|Ian St. John||
Born: Motherwell, 7.6. 1938
"Exhibition football is all very well in its way", said Ian St. John soon after joining Liverpool in 1961. "But give me football with a bite". Over the rest of that decade, that was guaranteed that any game involving the little centre- forward would be played with the sharpest of edges.
As ultra-competitive as his legendary manager,
"The Saint" brought to his new team a feisty blend of fire and
finesse that would soon make him the scourge of defences from Portsmouth
to Carlisle. That was his worth as an individual and it was significant
enough in its own right, but his contribution to the club's collective
whole was of even greater value.
The purchase of St. John for more than double the
previous highest sum ever paid by the Anfield board showed to the
players, the fans and the football world at large that after years of
under-achievement, The Reds finally meant business, particularly as it
was quickly followed by the £30.000 signing of Ron Yeats.
Ian made his debut against Everton. Liverpool lost
3-4, and all Liverpool-goals were scored by, yes, Ian St. John. That
first game served the most emphatic of notices of the new boy's talent
for goals, but it did not even begin to hint at the partnership he would
soon strike up with his attacking mate, Roger Hunt.
Like the whole of Bill Shankly's first great team, Ian St. John was at his peak during those three heady seasons during the mid-1960s. And as he entered his thirties during the latter years of that decade his form and fitness began to dip - until the end came - as it did for several other members of his side - with the shock FA Cup defeat at Watford in 1970.
The one opponent by which all footballers are eventually defeated - age - had finally taken the edge off St. John's game. Although there still remained the natural skill and the familiar determination and cussedness that Shankly had first seen in the young centre-forward he brought south from Motherwell, and who, in common with his mentor, ate, slept and drank the beautiful game.
There have rarely been better judges of footballing
class and character than the legendary Liverpool manager, and so there
are few higher compliments than can be paid to Ian St. John than the
simple fact that he was the man whom Shankly chose to launch his Red
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