March 20, 1954
The remark made in Liverpool Echo last week that Tom McNulty, the former Manchester United full-back, was Liverpool’s tenth first-team debutante this season has brought requests for details of the Anfielders’ debutants in previous campaigns.
This point strikes me as one of such interest that I am giving the information in full, rather than dismissing the query briefly in the answers column. First of all, however let me quickly “recap” the debutants of this season, for the benefit of those who may have lost sight of some of them.
The first senior newcomer was part-timer Harold Jones, at centre-half, when Preston North End won 5-1 at Anfield on September 5. A fortnight later amateur Albert Childs came in at right-back for Ray Lambert against Burnley, Liverpool won 4-0, thanks to four first-half goals by Louis Bimpson.
Liverpool retained the same side at Charlton the following week, but went down 6-0, and Childs disappeared from our ken as a senior. His last Central League appearance was on September 12.
Don Campbell came next as deputy for Bob Paisley at Sunderland on November 14, and then Alan Arnell and Barry Wilkinson, both amateurs, made a simultaneous debut against Blackpool on December 5, when Liverpool delighted their followers with a 5-2 victory.
Then came the Anfielders’ pre-Christmas splash in the transfer market, which saw Dave Underwood and Geoff Twentyman make their first appearance in another ill-fated match, at Old Trafford, on December 19, when the Mancunians won 5-1 and Eddie Spicer suffered his second broken leg.
On Christmas Day, Liverpool added two more signings to their staff, and 24 hours later Frank Lock and John Evans, formerly of Charlton, turned out against West Bromwich in a goalless draw. Tom McNulty completed this season’s list of new faces when he played in last Wednesday’s game at Hillsborough.
Ten debutants in six months is an all-time record for Liverpool. The total is one more than last season, when nine Anfield newcomers were introduced to First Division football.
The first to take a bow was Arthur Rowley, then aged 18. He figured in the first eight games of the campaign, seven of which were either won or drawn. It was this which saved the Reds from the big drop last April. Ronnie Moran, also 18, came next, making ten consecutive appearances. While Moran was still in the side, Roy Saunders received his senior baptism in the Cup-tie against Gateshead at Redheugh Park, on that misty day when so few folk saw the goal which ended Liverpool’s Wembley hopes.
The week before, Sammy Smyth had taken his place in the forward line but had to miss the Cup-tie, as he had not been signed within the fortnight’s margin which would have made him eligible.
Next in turn came Alan A’Court and Hugh Gerhardi, They both took their bow in the side which won at Middlesbrough, on February 7, last year. That game also marked the League debut of Saunders. Joe Maloney followed on Wednesday, March 4. Louis Bimpson came in three days later, and Eric Anderson made his first senior appearance at the end of the month.
Nineteen debutants in less than two complete seasons show how Liverpool have been endeavouring to strike both a blend and a measure of playing success which would lift the dark clouds gathering round them.
Seeking the right blend
Now let us take two more season, in each of which we find Liverpool trying out five newcomers. In 1951-52, George Whitworth, Steve Parr, Brian Jackson, Jack Smith and Mervyn Jones were all blooded in the senior side, Whitworth and Jones making their entry together on March 1, 1952, at Fulham.
The year before that it was a case of “first time out” for Russell Crossley, Jack Heydon, Joe Cadden, Don Woan and Jack Haigh. That brings us to a grand total of 29 debutants in less than four seasons. Liverpool have certainly struggled hard, quite apart from their signings, to find some hope for the future among their reserve players.
Unfortunately, not all of these debutants came up to expectations and some have since departed to pastures new. Mervyn Jones and Haigh are with Scunthorpe, Heydon with Millwall, Cadden at Accrington, Woan with Trannmere and Frank Christie, as far as I know, is still with East Fife. Others returned to the Central League side for further experience.
(Liverpool Echo: March 2, 1954)