Tag Archives: 1963-64


Fifty years and one day before Liverpool travel to the Emirates Stadium for an FA Cup 5th round tie, the two sides met at Arsenal’s old home of Highbury, Liverpool progressing thanks to Ian St John’s goal.

A week before the cup tie, the Reds were beaten 3-1 by Everton at Goodison Park, meaning they dropped to third in the table. But there was no time to dwell on the derby defeat for captain Ron Yeats, who travelled to Largs straight after the game with victorious opponents Jimmy Gabriel and Alex Scott for a Scottish national team training camp.

Melwood was quieter than normal on the Monday and Tuesday, with Yeats in Scotland and Roger Hunt, Peter Thompson and Gorson Milne at an England squad get together in Matlock. Bill Shankly was not happy about Alf Ramsay’s sessions at all, especially when Blackburn’s Keith Newton suffered cartilage damage. He told the Daily Post: ‘It might so easily have been one of our own players. This special training question is a matter of doing something that is going to be useful at the right time. It might have been better at the get-together to have been satisfied with talks and tactical functions without any real strenuous exertions. They actually played two games, players at this time of the season do not need extra training.’

Shankly was also not happy about Liverpool’s kick off being put back to 3.15pm, to ease congestion as Tottenham were also at home that day, starting at 2.45pm. The Reds’ party was booked to return on the 6pm train but despite protestations the kick off time was upheld and the Metropolitan Police promised to escort the players to Euston. Around 15,000 Liverpool fans made the journey to North London, with nearly 1,000 travelling with Ribble Motor Company, whose coaches set off at 11.30pm on the Friday night. A select group even travelled by plane, the Shareholders’ Association chartering a 58 seat Viscount aircraft which was £6 for the return flight and coach to Highbury. 


Following a poor attacking display against Everton, Shankly decided to make a change and dropped Jimmy Melia, bringing in young forward Alf Arrowsmith in his place. The teamsheet implied that Arrowsmith would be an inside forward as he was numbered ten, but when the players took up position it was clear he would be playing in the centre with St John taking up Melia’s role. This confused Arsenal as they were subjected to him chasing everything very early on, linking well with Ian Callaghan and almost forcing Ian Ure into a short backpass.  Arrowsmith was everywhere, on one occasion going down the right wing to put in a cross that was shepherded back to keeper Jim Furnell by Vic Groves, only for the Reds forward to run up and try to block the kick from his hands.

Arsenal were beginning to get on top early on, with Tommy Lawrence saving from both Geoff Strong and John Snedden and Ron Yeats needing to be his best to win the aerial battles. Then in the fifteenth minute the Reds took the lead with their first real chance of the game. Gordon Milne floated a ball into the box and St John ghosted in unnoticed at the far post to score with a low header that was greeted by pandemonium amongst the Liverpool fans amassed on the Clock End. Less than a minute later Arsenal were almost level when Strong hit a shot that Lawrence couldn’t hold but Gerry Byrne got there to clear the danger.

Lawrence had another escape when he dropped the ball from a corner and Yeats cleared but only as far as Eastham. He fired the ball low towards the goal but the Reds’ keeper made up for the previous error by turning the ball around the post. Arsenal then had a huge penalty appeal turned down when from a corner Eastham’s shot was blocked on the line by Ronnie Moran, with the crowd screaming for handball.  Photographs later showed it had been headed away but even if it had struck Moran’s hand it had been travelling so fast there was no way he could have got it out the way. They had two more appeals turned down in quick succession with fouls being waved away and this led to some oranges being thrown at the referee and linesman. They could only sportingly applaud Lawrence though when he made what Leslie Edwards described as the ‘save of a lifetime’ in that night’s Echo, the Reds’ keeper managing to adjust his dive in mid air to turn away a deflected Armstrong shot.

Seven minutes before half time Joe Baker and Yeats went down together after a foul on the Liverpool skipper. Both got up exchanging punches before Yeats went back down with a cut eye, leading to Bill Shankly coming onto the pitch to check he was ok. The referee, who had been following play, came back and promptly dismissed both men from the field and told Shankly to leave too, but not before he had quickly given some tactical instructions to players. It led to both sides having fiery tempers and St John was furious when he was denied a penalty after apparently being tripped from behind by Billy McCulloch. The Arsenal left back then turned his attentions to Ian Callaghan, fouling him near the touchline and receiving a booking, while the Liverpool winger needed treatment. There was little more goalmouth incident before the break, the only chance of note being a Strong header that was well held by Lawrence.

Thankfully for the Reds the half time interval did Callaghan good and he came out not showing no signs of limping. He was soon a danger down the flank and put in a cross for Arrowsmith but his volley was just wide. Arsenal were not playing like  a team that were a goal down in a cup tie, as they passed the ball around too much and didn’t try to break the strong Liverpool defence, which now had Willie Stevenson playing at centre half with St John dropping from inside left to left half. Too many times they resorted to long shots and the Reds were happy to sit back and try to catch them on the break for a second goal. Despite the beckoning of Strong, too many of the home players remained near the halfway line with only Eastham posing any real threat. Liverpool looked more likely to increase rather than surrender their lead and Peter Thompson had a low right foot shot well held by Furnell. Lawrence was first called into action when Armstrong crossed for Strong, whose downward header was caught by the keeper.

