Saturday, June 9, 2007

100 Person Who Shock The Kop - NO 21: Ian St John


Voted in at number 21 in our '100 Players Who Shook The Kop' series is inspirational striker of the sixties, Ian St John.
Four years after our ground-breaking '100 Days That Shook The Kop', we are delighted to invite you to enjoy our new '100 Players Who Shook The Kop' series – the definitive countdown of the 100 players who have made the biggest impact at Liverpool.

Over 110,000 supporters have all nominated their own personal Top 10 players in order of impact made and now the definitive top 100 countdown is underway.

Every player who has made the top 100 – and there are some surprises in there - will be honoured on this website via the e-Season ticket console with a specially produced video clip, including archive footage and exclusive interviews.

Since 1892 hundreds of players have represented this club but everyone has their own particular favourites so don't expect this list to be based solely on talent. The greatness of a player can be measured in many ways – obviously, his ability on the pitch is the most important, but 100 PWSTK is much more than that. It's about the impact the individuals chosen have had on this club, be it for a variety of reasons. Maybe it was because of their unique rapport with the crowd, a specific incident that has never been forgotten or anything else that has left a lasting impression.

Name: Ian St John

Years at Liverpool: 1961 to 1971
Position: Forward

Date-of-birth: 7/6/38
Birthplace: Motherwell

Signed from: Motherwell (May 1961)

Games: 426
Goals: 118

Honours: First Division Championship (1963/64, 1965/66), FA Cup (1965), Second Division Championship (1961/62), Charity Shield (1965. 1966)

A key figure in the transformation of Liverpool Football Club from a mediocre Second Division outfit into one of the most feared sides throughout Europe in the sixties, the signing of Ian St John stoked the Anfield embers that had been on the back burner for the past decade. His goals in the heady years that followed were instrumental in the Reds exploding into the consciousness of football fans at home and abroad, and in the process he became a Kop legend. It took a club record £37,500 to prise him from his local club Motherwell in May 1961 and legend has it that when Bill Shankly approached his board for the funds to sign St John they questioned the wisdom of spending so much on one player, to which Shanks replied ‘we can’t afford not to buy him!’ On reflection there’s no doubt that it was money well spent. A sign of what was to come came on his debut in a Liverpool Senior Cup tie against top-flight neighbours Everton at Goodison Park. The fact the Reds lost the match 4-3 was of minor significance to the Liverpudlians in the crowd that night for they left knowing they’d witnessed the birth of a Liverpool legend. St John scored three times and deservedly earned rave reviews for his all-round performance. Standing at just five foot and seven inches he may have been short in size but not in stature. A feisty competitor, who was sent off during an end of season tour to Czechoslovakia just weeks after his debut, the Saint’s infectious passion rubbed off on those around him and twelve months after moving south he had helped the Reds to promotion. His partnership with Roger Hunt became one of the most talked about in the land and his special relationship with the fans shook the Kop to such an extent that it inspired one of the first-ever football chants. For a player so small he was deadly in the air and this fact was never better illustrated than on the day regarded as the greatest in the club’s history. Liverpool had never won the FA Cup and with the 1965 final against Leeds tied at 1-1 a divine moment of intervention was required to separate the teams. It came during the second period of extra-time, via the head of St John, who twisted acrobatically in mid-air to glance Willie Stevenson’s centre into the back of Gary Sprake’s net and signal the start of street parties back in Liverpool that would last right throughout the summer! If he hadn’t have scored another goal in the red shirt he’d still be feted today as the man who broke the club’s 73-year cup duck but there was much more to come from the inspirational Scot who was equally adept at operating as a centre forward, inside forward or deep lying creative midfielder. With close ball control and a football brain to rival the greatest in the game at the time he was both a taker and maker of goals. His best season in terms of hitting the back of the net was in the Second Division Championship winning campaign of 1961/62 and the Division One title winning term of two years later, when he netted 22 goals in each. With the passing of time the goals slowly dried up but St John remained an influential member of a team in which he was almost an ever-present for eight seasons and a title winner again in 1965/66. By the time the seventies dawned the ageing Saint was slowly being phased out of the first team picture as Shanks began the construction of his second great side but Ian St John can rest assured that the triumphs which followed would not have been possible without the invaluable part he played during his illustrious decade at the club.

Sold to: Coventry City (August 1971)

Claim to fame: Scoring the winning goal in Liverpool's first ever FA Cup triumph

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