Tommy Smith was known as the Anfield Iron and one of the hardest men to ever pull on the Red shirt. Ron Yeats was an even more fearsome individual, a man mountain who had made a living slaughtering animals in an abattoir before becoming a professional footballer.
Yeats struck fear into Liverpool's opponents during the 1960s, while his young apprentice Smith took over the mantle throughout the following decade.
The following extract, taken from Smith’s book, Tommy Smith: I Did it the Hard Way, tells of an eventful evening in Spain when Smith and Yeats ended up in a mass brawl with a load of local barstaff and were threatened at gunpoint.
Big Ronnie Yeats and I went to Majorca for a holiday with Liverpool when I was only a raw lad. I’d gone out for a few drinks to a little club with Gerry Byrne and Reuben Bennett, and there was a German lad there who started getting a bit nasty, so we buggered him off. Then the Spanish barman took the German’s side and threw us out after an argument.
We got back to the hotel about the same time as Ron Yeats was getting out of a taxi and we said, ‘Hey, Ron, there’s this lad in this club who’s turned out a bit naughty…’ He got back in the taxi with me and we went back to the club.
The manager appeared when we got back, and the barman was still spoiling for a fight. So I said to the manager, ‘I’ve been insulted by your barman and insulted by your doorman and I don’t think it’s right.’ (not in those words, but something like that…)
The manager was saying ‘Get out. Closed.’ And we were saying, ‘No. Apologise.’ Then next thing was, he pulled out a gun. So I looked at Ron and he looked at me and we backed out the door. At which the doorman got a bit brave again and slammed it in our faces.
Ronnie had a real cob on by then, so he put his foot to the door, gave it a kick; it flew open and there was the barman standing there, the full height of him. Ronnie just went ‘pop’ on his nose, and down he went.
Then the manager and the doorman are throwing all the small Spanish waiters out into the courtyard at us. Chairs were being thrown about and tables breaking. Those waiters were coming out of the concrete like a swarm of locusts. But you only had to hit them once and they stayed down.
Finally, we heard a siren in the distance, so we turned round and legged it. Next morning I said to Ronnie, ‘He had a gun, you know,’ and Ronnie said, ‘I know!’ And we both realised how scared we’d been.
Different times of course, and it’s difficult to imagine anything like that happening now, certainly not involving top flight players anyway. Chances are there’d be prison sentences handed out and the players involved would no doubt be looking for new clubs. It makes Craig Bellamy taking an eight iron to John Arne Riise seem fairly tame in comparison.