Football

GMF tribute to Liverpool's first 'star player'

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Raisbeck was one of Anfield's finest. (©GettyImages)
Raisbeck was one of Anfield's finest. (©GettyImages).

Alexander Galloway Raisbeck is an illustrious Scotsman, acclaimed as being one of the finest players to have worn the Red shirt.

The Liverpool legend was an intriguing individual and holds the distinction of being the first Reds captain to win the League Championship.

Raisbeck, who was born in Polmont, Stirlingshire, played for Liverpool during two centuries, the late 19th and early 20th, and made his debut against Sheffield Wednesday.

Living on Elsie Street, the captain led the Reds to two League Championships of 1900-01 and 1905-06, making 341 appearances, and scoring 21 goals.

 

Having played for Hibernian and Stoke City, Raisbeck joined Liverpool in 1898. Manager Tom Watson swooped after he had been despatched to the Potteries with clear instructions not to return empty handed. £350 was the princely sum parted with in order to persuade Stoke City to sacrifice their best player.

 

Raisbeck strolled into Anfield and instantly became a prominent cog in the Red machine, declining a debut international cap to concentrate on a League and Cup double assault with Liverpool.

The Reds fell short but the gesture warmed the cockles, instantly endearing him to the faithful. It was the start of an 11 year career at Liverpool and Raisbeck became heralded as one of the greatest defenders of his day.

He did not possess a towering physical presence. He stood at 5ft 10ins, but was an agile and vigorous stopper who marshalled the defence with ease and authority.

Versatility was a part of Raisbeck’s armoury, and he displayed an all action approach across the field that orchestrated and defined the way Liverpool played.

Two League campaigns later, Raisbeck was at the helm, established as club captain and leading Liverpool to their first League Championship.

The trophy heralded the start of a century that would see Liverpool becoming the most successful club in Britain.

Raisbeck left Liverpool in 1909, and went on to play for Partick Thistle. He also played and managed Hamilton Academicals, before managerial stints at Bristol City, Halifax Town, Chester and Bath City.

The lure of his adopted home proved too strong and Raisbeck thereafter returned to Anfield to serve as a scout for the club.

Raisbeck played in the day when the thought of a footballer on good wages would lead to one being laughed out of town. Like many other pros, Raisbeck supplemented his football wages by taking other jobs.

Handily, he was employed by the club to inspect and oversee club advertorial hoardings.

Loyalty was one of his greatest virtues, and Raisbeck led Liverpool back into the top flight after the unfortunate relegation season of 1903-04, setting a record as the first club to win back to back Second and First Division titles.

He died in 1949.

One of the greatest centre halfs seen at Liverpool, Raisbeck re characterised his on field position. He captained Scotland for 5 of the paltry 8 appearances he made for his country, including seven games against the Auld Enemy.

At Anfield he is hailed as the clubs first “star player,” but more importantly the Scotsman is assured a place in the hall of fame as the man who lifted Liverpool’s very first League Championship.

Topics:
Football
Premier League
Liverpool
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