Billy Liddell: Our trip to Plymouth and Lita Roza

August 28, 1954
Early closing day is generally the day chosen for mid-week football matches, and it works out very nicely in this city of ours. Unfortunately for us players, with teams in close proximity playing at home during the same week, they always stagger their games in order to draw the crowds from both places.

Early Sunday morning saw the Liverpool contingent set off by bus for Torquay, which was our headquarters for the Plymouth match. It was quite a tedious journey, but there was plenty to occupy the attention a various intervals.

The most interesting part for the lads in the back of the bus was the time between Gloucester and Bristol, when the bus played ducks and drakes with a fine Renault car in which were two very attractive ladies.

The boys found out by sign-writing and lip-reading that the driver of the car was Liverpool’s own talented singer, Lita Roza, who was on her way to appear in Bristol for the week.

Britain’s freak weather was very much in evidence. Sometimes it was bright sunshine, then overcast, and finally we had a hail shower and flooded roads for ten minutes or so.

When we reached Torquay it was delightful, and the weather turned out so nice we felt like having another holiday.

That is one of the advantages of being a professional footballer – you get plenty of travel, stay in the best hotels and have a fair amount of relaxation in those places.

Of course, after such a long journey, we had to have a good walk and stretch our legs again to get rid of the stiffness.

It turned out to be a disappointing game at Plymouth from the Reds’ point of view, for the Argyle had only ten men fit in the second half and we could not press home our advantage.

It is always difficult playing against an unknown team when you do not know what to expect, but after only two games in the Second Division we notice one big difference from First Division football.

The tackling has been quicker and fiercer, I am not saying that it is rougher, only that quick tackling takes the place of interception by positioning.

I never make predictions or forecasts of matches and I am not going to prophesy how the Reds will shape up.

It takes time to settle down, longer than some supporters would think, and I hope that the young lads in the boys’ pen will remember that the next time their team is in arrears.

The slow handicap does not always have a boomerang effect like it did against Doncaster Rovers.

And talking of the Rovers bring me to the subject of Peter Doherty, their Irish international manager.

It was grand chatting to Peter before the game and getting his views on the game. He said he was sorry he had to give up playing as the pitch was getting to long for him.

I don’t know whether he was kidding me or not, because Jim Hodgson, the trainer (ex-Grimsby Town) told me that Peter still trains nearly every day and plays in all the practice games.

Manager Peter Doherty still looks very fit, and I am sure he could still lay on those wonderful passes to the winger which made him my choice for the greatest inside forward title.

It was a joy to play alongside him, and although he often gave us a lot of chasing to do when we were in opposition. It was still a pleasure to play against him, for his tactics were as straight as his skill was great.
(Source: Liverpool Echo: August 28, 1954)

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