and within a few months moved to Druids FC in Wrexham. His time there was even shorter, as only a month later he was recruited by Liverpool for whom he made 39 appearances, but would later move on to newly elected Football League club Leeds City. He would become the club’s first player to win international honours whilst on their books (Leeds City dissolved in 1919, after which Leeds United was established). He would go on to have a nomadic career, playing for a further 4 clubs before retiring in 1909 at the age of 30. Whilst what has been strange whilst researching into Morris’ life is that there seems to be no mention of when he passed away. (Image from: http://www.lfchistory.net/Images/Profiles/player_morrisr.jpg)
George Latham – a teammate of Morris not only for Liverpool and Newtown FC but both served together in the Second Boer War with the Fifth South Wales Borderers Regiment and both would play together in a football match whilst stationed out there, the 5th Section vs the Rest of the Company. The match would end 4-0 with Morris and Latham scoring two goals each. Latham would stay in South Africa for 14 months, earning himself a promotion to the rank of Corporal. He would on his return continue to play for Newton for a short spell and was in such good form that he was offered a trial with Everton but this was called off due to heavy snowfall. He would eventually join rivals Liverpool in 1902 and stay at the club for 7 years but would struggle to establish himself in the first team, only going on to make 19 appearances for the club and would have to wait 3 years for his debut in 1905 against Burslem Port Vale. He would leave to join Southport and then Stoke but would again struggle to consistently make the first team. When the First World War commenced, Latham was commissioned to the 7th battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers and was promoted to Lieutenant in 1916, training with his regiment in Oswestry before being called into action in June 1916. Latham was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry, when in Turkey he was able to take a number of enemy positions whilst until heavy machine gun and rifle fire. He returned to the UK and began his coaching career and coached Britain’s 1920 Olympic team in Antwerp. But he is more famously remembered as being one of the coaches that led Cardiff to FA Cup victory in 1927. He would continue coaching until 1936 when he was seriously injured in a bicycle accident and returned to Newtown until he died in 1939 at the age of 58. His home town club, later renamed their ground Latham Park in his honour when they moved there in 1951. (Image from: https://playupliverpool.com/1939/07/09/george-latham-liverpool-football-club/)
The next Welshman to make an impact at the club was Ray Lambert from Bagillt in Flintshire. A one club man who was at the club from the age of 13 when he joined as a schoolboy and going on to signing professional forms on his 17th birthday in 1939, having impressed at centre-half for Flintshire and Wales schoolboys and stayed until his retirement in 1956 days before his 34th birthday. He had to wait 7 years for his debut as the Second World War took away 6 years off of his career. He joined the Royal Air Force during the war and played wartime league matches for the club until his competitive debut against Chester City in the FA Cup. It was also the match in which club legends Billy Liddell and Bob Paisley made their debuts. Lambert would go on to make 341 appearances in his time at Anfield but his time at the club only culminated in one honour and that was the Division One title in 1946/47 having played 36 out of the 42 games that season at full back. Lambert was unlucky in that he retired three years before the arrival of the legendary manager Bill Shankly to the club in 1959. Lambert was also unfortunate to have only earned 5 caps for Wales, for he played in a team where he was competing for a full back spot with Cardiff great Alf Sherwood and Arsenal’s Walley Barnes. Towards the end of his career Chester City tried to sign Lambert but he remained loyal to Liverpool and retired. (Image from: http://www.lfchistory.net/Images/Profiles/player_lambert.jpg)
Cyril Sidlow – was another player whose prime years were taken from him because of the Second World War. He arrived at Liverpool towards the latter part of his career, when he made his debut for the club at the age of 30 in 1946 and would remain at Anfield until he made his last appearance against Newcastle United in 1950. He made 165 appearances for Liverpool having arrived at the club from Wolverhampton Wanderers for a fee of £4,000. He began his playing career at Llandudno before moving to his home town club Colwyn Bay. He was the last line of defence in Liverpool’s title winning team of 1946/47. He would win 7 caps for Wales and would live until the age of 89 when he passed away in 2005 in the Wolverhampton area. (Image from: http://www.lfchistory.net/Images/Profiles/player_sidlow.jpg)
John Toshack – one of the greats of Welsh football. He began his career with his home town club Cardiff in 1965 when he made his debut as a 16-year-old, becoming the youngest player to ever play for the club until Aaron Ramsey in 2007. He would go on to make 208 appearances for the Bluebirds, scoring 100 goals. He made the move to Liverpool in November 1970 for a fee of £110,000 but this deal might have never gone ahead as Billy Shankly’s originally wanted Frank Worthington from Huddersfield Town and had agreed a fee but this move broke down due to Worthington failing a medical due to having high blood pressure. This made Shankly change his mind and make a move for Toshack. He endeared himself to the Anfield faithful when he scored in the Merseyside derby in only his second appearance for the Reds. When Kevin Keegan joined the club in 1971 from Scunthorpe United, he and Toshack would strike up a successful partnership with Keegan benefitting from Toshack winning balls in the air. Toshack would remain at the club until 1978 by that time he had scored 96 goals in 247 appearances. He would win many honours with the club, such as the First Division title three times in 1973, 76 and 77, the FA Cup in 1974 and the UEFA Cup in 1973 and 76 but Toshack would miss out on a European Cup medal when the club won the title in 1977 through injury, having played in many of the matches leading up to the final. Injuries contributed to Toshack leaving the club at the age of 28 in 1978 and began his managerial adventure which continues to this day. His first