Monday, September 15 – 1919
The other day I met Alex Raisbeck. The old Liverpool captain wear uncommonly well, and is now a director of Hamilton Academical, and as keenly interested in the game as ever.
Alex Raisbeck, in Larkhall, with the Thistle of which he was discovered by the Edinburgh Hibernians a good many years ago now. The Thistle ran three teams then Young Raisbeck played for a season in the third, or Gaswork’s eleven, and played so well that he was rushed into the first team the following year. And while he was in it, Judge Murphy, a noted half-back in his day and afterwards Hibernian scout, found him.
Alex Raisbeck has never regretted taking the step which made him a professional. Towards the close of his second season with Hibernians he was temporarily transferred to Stoke, who were in difficulties, and so ably did he acquit himself that many offers to remain in England were made to him. He, however, preferred to return to Hibernians.
But his stay was short. Having tasted of English football, the desire to get back to it was strong within him, and when Liverpool came north with a proposal Raisbeck was transferred to Merseyside. With that club he spent the best of his football years. The Liverpool city and the Liverpool people he liked.
Eleven years he played at Anfield. He was captain of the team for nine years – a real captain, controlling, directing, leading, ever active; always setting an example. He played the game at all times; when on the crest of the wave or when in the hollow of adversity. Many were the vicissitudes experienced in the struggle. Twice Liverpool won the League championship under his leadership, and once the championship of the Second Division.
One year Liverpool were warm favourites for the Cup and the League, but in trying to win them, both were lost. Liverpool’s semi-final struggle with Sheffield United was one of the most sensational cup-ties in the history of the FA.
A terrific encounter at Nottingham ended all square – Liverpool, 2; Sheffield United, 2.
Ernest Needham supplied the great sensation of many sensations on that memorable afternoon by scoring a magnificent goal from a range of thirty-five yards. In the re-play at Bolton, Liverpool were two up in a twinkling but United, fighting splendidly, were pegging lever at the interval.
Liverpool soon forged ahead again with a brace of beautiful goals, and seven minutes from time it seemed a cinch for the Mersey men. Indeed, Johnstone, the Sheffield right half-back, congratulated the Liverpool outside left, and wished the team good luck in the final. But as he spoke, away came the Sheffielders and scored a couple of galvanising goals. It was again a draw – 4 each.
A decision at Fallowfield was next sought, Liverpool once more went away with the lead, and just when their prospects were looking particularly rosy the crowd broke in and the game was stopped. Fate seemed to fight against Raisbeck and his men. The struggle was carried to Derby, and on the Baseball Ground the United won by a goal which many competent critics declared was offside.
For weeks the Liverpool side had remained unchanged, and the strain and stress of the tie told the players. So when they met Aston Villa in a match on the result of which hung the League championship they were beaten.
“I’ll never forget those semi-final games,” said Raisbeck. “They were the most strenuous and stubborn in which I have ever played.”
Perhaps the most remarkable happening in Raisbeck’s playing career was an incident when Liverpool were at Middlesbrough. The victim was Charlie Wilson, who on that occasion figured at centre-half, Alex being at back.
The players spent the Friday night in a hotel, Wilson sharing a room with Raisbeck. On Saturday morning he told Alex of a curious dram he had – that his leg was broken in the match. And he minutely described how the incident had presented itself to him as he slept. When the real match started the dream was immediately fulfilled exactly as described, Wilson’s leg being broken in a collision with the opposing centre-half-back.
Alex Raisbeck, with many international caps, finished a playing career of outstanding merit with Partick Thistle.
(The Athletic News, 15-09-1919)