Towards the end of the game Arsenal did increase the pressure, but Stevenson was doing a great job at centre half and on one occasion cleared a Snedden header off the line. Arrowsmith was by now playing as a lone striker and struggled to deal with the offside trap, but he did spring it once to round Furnell only to roll the ball wide. Liverpool continued to weather the storm, then in injury time Arrowsmith again broke clear and went past Furnell, only to be rugby tackled by the ex Reds’ keeper. A penalty was awarded but Hunt’s kick was saved by Furnell. There was no time for Arsenal to go down the other end and score and the final whistle was greeted with a pitch invasion by hundreds of travelling fans. Also with them was Yeats, who couldn’t bear to watch the game after his sending off so had instead changed and gone to a local coffee bar, arriving back just as Hunt was placing the ball on the penalty spot.

It was a great victory for the Reds. They hadn’t played attractive football but they had done what they needed to do and Bill Shankly said afterwards: ‘We knew it would be hard, we prepared for a tough fight. I was proud of Liverpool, every man Jack of them.’ St John called it a ‘real tonic after we were right down in the dumps after our showing against Everton.’ The Reds may have had a police escort to get them home but not all fans had it so easy. Twenty fans missed their coach and had to come home courtesy of British Rail, who agreed to let them travel without tickets providing they promised to pay when sent a bill. The Reds were through to the quarter finals for the second year in a row, but were surprisingly beaten 2-1 at home by Swansea in the next round.

Liverpool Overcome Valiant Effort

On 27th January 1964 Liverpool kept up their hopes of an League Championship and FA Cup Double when they overcame plucky Port Vale after extra time in a 4th round replay at Vale Park.

Just two days earlier the 1,000/1 outsiders from the 3rd Division has stunned Anfield when they held the Reds to a 0-0 draw. Liverpool Chairman T.V. Williams said afterwards that Vale did not deserve to lose a game in which former Reds reserve forward John Nicholson went close to scoring in the second half.

Not everyone else was quite as complimentary however, with forward Ian St John criticising them for putting too many players behind the ball, writing in his Daily Post column that ‘word seems to have got around that the only way to beat Liverpool is to bolt and bar the way to goal with a packed defence.’ in the Liverpool Echo, Reds correspondent Leslie Edwards was critical of St John and his fellow forwards, saying they had played too narrow and it was Vale who created the better chances.

The 1,200 fans who left Lime Street in the late afternoon on three football special trains were the last to do so for quite a few years. That morning, British Rail announced that following vandalism on a train carrying Evertonians home from their cup tie at Leeds on the Saturday, the latest in a long line of incidents, they would not be running any more specials from the city. Fans queuing for the trains expressed disappointment, as the specials fares were about 60% of the price of the regular services.

Bill Shankly took an unusually large squad of fifteen players to the game, making sure he had an extra man in each department should anyone still have any aches and strains from Saturday. When kick off approached he decided to make some changes and go for experience, recalling Ronnie Moran and Jimmy Melia in place of Bobby Thomson and Alf Arrowsmith. Moran’s return was no great surprise, but Melia’s inclusion raised some eyebrows. The winger was often made the scapegoat by the crowd when the team struggled and he was rumoured to be set for a move elsewhere. It was harsh on Arrowsmith, who had scored four in the previous round against Derby County and followed this up with a wonderful late winning strike against Chelsea the week after.

There was a huge crowd of 42,179 at the game and it was estimated that another 6,000 got in when the gates were rushed at the Railway End. A man from Leek died of his injuries a few weeks later, but such events were not seen as unusual at this time and the incident didn’t even get a mention in the Echo or Post.

Vale didn’t take the game to the Reds as expected, instead defending deep and employing a man marking system which shackled St John and Melia. It took half an hour for the Reds to have a meaningful shot on goal when Peter Thompson’s drive from outside the box shaved the bar as it went over. Five minutes later though Liverpool did take the lead, Roger Hunt breaking free of his marker to latch on to a long ball from Gerry Byrne and cleverly guide it past Tom Hancock.

The second half was no different from the first, with Vale seemingly accepting that their chance had gone. Tommy Lawrence didn’t make his first save until the hour mark, easily holding a low shot from John Rowlands, but despite being in control of things the Reds failed to up their game and finish the tie off. They paid the price with eleven minutes to go when Rowland beat Moran on the left flank and crossed to Stan Steele who nodded the ball down into the path of Albert Cheeseborough, a last minute replacement in the side for the injured Jackie Mudie. Vale’s stand in striker hit an unstoppable shot past Lawrence to the delight of the home crowd. Revitalised, Vale went for the jugular and only the solidity of Moran and Ron Yeats prevented them finding a winner before the ninety minutes were up.

Half time saw very little action, with both sets of players tiring after playing ninety minutes for the second time in three days. There were just two minutes left when Gordon Milne hit a hopeful shot that cannoned off a defender into the path of Peter Thompson, whose volley flew into the top corner. This led to delirium amongst the thousands of Liverpool fans in the ground, two of whom fell through the roof of the railway end and had to be taken to hospital along with another supporter his by falling debris.

For the remainder of the game the Liverpool supporters sang ‘When The Saints Go Marching In’ and ‘We Love You Yeah Yeah Yeah’, then the final whistle was greeted by a mini pitch invasion. Although there was some over exuberance, the behaviour of fans was otherwise exemplary, with none of the special trains being damaged and the licensee of the nearby Star Hotel telling the Post reporter: ‘I have never met a finer lot of people than I did last night. They drank well and behaved well and if they ever come to Burslem again there will always be a welcome for them and their supporters.’

In the next round Liverpool beat Arsenal 1-0 at Highbury, only to be sensationally knocked out by 2nd Division Swansea Town at Anfield in the quarter final. In the league they more than made up for it though, clinching their first title since 1947 with three games to spare.