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Jimmy Case remembers the Kop as a boy in the 1960s and his Liverpool debut with Kevin Keegan and John Toshack in 1975

Jimmy Case won four league championships and three European Cups with his hometown club Liverpool

Here, he describes his earliest memories of going to Anfield as a boy in the 1960s and making his debut aged 20 alongside Kevin Keegan and John Toshack in 1975.

The early days: Anfield as a boy on the Kop

“Anfield used to have a boys’ pen in the corner for young Kopites. The Kop itself was so robust; you had to be quite fit to survive in there!

“There were no tickets back then and the seating was only for the posh people. You just paid your money, first come, first served, and went in. I can’t remember the price but it was about 10 pence a pint, old money, so it could have been a couple of pence for boys to get in.

“Dads would drop their kids off in the queue and go for a pint. Every game two or three lads tried to climb the mesh wire to get from the pen into the Kop. The stewards would grab one but one or two others would get over while they weren’t looking. I got over myself once.

The Kop would be chanting for the boys to make it but it’s quite a big drop. The stewards on the Kop would try to get hold of the boys to throw them out but the bigger lads would make sure they didn’t get near them.

Liverpool played the WM formation in those days. Full backs just had to stop the wingers – that was their only job. It was [Tommy] Lawrence in goal, [Chris] Lawler and[Gerry] Byrne were the full backs, Ron Yeats was the big centre back, then my mate Tommy Smith.

“You had Ian Callaghan and Peter Thompson on the wings, Roger Hunt and Ian St John up front, Willie Stevenson and Gordon Milne in midfield. I can’t remember who the first match I saw at Anfield was against but invariably they won.

“I remember going to away games with my Dad when I was about 10. We went to Maine Road for Man City in the Kippax end. We got beat and I was devastated. But that’s what it’s all about – going to a footy match with your Dad.

“I was never inclined to go across the park and I still hate Everton. I did a predictions league a few years ago and always put Everton to lose, even if they were playing the bottom of the league and I knew I’d be wrong!

“I used to like watching Tommy Smith making the crunching tackles – back when you could tackle. He was a tough midfield player, the ‘Iron Man of Anfield’. But he could actually play, he could make long cross-field passes, take penalties, go past people. He was my full back when I first started and he watched out for me. We played together for around three seasons and became good buddies.”

 

Jimmy's debut: Liverpool 3 Queens Park Rangers 1, April 26 1975

“QPR was the last game of the season, just before my 21st birthday. I thought I was doing all right in the reserves. But the team sheets went up at the training ground every Friday morning and I wasn’t on it. I thought that was that and I’d have to wait until next season.

“That evening the phone rang, my Dad answered and it was Joe Fagan, one of the coaches. He said ‘Can you bring Jimmy up to the team hotel?’ Nothing was said at the hotel. I had my tea and toast and went to bed.

“The next day we got the bus to the stadium at quarter to two and I was thinking ‘I’ll be made up if I’m sub’. There was only one sub in those days. Bob Paisley stood up to name the side. Ray Clemence in goal, then he went through the back four and midfield and then he said ‘the forward line will be ToshackKeegan and Case.’

“My jaw must have hit the floor. I was absolutely made up to pull on the shirt. My Mum and Dad were there but I had to go and find them to tell them I was playing. It was an easyish debut as the game meant nothing but the pressure was to play well so they keep you in mind for next season.

“I got brought down for a penalty [scored by Kevin Keegan] and I crossed one for John Toshack to score. We won 3-1. My contract then was £150 a week. But it was two points for a win in those days and there was a £150 bonus per point for the first team and the sub.

Liverpool fans from all over go to Anfield for tours and feel made up to touch the ‘This is Anfield’ sign. But I was born there and I’d supported Liverpool all my life. To play for the team you love triples the emotion.

“I’d actually had a trial at Liverpool just before my 18th birthday. Tom Saunders told me ‘Mr Shankly would like to sign you’ but I turned them down! Dads used to say ‘get yourself a trade, son’ and I served my time as an electrician from 16 to 20. I wasn’t stupid. If I’d signed for Liverpool for two years and they turfed me out I’d have had nothing.

“You don’t know how good or how bad you are until you have a go at it and learn from the coaches. They worked out a way to sign me semi-pro in the end. I worked as an electrician but had two mornings a week off to train and went back to work in the afternoons.

“I was full-time before my debut but I still didn’t think I’d made it after that game. The youngsters and reserve players used to get changed in a separate area and at the start of the next season I was still with them.”