The international calendar has interrupted the Premier League season for the second time already this season and this time brings a two week gap in play while England attempt to salvage something from their qualifying group and at the same time no doubt injure their best player and Liverpool‘s captain.
WHEN I first started coming up with various Liverpool XI’s, I thought it would be easy to make up a team of Scottish Internationals without too much bother. After all, with the influence of Shankly, Dalglish, and Souness, it should be obvious that there would be plenty of Scottish Internationals available. It turns out to be quite a bit harder than I first imagined.
When Everton left Anfield at the end of the 1891-92 season, John Houlding was left with an empty ground and no team, other than three players who had stayed. He appointed John McKenna as director, and his first task was to put a team together to play in the upcoming season. McKenna went to Scotland and signed thirteen professional players. Eight of the thirteen had names beginning with ‘œMc’ and so that first side was labelled as ‘œThe Team of the Macs.’
Liverpool continued to have a Scottish contingent more or less continuously through the next seventy-odd years, including some of the greatest Liverpool legends such as Billy Liddell. When Scotsman Bill Shankly was appointed manager in 1959, he went to his homeland to build up his side, bringing in Ron Yeats and Ian St. John. He later also brought in other Scottish players like Willie Stevenson and Tommy Lawrence.
The Scottish tradition continued under Bob Paisley with the signings of now legendary players Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Alan Hansen, and Steve Nicol. Joe Fagan also looked north of the border for players and brought in John Wark and Gary Gillespie. By the time Dalglish himself became manager, the Scottish influence was beginning to wane, with only a few Scots such as Don Hutchison and David Speedie being added to the squad.
When you consider that the first ever squad consisted of thirteen Scottish players, it’s surprising to see that the current squad only has one Scot ‘“ Ryan Flynn, who is an eighteen year old who joined the senior squad last year. He played for Liverpool as a Youth and won the FA Youth Cup for the past two seasons. I’m sure he’s a future Scottish International, even though he hasn’t been selected to represent his country yet.
There are some obvious choices to be made for a Liverpool Scottish XI, and of course they have to be Dalglish, Souness, Hansen, Ron Yeats (pictured), St. John and Liddell. After that there are plenty of others, such as Lawrence, Nicol, Wark, and Gillespie. Now, the task is to make up the squad. It should be quite easy to choose the starting eleven, but in fact I’ve only so far named ten. I’ll have to go back through some of the history of the club to find a few more. One of those to make my starting eleven will be Don McKinlay, who was a versatile player comfortable in almost any position, and was mostly used as a left back. He played for Liverpool way back from 1910 to 1929. That now makes up the starting XI:
GK: Tommy Lawrence
RB: Don McKinlay
CB: Ron Yeats
CB: Alan Hansen
LB: Steve Nicol
LM: Billy Liddell
CM: Graeme Souness (captain)
CM: John Wark
RM: Peter Cormack
FWD: Kenny Dalglish
FWD: Ian St. John
For more players to make up the squad of twenty three, we might have to go back in time to find a few candidates. Jimmy McDougal earned two caps, the second as captain, in 1931 in the midst of a six year spell with Liverpool. I also had to go way back to find Ken Campbell who was a Liverpool goalkeeper from 1911 to 1920, and earned three of his eight caps for Scotland during that time.
There are lots of other Scottish Internationals throughout Liverpool‘s more than one hundred year history, some of whom were capped either before or after their time at Anfield but not during. David Speedie, Don Hutchison, and Dominic Matteo are some of the players that fall into this category, as well as Willie Stevenson who was capped at Youth level before coming to Liverpool in 1962. One more that absolutely must be included, if for nothing other than sentimental reasons, is Gary McAllister (pictured). He earned all of his fifty seven caps for Scotland between 1990 and 1998, and retired from international duty a couple of years before signing for Liverpool in 2000. If only he had been called up just one more time during his two years under Gerard Houllier, I could put him in the starting XI. His exploits during the treble season of 2000-01 showed that even at age 35 he was far from past his prime, and could certainly have contributed to the national team’s cause.
A few other players worth adding in are some of the Liverpool legends including Alex Raisbeck, who was capped 8 times for Scotland while playing for Liverpool in the early 1900’s; John Walker, also from the early 1900’s; and Tommy Younger, a goalkeeper who was capped twenty four times in the late 1950’s, with most of those during his Liverpool days; Tom Miller, who played for Liverpool from 1912 to 1920 (losing four years to the war) and earning one of his three caps in 1920; and last but not least, John ‘œJock’ McNab who played for Liverpool between the two world wars, earning one Scotland cap.
Finally, I can appoint a manager to the Liverpool Scottish squad, and that’s a simple choice of Sir Matt Busby. Matt was a player with Liverpool from 1936 to 1940, making 118 appearances before moving on to manage some other club (can’t remember who?) following the end of World War II. He was called in to manage Scotland in January 1958 for the impending World Cup in Sweden, but was forced to drop out of the position after nearly being killed in the Munich air crash. He took over later that year, leading Scotland against Wales and Northern Ireland, and then resigned from the post in December.
The complete squad then is:
Goalkeepers: Tommy Lawrence, Ken Campbell, Tommy Younger
Defenders: Jock McNab, Alex Raisbeck, Don McKinlay, Ron Yeats, Alan Hansen, Steve Nicol, Gary Gillespie, Dominic Matteo
Midfielders: Billy Liddell, Graeme Souness, John Wark, Peter Cormack, Don Hutchison, Gary Mcallister, Willie Stevenson
Forwards: John Walker, Tom Miller, Kenny Dalglish, Ian St. John, David Speedie
Obviously, the Scottish influence has been declining over the years, from a group of nearly all Scottish players in the club’s founding year to just one in the current squad. But, with legends like Shankly, Dalglish, Souness, McAllister, and the rest, it’s an influence that will be forever close to our hearts.