managerial role was as a player-manager for Swansea City and he enjoyed great success in his time there as he helped them gain promotion from the Fourth Division to the First in four seasons. He endeared himself to the Anfield faithful when he led his team out in October 1981 to face his former side. The match came only a few days after the death of Bill Shankly and when Toshack took off his Swansea tracksuit, it revealed underneath a Liverpool shirt with the number 10 on the back, which showed the affection he still had for the club. Toshack would go on to further success in his managerial career. Winning the Copa Del Rey with Real Sociedad in 1987, winning the La Liga title with Real Madrid in 1990 and going on to win trophies with Deportivo La Coruna, Besiktas, Khazar Lankaran in Azerbaijan and Wydad Athletic Club in Morocco. He was also able to fit in two stints with Wales, the second of which he is credited for laying down the foundation of the current success that the national team is having by providing debuts for Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen among others. He has recently celebrated over 50 years in football and has led one of the most amazing football lives. (Image from: http://assets2.lfcimages.com/uploads/toshack_51b5abef754b1726205328.jpg)
Joey Jones – a teammate of Toshack for 3 years from 1975 to 1978 having arrived from Wrexham for a fee of £110,000, Jones played for his boyhood heroes 100 times. His first season proved to be a bittersweet one as although he played in 13 matches, it was one short of the required to be able to qualify for a medal for winning the league, which Liverpool did that season. Although success was not to avoid him for long, as he went on to win the First Division title in 1976/77, the UEFA Cup in 1976 and the European Cup in 1977 and 78, becoming the first Welshman to win the competition. Although he was only at the club for a short period of time, Jones became a cult figure and will forever be immortalised for his exploits on the road to victory in the European Cup in 1977, when fans unveiled a banner which read “JOEY ATE THE FROGS LEGS, MADE THE SWISS ROLL, NOW HES MUNCHING GLADBACH”. Jones a lad from Llandudno would go back to Wrexham twice more in career in 1978 and 1987 in-between stints at Chelsea and Huddersfield Town. He would go on to make over 70 appearances for Wales and become one of the highest all-time appearance makers for his country. He still continues to contribute to Wrexham having served the club continuously for 30 since returning to the club in 1987, having earned him the nickname Mr. Wrexham, having only gone part time this year. (Image from: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/c5/38/54/c538542c0553c6ebc956d8136176439f.jpg)
Ian Rush – Liverpool’s greatest ever goal scorer with 346 goals from 660 appearances in two spells at the club. A record that is unlikely to be broken for some time. He arrived at the club in 1980 from Chester City, having been discovered there by former Welsh international Cliff Sear, for £300,000 a British transfer record a teenager at the time, as Rush was only 19. His early days at the club was not a happy one and he even asked manager Bob Paisley for a transfer because of his lack of playing time, having only made 9 appearances in his first season with no goals. Paisley granted him this transfer and Rush was determined to score as many goals as he could for the reserves so that it would interest other clubs into signing him. Rush would score five goals in the first four reserve matches of the season. Paisley’s plan had worked, for he had no intention of selling him. From then on, he would go on to enjoy a golden spell at the club, scoring 30 goals in 49 appearances the next season as Liverpool would go on to win the First Division and League Cup. His finest season was the 1983/84 season, as he would go on to score 47 goals in only 65 matches. This would allow him to become the first British player to win Europe’s Golden Boot, as the leading goal scorer in league matches from the top division of every European national league. This wasn’t his only individual honour that season as he would win the PFA Player of the Year and Football Writes Association Football of the Year Award. This individual success translated to success on the pitch as he would win the league title, the League Cup and European Cup that season. Rush would stay at the club until Juventus came calling with a British transfer record fee of £3.2 million in 1986 (although he continued to play for Liverpool for another season on loan before making his debut for Juventus). But his time in Italy was an unhappy one, as he would only score 14 goals in all competitions in 1987/88 but this was still more than Marco Van Basten, Gianluca Vialli and Rudi Voller would on to score that season. Although this might seem like a disappointing tally compared to Rush’s statistics in England, but football in Italy has always been concentrated on the defensive side of things which would make life difficult for any striker at that time. Rush would return to Liverpool in 1988 for a fee of £2.7 million and would continue his goal scoring exploits at the club, breaking the club’s goal scoring record held by Roger Hunt in October 1992 when he netted his 287th goal for the club against Manchester United. It was in that year that Rush was made captain and would go on to lift the League Cup in 1995. His last season for the club was in 1995/96 and he would leave the club having won five League titles, three FA Cups (Rush is the 2nd highest goal scorer in this competition, but the highest in the 20th century), five League Cups (becoming the first to do so and being the competitions joint record goal scorer) and one European Cup. In his 15 seasons at the club, Rush would be the top goal scorer on 8 occasions. Rush is not only Liverpool’s record goal scorer, but Wales’ as well with 28 goals in 73 games, although this did not translate to much success for his country as Rush never got the opportunity to play in a major international tournament. Rush was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2006 and is currently Liverpool’s Club Ambassador, whilst also working with the Welsh FA and the Under 16 squad. (Image from: http://www.liverpoolfc.com/history/past-players/ian-rush)
In the next article, I will look at the history of Welsh players who have played for Everton, along with a Combined XI of players from both clubs.
I would like to thank the following websites for some of the information used in this article: